October 12: The Hitchhiker’s Guide

HHGGDouglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series started as a radio drama for the BBC, but it soon took on a life of its own, and it was on this day in 1979 that Adams’ comic science fiction tale was released as the first of the five books that make up the grossly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide tells the goofy tale of Arthur Dent, an Englishman who wakes up one morning to discover a bulldozer sitting outside, prepared to knock over his house to make room for a highway bypass. His friend Ford Prefect then arrives on the scene and explains to Arthur not to worry, because some aliens are about to blow up the Earth to make room for hyperspace bypass. Conveniently, Ford is able to transport the two of them off the planet just before it’s destroyed and the rest is a wonderfully goofy adventure involving a paranoid android, a man with two heads and three arms, super-intellegent mice and “42, the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything!”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide series happens to feature one of my all time favorite fictional drinks; the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. Invented by former President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is described as “like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” Now conveniently, Adams provided a recipe for this drink in Hitchhiker’s Guide:

  1. Take the juice from one bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit.
  2. Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V (Oh, that Santragian seawater! Oh, those Santragian fish!)
  3. Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzene is lost).
  4. Allow four litres of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in honor of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia.
  5. Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qalactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heavy odors of the dark Qalactin Zones, subtle, sweet, and mystic.
  6. Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger. Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink.
  7. Sprinkle Zamphuor.
  8. Add an olive.
  9. Drink . . . but . . . very carefully.

Now, unfortunately, most of these ingredients aren’t available on Earth. In fact, in an interview Adams once said that “Unfortunately there are a number of environmental and weapons treaties and laws of physics which prevent one being mixed on Earth.” However, some enterprising souls have created a version using Earth ingredients. It’s a seriously potent drink. How potent? Well, its chief ingredient is highly flammable 151 proof rum. That sounds about right for a drink described in the book as “”the alcoholic equivalent of a mugging – expensive and bad for the head.” If you decide to make this, good luck!

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (Earth Version)

  • 1 1/2 ounce 151 Proof Rum
  • 1/4 ounce Tequila
  • 1/4 ounce Gin
  • 2/3 ounce Triple Sec
  • 1 ounce Blue Curaçao
  • 1 dash Bitters
  • 1 dash grenadine

Pour into a highball glass with ice and garnish with a lemon zest and an olive. Drink . . . but . . . very carefully.

Tomorrow: Work begins on the White House.


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