Classic (Game) Cocktail of the Week: The Big Core

Goes down easy, much the same way Gradius III doesn't.

Some people like to unwind over the weekend by listening to favorite podcasts; others prefer to relaxing with an alcoholic libation. We figure: Why not both? With the Classic (Game) Cocktail column, we'll offer weekly recommendations on cocktail recipes to accompany our most recent podcast episode.

Disclaimer: Please drink responsibly, and only if you are of legal age (or have permission). 

Classic (Game) Cocktail #4: Big Core

We tackled the Gradius games in this week's podcast, and they've inspired this week's cocktail as well. The most iconic bad guys in the Gradius series — besides the omnipresent Moai heads — are the Big Core ships that appear at the end of many stages. You know the ones: The large multi-pronged slabs of silvery metal powered by a bright blue core that turns red once you blast through its shielding and cause its internal systems to go critical. Their bright red near-death core serves as the guiding image for this take on the classic Old Fashioned.


  • 2 oz. 100-proof rye whisky
  • Bitters (cardamom or aromatic)
  • Club soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar (superfine or white)
  • 1 orange
  • 3 maraschino cherries

The Old Fashioned has a few different iterations (some minimalist, some loaded with fruit). This recipe splits the difference.


  1. In a cocktail mixer, sprinkle several dashes of bitters over the sugar.
  2. Add two cherries and a few orange wedges. Muddle them fruit, sugar, and bitters together in the mixer until the sugar has dissolved in the fruit juice.
  3. Add ice to the mixer, then pour the rye over top. Stir until the mixture is cold.
  4. Pour a splash of club soda into a cocktail glass, then strain the whiskey mixture into the cocktail glass.
  5. And finally, the most important step: Place the final cherry into the cocktail.

Like the Big Core from the games, you'll know you've almost destroyed this drink when you can see a bright red sphere.

Some notes:

  • You don't have to use cardamom bitters — Angostura or orange also work, too. Cardamom bitters add a nice flavor, though.
  • Some people get very cranky if you add fruit to an Old Fashioned. This cocktail, based on a recipe that was popular before Prohibition, is meant to appease them by straining the fruit out.
  • Store-bought maraschino cherries are OK, but feel free to level-up by making your own (simmer pitted sour cherries in maraschino liquor for 5-10 minutes, then pour the mixture into a jar; seal and refrigerate once cooled).
  • Superfine sugar is recommended. Standard white sugar is also OK. Avoid confectioner's sugar or brown sugar as they don't work well in cocktails.
  • Next week's podcast is about games based on food mascots, and I have no idea how to turn Chase the Chuckwagon into an appetizing drink. I guess we'll find out!