Gold Llamaé

There is nothing I like better than a good theme party. It gives you a nice hook to base your decorations on and will often suggest ideas for snacks and party favors. So the first thing that came to mind when my family decided to gather to observe the eclipse was that we would need a signature cocktail. All the best hosts are hiring mixologists to create a drink for their special events, and what could be more special than something that hasn’t been observed in totality for almost one hundred years?

Full disclosure: I am a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. I like a glass of a nice red wine, but by the time I get anywhere near a refill, my face has gone red and my fingertips numb. I laugh so hard at my own jokes that no one can understand what I am trying to say; then I fall asleep. So I am not exactly an expert when it comes to creating something that will taste delicious and not require someone to hold your hair back the next morning. However, I am a graphic designer by day, so the most important thing to me was the visual.

Picture this on Youtube: a glowing ice orb to represent the sun, floating gently on a sea of cloud like crushed ice. At the moment the music swells and Bonnie T. sings “total eclipse of the heart”, a shot glass full of a dark liquor is poured over the spherical orange sun and blots out the color and metaphorical light. I could picture it in my mind and it was breathtaking!

With the help of my sister, I started experimenting a few weeks ago. I found silicon ice cube trays to create the sun, with versions of spheres made of orange Fanta, orange juice or water with yellow food coloring. The pale cloudy liquid it would float on was either sparkling ginger lemonade, sparkling pear cider or ginger beer. The shadow of the moon would be rum, Kahlua, or bourbon. While we made some interesting combinations, we never conclusively finished because we stopped to take three-hour naps.

Knowing that the big day was nearing, I decided to finish up the recipe by myself. I lined all the bottles up on the table and tried each one with a different mixer. I documented the tasting by art directing each shot and imagining these as high quality liquor ads in Esquire magazine. I also added a plastic gold llama to the tableaux for scale.

Sometimes what you want and what you get are two different things; all of my cocktails with the glowing sun orb looked like they had an egg yolk floating in the middle of them. The sparkling lemonade and bourbon was pretty good but the Jim Beam wasn’t dark enough to blot out the yolk; the pear cider was undrinkable and the ginger beer and rum might have been delicious, but when I was trying to video the effect, I accidentally poured the rum over the llama instead of the sun. It’s really hard to do slo-mo when your depth perception is gone.

I finally gave up, knowing that my family was pretty much going to guzzle gin straight out of the bottle anyway. I’m sure there are fabulous drink recipes available online that you can use to toast the sun blockage; me and the llama are sticking to Corona.