The surreal strength of IBM's famous supercomputer, Watson, is now available to the public (for a fee). And to mark the occasion, the company threw a little party last week and served a very blue cocktail. Naturally, I whipped up my own slight variation when I got back to the office. I call it the Big Blue Hurricane.
It's Sunday, you've made it through the long week and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Would this be good on pancakes?
What's the Big Deal, Big Blue?
You know Watson. The supercomputer won worldwide fame, when it walloped two Jeopardy champions and ushered in an era of machine dominance that will surely conclude with a Skynet-style takeover. And now, IBM has put Watson's mind-bending powers on the market with a new technology called Discovery Advisor. This is just the type of technology that does the labour a human would normally do. Only Watson does it much, much faster.
In brief, Watson Discovery Advisor is a service that enables companies and research organisations to tap into the supercomputer's tremendous processing power. IBM celebrated the program's launch in New York City with a series of demos — from a pathway to personalised cancer cures to safer, more effective law enforcement — that highlighted the many amazing things Watson will now do. Among them, of course, is an intriguing capability that IBM is calling Cognitive Cooking. That means that Watson can invent recipes out of a quintillion possible combinations of ingredients. That's a lot of combinations.
After the presentations, IBM toasted Watson's big day with a luncheon featuring several Watson-generated recipes and one Watson-concocted cocktail called the Blue Caribbean Hurricane. But let's be real. It should really be called the Big Blue Hurricane, because it is blue, invented by an IBM computer, and totally tropical.
What's In This Thing?
First things first: This is a summer drink. Despite this week's heat wave, summer is very swiftly nearing an end, so you should probably shake one up immediately. But don't fret if you'd rather rosé on these last warm days of 2014. IBM will soon offer a public tool so that you can program Watson to invent a cocktail just for you.
The Big Blue Hurricane is sweet and fruity. OK, the Big Blue Hurricane is very sweet and fruity. As such, the sort of complex flavour profile in Watson's cocktail recipe requires some slightly obscure ingredients that might be hard to find, ingredients like banana nectar and coconut cream. I was able to find everything except for those two things at our local Whole Foods, so I improvised a little bit. Instead of a little bit of improvisation occurred. And honestly, I thought the improvised outcome was better than the original recipe.
To sum up the difference succinctly, the Big Blue Hurricane is not quite as thick as Watson's original Blue Caribbean Hurricane. That's because I used banana juice in place of the banana nectar and culinary coconut milk instead of coconut cream. The drink maintained a creamy quality, but not straight up viscous.
Enough of this pontificating, though. Let's get to the recipe.
How It's Made
Honestly, just finding the ingredients is the hard part. Mixing this bad boy is a cinch.
What You'll Need:
- 45mL coconut milk
- 90mL white rum
- 90mL banana juice
- 120mL pure pineapple juice
- 15mL fresh lime juice
- 10(ish) drops blue food colouring
- 2 USB sticks for garnish (optional)
- 150mL Sprite or similar soft drink
- Combine banana juice, pineapple juice and white rum into a large glass filled with ice.
- Add coconut milk and lime juice.
- Dash in as many drops of blue food colouring as you like (or none if you don't want to!)
- Shake shake shake!
- Pour into rocks glasses with three or four ice cubes. If you like hurricane glasses, you can certainly use those too, but I find them to be a little bit too dependent on straws to be enjoyable.
- Finish with a splash of Sprite or lemon soft drink.
- Add USB sticks for ridiculousness.
That's it, my friends! Speaking from (my idiotic) experience, however and say that you should definitely wait until after you shake the cocktail before adding anything carbonated. Because — guess what — when you shake carbonated things, they sort of explode.
What If You Don't Like Blue?
Your Big Blue Hurricane doesn't have to be blue. If you're having a vampire party, you might decide to use red food colouring. Or if it's Saint Patrick's Day, you could use green. (Actually, please don't do that.) Without the food colouring, the cocktail will turn out to be a perfectly acceptable, milky shade of yellow.
But do blue. Watson is a pretty incredible addition to mankind's box of tools, and why not toast IBM on the achievement? It's no quantum computer, of course, but it's still pretty cool.
Now, can somebody please build a quantum computer? Looking at you, Google...
All photos by Michael Hession