Top 10 space-related drinks launchesBy Phoebe French
In honour of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings last month, we’ve rounded up a selection of outlandish, space-inspired beverages, including a meteorite-aged wine and a beer made with moondust.
Only last month the link between drinks and outer-space was strengthened after research conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed that a chemical found in red wine, called resveratrol, could be used to protect astronauts’ muscles during missions to Mars.
Dr Marie Mortreux, who led the study, explained that after three weeks in space the soleus muscle in humans can shrink by up to a third. Accompanied by a loss of slow-twitch muscle fibres, space travellers can experience a loss in endurance.
The research found that a chemical called resveratrol, which is found in the skins of red grapes and blueberries, can assist in preserving muscle mass and strengths in rats, even when subjected to zero gravity.
While this study has only just been published, the drinks industry has witnessed a wealth of space-related releases in recent years, from drinking vessels to space-related memorabilia.
Scroll through our round-up, and comment below with any additions.
There doesn’t appear to be a type of alcohol that hasn’t been sent into space at one point or another. It has been reported that Russian astronauts have been consuming alcohol on space missions for “health reasons” since the 1970s, although for similar reasons, alcohol is forbidden on board NASA space crafts.
That said, NASA has made the odd exception. In 1985 on a French-American collaborative mission, a half bottle of 1975 Château Lynch-Bages made it on board, and is now on display at the château.
It was also reported that Sherry almost made its way onto the menu of 1970s astronauts, but was pulled following a slew of complaints and because of the “awful stench” it caused in space.
More recently, we’ve seen vials of Ardbeg sent to space in order for the distillery to study on the effect of micro-gravity on whisky ageing, while cocktail bar Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair began serving a ‘space-aged’ Negroni in 2017, after sending a bespoke blend to the stars and back.
In the same year, That Boutique-y Gin Company launched its Moonshot Gin made exclusively with botanicals that have been sent into space, as well as moon rock from a lunar meteorite.
Meanwhile, last year, Oregon brewery BridgePort joined the space race after it launched its flagship IPA into space using a specially-designed helium balloon.
Star Trek and Star Wars
Space sci-fi classics Star Wars and Star Trek have also had their fair share of influence on the drinks industry. Most recently, the production team behind the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series has teamed up with Bordeaux winery Château Picard to launch a limited-edition wine purporting to be from the family vineyards of the USS Enterprise’s former Captain, Jean-Luc Picard.
Meanwhile, Star Wars themed bars have popped up all over the world, including a new bar that is set to open at Disneyland this year.
Creator of the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas, even has his own winemaking operation called Skywalker Vineyards. In 2017, Skywalker acquired a wine estate in Provence, adding to a portfolio which includes vineyards in California’s Marin County and an estate in Italy.
Meteorite-aged wine and vineyard
Back in 2012, an Englishman working in Chile launched what was believed to be the first wine aged with a meteorite formed during the birth of the solar system.
Norwich-born Ian Hutcheon released a Cabernet Sauvignon called Meteorito, aged with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite from the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The extra-terrestrial wine was created at Hutcheon’s Tremonte Vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley in Chile, which he bought in 2009.
Belonging to an American collector, the three-inch meteorite is believed to have crashed into the Atacama Desert in northern Chile around 6,000 years ago.
The wine was aged in an oak barrel for 12 months with the meteorite inside. According to Hutcheon, this gave the wine a “livelier” taste.
Wine signed by first man in space
Drinks-related space memorabilia is big business. In 2014, an empty bottle of wine signed by the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and used to toast a doomed mission was put up for auction, with a guide price of between €1,920 and €2,400.
The bottle of Château Meyney, Prieuré des Couleys 1961 was drunk by Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov to celebrate their selection for the Russian Soyuz programme in the 1960s.
Komorov was launched in the Soyuz 1 rocket, which had been plagued by technical problems, in 1967 as part of the race to reach the moon. He was killed when the rocket crashed on re-entry – the first in-flight fatality in the history of spaceflight.
As for the bottle, it remained unsold.
Back in 2013, US craft brewery Dogfish Head decided to mix things up, creating a new beer with moondust as the key ingredient.
The meteorites were crushed into a powder and steeped in the fermenting beer to create the Celest-jewel-ale.
The brew was poured at Dogfish Head’s pub, Rehoboth Beach, and when served each glass was wrapped in a thermal insulation jacket of the same material worn by astronauts on their space walks and created by ILC Dover which is just up the road from the brewery – and which provided the moondust.
Champagne Mumm’s space-ready fizz bottle
Champagne Mumm entered the drinks space race last year with the launch of a new fizz, with both the bottle and accompanying glasses specially adapted for consumption in zero gravity conditions.
Called Grand Cordon Stellar, the project was the result of a three-year project in partnership with space design specialists Spade.
The specially-designed clear glass bottle uses the pressure within the bottle to expel the wine into a ring-shaped frame, when, in zero gravity, it looks like a droplet of bubbles. This droplet can then be gathered in a custom-made glass.
The glasses, which are slightly concave and just five centimetres in diameter, catch the droplets of foam, with surface tension enabling the fizz to stick to the glass.
Mumm cellar master Didier Mariotti said: “Because of zero gravity, the liquid instantly coats the entire inside of the mouth, magnifying the taste sensations. There’s less fizziness and more roundness and generosity, enabling the wine to express itself fully.”
Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar will be served to guests on board zero gravity flights organised by Novespace, while the house says it is also in talks with other agencies to supply the fizz on future space missions and commercial space flights.
Former Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt helped the Champagne brand test out its new bottle in zero gravity on board an Airbus Zero-G.
Last month Mainiacal Yeast Labs managed to isolate brewing yeast from an air sample collected in space by two NASA research pilots.
The US company, which specialises in sourcing “unique yeast and bacteria” for home and professional brewers, recently teamed up with Lanikai Brewing Co. in Hawaii to help source space yeast for the brewer’s Interplanetary Ale, created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
According to reports by Forbes, Lanikai Brewing Company co-founder, CEO, and brewmaster, Steve Haumschild, befriended two NASA research pilots who were able to collect yeast samples in a petri dish. Flying in a NASA ER2 plan, they were able to collect the yeast while flying at 70,000 feet from air coming through the intake vent.
Justin Amaral, co-owner and head of lab services at Mainiacal Yeast then worked to isolate the yeast strains, eventually finding two different strains in the petri dish. One proved viable for brewing, though needed to be combined with another strain in order for it consume enough sugar to make good quality beer.
The resulting beer went on sale at the Lanikai Brewing taproom on 20 July.
A Cabernet inspired by Apollo moon missions boasting a label signed by three of the five living US astronauts who walked on the moon went on sale last year.
Moonwalker 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is the fruit of a collaboration between boutique winery Holman Cellars in the Napa Valley and the Cosmosphere space museum in Kansas.
A portion of the profits from the wine were donated to the Cosmosphere, which, in addition to being a museum, is a science education centre.
The white label features the phases of the moon in silver alongside the signatures of Alan Bean, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt – three of the five living US astronauts who walked on the moon.
Space beer bottle and cocktail glasses
Last year, space engineer Dr Jason Held unveiled a bottle, which uses modified technology from fuel tanks to defy the challenges of drinking beer in zero gravity.
Inspired by the “unique surface of the moon” and “the sensation of floating in space”, the black aluminium bottle design includes a ‘wicking’ insert that allows the beer to flow in zero gravity.
Each bottle features a removable cup for use back on earth and the traditional silhouette was used to preserve the familiarity of the beer drinking experience.
Saber Astronautics partnered with Jaron Mitchell of 4 Pines Brewery on the design of the bottle, which CEO Jason Held describes as being “a lot like a small spacecraft fuel tank”.
But this wasn’t the first space-age drinking device created. In 2015, an ingenious invention emerged on crowdfunding site Kickstarter with the aim of allowing astronauts to enjoy a Martini.
The Zero Gravity Cocktail Project was spearheaded by the Cosmic Lifestyle Corporation (CLC), an organisation formed in 2014 with the aim of designing domestic products for space. Made up of experts in fields as diverse as mixology, engineering, space and design, the zero gravity martini glass was the first of several projects aimed at improving the comfort of astronauts and future space travellers and to “inspire people to dream big about living in off-world.”
The complex glasses are printed using 3D machines, with it taking 15 hours to print one glass.
Extra-terrestrial barley and Budweiser’s space mission
In March 2017, AB InBev-owned Budweiser joined the space race to become the first to send beer to Mars, embarking on a mission to produce a microgravity brew that can be enjoyed on the Red Planet.
Called Bud on Mars, the initiative was taken one step further when the brewer later sent 20 barley seeds to the International Space Station to be used in two experiments designed to see how the crop functions in space.
The barley spent about 30 days on board the ISS before being shipped back to earth for analysis. So far, no further plans have been revealed.