Tropical cocktails served in a tiki style glass and garnished with fruits

Tropical cocktails served in a tiki style glass and garnished with fruits

After two years of attempting to “stream” movies at home and often, in frustration, resorting to watching “Golden Girls” re-runs, I – and multitudes of Americans – happily returned to movie theaters this summer. As convenient as it is to watch a film on your home TV (especially those wall-hung 65-inch models) there is just something about the big screen experience that can’t be replicated. Can you imagine watching “Top Gun: Maverick” on your phone? It’s possible, sure – but why?

It looks like Tom Cruise is still “tops,” with his film surpassing $1.5 billion in revenue worldwide. But other blockbusters brought theater patrons back in droves: “Minions,” “Doctor Strange,” “Batman,” “Elvis,” “Where the Crawdads Sing” … the list goes on. I, for one, was happy to enjoy that inimitable movie popcorn along with a Coke Zero bigger than my head while I once again marveled at the amazingly realistic dinos in the finale of the Jurassic movies. But, as I mentioned, “Top Gun” gets top honors – and earns itself a cocktail tribute.

JET PILOT

• 1 oz. Jamaican rum

• ¾ oz. Puerto Rican rum

• ¾ oz. 151-proof Demerara rum

• 6 dashes Pernod

• ½ oz. grapefruit juice

• ½ oz. lime juice

• ½ oz. cinnamon syrup

• ½ oz. Falernum

• 1 dash Peychaud bitters

Put everything in a blender with a scoop of crushed ice. Blend on high for about 10 seconds. Pour into a hurricane glass and garnish with a cherry, lime wedge, lemon wedge, and grapefruit peel spiral on a cocktail pick.

Obviously the preparation for this drink far exceeds the execution; I mean, really, three rums? And I gotta buy something called Falernum? And that garnish will take years off my life. Really, it’ll be worth it. The rums each bring a different flavor to the finished product (not to mentioning giving it an “after-burner” kick) and the Falernum adds notes of ginger, clove, and almond. The garnish? Well, this is a tiki-style drink so an elaborate fruity garnish is just called for.

First created in a Beverly Hills bar called Luau in 1958, the Jet Pilot’s creation coincided with the introduction of the Boeing 707, the first widely-used passenger jet. The drink’s precursor, the Test Pilot, utilized one less rum and omitted the cinnamon syrup. It was first crafted by the tiki king himself, Don the Beachcomber.

The recent hoopla surrounding the impending launch of Artemis, the return-to-the-moon rocket, combined with cocktails about test pilots, got me inspired to do a little research. And, yes, it turns out there is an Astronaut cocktail.

ASTRONAUT

• 1 oz. vodka

• 1 oz. Jamaican rum

• 1/3 oz. lemon juice

• 1/3 oz. passionfruit juice

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add ingredients. Stir to chill. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Huh! Simplicity itself, right? Not nearly as complicated as chilling hydrogen to 400 degrees below zero in order to get liquid rocket fuel. And not nearly as potent as a Jet Pilot.

The way my mind works is like this: first thinking of pilots led me to astronauts and then it was just a slight twist to wonder about a cosmonaut cocktail possibility. And yes there is.

COSMONAUT COCKTAIL

• 1-½ oz. Grey Goose La Poire vodka

• 1 oz. lime juice

• ¾ oz. ginger liqueur

• 1 dash cardamom bitters

The Grey Goose folks specify using one of those giant spherical ice “cubes.” Place that in a rocks glass and pour in the ingredients. Garnish with a grape.

Why this drink utilizes French vodka I do not know. Or even why it’s the pear flavor or, for that matter mixed with anything. If I were a cosmonaut, landing in those desolate steppes in Kazakhstan, I’d likely just swig Stoli from the bottle. I readily admit, my daring level pretty much is maxed out at buying a movie ticket to anything more exciting than “Downton Abbey.”