This is the 42nd edition of Thursday Night Loaded. And as any hoopy frood knows, that’s a pretty significant number. Why, it’s no less than the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

Or so says Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A book that also contains a fair bit of wisdom on the preparation and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Naturally, then, for TNL #42, we’re going to take a look at what The Guide calls the best drink in existence: The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

What’s a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, you ask? Well….

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

It says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.

The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterwards.

The Guide even tells you how you can mix one yourself.

Take the juice from one bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit, it says.

Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V — Oh that Santraginean sea water, it says. Oh those Santraginean fish!!!

Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzine is lost).

Allow four litres of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in memory of all those happy Hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia.

Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odours of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle sweet and mystic.

Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger. Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink.

Sprinkle Zamphuor.

Add an olive.

Drink … but … very carefully …

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Of course, the SLGA carries very few of the ingredients listed above. Fortunately, you can turn to one of the many Mock Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipes available on the internet.

The version brewed by the Zaphod Beeblebrox nightclub in Ottawa is widely acknowledged to be the best of these, if not the most potent. The recipe is supposed to be a secret but the internet being what it is, several people have posted the following recipe claiming it to be the genuine article.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster via Ottawa’s Zaphod Beeblebrox
1 oz Jack Daniel’s
1 oz peach schnapps
4 to 6 oz orange juice
1 splash blue curaçao
Shake the Jack Daniel’s, schnapps and orange juice well with ice. Strain into highball glass. Drizzle the curacao on top. Garnish with a citrus twist or an olive if you’re a Gargle Blaster purist.

I’ve been to Zaphod Beeblebrox several times — er, many times — and that ingredient list looks about right. Their Gargle Blaster is entirely drinkable and if anything that’s its problem. It’s kind of inoffensive. Not at all like “having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” More like getting your tongue spanked with a citrus paddle.

Over in Hull, UK, Spider’s Nightclub offers something that’s a little more daring.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster a la Spider’s Nightclub
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Pernod
1 oz Galliano
1 oz Blackcurrant
1 oz Orange juice
cider to top up
Shake well with ice. Strain over ice into a collins glass. Top with cider.

Still, not exactly something that will set them talking on Betelgeuse, I’m thinking. Fortunately, ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the official H2G2 fan club, brews up something much more potent. Potentially lethal, in fact.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster courtesy the Official H2G2 Fan Club
1 oz EverClear
4 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
4 oz Cold Wild Turkey
2 oz Herredura Tequila
5 oz white rum
1 worm from bottle of Mezcal
2 oz Gatorade
Shake well with ice and strain into a collins glass. Beware. This has 18 oz of booze in it. You might want to share it around.

For sheer complexity, though, a recipe widely referred to as “Number 6” takes the Milliwayvian cake.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster Number Six
1 oz Everclear (or any other strong grain alcohol such as Bourbon, Moonshine, or Vodka)
1 oz Bitter Lemon (or plain Tonic Water)
1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin (or other gin)
1 oz Yukon Jack Perma-Frost Schnapps (or other mint schnapps, or white crème de menthe)
Enough blue food coloring to make the mixture a very light sky blue

Sugar cubes
Cinnamon extract
Yellow food coloring (optional)
Angostura Bitters
Mix Everclear, Bitter Lemon, gin, schnapps and blue colouring then let chill in the freezer until icy cold. Take a sugar cube and let it absorb 1 millilitre of cinnamon extract and a drop of yellow food colouring.

Pour chilled mixture into a glass over ice. Add sugar cube and stir to dissolve it. Sprinkle bitters on the surface of the drink. Garnish with an olive.

Alternately, you can let the sugar cube soak up 1 millilitre (instead of the cinnamon extract) and sprinkle some freshly ground cinnamon on the drink’s surface.

While I’m no fan of using food colouring in a drink — seems like a cheat, couldn’t they just use a splash of blue curaçao like everybody else? — I like the idea of making flavoured sugar cubes (and will be going with the bitters version if I attempt to make one of these).

Finally, here’s how the author himself, Douglas Adams, replied when Slashdot asked him how to make a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Unfortunately there are a number of environmental and weapons treaties and laws of physics which prevent one being mixed on Earth. Sorry.