The Bitter Pink is the most direct name I’ve ever given a cocktail. This cocktail is as bold as it is bitter and as soft as it is pink- hence, The Bitter Pink. I realize what associations it may conjure upon first hearing- There is one that comes to mind, “Two in the pink, one in the sink”- the quote made famous in the 1950s by Palmolive’s new pink dish soap ad campaign. The advertisement featured a happy housewife with her hands deep in dishwater and a bottle of bright pink Palmolive in the background. As famous as the quote became, the ad campaign still failed and ended as abruptly as it began. The world would have to wait another decade for the bold pink future of women’s rights to pave the way.
Women’s rights began with a pop when the FDA approved the use of birth control pills in 1960. Then, in 1963, the highly influential women’s right book The Feminine Mystique was published followed that same year by the passing of the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job. This same decade, another woman was gaining traction on the feminine front, although which way she was facing is up for debate.
Barbie. Everything pink. Silky hair. Luscious blue eyes. Fashionable. But, probably the antithesis of the women’s movement. But because of the budding women’s movement, when she became “Babysitter Barbie” in 1963, she could expect equal pay… even if she did come with an accessory book titled How to Lose Weight. The book didn’t open or have pages, but the back cover just simply stated, DON’T EAT! Two years later, she carried this book with her to slumber parties as “Slumber Party Barbie”. Along with her she brought a scale so she could weigh herself with all her friends. The scale was set to 110 lbs.
This was not the model of the women’s movement- but Barbie never claimed to be either. That being said, let’s explore the bitter side of Barbie.
Over the course of Barbie’s 50+ years of being around she (Mattel and Company) has managed to cause quite a stir here and there. Sure, there is the constant critique of her body proportions that would make a real human look freakish, but there is also- wait- okay, I can’t help myself- let’s detour for a moment- this is too good- Valeria Lukyanova- the real human Barbie.
You have probably seen her pop up on your Facebook feed along the lines of clickbait. She is a “real” person with dreams and fantasies- and truths. I’ll only mention the truths… She has only had one plastic surgery- breast enlargement so she “could be perfect”. She attains her facial perfection through makeup and contacts. She keeps a nineteen inch waist through gym workouts and “tiny amounts of raw fish with fresh juice and water,” but she prefers “liquid foods.” That’s if she’s eating- she also practices Breatharianism- that’s the belief that one can live on sunlight and air alone. This is a real practice and the strictest practitioners usually end up dead of dehydration or starvation- go figure. So, she is not the strictest practitioner- probably because she is too busy modeling and teaching- that’s right- teaching. Our toothpick princess is an instructor at the School of Out-of-Body Travel. She teaches students how to travel outside of their bodies. All this and she’s racist to boot! Last year in an interview with GQ, she said, ‘‘Ethnicities are mixing now, so there’s degeneration, and it didn’t used to be like that.” It’s no wonder she travels out of body, it must be so demoralizing to spend time in her own.
Back to Barbie…
So, yeah, Barbie, 1960s- not a very progressive role model for girls. Let’s see what other gaffes she brought about…
Let’s start with Preggers Barbie- Okay, it wasn’t Barbie herself, but her best friend Midge. Originally, she was released pregnant and lonely- well, not lonely, just single. This of course did not bode well with the Tea Party Barbie players- so she was recalled, and then given Alan- her new husband to take care of her and her little one. Positive role model restored in some eyes- It’s creepy either way- look at this…
Another “coming of age” Barbie was released in 1975- Barbie’s friend Skipper was featured in her adolescence- Growing Up Skipper. With a twist of an arm she grew taller… And bigger… This was again another Barbie not very popular with parents- but inquisitive brothers never complained.
Now that Barbie was growing boobs she needed to learn responsibility- and the best way to do that is to become a dog walker. Barbie was paired with Tanner the dog and this duo came with food or poop pellets (depending on which orifice it was entering or exiting). With a flip of Tanner’s tail, the poop came out. Barbie would then decide to pick it up and either throw it in the garbage, put it in tanners food bowl, or feed it directly to Tanner. The real trouble came when Barbie fed the poop to the small child playing with her- as we know, small objects and children do not mix, so this Barbie was quickly recalled.
So Barbie had all this money from dog walking and wasn’t ready for financial responsibility. What better way to spend money than to spend it on something that will last her entire life- tattoos! Totally Tattoo Barbie came with tattoos for Barbie and tattoos for the kids. Totally Tattoo Barbie was around for a short time until parents became outraged and said it encouraged children to think about getting tattoos.
Okay, enough of Barbie? Ready to move on to the cocktail? Wait- just one more- this one comes with a cookie. Mattel got together with Oreo Cookies and made an Oreo Barbie- Which is all fine and dandy when one is referring to white blonde Barbie- things got controversial when they attached the monicker to African American Barbie. In case you’ve lived a life of pure innocence (obviously not if you are reading this) and don’t know the significance of this is let me explain… Never mind, stay innocent.
Seriously though, don’t these huge companies staff at least one person with a brain that can say, “Ah, maybe that’s not such a good idea.” There is an endless number of these Barbies. There is a Teen Talk Barbie. She talks and one of her lines is “Math is tough”. There is a Wheelchair Barbie- the sad part is is that her house does not accommodate her wheelchair. There is a Mexican Barbie that comes dressed in a fiesta dress with her very own chihuahua (not even sponsored by Taco Bell). There is even a Video Girl Barbie that has a camera in her chest and records video- that’s not creepy at all.
“Barbie did a bad bad thing, Barbie did a bad bad thing.” Sung to the tune of Chris Isaak’s hit, “Baby did a bad bad thing.” Chris Isaak unknowingly began writing this song when he was just twelve years old. He was playing with this sister’s Barbies one night and began to punish each one by spanking them on the bottom and saying “Barbie did a bad bad thing.” Being a compulsive little adolescent, he kept repeating it over and over until it’s melody formed. It would be many years later when he approached his Warner Brothers music label about recording it. They obliged as long as he changed “Barbie” to “Baby”. A hit was born. And now you have a terrible little earworm… What a wicked game I played… to make you feel this way… What a wicked thing to do…
The Bitter Pink
The Bitter Pink is exactly that. Campari and lemon bring bitter and tart, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur rounds it out a bit, and the egg white kneads it all into a smooth creamy balance. This is one of the first cocktails I came up with when my love affair with Campari began. It wasn’t always love between us- We hated each other in the beginning… At first sight I thought she was the most beautiful liquid I had ever seen. The most translucent red body on the backbar. She was lit from below which gave her a flirtatious twinkle in her neck that winked at me. I obliged and took a taste… FUCKING BITTER! What was this shit!? Really. I hated it. And I hated her for seducing me into tasting something that tasted like camel piss.
So time went on and I made Negronis for my patrons (Equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari). Months went by. Every time I tasted a Negroni I made for a guest I winced. Then i winced less… and less. Then I didn’t not like it anymore. And then one day I liked it. I began to take two tastes “just to make sure” it was made correctly. Then I began to drink my own Negronis after shift. It has gotten to the point where right now I am sipping on two ounces of room temperature Campari while doing this writing. Don’t worry, it’s only twenty four percent alcohol, two ounces won’t fect my spelling.
Campari is categorized as an Amaro. An amaro is an Italian potable bitter. Potable used in the same sense as potable water, or drinkable. Basically, with potable bitters, you use and drink them in volumes of ounces, whereas cocktail bitters are used in dashes or drops. Other amari include Fernet Branca, Averna, Ramazzotti, and Cynar just to name a few. They are usually taken after a meal as a digestif, or mixed into cocktails. Campari is a little different because it has always been marketed as an aperitif. You probably don’t care too much about the history of this delicious nectar so I’ll just supply a couple quick facts. Campari was born to Gaspare Campari in 1860 after years of tinkering with the recipe. The original recipe included carmine for it’s trademark color. Carmine dye is made from the scales of cochineal insects. Don’t say gross because you probably ate some in your ice cream last night or spread it on your lips in the form of make-up. Anyway, in 2006, Campari dropped the carmine in favor of artificial color, so who knows what it is now- thanks a lot vegans.
All right let’s get to making that cocktail…
In a shaker combine…
1 egg white
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liquer
1 1/2 oz Campari
If you have a Hawthorne strainer, pull off the spring and throw it in the mix. This will help knock the egg protein around. Do not add ice yet. First, give it a nice long dry shake (that means without ice). Maybe a minute if you have time. This will help emulsify the egg white and get it to it’s utmost frothy potential. Now, pull out the spring if you used it and add ice. Shake it real hard again until the drink is as cold as it’s gonna get. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of orange peel. This, my friends, is The Bitter Pink. Thanks so much for stopping by.