The past decade has seen the rise of geeky bars, in which you can relax in a nerdy atmosphere with an equally nerdy drink in hand. Perhaps one of the most well-known is in Brooklyn, where The Way Station offers geeky drinks and channels Doctor Who with select décor and cocktails.
Luckily, those not in New York no longer need a TARDIS to travel there to try one of the creations offered at this fine beverage establishment. Thanks to a new book by Way Station owner Andy Heidel called The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy, anyone anywhere in time and space can give his drinks a try.
The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy contains more than 100 recipes inspired by everything from 12 Monkeys to Young Frankenstein. Heidel told SYFY WIRE he came up with the idea for trying to write it after seeing other bars releasing their own cocktail books. The book doesn't just include recipes with some awesome illustrations, though -- it also features tips for enjoying a night out from Heidel and others. There are Heidel Hints throughout like the Hydration Protocol to remind people to drink a glass of water in between each cocktail and the Food Directive to remind people to eat before going out to drink.
"Even some of my seasoned bartenders forget to eat every once in a while, and they have a couple of drinks and then next thing they know, they don’t know anything," Heidel said. "Then at The Way Station, we get a lot first time bar-goers, so I worked on essays with my bartenders about tipping etiquette and bar etiquette."
There's a lot you can get out of this deliciously geeky book, but what about those cocktails? Heidel shared his 10 favorites from the guide with SYFY WIRE, including two with recipes that you can try yourself below!
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster
If you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then this cocktail created by Douglas Adams will be familiar to you. Heidel has been a fan of Adams’ for a long time.
“Years and years ago, I must have been 11 or 12, my best friend at the time who I was playing Dungeons & Dragons with ended up getting a copy of [Hitchhiker’s] and started reading some passages aloud to me. I was just rolling on the floor laughing,” he said. “I got myself a copy and read through it again and again. In college, I was lucky enough to meet Douglas Adams when he gave a lecture at my school. He was one of the first authors that made me want to write.”
If this drink was going into the cocktail book, Heidel knew he had to give it 3,000 percent instead of going with previous versions, which were an easy drink that looked colorful.
“I put the most dangerous Earth ingredients in it that I could find that were legally available and when I first made it and tried it, my hands literally shot away from my body. I knew I made something dangerous,” Heidel said. “When I had it for sale at the bar, I limited consumption to only one cocktail.”
Hearing that, it’s wise to take Adams’ advice, which Heidel notes in his book introducing this drink as well, and bring along a towel when you try this!
1/4 part each of:
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
Pour all the ingredients into a large glass filled with ice. Stir, then strain into a fancy glass and garnish with lemon peel.
Drink, but very carefully.
(Illustration - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Cocktail: Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. Credit: Kati Delaney)
The Awesome Mixed Drink
Pop in a cassette and listen to your favorite mixed tape if you make this Guardians in the Galaxy-inspired cocktail in the book. Guardians of the Galaxy is a recent fandom discovery for Heidel.
"I just got into it with the movies and I thought it was so well done and so much fun. The music was a great part of it. I finally got a cassette player hooked up to my stereo now and I’m going through all my old mixed tapes," he said.
According to Heidel, this drink is "kind of like a classy Long Island Iced Tea." It’s based on a cocktail that was an epic quest for him since he couldn’t find a place that made this drink, called a Rocky Mountain Mother F*****, after he graduated from college.
"When I started bartending, I tried to reinvent it based on taste memory and a week after I thought I perfected it a girl came into the bar and said ‘you know it probably won’t help but I still have to ask. I can’t find anyone who can make a Rocky Mountain Mother F*****,' and I said ‘guess what? Today’s your lucky day.’ I made us both one, she tried it and said ‘that’s it’ so I got confirmation that I recreated it. I repurposed that here," Heidel told SYFY WIRE.
Warp Core Sex on the Breach
Just in time for Star Trek: Discovery, you can boldly drink this cocktail to feel like you're going where no geek has gone before. This drink has what Heidel said has to be his favorite cocktail name since it’s a mashup of Star Trek and a classic cocktail.
"Warp Core Sex on the Breach is my take on the classic Sex on the Beach and the pinup art work by Ed Reynolds is fantastic," he said.
Heidel grew up watching Star Trek and has seen every iteration of the show from The Next Generation to Enterprise to J.J. Abrams’ reboot. He thinks Abrams’ reboot is fantastic "because it uses the time travel trope to create a new universe where they can go into any direction they want."
George R.R. Martini
While you wait for the next season of Game of Thrones, try making this martini named after author George R.R. Martin. It’s a standard martini, but "takes two to four years to make" Heidel joked.
"Years ago, I was friends with Anne Groell, who was George Martin’s editor and I remember asking 'so when’s the next one coming out?' I was looking forward to reading it, I’d read the first three. She was pulling out her hair saying 'he’s late again. I don’t know, maybe next year,'" Heidel said. "You never know when you’re going to get the next book from him so the same goes for the directions on how to make this cocktail. It pokes fun at him and then my illustrator Kati Delaney did an incredible pin-up of George Martin in a martini glass to accompany the drink!"
The Fifth Element is one of Heidel’s favorite movies. He describes this cocktail in the book as "a cocktail put together as divinely as Leeloo herself." It’s a drink originally called A Reason to Live.
"It’s got to be one of the best cocktails ever invented because it hits all the flavor notes. Sweet, sour, salty, and tart. It kind of creates this umami flavor in your mouth when you make it perfectly. Just like umami is the fifth taste, that fits very well to The Fifth Element," Heidel explained.
This drink is one of the few beer cocktails Heidel said he has in the book. He went with a beer cocktail as a fit for Tremors because there’s a high-octane beer called Delirium Tremens.
Heidel told SYFY WIRE when it comes to Tremors, he can watch it over and over again. "So much so that when I got home one day I caught the end of Tremors on the SYFY channel and then watched all of Tremors 2, then watched Tremors 1 from the beginning, and then watched Tremors 2 again!" he said.
Star Wars is another franchise Heidel has a long history with.
"I remember waiting in line for hours to see Star Wars in the theater. The first time for the first Star Wars, I saw it with my family and had no idea what my dad was taking us to go see. I was just enthralled and had to go back to see it again and again and then Empire came out and I waited in line probably three days in a row to see it again and again with friends," he said.
This Star Wars-inspired drink has another one of Heidel’s favorite cocktail names in the book. This is his take on a Sazerac mashed up with an old-fashioned. The illustration for the cocktail, created by Teresa Galus, was also fun to art direct according to Heidel. It looks like the drink will be a lot of fun to make too if you follow the last line in Heidel’s directions!
1 orange wedge
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 parts Old Overholt rye
Rinse a fancy glass with absinthe. (A rinse is: adding a thimbleful of liquid to your glass first, swirling it around, and pouring out the excess.) Muddle the orange wedge, sugar cube, and bitters in the bottom of a large glass. Add the rye and fill with ice. Stir or shake, then strain into your fancy absinthe-rinsed glass. Make sure to scream as each ingredient enters the maw of your glass.
(Illustration - Star Wars. Cocktail: Sarlacczerac. Credit: Teresa Galus.)
Christopher Walken Dead
"I turned to the classic Corpse Reviver for this one, which is traditionally a hangover cure and the name’s perfect as it relates to zombies," Heidel said of this recipe. "With a name like Christopher Walken, even though he’s not in the show, the play on words works."
It's quite a perfect fit for a cocktail inspired by The Walking Dead and makes us wish for the Walken cameo on the show we never knew how much we wanted! Unfortunately, while Heidel has been a fan of the series for a while, he had to give it up last year after watching the Season 7 premiere with his friends.
"When Glenn's eye popped out of his head, me and my friends just turned off the TV and haven’t turned it back on. I was really enjoying the series. Person on zombie violence, fine. People on people violence, not so much," he said.
He’s not the only one who thought that premiere was too much. Even if you gave up the show, though, you can at least get your fix with this cocktail.
Heidel describes Snowpiercer as a movie that "should not have worked."
"There’s been some great discussions about it at my bar. When I first heard about it, on one side were the fans who’d seen it and thought it was great. Then they’d explain the movie and the rest of us who hadn’t seen it were like 'no, no that sounds horrible' and of course that night I ended up watching it on TV and fell in love with it. I must have seen it four times since," he said.
This Snowpiercer-inspired cocktail is based on one he already had in his back pocket and initially called the Train Wreck. According to Heidel, it tastes like summertime in a glass. He called the drink this because he first invented it for a woman at a bar he was working at who liked cucumbers and who, after drinking these cocktails, was apparently a train wreck.
Captain Tight Pants
Heidel describes himself as a huge Firefly fan.
"If only that network could have committed to keeping it at one time and not moving it around and not screwing with it. I would have liked to see a couple more seasons of it!" he told SYFY WIRE.
This is another beer cocktail. It's the first cocktail he came up with for the show. At the time he made it, he had Captain Lawrence Clearwater Kölsch on tap and he'd just got his hands on Firefly Apple Pie Moonshine. He said adding just a bit of the moonshine to the beer creates a great aroma.
"The apple pie is not overly sweet and combining Firefly with Captain Lawrence, that’s why it had to be the Captain Tight Pants!" Heidel said.