Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Test Pilot Cocktail

The Test Pilot Cocktail

This 1940s Tiki charmer is a great summer cooler

The Test Pilot Cocktail (which launched a host of imitators like the Jet Pilot, Ace Pilot, Space Pilot, and Astronaut) was invented by Tiki innovator Donn Beach. We say more about the history in the Notes.

For now, you just need to know that this slow sipper has two kinds of rum, plus other invigorating ingredients. The result in a spicy tongue tingler. You’ll love lingering over it on a lazy summer afternoon.

Because you probably don’t do enough lingering, do you?

The Test Pilot Cocktail

Recipe: The Test Pilot Cocktail

As is the case with many Tiki drinks, this one requires a longish list of ingredients. So it’s a bit more work to prepare than some other cocktails. But the effort is worth it.

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces dark rum (preferably Jamaican rum; see Notes)
  • ¾ ounce light rum (see Notes)
  • 3 teaspoons Cointreau
  • 1/8 teaspoon (about 6 drops) Pernod or other absinthe-like anise liqueur
  • ½ ounce falernum (see Notes)
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • dash of Angostura bitters
  • optional garnish of cocktail cherries (see Notes)

Procedure 

  1. Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well chilled (20 seconds or so).
  2. Strain into a rocks (old-fashioned) glass filled with crushed or chipped ice (but see Notes). Garnish, if you wish, and serve.

The Test Pilot Cocktail

 Notes

  • Traditionally, this drink was made in a blender. If you want to make it that way: Place all the ingredients (except garnish) in a blender with 8 ounces of crushed ice. Blend at high speed for 5 seconds, then pour the contents unstrained into an old-fashioned glass. Add additional crushed ice, if necessary, to fill the glass. 
  • We find it easier just to shake the ingredients with normal ice cubes, then strain into a glass filled with chipped or crushed ice (whichever is easier for you to make). 
  • Or you could just pour the drink over traditional ice cubes. Though we do like the look of chipped ice.
  • BTW, if you go the blender route: You could use an immersion blender to mix the booze and crushed ice (just put all the ingredients in a big cup or bowl and use the immersion blender for 5 seconds). This method produces a drink that’s a bit less slushy. Not that there’s anything wrong with slushy.
  • Many Tiki drinks require rum, often more than one variety. As noted, the Test Pilot calls for both dark and light (white) rum. The original was made with Jamaican rum for the dark, Puerto Rican rum for the light.
  • You can make this drink with any dark and light rums you have on hand. But we do recommend using a Jamaican dark – the flavor just works in this drink. We particularly like Myers’s dark rum for cocktails, but we’re open to other brands.
  • Falernum is a ginger- and lime-flavored syrup. You can make your own (recipe available on the interwebs), but we generally just buy it. There are several brands available, and although they differ somewhat in flavor, they’re all pretty good. Just buy whatever your liquor store has in stock. Or you can find it online.
  • What other drinks can you make with falernum? Loads! We provide a list of some we’ve made at the end of this post. Plus an internet search will yield many others.
  • The traditional garnish for this drink is a cocktail (maraschino) cherry or two speared on a wooden oyster fork. Fun presentation! But who has oyster forks? We just use a cocktail pick.
  • Donn Beach (born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) started his Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain in 1934, with a 25-seat bar in Los Angeles. Its Polynesian theme helped spark a Tiki craze throughout the United States.
  • Beach was a superb cocktail creator, often mixing several different kinds of rum and fruit juices along with liqueurs to create some of the most memorable Tiki cocktails. He was very secretive about his drink recipes, though. And he continually tinkered with them, so many of them changed over time. Jeff Berry (aka Beachbum Berry) has done much research into Tiki drinks, and is responsible for unearthing many of Beach’s original recipes.
  • Such as the Test Pilot. How this 1940s drink got its name is a bit unclear, but it was an instant hit. So much so that other restaurants tried to guess at the recipe and created their own similar drinks (hence the Jet Pilot, Space Pilot, and others). That’s why you may come across other similarly named drinks. But the Test Pilot was the original – and the best. 

The Test Pilot Cocktail

Breaking the Taste Barrier

“Chuck Yeager would be proud,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This drink has the right stuff.”

“Yup, fly me to the moon,” I said. “Think we’re having more fun than Jeff Bezos.”

“And we don’t need to wear funny space suits,” said Mrs K R.

“Shorts and flip-flops are all we need on Planet Riffs,” I said. “We’re taste pilots!”

“That joke was almost good,” said Mrs K R. “I’d call it one small step for man.”

But one giant leap for me.

You may also enjoy reading about additional drinks that contain falernum:

48 comments:

  1. It looks delicious, and you two sure have plenty of fun over there on planet Riffs! :)

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    1. Hi Martha, Planet Riffs is a fun place to be. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Beautiful shots, John. I love esp. the first photo..The contrast between dark background and vibrant orange colour is just gorgeous. I bet it tastes amazing too.

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    1. Hi Angie, this DOES have amazing flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Replies
    1. Hi Pam, really tasty, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. Ooh I love these kinds of rum cocktails! What a gorgeous drink!

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    1. Hi Laura, rum cocktails often have such lovely flavor. This one sure does! Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Replies
    1. Hi Anne, yup indeed! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Your rum cocktail could teach me how to linger. Prost !

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, lingering is good! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Great timing John! This drink has way more pizzaz than Bezos. This is one of those slow sipper cocktails with some spunk. You know we are all about the type of ice in our drink and your ice looks especially cool and refreshing.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, this drink really does have some spunk to it. Outta this world flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. This looks totally worth that long list of ingredients! Yum!

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    1. Hi Ashley, it is, it is. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Loving the orange color of this drink! It looks lovely!

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    1. Hi Amy, the color IS rather nice, isn't it? Tasty, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. I love the idea of a tongue tingler!!! And such a beauty of one!!

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    1. Hi Liz, tongue tinglers are good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. Definitely don't do enough lingering. But when I do I'll
    be sure to have this in hand!

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    1. Hi Abbe, you'll be lingering in style. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  12. test pilot? mmm maybe cos it can send you spinning? sounds amazing.

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    1. Hi Sherry, it does have quite lovely flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Love the look of this bevy, the crushed ice really makes it.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Eva, and the ice keeps the drink well chilled until the very last drop. :-) Thanks for the commend.

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  14. Replies
    1. Hi R, it's really, really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Falernum is certainly new to me - and I can imagine a lot of uses for that – even in savory preparations... SOunds like a great sipper... and, yes, I do need some lingering!

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    1. Hi David, you really need to get some falernum! Fun flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. A timely sip, given the billionaires of late launching themselves into space! I'll drink to that. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, good thing is you'll feel like a billion after you drink one of these. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. Gorgeous shots. Guessing you have a nice setup. The last time I did glass seriously I had to empty a closet and I wasn't anxious to repeat that!

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    1. Hi Inger, lots and lots of practice. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Mmmmm, I'm really enjoying your photo of an amazing alcohol refreshment. Are you for hire? Cheers!

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  19. This is a project worth "testing". GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, experimentation is good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Perfect for slow sipping on the beach ;)

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    1. Hi Pat and Dahn, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Oh this cocktail looks and sounds splendid - loving the combination of liquors, especially the addition of Cointreau! But we rarely have more than two types of liquors at a time, so not sure if I manage trying this in the foreseeable future haha. Beautiful photos, too.

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    1. Hi Ben, we used to never have more than a couple of bottles of liquor on hand either. Now we have . . . more. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Spicy tongue tingler, that sounds interesting. Definitely want to try this one out and perhaps infuse it with Sichuan peppercorn to make it more tingly

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    1. Hi Raymund, Sichuan peppercorns would be interesting! :-) Thanks for the comment,

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  23. I've never heard specifically of cocktails that originated during World War 11 as this one probably did in 1940. Looks so delicious and refreshing,and we like the odd rum, as we are famous for Bundaberg (Bundy) Rum here in Queensland. I think I could modify this cocktail using some Bundy. Years ago our favourite Friday afternoon drink was a Bundy rum and Coke, now its Wine. Take care, Pauline

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    1. Hi Pauline, don't think I've ever had Bundy rum! Need to check that out. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I do like a pretty cocktail.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, we do too! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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