Cocktails on Arrakis, Part 1

[N.B. — If you 1) haven’t read Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, and/or 2) aren’t a geek, then this post is likely to make little sense to you.]

My old friend Chris Caldwell, a writer and cocktailian living in Denver, issued the following post on his Twitter feed the other day:

“And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Sazerac!” #cocktailsonarrakis

I laughed, I groaned, I shouted “ARRGGGHHH!”, I wanted to buy him a drink, I wanted to slap him upside the head with a flyswatter. In other words, my natural reaction to a really great/awful pun.

But it got me thinking.

I wrote him back right away and said, “Shai-Hulud’ll get you for that, Chris. That said, The Crysknife would be a great name for a drink.”

He replied, “That was better than ‘I must not beer. Beer is the mind-killer. Beer is the little death that brings total oblivion.'” Oh, gods. *facepalm* Okay, it’s a good thing I wasn’t in the room with him, because he’d have flyswatter prints on both cheeks.

“Or ‘May thy coupe glass chip and shatter.'” Hmm, that’s better. Now we’re getting somewhere.

“Or ‘When you reach the bottom of the drink you dare not drink, you’ll find me staring back at you!'” Oh, oh … the boy’s on a roll.

I told him that now he has to make a Kwisatz Sazerac. It would, of course, have to have a faint whiff of cinnamon, to recall the spice melange — “the smell โ€“ bitter cinnamon, unmistakable.”

Not only that, we need to get to work on other Dune cocktails too. The Crysknife, of course. The Heighliner? The Gom Jabbar! Chris said, “A Gom Jabbar would be an awesome drink! ‘I remember your gom jabbar, you remember mine!'” I mentioned this to Matt “Rumdood” Robold, and he immediately said, “You mean a Gomme Jabbar, of course.”

*SCREAM!* Genius!!

A while after our initial conversation Chris got back to me with the results of his experimentation. “Surprisingly good,” he said. It’s really just a simple Sazerac variation, but the geeky pun is just too priceless to pass up, and warrants a post of its own — the first, I hope, of several posts featuring Cocktails on Arrakis.

It’s still a rye base with a rinse of absinthe. A spiced simple syrup is the main difference, plus some orange bitters (the color of the spice) and an orange peel instead of lemon.

Don’t add a splash of the Water of Life, though, because you’ll die an agonizing death. Or, if you’re female and can transmute the poison, you’ll become a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. Or if you’re male, and you don’t die, you become …

(by Christopher Caldwell)

2 ounces Rittenhouse 100 bonded rye whiskey.
1 barspoon Spice-Must-Flow Syrup.
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.
1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters.
Splash of absinthe.

As in a traditional Sazerac, coat a chilled Old Fashioned glass with the absinthe and discard all or most of the excess. Combine rye, Spice-Must-Flow syrup and bitters in a chilled mixing glass and stir with ice for 30-45 seconds. Strain into the absinthe-coated glass. Twist the orange peel over the drink. It is the will of Shai-Hulud that you drop the peel into the drink (especially if you’ve cut it to look like a sandworm).


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon green cardamom seeds (not pods)

Crush the stick and seeds in with a mortar and pestle. Toast the spice gently in a small saucepan, tossing constantly, until it begins to become fragrant. Add the water and sugar and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the spice through a fine strainer and pour into a jar. Keep in the fridge; should last about a month.

Stay tuned for the Gomme Jabbar — the high-handed enemy. My idea for the base was a navy-strength gin; Matt thinks Wray & Nephew Overproof, which I may like better and should be sufficiently deadly. Don’t worry, though — it kills only … animals.

P.S. — Chris has one of the most consistently great Twitter feeds of anyone I know. Follow him.


8 Responses to “Cocktails on Arrakis, Part 1”

  1. JMForester said:

    Jan 27, 11 at 3:49 pm

    Brilliant! Don’t forget the Arrakis Punch, with a Batavia arrack base some allspice dram, Trader Tiki’s cinnamon syrup, blood orange juice, and a grating of ambergris rubbed in blood orange zest.

  2. Chuck said:

    Jan 27, 11 at 5:51 pm

    Ambergris? Holy frak. At $25 a gram, can we leave that ingredient out? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Otherwise it sounds great, though! Did you come up with this one? Has it been written up anywhere? The Google has yet to come up with anything.

  3. Rocky said:

    Jan 27, 11 at 6:59 pm

    Actually, I feel that Aqua Vitae is necessary. BTW have you ever read the Harvard Lampoons’ parody of Dune, Doon? It revolves around beer.

    Other ideas:
    I’ll Take the Usul
    Caladan Punch
    Duncan Doughnut
    March of the Sardaukar

  4. Ed Macfarlane said:

    Jan 28, 11 at 3:47 am

    Of course the most important feature any cocktail on Arrakis is that they enable you to either ‘see plans within plans’ or ‘travel without moving’……………..

    Why stop with Dune? I imagine you could get to some pretty interesting libations via J G Ballard. Maybe scary, nihlistic and suburban, but definitely interesting.

  5. Shari said:

    Jan 29, 11 at 8:31 am

    What is it about sci-fi meekness that makes meal warm and fuzzy inside?

  6. Chuck said:

    Jan 30, 11 at 9:05 am

    Rocky: Certainly aqua vitae, but not Water of Life. ๐Ÿ™‚ “They tried … And died.”

    Shari: Erm, was there a bit of autocorrect shenanigans in that post? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Kevin said:

    Jan 31, 11 at 8:15 am

    Mmmm. The spice must flow.

  8. Shari Minton said:

    Jan 31, 11 at 11:05 am

    YES…it was supposed to say GEEKNESS….sorry about that.