We Review Alaskan Polar Bear Heaters, the Crazy Cocktail from The Nutty Professor

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

“You going to drink this here, or are you going to take it home and rub it on your chest?”

It’s the cocktail to end all cocktails. In The Nutty Professor (1963), nebbishy chemistry instructor, Julius Kelp (Jerry Lewis), goes all Jekyll and Hyde when he mixes himself up a strengthening potion with some startling side effects. His resulting hep-cat alter ego, Buddy Love (bearing an uncanny resemblance to Lewis’ ex-comedy partner, Dean Martin), is a killer ladies’ man and barroom bully. He handles a cocktail shaker the way Prof. Kelp would a test tube, and he’s particular about what he drinks. So, when the bartender at the campus hotspot, The Purple Pit, balks at his request for an “Alaskan Polar Bear Heater,” Love is quick to set him straight:

“2 shots of vodka… a little rum… some bitters… a smidgen of vinegar.. a shot of vermouth… a shot of gin… a little brandy… lemon peel… orange peel… a cherry…some more scotch…. Now, mix it nice. Pour it into a tall glass.”

(Image credit: Mark Weiner)

Curious, the crew at The Celluloid Pantry shook up a batch so you don’t have to. The four distinguished tasters on our panel were quick to share their notes:

  • “Not disgusting.”
  • “It reminds me of hypo — you know, the photo chemical — when you get it on your hands.”
  • “You have to eat a cherry with every hit.”
  • “This is totally drinkable – kind of like a weird Manhattan.”
  • “Yeah, we’re in Manhattan and it’s weird.”

Recommended? In the end, sadly, it was a unanimous “No.” Maybe without the vinegar…

(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

The Celluloid Pantry is a classic column that ran on The Kitchn from 2006 through 2007 that revisited many iconic moments of food and drink in films. We’re taking a trip back through some of our favorites this month, in anticipation of this year’s crop of Oscars. Enjoy!