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Drink Of The Week: Chimp In Orbit

Chimp In Orbit, huh? This ought to be good! I admit, it's a really odd name for a drink. So, why monkeys in space?

This week in history. . .
I was researching this week in history and found a few things that seemed thematic to me, although not every story has a good ending. First, on this day in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I know, it's not a happy event, and it's certainly not an image most of us will forget. So, let's just get the sad stuff out of the way first. In the coming week on February 1, 2003, the world watched in shock and disbelief as the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry. Again, it's another sad day for the space program. Meaning no disrespect to those brave spacefarers who lost their lives, there were a couple positive achievements that also occurred.

January 31st marks the anniversary of the 1971 Apollo 14 launch, the third mission to land men on the moon. This anniversary coincides with the launch in 1961 (here it comes) that sent a chimpanzee named Ham into space! Is it a crazy excuse to feature this drink? Well, that's not all! In addition to the space references, the tropical nature of this cocktail is represented in history by the TV show, Fantasy Island which first aired on January 28, 1978. Finally, this day is also Elijah Wood's birthday. I know, Frodo was a hobbit, not a chimp, but it's close enough.

Ok, enough with the goofy historical references—let's get to the drink. There are some great classic cocktail recipes that I will explore in the coming months for DOTW, but sometimes you just need to try something ridiculous. It may be crazy, overly-sweet, and the sort of high-octane beverage you'd find on a cruise ship (or on Fantasy Island), but I don't care. It has been a cold, wet January in St. Paul, and this is just the ticket out of this month.

Chimp In Orbit
1.5 oz 151-proof rum
1 oz sweet (red) vermouth
.5 oz orange curacao
.25 oz light crème de cacao
.25 oz grenadine
2 oz orange juice
1 oz lemon juice

Add ingredients to a shaker, fill with ice cubes and shake very hard to chill. Strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

You probably noticed that this cocktail contains a high-proof rum. Use Bacardi 151 if you must, but for the best flavor, try to find Lemon Hart Demerara from Guyana. There's also no shame in using your favorite aged rum in lieu of higher-proof options, but this will leave you in a lower orbit, unable to escape the earth's gravity.

Red, Italian vermouth is an interesting addition to this tropical drink, and I like the effect it has on the flavor, adding a dimension I didn't expect. Crème de cacao and orange curacao are adding to the sweetness of this drink along with the grenadine. I haven't written much about orange curacao, but it's a liqueur similar to triple sec that is made from orange peels. You can also find blue curacao, but that's best avoided since there are only a few drinks out there that use it. I used my own pomegranate grenadine for this, and you should too. Finally, only fresh lemon and orange juices should make their way into the mix. Keep the concentrates and bottled stuff away!

Shaking this with ice cubes until chilled is pretty normal for any recipe. However, we are straining it into a glass filled with crushed ice. How you obtain crushed ice is up to you, but there are several easy methods. If you are lucky enough to have an ice dispenser that crushes ice you are not going to have any problems. You could also use an electric or manual ice crusher. Or, if you are like me, you can simply put some ice into a bag and bash it to smithereens. What exactly are smithereens, anyway? Get your crushed ice any way you can and I'll show you how I crush mine in the next post.

Garnish this one with a sprig of mint. If you are short on mint, use a slice of fruit and a cherry. Forget about those annoying little parasols. However, if you have a little monkey charm like I do, you might pull him out for this. Don't forget to countdown: five, four, three, two, one, SIP! Now, who's the chimp? You are! It's a silly drink, I know, but it's fun to think about a tropical paradise in January even though it's probably a half-orbit around the world. If it's cold and wet where you are, don't let that bring you down. Focus on how silly this drink is and that should cheer you up. As Mr. Roarke would say to his staff every Saturday as his guests were about to arrive, "Smiles, everyone. Smiles."

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