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Cheers! A drink from the 1960s honoring the Saturn V rocket, but isn't as potent as rocket fuel

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Assembling the garnish which is intended to look like the planet Saturn.

Sharp things were flying as Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings was carving a fruit sculpture.

“I am making a Saturn,” which she said was in honor of the Saturn V space rocket which would eventually launch people to the moon.

“But, the tradition is to garnish in the style of the planet Saturn. What I am working hard on here is trying to figure out how to cut a slice of lemon, cut out the middle of it, then skewer that with a cherry in the middle so it looks like a planet surrounded by rings,” Tammy explained.

The Saturn is a drink from the 1960s by J. Popo Galsini who won the International Bartender’s Association World Championship in 1967 with the cocktail, according to Punch.

It’s a somewhat complicated drink, primarily because it uses liquors that are found in tiki drinks.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
This drink uses lots of crushed ice.

“If you’re in to tiki cocktails, you might have a bunch of these sitting in your bar, in your refrigerator. But, for most people this might not be super easy to make,” Tammy said.

This is a relatively low-alcohol drink compared to some tiki drinks (which are nearly strong enough to fuel a Saturn V rocket).

Back to that garnish.

“I used one of my really good (brandied) cherries which maybe isn’t quite as dramatic for the appearance of the drink as one of those bright red maraschino cherries would be. But, it’s going to be a lot tastier when I get around to eating it later,” Tammy said with a grin.

1 1/4 oz gin (we used Rusted Crow's Ginstache)
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz passion fruit syrup (see below)
1/4 oz orgeat (see below)
1/4 oz falernum

Garnish: cut a lemon wheel and remove the fruit, leaving rind intact. Carefully skewer lemon wheel and a cherry, place the cherry like Saturn in the center of the ring

Combine all ingredients in shaker with a big scoop of crushed ice. Shake and pour into an old-fashioned glass or wide brandy snifter without straining. Top with additional crushed ice. Garnish. (J. "Popo" Galsini)

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen with the Saturn.

Interesting drink history here.

Passion Fruit Syrup: 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup thawed passion fruit pulp, (often available frozen at Mexican/Latino markets, thaw before using) Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and heat just until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then combine with passion fruit pulp, mixing thoroughly. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store refrigerated. Yield: 8 oz

Orgeat: Check out this link for two options for making your own orgeat. If you are purchasing store bought, opt for one that’s milky in color rather than clear, if you have a choice.

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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