Test Pilot Cocktail

National UFO Day

Your cocktail calendar entry for: July
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It’s July 2 so the Test Pilot cocktail is Drink of the Day.  You see, today is both National UFO Day and National Fried Clams Day.  It’s not every day that we can ponder the question of intelligent life beyond our pale blue dot while simultaneously enjoying a vaguely related cocktail and a fried snack.  The Drunkard’s Almanac will not be exploring fried clam recipes today.  You’re on your own there, but we will wrestle with the cocktail aspect and introduce the Test Pilot recipe.

UFO sightings have been going on throughout recorded history.  They invariably conjure images of joy riders or sinister forces arriving from other planets and doing things like abducting random people on isolated roads and violating assorted bodily orifices.

UFOs Appear

Whether you believe extraterrestrials look like little green men or fried clams, the fun starts shortly after World War II.  Pilots started to report seeing mysterious objects moving at extreme speeds.  Then, of course, we have the Roswell, NM incident in which a rancher finds a mysterious wreckage near an Army airfield in the area.  The military, of course, issued a statement that it was a weather balloon.  Only years later did they disclose it was a part of a top-secret atomic espionage project.

We also have the the infamous Area 51.  In 1955 the CIA, US Air Force and Lockheed chose a remote site in the Nevada desert to use in the development and testing of the most advanced aircraft they could figure out how to make.  It was super hush-hush, with impregnable security.  The government wouldn’t even admit it existed and, of course, the theory that it housed alien bodies recovered from the Roswell crash emerged.

Area 51 is still there and has been the test site for numerous “black aircraft” whose existence is secret until well after the fact.  You name it, the U-2, SR-71.  They zipped around the skies out of Area 51 and all kinds of fun ensued.  The area became a hotbed for UFO sightings.  In 1962 the CIA asked the FAA to make sure that air traffic controllers were not to mention the sighting of unusually fast and high-flying planes over the radio.  They were asked to only submit written reports.  That’s also when the SR-71s predecessor was being tested.  Pilots reported seeing things flying at altitudes and at speeds they had never imagined….in other words UFOs.  Rather than correct the press, the military let the UFO rumors persist, as it was good cover for the secret stuff they were actually up to.

The Test Pilot Cocktail

So what’s the Drink of the Day?  Our Editorial Board met on this matter and determined that the Test Pilot was a shoo-in.  After all, it’s a tiki drink which is fitting for the summer season and Area 51 with all its UFO heritage is full of test pilots.

The Test Pilot cocktail itself has real pedigree.  It comes from Donn Beach, the father of everything Tiki.  It’s also from his original Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood.  For reference, we discussed him and the restaurant on Halloween for the Zombie cocktail.  The Test Pilot has been imitated and twisted into various forms over the years, including the Jet Pilot, Astronaut and Space Pilot.  Today we’re sticking with the Test Pilot in honor of Area 51 and UFOs.

We rely on the consummate tiki authority Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and a recipe he dates to 1941.  Other versions may be stronger, calling for 151 proof rum along with other rums.  We believe this version is potent enough for any visitor to Earth that may drop by and be thirsty.

Finally, a note about the Objets d’Art accompanying the drink in the photo.  Both are from the personal collection of our Chief Protocol Officer.  On the left is a Russian space program propaganda lamp purchased from Ukraine via Ebay.  The internal electronics have been replaced with a modern LED light.  That was not only cheaper than buying an appropriate voltage adapter, but seemed prudent after watching the series Chernobyl on HBO.  You mess with 50 year old Soviet electronics at your own peril.  In the foreground is a vintage Accutron Astronaut watch.

Test Pilot cocktail

Test Pilot

Straight from Jeff Berry’s book Beachbum Berry’s Remixed, this consummate authority credits the recipe to Donn Beach in 1941.  While there’s no substitute for Jamaican rum and its funky goodness, you will not be sent to the Hall of Shame if you don’t have Puerto Rican rum.  Feel free to use the light rum of your choice.
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  • 1.5 oz Dark Jamaican rum
  • 0.75 oz Rum A white rum, preferably Puerto Rican if you want to follow the original recipe
  • 0.75 oz Cointreau
  • 0.5 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Falernum
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 6 drops Pernod but feel free to use the absinthe you have laying around
  • 8 oz Crushed ice
  • Garnish: cocktail cherry


  • Put everything in a blender.
  • Blend at high speed for 5 seconds, no more. We’re not making a slushee.
  • Pour into double Old Fashioned glass and add crushed ice to fill.
  • Garnish with a cocktail cherry speared on something.
  • Drink.
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