Pixels Drink – Power Pellet Sunrise

pixels poster

Arcade gaming is returning to us….and it’s coming back shooting. For Pixels, we’ve got a few drinks for Pac Man and friends, after the jump.

Power Pellet Sunrise

Ingredients

  • 1 jigger (2 oz, 60 mL, or 1/4 cup) cherry brandy (Schladerer brand Kirschwasser used here)
  • 1 gill (4 oz, 120 mL, or 1/2 cup) orange juice, chilled
  • 1 dsp (2 tsp or 10mL) grenadine
  • 1 maraschino cherry to garnish

Procedure

  1. Skewer the cherry on a pick as garniture, set aside
  2. (Optional, add 1 or 2 1-oz cubes service ice)
  3. Add cherry brandy, then orange juice
  4. Measure grenadine into spoon, then slowly pour a thin stream into center of liquid
  5. Garnish with cherry, serve

Ghost Shot

Ingredients

  • .25 oz grenadine (1:1 pomegranate juice and sugar by weight)
  • .25 oz creme de violette (Drillaud brand used here)
  • .25 oz Kinky liqueur
  • .25 oz Cognac brandy (Decourtet VS used here)

Procedure

  1. Set out a 1.5 oz shot tumbler
  2. Add grenadine
  3. Set barspoon hammer or barspoon on surface of liquid, add creme de violette
  4. Repeat first with Kinky liqueur, then brandy
  5. Serve
Power Pellet Sunrise on the left, Ghost Shot on the right.

Power Pellet Sunrise on the left, Ghost Shot on the right.

I really miss arcades.
Even growing up on realistically the tail end of that era in the U.S. (a 90’s kid), the concept of an arcade was something special. It was a public space to go hang out and play video games, what could be better? They had all the stuff consoles simply couldn’t match: shooters with reliable light guns, fighting games with the joystick/8 button layouts, rhythm games, bike racers you leaned into to control, even VR like the Beach Head games [beach head 2002, caption: oculus rift gaming before it was cool], ranks of pinball machines, industrial-pressure air-hockey. And usually along one wall, the classics: Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Centipede. Of course, by the time I was really old enough to play arcades were special occasions: a decent drive out to a super-arcade/karting track/minigolf. Territory would be lost, year by year in a war of attrition against ticket games for lollipops. No, the real heyday of American arcades was the 80’s.

Oculus Rift gaming before it was cool. I still miss you.

Oculus Rift gaming before it was cool. I still miss you.

The 80’s were simultaneously arcade’s highest highs and mixology’s lowest lows. The early 80s saw the explosive rise of Pac-Man, in a way we’d now call viral. At the same time, the drinking scene at the time was, in a word: tacky. Bright and colorful with syrups and ‘schnapps’, these drinks were super sweet, often creamy, and with silly names. Alabama Slammers, Slow Comfortable Screws, Fuzzy Navels, Slippery Nipples, Sex on the Beaches, all did the same thing as playing Battlezone or Tempest too long: be tons of fun until you were done, when a massive headache set in.
Now everything is coming back around. Retro is cool and nostalgia is back in. Big-name bartenders are reinterpreting the now-“uncool” drinks of the 80s with better ingredients and technique, and hitting it out of the park. (For example, check out Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Amaretto Sour). You can play the classics online or on your smartphone. And Pixels has come, to bring pop culture full circle. How big they’ve grown.

Can a franchise be too big for its own good?

Can a franchise be too big for its own good?

So what inspired this drink?

In the spirit of these 80’s drinks, we decided a fancier riff on a Tequila Sunrise was in order for Pac-Man. To reflect on those fruit rewards that scored every level, we include Kirschwasser as the base spirit. More commonly known as Kirsch, it’s the one unsweetened spirit type coming from cherry. Distillers will take cherries, ferment them to a cherry wine, then distill it to yield a cherry (brandy) spirit. Otherwise, it’s still built as a standard sunrise: adding orange juice to the kirsch, then gently pouring grenadine. The grenadine is so thick and heavy compared to the juice that rather than mixing itself into the juice as it goes down, it’ll actually sink straight to the bottom and pool as a thin layer.

We also wanted to give the ghosts some love as well, so they get a layered shot to share: grenadine for the red Blinky, creme de violette for the blue Inky, Kinky liqueur for the pink Pinky, and Cognac brandy for the orange Clyde (OK, kind of reaching for the bottom of the barrel on those names).

I have this Heering stuff, is that the same thing as Kirschwasser?

While interesting stuff for Blood and Sands and the like, Heering is a bit removed from our cherry spirit. For one thing, it’s a liqueur: while balanced by the bitterness in the cherries and cherry stones, the bottle has a serious amount of sugar. Also, the majority of its flavor comes from taking high proof spirit and macerating (infusing) it by letting those cherries/pits sit in the booze for a while. This is in contrast to using them to get the original wine, then liquor. The base is most likely a high proof grape spirit, (almost neutral), considering it still markets itself as a “cherry brandy”, but tastes nothing like fermented cherries or grapes. Legitimate cherry-flavored brandy liqueur is a story for another day.

No no, not in this drink.

No no, not in this drink.

And maraschino liqueur?

That stuff is much closer, but still different. Again, it’s a liqueur, but maraschino liqueur, or the French equivalents creme de cerise/griotte or liqueur de marasquin, at least begin with cherry fermentate/distillate just like kirsch. However, they then add enough sugar to make it hard to drink a full portion. The French creme liqueur will also often take the sweet product and either macerate on more cherry for color, or add cherry juice/syrup for the same. (Italian maraschino is usually still clear)

Also not Kirsch, but very respectable on its own (and not mainstream Luxardo, look at that).

Also not Kirsch, but very respectable on its own (and not mainstream Luxardo, look at that).

How does it taste?

Incredibly fruity. Also even with a spirit instead of a liqueur like Heering or Maraschno, the drink is still approaching crazy 80’s sweet. On the plus side, the cherry pit-bitter almond undertones add a little more interest than most tequilas do.

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