Hollywood has long been a cocktail town: The Zombie (Don the Beachcomber), Satan’s Whiskers (The Embassy Club) and the Flame of Love (Chasen’s) were all debutantes in Tinsel Town. And there are more than a few standard cocktails named after celebrities—the Mary Pickford, the Charlie Chaplin, the Roy Rogers and of course, the Shirley Temple.
It was only a matter of time before the cocktails began to trickle into the movies and the movies into the cocktails.
In Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 antebellum film, Django Unchained a variation of a standard tiki drink appears in the cooly vicious hands of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)—never mind the fact that tiki, though created in Hollywood, was not invented until the 1930s. But that’s the beauty of the movies: it doesn’t have to make sense, especially in Tarantino’s grotesque dreamscapes. DiCaprio sipping a Polynesian Pearl Diver out of a coconut shell 70 years too early, still supports the movie’s already bizarre incongruity.
But truly fictional mixed drinks are few and far between. The most famous example, James Bond’s off-the-cuff Vesper, was born in the pages of Ian Fleming’s book, Casino Royale. The drink has become forever connected to the sartorially crisp spy and is now an honest-to-goodness standard. There’s also the Alaskan Polar Bear Heater, from Jerry Lewis’ 1963 film The Nutty Professor, and the Screaming Viking from Cheers, a variation of which found its way into a copy of Food & Wine in 2006. But these drinks are simple concoctions compared to the wildly inventive refreshments found in science fiction, which is responsible for the largest contribution of unreal potions.
It’s Star Trek, the eponymous, multi-generational television and movie series, that offers the most elegant and interesting contributions to sci-fi cocktail culture. The Samarian Sunset, which first appeared in Star Trek: The New Generation, is a mystery that seems more technology than cocktail: Served clear in a clear glass, the drink comes into its own when, after the glass is tapped, the transparent liquid begins to swirl with color.
If “having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick” sounds enticing, consult Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipe. (Good luck foraging Santraginean sea water, three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin and the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger.)
But it’s Star Trek, the eponymous, multi-generational television and movie series, that offers the most elegant and interesting contributions to sci-fi cocktail culture. The Samarian Sunset, which first appeared in Star Trek: The New Generation, is a mystery that seems more technology than cocktail: Served clear in a clear glass, the drink comes into its own when, after the glass is tapped, the transparent liquid begins to swirl with color.
There’s a darker side to the future’s cocktail bars, too. In Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel (and Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film), A Clockwork Orange, the Korova Milk Bar dispenses drinks to make one shiver, namely the Moloko Plus. According the main character, Alex, a glass of Moloko Plus “would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.” It’s the illicit additives— vellocet (opiate), sythemesc (mescaline), drencrom (adrenochrome) “or one or two other veshches [drugs]”—that put the “plus” in Moloko Plus..
Also laced with additives (namely, cough syrup), The Simpsons’ Flaming Homer is one of television’s greatest bar experiments. Necessity is the mother of invention, and when all the beer is gone, Homer creates his own cocktail. After mixing all the leftover spirits he can find (at least six bottles worth) into a blender, he tops it off with a bottle of Krusty’s (importantly “Non-Narkotik”) Kough Syrup. When Homer’s sister-in-law Patty accidentally ashes her cigarette into the drink it bursts into flames, and though Homer doesn’t know “the scientific explanation,” he does know that “fire made it good.” Which is of course, why tiki drinks attract people like, well, moths to a flame.
But there’s one thing that trumps flaming drinks for spectacle points: blue drinks. A fact not lost on Twin Peaks co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. In the fifth episode of the second season, Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) encounters Twin Peaks’ local specialty, the Black Yukon Sucker Punch: A split-level drink with a tar-colored bottom and a foamy, blue upper.
The Black Yukon Sucker Punch may never become cocktail canon—nor the Flaming Homer or the Samarian Sunrise, not to mention milk swirling with barbiturates—but we couldn’t help imagining what they might look like in the real world. So, with the help of some of America’s best bartenders (and one talented illustrator), we turned these on-screen inventions into real-world recipes.