On April 26 we’ll be mixing the Nuclear Daiquiri. It’s the anniversary of the day Chernobyl blew its top on its own volition, without any help from Russian soldiers. After all, it was 1986 and the Soviet Union still ran the show. This created a new twist on the concept of scorched earth, and a 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the site. Sadly, for all we know a lot of booze may have been left behind during hurried evacuation.
The Chernobyl disaster is considered the worst nuclear accident in history, both in cost and casualties. The accident itself occurred doing a safety test. During a planned decrease of reactor power to prepare for the test the power output unexpectedly dropped to near zero. The operators couldn’t restore the power called for in the test, which made the reactor unstable. This risk wasn’t clear in the instruction manual so they went right ahead. It turns out this was a bad idea, especially when they triggered a reactor shutdown upon completion of the test.
This is when a combination of operator negligence and critical design flaws made the reactor primed to explode. An uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction ensued and the core melted down. This was followed by a few explosions and an open reactor core fire. This was not good, and led to the hurried evacuation of some 49,000 people and an exclusion zone of nearly 1,000 square miles.
On a happier note, though, it seems that nature has retaken the region after some period of suffering for all the critters with radiation exposure, increased mutation rates and whatever else happens when you forage mushrooms or hunt rodents brimming with cesium-137. Plants and animals flourish now, though there is cause for concern if they’ve finished off all the booze left behind.
But onward to Drink of the Day. The Russians ran the whole Chernobyl show but were not blessed with a great knack for developing cocktails. No, we do not consider vodka shots a contribution to the cocktail world. And before anyone raises their hand about either the White Russian or Black Russian cocktails, those were invented in Belgium, far west of the Iron Curtain. Now please sit down.
The Nuclear Daiquiri
The obvious choice is to turn to atomic cocktails tastier than the Iodine-131 brew served in Nuclear Medicine establishments. Close to home, Las Vegas was known as the “Atomic City” in the 1950s as something of a reaction to the popular culture of the Atomic Age, the Jetsons, and mushroom clouds in the desert. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce even created a calendar for tourists listing the scheduled time of upcoming bomb tests and the best spots for viewing. But the drinks they invented as accompaniments are sadly uninspiring.
Instead, we fast forward to the LAB (London Academy of Bartenders) bar in 2005 where barman Gregor de Gruyther created the Nuclear Daiquiri. And because it almost glows with the greenish hue Madame Curie was so fond of it is now christened as today’s Drink of the Day in honor of Chernobyl. It’s a great variation on the classic Daiquiri.
- Nick and Nora or coupe glass
- 2 oz Rum The original recipe calls for Wray and Nephew white overproof rum, but this is not really necessary. Use any white rum you have on hand, but overproof is good if you have it.
- 1 oz Fresh lime juice
- ¾ oz Green Chartreuse
- ¼ oz Falernum
- Garnish: Fresh lime wheel.
- Add ingredients to your trusty cocktail shaker.
- Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
- Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with lime wheel.
- Rinse and repeat.