Thoughts on Cocktails in Space

One of the posts I always look for and read each morning in my RSS reader is Jacob Grier’s Morning Links. For those of you who don’t know of Jacob, he’s a genuine, free-range Libertarian, as in former Washington Think Tank-type Libertarian. In additions to writing about cocktails and coffee, he has political thoughts available to puzzle, challenge and generally irritate and piss off both Republicans and Democrats alike. He recently moved from D.C. to the Pacific Northwest (further demonstrating his intelligence), but then exposed his Beltway background by changing his blog’s name (but not the address of the website, thankfully) to Liquidity Preference. Jacob, why on Earth did you rename your blog to sound like a white paper from the Rand Corporation?
Anyway, among his other virtues, Jacob posts a selection of political, culinary, and downright odd links. They are always interesting and occasionally (as with this morning) thought-provoking. Check his daily post out; it’s like Fark without the unsolicited fingers or Instapundit without the blender-blogging.
That’s it for the biography. Let’s talk about what Jacob linked today that got me thinking: An article in Scientific American about taste in space. The article is about how astronauts find flavors quite bland in microgravity, making them crave hot sauce and shrimp cocktail. Now, given who I am and where I read about this, my thoughts immediately turned to how this will affect the offerings to be served at early versions of Ten-Forward.
Of course for now there is (officially) no drinking booze in space. Which is too bad, as any reader of this blog can tell you, since there will clearly be no real progress toward living in space until we get the details of cocktail hour ironed out. At least the Russians (of course) are making the right noises. It is a sad comment on our political environment, IMHO, that for all the effort and money being spent studying how to get a number of astronauts from here to Mars and back in a confined space without killing each other, there has been virtually no discussion of the simple expedient of a nice Manhattan. Mark my words, when NASA hires Gary Regan and starts sponsoring symposia at Tales of the Cocktail, you’ll know that we are getting serious about successfully going to Mars or colonizing the Moon, and not until.

Mission Specialist Gary Regan (Astro-Mixologist)

Oh, and by the way Gary. Quit kvetching about the metric system. The Administration does not have time for another massively unpopular imposition of change on our chosen lifestyle right now. And NASA in particular needs no more worries on that front. You don’t want to be splattered all over the Martian landscape before you stir up your first Mons Olympus Martini, do you?
Alright, what will we need to do for space drinking?
First off, space missions will go with cocktails, not beer and wine. Yay! But why? Because beer and wine are inefficient uses of space and mass. They also do not last as long or store as well. We will have to sacrifice freshly squeezed juice of course, leaving men like Gabriel Szaszko ineligible for space travel, but is that such a bad thing, really?

I’d hope that we won’t just go with those plastic foil baggies like I showed above. Let’s mix the drinks on board. Space cocktails will be solely for therapeutic purposes after all, and part of the simple, refreshing pleasure of a good cocktail is mixing it, or watching it being crafted for you. Also, one good bartender could replace a whole staff of astro-shrinks. More mass savings!
However, microgravity does present some obvious difficulties with standard drink serving. Getting the drink out of the shaker would be hard, and getting it to stay in a cocktail glass even harder. I think we can all agree that having astronauts floating around the cabin while snorking up globules of Sidecar might produce dangerous levels of silly. And I think we can all imagine the mayhem that would result should you help yourself to some of Buzz Aldrin’s G&T as it floated by….
Fortunately, NASA appears to have some people on staff who have their minds in the right place. Witness the shape of the new spacesuit water container:

But to return to the generally serious nature of this post, astronaut and obvious master mixologist Don Pettit really has invented an open drinking vessel that actually works in microgravity. The following video is seriously worth a look.

Just add a stem or some kind of lanyard to keep your hand from warming the drink, and we have the drinking vessel that will carry man and broad into space. (Note to NASA, dudes and chicks do not good astronauts make.)
And finally what will be the recipe for the Martian Martini? What will we put in our Moonhattans? And what will be the secret ingredient in the someday to be famous Tiki drink, the Tycho Bowl? Well, the article that Jacob linked to start all this wretched silliness suggests that our taste buds are dulled the longer we stay in space. We can expect therefore that more potent, bitter and sour, even spicy flavored cocktails will be the norm. Cross Cosmopolitans, Nutty Irishmen, and Vodka Gimlets off the list.
When the new space craze hits, expect ads with chicks in skintight spacesuits for Angostura Bitters to be as common as Grey Goose ads today.

Astronauts will also be wanting drinks with enhanced sour components. So expect drinks that use lemons and limes to outstrip those with OJ or pineapple juice or sodas. And we should see scientific advances is storing and preserving fresh citrus. But the once exotic Screwdriver will fade further from the public consciousness.
And I’d expect that more flavorful spirits will also surge again to the fore. Sorry, vodka folks. Look to whiskeys and rums, and especially gin to be the choice of the extraterrestrial generation.
So what will be the really popular cocktails in space? Lets see….
(I swear on my father’s grave that I was not going here when I started this post!)
A gin cocktail, with potent sour elements like lime, and front stage featuring of Angustora Bitters…
You know it, baby!


  1. Jac

    12 March

    Argh… Must refrain from making fun of Beltway Libertarians!

    Vodka out? C’mon Doug, don’t you want a Tang Screwdriver? And glassware shouldn’t be a problem for the long trips… They’ll want to spin ’em up for gravity anyway, for health reasons. And when the twits at NASA get out of our way and a real space station gets built, it’ll probably spin too. O’course, pouring will be interesting, when the Coriolis effect comes into the picture.

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  2. Doug

    12 March


    I agree. The only things on Earth more deserving of having made fun of than Beltway Libertarians are Beltway Republicans and Beltway Democrats!

    And if Beltway types of any stripe get to be in charge of the drink menu, the poor astronauts will get nothing but Tang Screwdrivers. I predict cannibalism and ritual sacrifice would break out two-thirds of the way to Mars.

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  3. Jacob

    12 March

    Thanks for the endorsement, Doug! That Angostura ad you manufactured makes me want to go buy several dozen bottles of bitters…

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  4. Jac

    12 March

    Barbarella could sell water to a drowning man…

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