Read // Eat: Pink Penguin Cocktail from ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’

This Read // Eat guest post comes to us via Alicia of Jaybird fame. When she’s not making a mess in the kitchen, she tries her hand at home DIY projects and elaborate picnics. Go be friends! Twitter / Instagram. 

pink penguin cocktail


Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is the story of a family: one proudly eccentric mom, one work-obsessed dad, and one precocious teenage girl named Bee.
When Bee’s mom, Bernadette, disappears after some disastrous social encounters, there is no question that Bee will follow her. Putting together clues from emails, faxes and a mysterious package, Bee struggles to track down Bernadette. Though their marriage is far from perfect, her husband Elgie joins the search party in an attempt to both find his wife and bond with his increasingly distant daughter.
The journey takes Elgie and Bee on a cruise to Antarctica, originally planned as a family adventure. There they meet naturalists, all kinds of passengers, and the best part: plenty of penguins.
“It turns out the lady is a scientist at Palmer Station,” Dad said. “And the pink penguin is their official drink.”
I couldn’t find an official recipe for the Pink Penguin cocktail, and the book didn’t give any hints, so I decided to whip up my own. This Pink Penguin is a classic gin fizz with two twists: watermelon juice and the addition of basil to the simple syrup.Though these fresh ingredients may not be readily available on a cruise ship like the one in the novel, I figured I could take some creative liberties for those of us making drinks at home. The Pink Penguin is sweet, but the flavors of peppery fresh basil and herbal gin balance out the watermelon and sugar. I hope you’ll enjoy this while relaxing on a sunny patio somewhere.


Pink Penguin Cocktail from Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Makes one 8 oz. cocktail
Basil Simple Syrup (makes 2 cups; plenty for later)
a handful (around 10) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1.5 cups white sugar
1.5 cups water
4 1” chunks of ripe watermelon
½ oz. basil simple syrup
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. gin
ice cubes
a splash of club soda
a sprig of basil for garnish
optional: frozen blueberries
In a small saucepan, combine ingredients for simple syrup and bring to a boil while stirring. Once sugar has dissolved completely, remove the pan from heat and let the syrup cool. Strain into a jar to store in the fridge for up to a month.
To make the cocktail, muddle watermelon in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (I mashed it with the handle of a wooden spoon). Add simple syrup, lime juice, gin and fill the shaker with ice. Close and shake until thorough combined, then strain into an 8 oz. glass.
Add club soda to top off the glass and frozen blueberries or ice cubes as desired. Garnish with basil. Extra points for a twee straw.
What’s your favorite literary-based cocktail?P.S. How to throw a J.D. Salinger-themed dinner party and Cheryl Strayed granola.



This cocktail sounds simply wonderful. Many life points for you for getting so creative. You have convinced me to read this book, I kind of thought it was just a book of the moment book that had a lovely cover but it sounds really interesting. New cocktail? Check. New book? Check. Perfect labour day weekend plans.

Sarah Ball

I didn't hear great stuff about this book, but I'd read pretty much anything about cruising to Antarctica. (my dream!)

Also, I can HIGHLY recommend from experience a watermelon/cucumber combination in cocktails. Sweet and refreshing with just about anything.

Kristen Skelton

Loved the book! It took a little bit for me to get into it but then I was hooked, and actually just reviewed another one of hers on my blog today. Fun take on the Pink Penguin! I had wondered what they would actually make it out of.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.