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Pink Elephants or Blue Mice?

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

Pink elephants on the table Pink elephants on the chair Pink elephants on the ceiling, Pink elephants ev'rywhere. Now I'm through making whoopee I raised my hand and swore That I never intend to see those pink elephants any more. Guy Lombardo’s 1932 hit song "Pink Elephants" composed by Mort Dixon and Harry Woods

Inspired by a delightful 2009 post on the blog Shaken & Stirred titled “the Wonderful World of Cocktail Shakers & Bar Ware Collecting, Cocktails, and Booze…” today we are taking a deep dive into Pink Elephants.

Most of us know the image of the zany drunk pink elephant. Surprising that, although omnipresent on all sorts of barware, there are very few tipsy pink elephants on swizzle sticks. Instead Swizzle Stick manufacturer Beacon’s Stirstick “Pink Elephant” was hugely popular. However, Beacon’s elephant is in the classic form of the Barnum and Bailey Circus Elephant and not a tipsy one.

Indeed one of these sticks is from the Barnum Hotel. It is possible that the mold was made for them and then sold to other establishments across the land. Seeing "Pink Elephants" is a euphemism for drunken hallucination, but why? References to seeing pink elephants, pink spiders and even blue mice as a drinking hallucination date back to the 1890s. 1913 Jack London wrote in "John Barleycorn":

There are, broadly speaking, two types of drinkers. There is the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and pink elephants. He is the type that gives rise to the jokes in funny papers.

Pink elephants were the most popular image for drinking during several decades, beginning in the '40s, but as you see above it started much earlier. This image has sprung up all over the place in its history with Cocktail Shakers, Napkins, Coasters, Trays including the popular collectors item, the 1940’s Hazel Atlas Dancing Pink Elephant Cocktail Shaker set and the 1950s recipe book.

Pink Elephant Cocktail Recipe

Mix up your own pink elephant with this recipe:

4 oz of Vodka 3/4 oz of Galliano 3/4 oz of Creme de Noyaux (Or Almond liqueur) 3/4 oz of Orange Juice 3/4 oz of Cream Dash of Grenadine

Stir in mixing glass half filled with cracked ice and strain into 5 oz Champagne Glass.

These adorable pink elephants decorated cocktail napkins in the Cellar Bar “A Relaxation center for celebrities” in the basement of San Francisco’s Geary Theatre. ” The great American jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck also played here at the start of his career in the 1950s.

The Pink Elephant Dance from Dumbo

Watch this surreal animated dance sequence:

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