How to Make Penumbra and Umbra Cocktails for the Solar Eclipse
Toast the dark and light sides of the moon with these incredible eclipse cocktails, developed by Jonathon Howard, head bartender at Nashville’s Henley.
The time has almost come. The moment we’ve all been waiting for… the epic solar eclipse, due to take place on Monday, August 21.
Your feeds have been saturated with articles on where to witness the eclipse, how not to burn your retinas out while doing so, where to find eclipse glasses, what the eclipse means for your life, and [of course] what to cook/eat in light of this shifting of the moon. But there’s one thing we’ve yet to really discuss… what you’re sipping on for the eclipse. In regards to a matter of such importance, you know MyRecipes couldn’t leave you hanging. That’s I connected with cocktail master, Jonathon Howard.
Howard is widely recognized for his cocktail creativity—particularly at Henley, a modern American Brasserie located in Nashville, Tennessee, where Howard currently serves as Head Bartender. Being that on any given day, you can catch Howard slinging imaginative signature drinks like the Spring Cobbler (which features Manzanilla sherry, house chamomile liqueur, St. Germain, thyme, and lemon) or the Long Weekend (with vodka, Lillet rouge, Cocchi rosa vermouth, brachetto d’acqui, and Campari), it’s no surprise he concocted a couple of extra-special elixirs that are totality (ha, GET IT?) perfect for this total eclipse.
In fact, if you’re not one of the fortunate individuals who are somehow miraculously benefitting hard from Mercury being in retrograde and thus, will be witnessing the eclipse to a live soundtrack of Bonnie Tyler singing Total Eclipse of the Heart (side note: this is literally the only time I’ve ever been jealous of anyone taking a cruise), these celestial-inspired sippers are probably the best thing that’ll happen to you surrounding the eclipse. Representing the light and dark side of the moon, Howard developed the cocktails using the lightest and darkest spectrums of sherry.
“The moon's shadow has two parts, so I wanted to make a drink for each part. The Penumbra is the moon's faint outer shadow, so this drink is light and delicate. The Umbra is the moon's dark inner shadow, so this is a dark and rich stirred rum drink,” Howard explains.
Related: How to Make a Zodiac Cake
For the moon’s light side, Howard uses Fino Sherry, accompanied by lighter, brighter flavors of rhubarb, grapefruit, and strawberry to create the Penumbra. And for the Umbra, he goes for PX Sherry, accompanied by darker, richer flavors of rum, coffee and amaro. If you were to have Howard himself serve these cocktails (which, if you happen to be in Nashville… you can), both would be served in the same style of glass to represent the moon itself—one entity holding both lightness and darkness.
It all sounds profoundly metaphorical. I’m into it. Which is to say, if anyone needs me, my plan for the weekend entails sipping cocktails while reflecting on the moon/humanity and listing to Bonnie T. on repeat. Happy eclipsing!
Penumbra – The light side of the moon
- 1.5 oz. Rhubarb-Infused Lustau Fino Sherry
- 1 oz. Grapefruit Liqueur
- 4 Dashes Pink Peppercorn Tincture
- 1 Strawberry
- 2 Lemon wheels
- Grated cinnamon
In a mixing tin, add half of a strawberry and the lemon wheels, muddle. Then add remaining ingredients to the tin, followed by a handful of crushed ice. SHake very briefly and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add Crushed ice to top, garnish with a quarter grapefruit, half a strawberry, and finish with grated cinnamon.
Umbra – The dark side of the moon
- 1 oz. Lustau PX Sherry
- 1 oz. Bacardi Ron Solera Rum
- 1/2 oz. Cynar
- 1/2 oz. prepared Demerara Syrup (1:1)
- 1/4 oz. Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur
- Grated cinnamon
In a mixing glass filled with ice, add all ingredients. Stir roughly 35 rotations for proper dilution, strain into the same style chilled cocktail glass over 1 large ice cube and finish with grated cinnamon.