Whew! After that bit of cooking lore, I’m exhausted. Time for a drink! Or at least a look at the drinks of Trekquinox.
Like the foods, some of the drinks fell by the wayside, which is too bad, as there were some neat ones in there. But certainly there was no shortage of drinkables. As you can see from the menu, there were two non-alcoholic beverages there – Tranya and Raktajino – and one extremely dangerously alcoholic one – the Warp Core Breach.
I had hoped to greet everyone with a Zero-Gee Mojito as the arrived, as sort of a introductory delight for the palate and the eye. Well, everyone except for Earl and Scott, the two non-drinkers. But of course by the time people started arriving I was still deep into food preparation, and at some point it just seemed like too much work. So this never actually happened for Trekquinox. But at least now you’ll know what this menu item was all about. I’m preparing another dinner for a different group of people next weekend, and I think they shall receive the fruits of this labour.
A bit gruesomely, the only images of liquid in zero-gee I could find in the Star Trek canon was from the sixth movie, in which a bunch of Klingon dignitaries are assassinated aboard their ship in zero-gee, so their purple blood is what’s floating around. Not appetizing, exactly, but certainly zero gravity. For those of you with a taste for organic chemistry, the alcohol molecule is modeled there in the upper left of the display.
Anyway, the trick is to find some chemicals which, when brought together, form a gel “skin”. They happen to be calcium lactate and sodium alginate. You create the mojito mix, add the calcium lactate to it (the use of club soda is also important here, to up the calcium content even further), and then freeze them into ice cubes. Ice spheres, to be exact; I bought a Japanese ice tray that makes ice spheres for this. Then when it’s just about time to serve, you mix the other chemical (the sodium alginate) into a water bath, and drop the ice cubes in, one or two at a time, for about three minutes. The outer layer thaws, the chemicals mix to form a waterproof (and edible!) skin around it, and then you take it out and rinse it with water to stop the reaction. Now you let the rest of the interior melt, and you have a liquid ball of mojito trapped in a bubble. Pop it in your mouth and bite down and it pops, delivering an instant mouthful of liquid mojito. Fun! For extra points, you should have frozen a fragment of mint leaf into the ice, so that now your transparent ball of liquid “miraculously” kept whole will also contain a mint leaf. An appetizer spoon is an excellent way of plating these spherical drinks.
The process is credited as “reverse spherification”, since the first common application of this is to embed your foodstuff in the sodium alginate, so that you can have little floating gel-balls of food in some other suspending liquid. So in this case, we’re permeating our drink with the “setting” material, and surrounding it in the “gelling” material. Hence backwards from the most obvious method, hence “reverse” spherification.
They don’t really deliver much of a drink, of course; imagine a weakly-mixed mojito poured into an ice cube tray. Basically it’s a one ounce shot (or less) of a mixed drink. But they are tasty! And can be complemented with an actual mojito, in a glass. Fun with science!
There is some debate in Star Trek circles whether this was originally Tang, or grapefruit juice, or some sort of fruit punch on set. However, I went with Tang, because it is the drink of astronauts, and what could be more futuristic than that? Not much more to say about Tranya, really.
In the context of the show, Romulan Ale is shown to be blue in colour, and despite its name is apparently extremely alcoholic and gets humans drunk after the first few sips. But as I already had a “hardcore” drink in the form of the Warp Core Breach, it seemed unnecessary to make this into a head smasher. Also, we like beer. So our ale was in fact just beer. But rather than an ale it was a Czech Pilsner, specially chosen by my resident Belgian beer snob Ellen. To make it blue, simply add food colouring. Because beer is naturally some shade of yellow, it’s difficult to make it come out pure blue. But blue-green is close enough.
The technique is simple enough: start by adding the food colouring to the empty glass (adding it after the beer just lets it sit on top of the foam, unmixed) and then pour in the beer. You will find that six drops gives a good colour to a normal sized beer bottle. You want a light-coloured beer, or the end result is mostly invisible. Also, happily, the head of beer is of course white, so you do end up with a nice blue foam out of this.
Romulan Ale! Or close enough for the kind of work we do.
Well, like all things Klingon this has either a disgusting or violent name – in this case, violent. I don’t believe it’s ever properly established on the show, but its believed to be made from actual fermented blood. This was another drink that suffered a bit of truncation – originally I had tracked down a recipe for Glühwein, the German mulled wine, but in the end my stove was in use, and it was already a pleasantly warm day, and we just wanted red wine. So that’s what it ended up being. Glühwein is a drink for a cold day, after all. But I do still have the recipe! Perhaps some Christmas season I shall bust that out again.
Warp Core Breach
Okay, this was the one strange and themed drink that we did actually make, which turned out quite excellently as both a science-y special effect and a drink too. At the end of day you could probably just call it a raspberry zombie – it’s a mixed drink containing many different types of rum (and some additional raspberry liquor), and instead of the mix being orange juice you use a passionberry-based energy drink; Monster or SoBe or some such. But then what elevates it from a simple rum drink to a beverage worthy of a Star Trek dinner?
The answer is simple:
In the context of this episode of Deep Space Nice, Dr. Bashir (on the right) says he needs help relaxing, and the bartender Quark says he has just the thing, and starts making a drink he calls the Warp Core Breach, which he say will relax the doctor for days. The doctor decides he doesn’t need to be that relaxed, and leaves it undrunk. In the context of the real world, the Las Vegas Hilton (which hosted the Star Trek Experience) had an actual bar, called Quark’s, and a real-world drink called the Warp Core Breach. It was the aforementioned rum-based drink with dry ice added for the fog effect. One had to drink it out of straws to prevent the accidental swallowing of dry ice.
To be clear to the non-scientific among you, dry ice is perfectly food safe – it’s just frozen carbon dioxide. Tons of it in the air you’re breathing right now. If it bubbles through your drink, it might pick up a hint of carbonation, but that’s about it. What makes it dangerous is the “dry” aspect; when it’s frozen it is at -109.3°F, which means it’s much worse than sticking your tongue to that metal pole you were warned about in school (at least if you’re from Canada or anywhere it freezes in winter). If it touches your skin you will get a nasty frost burn there. If you swallowed it, that burning would be somewhere inside you – most unpleasant!
So I made it safe by purchasing yerba maté straws, also called bombillas. Because yerba maté was a South American tea drunk out of gourds, and they didn’t have tea balls to hold the leaves in, they put the strainer in the straw itself. Probably bamboo or some other reed with holes poked in the bottom. Anyway, you can buy metal ones now, and it keeps the dry ice in the drink and out of your straw, so that you may sip in safety and comfort. I also bought some stainless steel insulated mugs, just for the style and the look, but it turns out if you drink it down fairly quickly so that there’s still some solid CO2 at the bottom, dry ice is cold enough to freeze liquor down to a slush. Jeff was making rum slushie. An unforeseen consequence, but not a bad one!
Some last-minute changes to the recipe as posted on this screen had to be made; for instance SoBe no longer makes their passionberry juice (or at least it’s not available in Canada). Similarly, Razzmatazz, a raspberry liquor made by De Kuyper, has since been replaced with the more staid sounding De Kuyper Raspberry Liquor – or at least that was what I was told from my American colleagues, since once again it’s not available in Alberta. Here’s the recipe I finally settled on; if you liked them at my party you could make your own, just without the dry ice.
2 oz Appleton’s White
2 oz Bacardi Limon
1 oz Appleton’s Dark
1 oz Kraken Spiced Rum
2 oz Sourpuss Raspberry liqueur
½ oz Appleton’s 151
20 oz (one can) Rock Star passionberry power drink
This is rather a large drink; we ended up mixing them in one giant cup and decanting a half into each actual glass before adding dry ice. Still not dissimilar to having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. But that’s a different book, ain’t it?
A Bajoran beverage that was basically just a funny word for coffee. It had caffeine, it was served hot, people drank it at the beginning of the day or late at night to stay awake… coffee. And so mine was, thanks to my Tassimo coffee maker.
Ah, there’s nothing more refreshing that a post about drinks – except possibly a drink itself? I shall go investigate now.