Creamy and as blush-pink as a bunny’s nose, the Pink Squirrel is as perfect for Easter as any cocktail could possibly be.
Not too sweet, with a low-alcohol content, and pronounced flavors of chocolate, nutmeg, and almonds it’s certainly better than a Bloody Mary or a Screwdriver to get what has become a candy-based holiday underway. And, it’s just as appropriate to begin your day—or after the glazed ham, butter-roasted baby carrots, and deviled eggs have been devoured—to end your day.
The Pink Squirrel was invented in 1941 by Bryant Sharp as an ice cream drink, and first served at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Of the cocktail’s three ingredients—heavy cream, crème de noyaux, and crème de cacao—it’s the crème de noyaux* that provides the drink’s pink color and the almond taste. It can be a challenge to find; it’s worth the search.
My Pink Squirrel recipe:
1 oz. Crème de Noyaux
1 oz. Crème de Cacao
1 oz. heavy cream
Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until extremely cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, top with freshly grated nutmeg, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
(It’s a wonderful cocktail for Valentine’s Day, also.)
*Crème de Noyaux, an almond-tasting crème liqueur, is actually made from apricot kernels or the kernels of peach or cherry pits, which provide the flavor. Both Bols and Hiram Walker produce artificially colored red versions of the liqueur.
Historically, crème de Noyaux contained minute amounts of hydrogen cyanide. The cyanide was not usually present in amounts large enough to cause harm, however bottles of 19th-century Noyaux stored for years would occasionally have all the cyanide float to the top, with a deadly outcome for the drinker of the first glass. (Author Dorothy Sayers used this oddity in her 1939 short story Bitter Almonds.)
In 2013, Tempus Fugit Spirits recreated a 19th-century Crème de Noyaux recipe — distilling apricot pits, cherry pits, and other botanicals. They colored their liqueur with red cochineal, as was done in the past. Care, they say, was taken to remove the trace elements of hydrogen cyanide produced in the process.