Today we’re mixing the Ice Cream for Astronauts cocktail because it’s the anniversary of the day NASA rocketed into existence. July 29 is the day in 1958 that President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act. That act created NASA, or National Space and Aeronautics Administration.
NASA, of course, employs astronauts. So we turn to a drink that fits both the season and topic, the Ice Cream for Astronauts drink. It’s a fresh, ice-cold fizzy drink for summer. And besides, it’s a lot better than the Tang astronauts drank for years.
The Story of NASA
NASA itself was created from the National Advisory Committee on Aeronatics (NACA), which had been around since 1915. NACA was for aeronautical research, but the Space Age began when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957. When the Soviets flung the first satellite into orbit it was game on, the Space Race was upon us.
NASA effectively consolidated government-sponsored civil aeronautics and space research under one agency. The US Air Force handled military space stuff, but they were more into bombs on rockets than fun space rides. It was the NASA boys that became astronauts, starting in 1961 when Alan Shephard became the first American to enter space. John Glenn followed in 1962 when he got to enjoy a few full orbits of the earth.
The biggest astronaut excitement, of course, came in 1969 when Apollo 11 dropped a couple of astronauts on the moon. The Soviet Union gave up its lunar ambitions and the Space Race was declared over. NASA has kept up with fun activities like the Space Shuttle, probes to various planets, observatories in space and what have you.
Taking care of astronauts led to all kinds of culinary innovation. Pillsbury created the Space Food Sticks, not to mention other space-friendly foods like non-crumbly cake, relish that could be served in slices and meat that didn’t need to be refrigerated. The most famous, of course, is Tang – the insipid fruit-flavored drink powder to be mixed with water. John Glenn was the first to consume it but isn’t on the record for commenting about it. That took until 2013, when former astronaut Buzz Aldrin said, “Tang sucks.” We’re making them something much tastier.
Ice Cream for Astronauts Cocktail
Unfortunately, NASA frowns upon drinking in space. Russian cosmonauts were allowed small rations of vodka and Cognac in the Mir Space Station, and were not happy when informed that the International Space Station would be dry. Either way, any astronaut worth their salt could use a drink now and then. Here we’ve got just the thing to cool off space adventurers upon their return to earth.
The Ice Cream for Astronauts drink fits the bill and comes to us from Two Schmucks, a bar in Barcelona. Two Schmucks was founded by Swede Mo Aljaff and AJ White in 2017, who took a run down taco joint in the Raval district of Barcelona and opened what they call a “five star dive bar.” The place seems to live up to its billing, as it regularly appears in lists of the world’s best bars.
The Ice Cream for Astronauts drink was created by Mr. Aljaff, who has since then left Two Schmucks with the ambition of opening a bar in the U.S. He created the drink as something of a gin-basil smash meets gin and tonic, but decided to add a bit of ice cream to handle the Barcelona summer heat.
The Ice Cream for Astronauts recipe calls for coconut ice cream. Our rigorous lab experiments have demonstrated that more readily available coconut cream, like we used in the Painkiller and Piña Verde cocktails, works perfectly well.
Ice Cream for Astronauts
- Add all ingredients (except tonic water) to a suitable container without ice. Use blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour liquid into your trusty shaker, add ice and shake until frosty cold.
- Pour without straining into highball or Collins glass.
- Add ice as need to fill glass.
- Garnish with basil leaf.