Will cocktails in space finally make a giant leap?
For many, it seems like only yesterday when friends and family gathered, mesmerized, in front of a boxy TV set and let their imaginations soar into the wonders of space, of new frontiers and of man exploring where no man had gone before.
But it wasn’t yesterday. It was a half century ago when the last episode of NBC’s original “Star Trek” aired, ending its five-year mission in three.
For all those years, fans had gathered each week to watch Capt. Kirk, Scotty, Spock, Lt. Uhura, Chekov and Bones travel the universe aboard the Starship Enterprise and fight or befriend strange creatures and defend the peace-loving space federation. And then, on June 3, 1969, it was last call in the Enterprise bar.
A month later, man actually did land and walk on the moon, but what was that compared to getting beamed down? There wasn’t a Tribble to be found. It could hardly replace the void left from the departure of “Star Trek.”
But if moon walking is more one’s interest than star trekking, there’s no shortage of bars and restaurants around Southeast Texas serving special cocktails and menus in honor of this historic anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon.
It’s likely some will be pouring the most famous moon-landing drink known simply as the Moonwalk. It was created in 1969, but not in Texas or Florida or even in the United States. It was first assembled by Joe Gilmore of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. The cocktail was made with Grand Marnier, Champagne, grapefruit juice and a few drops of rose water.
When the astronauts returned safely back to Earth, the Moonwalk was the first drink they eventually had. Neil Armstrong sent Gilmore a letter of thanks.
Closer to home and closer to NASA, Pasha Morshedi, one of the imaginative mixologists and owners of the Rosewater at 1606 Clear Lake City Blvd., wasn’t about to let this anniversary go by without a drink to toast it with. Morshedi launched Mahalo Apollo, a nice play on Tiki drinks from which it was fashioned and a thank you to the Apollo project.
In researching what would be an appropriate mix, he came across a recipe published in the New York Times on July 25, 1969, called the Moon Shot. Invented in France, the drink was equal parts Cognac, orange juice and Champagne, all served over a large rock of ice.
“Frankly, I thought it was an adorable gesture by our oldest ally, but it’s kind of unappealing sounding to me and out of balance,” Morshedi said. “I ended up researching the original menu of food that accompanied the Apollo 11 crew on their trip to the moon, and it included a great deal of nice fruit flavors and spices that work really well in drinks.”
Among the items on the Apollo menu were grape drink, grapefruit drink, cinnamon toast, apricot drink, orange drink, pineapple fruitcake, coconut, cocoa and dates.
To Morshedi, this all just screamed tiki cocktails, something that happened to be immensely popular in the 1960s.
“What better expression of the sheer joy of romanticized exploration than tiki drinks, which are so heavily dependent on rum?” Morshedi said. “Rum was a staple of sailors and explorers centuries ago, and that draws a line back to the very idea of exploring new worlds.”
In real life, the idea of drinking alcohol in space is probably pondered about as much as other perplexing questions, such as going to the bathroom in a space suit or eating crackers with no gravity.
Guess what? It’s been done. Well, maybe not the crackers.
Just shortly after landing on the moon, Buzz Aldrin took communion with the traditional sip of wine. A year later, he wrote: “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup.” That’s not quite a cocktail hour, but it was a first.
In the years that followed, NASA was grappling with a problem already common to Earthbound airlines. The food was awful. To get an idea of what living in space would be like, Don Arabian, NASA’s spacecraft project manager, lived off Apollo food for three days. At the end of the three days, he had “lost the will to live,” he said.
To offset this, astronauts on Skylab missions were going to be allowed to consume sherry. NASA had considered wine, but because of the effects of space travel, the wine could easily ruin. Because sherry is much more stable, NASA decided on rations of 4 ounces every four days of Paul Masson California Rare Cream Sherry.
Unfortunately, NASA nixed the idea before it was ever launched.
During a lecture in 1972, Skylab 4 commander Gerald Carr innocently mentioned the sherry during a lecture. The outcry from the public, particularly teetotalers, was so great, Paul Masson did not leave the surly bonds of Earth.
The ban on alcohol in space stands today, partly because of the public relations backlash. But there have been equal concerns about what alcohol in bodily waste would do to sensitive recycling equipment and what weightlessness of space would do to the body processing it.
While those concerns remain in place, Russians have already put them to rest. From early days on, cosmonauts have been provided with and consume cognac, which Soviet doctors prescribe as being beneficial while in space.
With commercial space travel inching closer and closer, however, the dry era of space may be nearing an end. A company called Cosmic Lifestyle, for example, has designed a martini glass, thus eradicating the last reason one would have for not going to outer space. The glass can even be 3-D printed after reaching orbit. One would assume the martini is shaken.
When one compares the possibility of martinis in orbit or sipping good whiskey while watching the Earth rise, mankind has indeed made a giant leap.
Live long and prosper.
This drink was created by Pasha Morshedi, one of the owners of Rosewater at 1606 Clear Lake City Blvd. in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.
3⁄4 ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
3⁄4 ounce Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Rum
1⁄2 ounce Plantation O.F.T.D. rum
1⁄2 ounce Giffard apricot liqueur
1⁄2 ounce spiced date/coconut syrup
3⁄4 ounce grapefruit juice
3⁄4 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime slice for garnish
Pour all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass over ice, preferably a single ice cone resembling the Apollo space capsule. Garnish with a slice of lime.