A Drinker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Magazine Monday's - Fall 2017 Issue

Article by Isami McCowan

Photos by Jess Moh

To find traces of our world in science fiction, you don’t need to venture further than the liquor cabinet. Though the realms of aliens, witches, wizards, and Vulcans are tumultuous, alcohol has remained their constant for generations because it illustrates humanity. In sci-fi, it is the vice shared among galaxies that reveals the non-negotiables of our existence.

In the Harry Potter series, Firewhiskey is a popular drink among witches and wizards known for its burning heat that fills the body with courage. Harry and his friends raised glasses of it to toast to the memory of recently deceased Professor Alastor Moody. Firewhiskey illustrates the presence of human nature in a fantasy world: it is consumed when solidarity and escapism are needed. The act of toasting a glass of whiskey in someone’s honor, in all it’s simplicity, illuminates the community element of the Harry Potter series that allows readers to see themselves and their friends in the characters.

Star Trek’s characteristically blue, highly intoxicating Romulan Ale stirs up memories of the Prohibition era. It was illegal in Star Trek’s Federation from roughly 2280 to 2370, but beloved Captain James Kirk was still able to sneak some for his crew at a formal dinner. When told it was illegal, Kirk shrugged it off as “one of the advantages of being a thousand light years from Federation headquarters.” Like Prohibition-era drinkers, the attractiveness of alcohol was only heightened by the ban in the eyes of Kirk and his team. Though Kirk himself is human, much of his society is not. He reasons that he’s in a position of power over the Federation because the distance is too great for them to arrest him. Not many things could tie our psyche with that of aliens and futuristic Starfleet officers. But as shown through Kirk’s surreptitious Romulan Ale, the nature of human desire for power and control over vices is universal.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy introduced us to the most legendary fictional cocktail of all time: the Pan-Galactic gargle blaster. The drink’s effects are said to resemble “having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” Though protagonist Ford Prefect is a hitchhiking space alien, his use of alcohol as an agent of mystical transport, not unlike how college students use it, brings him down to Earth. It’s surprisingly easy to compare the weight of saving galaxies to that of learning a semester’s worth of material during finals week—Ford’s intergalactic drinking reflects the escapism from stress via alcohol that many of us know too well.

The idea that a fictional alien displays human-like drinking patterns offers an exploration of the meaning of consciousness, showing that the intellect of science fiction creatures overlaps with ours–the power of the mindfulness is our common thread. Alcohol is a defining aspect of human society, but has also established itself as one in other worlds. It is this commonality that lets us see ourselves in science fiction’s most beloved characters, whether through the familiarity of community, escapism, or the intrigue of a vice. Science fiction offers us the rare opportunity to see alcohol as a unifier rather than an agent of divisiveness.

Goblet of Fire



1/2 oz blue curacao

1 oz vodka

151 rum


  1. Combine the vodka, blue curacao and lemonade in a goblet and stir.
  2. Float a shallow layer of 151-proof rum on top, then set alight using a long match or lighter.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon over the flames to generate sparks. Blow out the flames or let them die down, then drink.

Royal Blue Lagoon Martini


Coarse sugar, optional

1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail

1 oz vodka

1 oz blue curacao

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Lemon wedge


  1. Add cranberry juice, vodka, curacao and lemon juice; cover and shake.
  2. Strain into martini glass and serve with a lemon wedge.