Friday Cocktails: The Moonwalk
I grew up on the south side of Chicago, just down the street from the Museum of Science and Industry, which — if you’re a particularly nerdy kid between the ages of two and thirteen — is nothing less than an earthly manifestation of heaven. There’s a simulation coal mine, a yellow-lit incubator housing dozens of fluffy chicks, and down a darkened corridor lined with automated dioramas of a Victorian-era circus, there’s an entire wing dedicated to space travel. Any childhood visit to the museum demanded a stop to see moon rocks and space suits; even more importantly, to go to the astronomy-themed gift shop in order to buy my very favorite treat: astronaut ice cream. At the same time both dry and creamy, strange and familiar, the opportunity to eat these Neapolitan bricks at my leisure seemed a fair reward for the risk astronauts took on, hurtling outside the atmosphere strapped to a tremendous fire-breathing rocket.
Sadly, actual astronauts never got to eat astronaut ice cream while they were up in space — the freeze-dried chunks are far too crumbly for zero-gravity — but that doesn’t mean they don’t get their own treats. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned from their legendary moon landing in 1969, they were met by President Nixon and three weeks of quarantine; after that, they had their very first drinks back on Earth: tall, bubbly glasses of Moonwalk, a cocktail invented in their honor by legendary Savoy barman Joe Gilmore. With contrasting citrus flavors of grapefruit juice and orange liqueur, a few drops of rosewater for smoothness, and a very effervescent booster from a Champagne top, it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d want to drink after coming back home from a trip to the moon. It’s also not bad as an after-dinner palate cleanser, or as a more nuanced alternative to a Mimosa on weekend mornings — and from experience, I can confirm that it goes surprisingly well as a pairing for freeze-dried ice cream.