Pink Squirrel: A Cocktail Recipe That is Delightful and Pink

Pink Squirrel Cocktail
Ah, the Pink Squirrel! A fun and creamy pink cocktail that is hard to resist. Rob Lawson / Photolibrary / Getty Images
    3 mins
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The Pink Squirrel is a creamy, pink cocktail with a tempting flavor of almond and chocolate. It is fun, it is cute, but it is not as popular as it once was.

It is said that the Pink Squirrel was created in the early 1940's at a cocktail lounge in Wisconsin. The sweet taste and fun look made it a very popular cocktail for a few decades. However, as we progressed past the 70's, it lost a lot of its creamy charm.

This is an easy recipe and, honestly, you may have a harder time finding crème de noyau than anything else. This red liqueur is not as popular as it once was, but there is hope and a substitution or two available (more on that below).

If you don't have heavy cream, don't worry. A lighter cream or milk will do just fine though the drink will lose some of its thick texture. For some drinkers, that's not a bad thing!

The Pink Squirrel is not going to be a cocktail for everyone, especially the way our modern palates have evolved. It was fun in its heyday and it will make a great option on your throwback party's drink menu.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

How Strong is the Pink Squirrel?

The Pink Squirrel is a gentle, low-proof cocktail. If we were to choose a 48-proof option for both liqueurs, this drink would weigh in at just 10% ABV (20 proof).

What is Crème de Noyaux?

You will not use crème de noyau in the bar often. Honestly, the Pink Squirrel is one of the few drinks to use it.

Since this cocktail's popularity has declined, there is no longer much incentive for liquor producers to make it.

Crème de noyau is like amaretto. Both liqueurs have the same almond flavor despite the fact that neither is made from almonds. Instead, crème de noyau is made from the pits (or stones) of apricots, peaches, plums and other 'stone' fruits. Noyaux is French for "stone" or "kernel," so the name makes sense.

The main difference between crème de noyau and amaretto is the color.  Noyaux is a brilliant red and amaretto is often a deep brown. This makes the Pink Squirrel substitution less than ideal because amaretto will not create a pink drink!

Beyond popularity, there are other issues surrounding crème de noyau. One that scares many drinkers away is the cyanide potential. There is a compound in the noyau that turns to hydrogen cyanide when digested. The majority of the time, the quantities are too small to be harmful and nothing to worry about. It is, however, something to be aware of.

If you find the rare bottle of crème de noyau today, it is probably like Hiram Walker's and flavored artificially. Bols does make a crème de noyau that is made from apricot kernels. Either is a good option for a Pink Squirrel, the only question is whether your local liquor store stocks it.

Crème de Noyaux Facts

  • Bright red, almond-flavored liqueur made from the kernels of apricots and other stone fruits.
  • Sometimes spelled crème de noyau.
  • Pronounced: km de not-yew
  • 24-30% alcohol by volume (48-60 proof)

Creme de Noyaux Substitutions in a Pink Squirrel

There are two elements that you can duplicate in crème de noyau: the taste or the color. Unless you make your own, it is nearly impossible to get both in your Pink Squirrel. 

Here are two popular options that drinkers turn to...

  • Amaretto - Choose amaretto if you care about the taste of your Pink Squirrel. The almond flavor will be nearly the same, but the drink will be a milky brown color. If you have to have the pink color, a drop of food coloring in the cocktail shaker will do!
  • Grenadine - If all you want is the plush pink color, use grenadine in place of the crème de noyau. The fruity chocolate flavor is delicious, but it is entirely different than the almond-chocolate the Pink Squirrel was designed for.