I have written before that mankind cannot successfully make it all the way to Mars without taking along Gaz Regan. It's Science. It's Settled™. Forget it at the peril to the mission. Astronauts need a good drink, but once you establish that, the details get pretty intense. NASA keeps doing study after study (of the Well, No Duh results variety) that show that astronauts would benefit greatly from a small belt or two from time to time because Space is boring, and stressful, and if you eat the food for so much as three days in a row you will find that you have "lost the will to live." Most ordinary adults know that the solution to all these things is booze in rational amounts. Ordinary adults, that is. When NASA was readying the first space station mission, they determined that sherry was an excellent choice to fulfill this basic human need, since it is stable in difficult conditions like zero-gravity. But then they caved to pressure from people who screamed about astronauts being role-models, and as such should not be seen drinking
like Niles Crane. You will note that the Russians, in addition to such crazy expedients as retaining actual manned space travel capability, do allow their cosmonauts to have a drink for mental health reasons.
There is no way that you are going to get a crew of the alphaest of alpha males (and females) all the way to Mars, though, without sending along either some booze or dueling pistols. When the prohibitionists come back at NASA again, I suggest that they lock said protesters together in a metal can for five hundred days. They might go in Baptists, but they are a comin' out Episcopalians.
But the therapeutic nature of a good drink is about more than just the ethanol intake. (Note that even the Russians don't take up vodka, they bring along cognac.) It is also the joy of the aesthetic experience of a good drink that will help people make it to far destinations. Thus, to my way of thinking, the keys to the aesthetic drinking experience are variety and presentation.
If you want variety, that means your ethanol vehicle of choice is the mixed drink. Mass restrictions would restrict taking beer, and they would certainly prevent laying in any kind of broad-appeal cellar. But a relatively small number of low-mass ingredients can create a dazzling variety of cocktails. Thus my call to have Gaz sent to Houston for training, stat.
But, like everything else, the tools needed to prepare and consume a good cocktail, like everything else from pens to toilets, need to be updated or even reinvented for use in zero-gravity.
An essential tool, the shaker, appears to not have an elegant solution for zero gravity yet. The following video from Stoli should show any reasonably educated drink mixer the multifarious problems that surround trying to whip up a Pegu in outer space.
Clearly, there a significant effects from zero-gravity on most any beverage container/dispenser, as the following video reveals...
In all seriousness, terrestrial tools for mixing a cocktail are totally unsuited for space. Newton is going to bang the bartender all over the walls when he goes to shake. A strainer will do nothing but break up the drink blob and spray it all throughout the atmosphere. And gin does not mix well with integrated circuits.
Still, I think that re-engineering the mixing component will be fairly easy. I envision a flexible rubber box which you can fill with ice, then inject ingredients into. Attach it to an agitation platform affixed to the wall to mix and chill, then use a tube to dispense. Eject the ice into the recycler, and it is time for the next round. Astronauts will miss the Flair and Hard Shake experiences, but you can't have everything.
The final piece is actually getting the maximum enjoyment out of your Space Martini™. To do that, it needs to look and feel like a Martini. You need a stemmed cocktail glass. To see why this presents problems, look at the video above. (The first one, not the one with the nice stems). But man is ingenious. Behold the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project, from the Cosmic Lifestyle Corporation.
Click-in base so you can set it down, check.
Proper shape, check.
Open top, so your beverage will float out and ruin all the electronics on the space station, leading to the plot of Gravity 2, not so fast.
Look at all those ridges. Astronauts have discovered that when you have a crease in a container, the angle of which is less than 90 minus two times the contact wetting angle, surface tension will keep the liquid inside. More importantly, it will wick that fluid along the crease and you can suck it out, i.e. have a sip. The technology is based on the way liquid fuel tanks can restart a rocket in space. It has already been proven as a beverage drinking technology (in primitive form) with coffee cups.
Look at the cocktail glass. Its entire surface is a series of channels, each of which I'm sure is contact wetting angle-appropriate, which cover most of the inner surface of the glass. These all eventually come together at a single spot on the rim, which is, I'm assuming, the point from where you must drink. The only question I have is what material is the vessel made from? It obviously isn't glass, as you can tell by looking, and I'm sure this is for prototype fabrication reasons. But if you are going to make a number of these, I'm assuming the final product can't be glass either, for safety reasons. What can you make it of, so the rim is properly thin and cold to get the sipping experience just right?
I'll wrap by noting that this technology is important for more that distant exploration. It's going to make a difference in commercial space tourism as well. Over the long run, how many rich as Croesus tourists are going to any hotel, even one in orbit or on the Moon, where they can't enjoy a quality Manhattan?
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day. —FRANK SINATRAOl' Blue Eyes is alleged to have been buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels in his pocket, a tidbit at the center of Jack Daniel's latest marketing campaign, which includes an exhibition at the Savoy Hotel in London (England, not Ohio, if you were confused) and the release of a special bottling of Jack Daniels called Sinatra Select. It's available only in airport duty-free stores, so at £150 you know its a good deal.... But while I'm always willing to tap my hat to the joy of a few fingers of brown liquor, this is a cocktail blog. Let's talk instead about the man and his cocktails, as discussed in part by The Independent's Dish of the Day blog. Sinatra always stayed at the Savoy when he was performing in London, and after his shows, he would retire to the American Bar to wind down. His drink of choice at those times was a dry Martini.
He’d go for a classic Martini – Beefeater gin with a shadow of vermouth, served on the rocks with a twist of lemon. And we had to make sure his glass was filled with ice. —Victor Gower, Head Barman at the American Bar 1946-1985Since he's the Chairman of the Board, I guess he can be forgiven having his Martini on the rocks. Ditto for the vermouth aversion. But only for him. You need to drink your Gospel of Gin "up", with a goodly pour of vermouth! This picture is an example. Frank looks cool with a Martini on the rocks in his hand. This other dude.... And even Sinatra looks better when he has his Martini up, as seen below in a rare photo of him being out cooled by Bing Crosby in High Society Now that I've had some fun, there are two points I'd like to make about what both Gower and his successor Peter Dorelli say about Sinatra's visits to the American Bar. The first is that he was very particular about the details of his drinks. On its own, this is a fine and admirable trait. I am quite particular about what I drink. A cocktail is, or should be, a precision creation. But Frank sounds like he was kind of a dick about it, which is neither fine nor admirable. He didn't like to talk to the bartenders himself, even when standing at the bar, but if any detail was not to his liking, "everyone would know about it,” notes Dorelli. No one is too good to talk to their bartender. No. One. And if you find something wrong with your drink, cordially and quietly let the bartender know how you would like it fixed. If it keeps happening, go to another bar. Or, if you are Frank Sinatra and you only drink at this bar, have the offending mixer put in a car trunk and driven to the fens. But do it quietly, as there is no need to embarrass the guy in the process! Balancing out this minor rudeness is a major plus: He liked to play the piano. Most bars do not like it when their guests take it upon themselves to sit at the piano and start to play. (And by you, I mean me. (And probably you.)) But when said guest is Frank Sinatra, exceptions must be made.
The impromptu performances were more for his own benefit than for any fortunate guests who happened to be listening, but they have become the stuff of music legend. —The Telegraphabc
Over at Art of Drink this month, Darcy dons his white lab coat for some cocktail mad science. Entitled Cognac Oil, his post is an entertaining look at employing some non-traditional ingredients, such as the titular essential oil, to create a non-alcoholic drink that tastes like, well, a drink. It's a fun post, with some great opportunities for drink-geeking out. I'm not going to rehash what he does to make his drink. It's his post, so go read it on his site. The link will open a new tab, so go on. I'll be here when you get back because I want to talk about why you should be interested. In his introduction, Darcy touches on this with what he calls his "buzz management concept". This is something every responsible drinker does in one way or another, and with varying degrees of conscious effort. Simply put, if you want your evening to last long, and end well, you need to drink just enough of the right strength of drinks to let the alcohol take effect... without taking over. For a variety of reasons, this can be difficult. You can always nurse your drink, but with possible exception of red wine, this is almost always unsatisfactory. The great Savoy barman Harry Craddock famously said, "The way to drink a cocktail is quickly, while it is still laughing at you." Nurse a cocktail, and it gets warm. It was designed and balanced for consumption cold, and almost no up drink will taste as good once it starts to warm. Nurse a rocks drink and it may stay cold, but it will get watery. Ditto on the effects on the flavor there. You could just go home (or go to bed if you are already there) the moment you reach your safe, effective limit. The less said about this ridiculous option, the better. The chief benefit of social drinking is the social bit. If you shut down just when things get good,you might as well have just curled up with a good book instead. It's cheaper. You can always mix in something non-alcoholic between in each round. Some suggest a glass of water between each drink as a way to slow you down and keep you hydrated to ward off some of the hangover. But water is boring, and well fish f*ck in it. You could try a "mocktail" or Preggatini, but I find them usually unsuitable for this task. Many are delicious, but usually they are far too sweet, and almost none offer the balance and depth of a good mixed drink. Very few non-alcoholic concoctions offer any reward if you take a moment to ignore a boring stretch of the conversation and just savor your third sip. Fixing this last is what Darcy is trying to accomplish with his cognac-esque no or low-alcohol cocktail: An evening extender that you can consume in like manner to a full throttle one. This is a worthy goal, and one every ambitious bartender on Earth should work on too. Face it folks, booze is a powerful thing. Too much will result in, at best, a bad morning and some embarrassment. But enough, especially if you maintain the right balance between consumption and metabolization, is even more powerful. Moderate drinkers may be more intelligent, and are certainly more creative. Drink well, and rule the world. Drunk too much, and destroy it. Darcy's just trying to save the world, folks. I'll leave you with this little cautionary tale about the power of being just exactly one and a half drinks in, which Darcy's post led me to recall. (Not safe for work because of mild language and your loud laughter.) abc
This is going to be the shortest of my Washington reviews, in large part because it was nearly 11:30 before I finally bellied up here, after great times at PS7 and the speakeasy inside The Passenger: Columbia Room. Maggi and I had wandered by the entrance to The Passenger earlier in the day, to make sure of our bearings, and we had raised an eyebrow upon seeing it. Despite being about two blocks from what I just described as the glittering power neighborhood surrounding PS7, the block the Passenger is on seems a bit... disreputable. This is due in no small part to the entrance to The Passenger itself. You see, when I finally got back there after walking my flagging wife back to our hotel, it dawned on me that, "Hey! This is a dive bar!" I am not a fan of dive bars. But that is because most dive bars aren't anything like The Passenger. Sure, the place is raucous, ratty, and a bit run down (artfully so). But the drinks were awesome. The Passenger taught me something about myself: Why I don't like dive bars. I always thought I was just too effete for that scene. When your nose is as big as mine, you notice it when you find it shoved up in the air. But no. The reason I don't like dive bars is because I can't get a decent cocktail in one. In the Passenger you can't get a decent cocktail either. You get a fabulous one. With that fixed, I loved the atmosphere. So whether you are a real dive bar lover, or a total cocktail geek, you need to drop in for at least one drink at The Passenger if you visit Washington. And for those of you who live close enough, why isn't this your hangout already? Apparently, I'm not quite the snob I thought I was!
Nah. You're pretty much a snob.This review is part of my larger Great Cross-Country Bar Crawl series. Here is the main post for our Washington stop, with links to all reviews for DC.abc
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