A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Birth of Bugs Bunny

This week back in 1940, Warner Bros. introduced one of the biggest stars in movie history: Bugs Bunny. Learn how Bugs got his name and his catchphrase, then sip this wascally drink.

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Photo Credit: Beekeeper/Flickr

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At first, Bugs Bunny was just your standard wascally wabbit.

The year was 1938, and Warner Bros. released the cartoon “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” It introduced the classic Bugs Bunny plot line: Hunter hunts rabbit; rabbit drives hunter insane. But the rabbit didn’t look or sound like today’s Bugs Bunny… and he didn’t have a name.

Still, the critter kept popping up in other Warner Brothers cartoons. Including one directed by a guy named Ben Hardaway. Ben’s nickname? “Bugs.” Folks around the studio started calling the character “Bugs’s Bunny.” And the moniker stuck. Hardaway didn’t direct his namesake’s official debut, though. That honor went to the legendary Tex Avery. In 1940, his Warner Bros. short, “A Wild Hare,” featured a Bugs Bunny that finally looked like the one we know today — uttering his signature catchphrase for the first time: “Enh… What’s up, doc?”

It was just something folks used to say in Avery’s home state of Texas. Avery didn’t even think it was all that funny, but audiences did. The short was a hit, and Bugs Bunny was a star, which maybe isn’t surprising since Bugs’ fast-talking attitude was based on another star — Clark Gable. Specifically, a scene in the movie “It Happened One Night,” in which Gable — gnawing on a carrot — tells Claudette Colbert how to hitchhike.

Bugs may’ve swiped his speech patterns from Gable, but he proved himself a way harder worker. According to 2011’s Guinness Records, he’s been in over 220 movies, more than any cartoon character in film history — including that mouse with the red pants… whatsisname?

The Rabbit Ears

Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com
Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Drawn up by Boyan Dimitrov, former bartender at now-defunct Dimples, across the street from Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, CA.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces vanilla vodka
  • .5 ounce Apple Pucker
  • 1 ounce carrot juice
  • Splash of lime juice

Instructions:

In a shaker over ice, add the ingredients. “Roll and pour” back and forth between shaker and mixing glass, then serve in a collins glass. Garnish with a whole carrot, or, if you’re looney-tunes, toss in a stick of Acme dynamite.