Out-of-this-World Drinks for the Moon Landing Anniversary
One small sip to commemorate 50 years since Apollo 11.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins boldly went where no man had ever gone before. Fifty years later, restaurants and bars are celebrating Apollo 11’s momentous achievement with out-of-this-world treats. Here’s where to get them, and how to host your own extraterrestrial event.
Fly Me To the Moon
Portland, Oregon’s Bacchus Bar’s lead bartender Nathan Elliott is a self-proclaimed space nerd. Lunar Glow (above; $11), his riff on a gin fizz, shakes Malfy Gin, Empress Gin, blood orange liqueur, lemon juice and egg white, all over grapefruit soda and garnished with dashes of bitters to form the shape of a crescent moon. "This cocktail invokes the feeling of staring at the moon in a summer sky," Elliott says. "Bonus, it’s also a subtle play on the drink the astronauts enjoyed upon arriving back from the moon dubbed the Moonwalk."
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing, Nashville’s Union Station Hotel is planning a series of events and promotions this weekending, including a Moon Pie welcome amenity at check-in, a guided discussion and visual presentation about space exploration and, of course, a themed cocktail. Get inspired beforehand by grabbing The Ice Moon ($15) at Carter’s restaurant. Created by restaurant manager Jacqueline Schutt, the lunar libation is inspired by natural satellites made primarily from ice, and includes cucumber-infused vodka, aloe liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup and chilled down with a large ice sphere that looks just like the giant white rock orbiting the earth.
Suds in Space
Local St. Louis craft brewery Schlafly Beer’s Lunar Lager is a sampler pack of four exclusive lagers ($13.99) brewed especially for the anniversary. Lift-Off Lager is an unfiltered German lager whose golden hazy appearance is meant to mimic what the sky looked like that July morning in 1969 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Apollo’s Orbit Black Lager appears as dark as the view outside Apollo 11’s window; Moon Walk Dunkel, a dark and malty German lager, references Armstrong and Aldrin’s stroll that day; and The Eagle Has Landed American Lager is named for a quote that’s now an inextricable part of the American experience. Packaging highlights a few memorable moments from the voyage and include fonts from 1960s-era albums and the sans-serif font so popular back then in science fiction comic books and shows. In addition, the square shape around the corners of bottle labels evoke a television set — the method through which most Americans witnessed the moon landing — with colors taken from 1969 Ford and GM automotive paint chips.
One Giant Leap, One Massive Dessert
Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be having a special celebratory event on July 20 called One Giant Leap. During this ticketed event guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres while watching lunar landing footage, digital photos where you can place yourself on the moon or next to Neil Armstrong and commemorative guests. As part of the festivities, Delaware North, one of the country’s leading food service and retail providers, will be constructing the world’s largest Moon Pie: 41-inches in diameter and 60 pounds of marshmallows, graham and chocolate. Guests will be able to eat pieces of the iconic treat from a company that dates back to 1917 and also get a regular-sized one to take home as a souvenir.
Tang, that orange powder mixed with water to create a tart refreshing beverage, found its way onto various space missions in the 1960s and was touted to give the astronauts "pep in their step." Top of the Gate, the rooftop bar at Washington, D.C.’s iconic Watergate Hotel, is offering a retro riff that’s more crafty and elevated than any artificially-flavored drink mix. The fizzy and buzzy Moonwalker ($20) is available during the entire month of July and is a mix of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Aperol, fresh squeezed orange juice and Moët Ice Imperial Champagne. As a nod to the original, bartenders add a pinch of Tang to the glass and rim it with it as well.
As poetic and celestial as the Van Morrison song of the same name, the Moondance cocktail at the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis barrel-aged gin with lemon juice, honey syrup, Cocchi Americano, bitters and Heirloom Alchermes, a liqueur flavored with cinnamon, clove, vanilla bean and rose water whose recipe dates back to the eighth century. It’s topped with seltzer water and garnished with a dehydrated grapefruit half-moon that’s sprayed with a touch of edible metallic gold and dusted with edible silver stars.
Can You Hear Me, Ground Control?
Conspiracy theorists have it all wrong says Josh Cameron: we most decidedly did land a spaceship on the moon and it was not all just a mere fabrication in a Hollywood studio. The head bartender at industrial American restaurant Boulton & Watt in New York City created the Morse Code Paragraph Text cocktail ($13) because as he puts it, "even from space sometimes we all say or tap the button a little too much. Just stop talking already." He shakes Aviation Gin ("the spirit of the journeyman") with Napoleon Mandarin Liqueur, yogurt ("inspired by the smoothies we imagine astronaut-types drinking all day"), lemon juice, simple syrup and rhubarb bitters. It’s strained into a highball glass over fresh rocks and garnished with fresh sage.
Crafty Blasted Sip
The paternal grandfather of Alpine Distilling co-owner Sara Sergent Norbert Bork was an engineer for Lear Siegler and actually made pieces for the lunar module and the space capsule that went to the moon. By another coincidence her maternal grandfather, Richard Shankland, worked at General Motors in St. Louis and had the opportunity to meet the crew of Apollo 11 during their pre-launch training. Her mom and dad shared these stories with her during her childhood, which is what stirred her to create the cocktail that will be served at the distillery’s Pie Bar in Park City. The Moon Walker ($13) shakes their Lafayette Spiced Whiskey with amaretto, lemon, aromatic bitter and egg white, served up in a cocktail glass garnished with lemon zest and shaved cinnamon. As an added effect a torch is used to blast the center of the cocktail to evoke the Apollo liftoff — and it also happens to resemble the surface of the moon.
Tips for hosting your own moon landing anniversary party:
- Decorate with glow-in-the-dark stars, moons and planets and small paper rockets, stream news footage from the landing on television sets and set the mood with a playlist of songs like Intergalactic, Fly Me to the Moon, Space Oddity, Man on the Moon, Moonshadow and C Moon.
- Invite guests to wear late 1960s attire (miniskirts and dresses for women, short sleeved dress shirts and Kipper ties for men.)
- Toast with Tang Champagne Cocktails: rim flutes in Tang powder, mix up pitchers of Tang spiked with vodka or gin, pour into the prepared flutes and top with chilled bubbly.
- Rim rocks glasses filled with gin fizzes with rock candy for a fizzy surprise with each sip.
- Stock a galvanized tub with bottles of 7 Moon Red Blend Wine chilled down a bit to counter the July heat.
- Set out bowls of addictive, freeze-dried Moon Cheese.
- Serve cake pops coated in light grey icing for a full lunar effect.