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Cocktail stories: Astronaut, Continental Midtown

Part of the cocktail menu at the Continental Midtown since 1995, a remixed recipe blasts this fun Philly staple to new heights.

Continental Midtown Astronaut
Gui Jaroschy reworked the cocktail recipe in 2023

*This feature was originally published in the February 2024 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

The vibe at the Continental Midtown is a bit of a time warp. The 1950s decor evokes a TWA airport lounge, a sunken dining room glowing under a massive asymmetrical chandelier. The drinks, meanwhile, add a dash of whimsy reminiscent of 90s cocktail culture. At the top of an eclectic Martini list sits the Astronaut, a menu staple since the original Continental opened in Philadelphia’s Old City in 1995.

Then, the drink was known as the Buzz Aldrin, a mix of peach vodka, triple sec, sour mix, and powdered drink mix Tang, with a Tang rim. Over the years, the name changed, and when the Continental Midtown opened in 2004, it was an immediate hit.

“From when I worked there in 2008 until now, it was the thing,” Mark Murphy, director of bar operations at Starr Restaurants, which owns the bar and restaurant, says.

Gui Jaroschy
Gui Jaroschy

In August 2023, Starr reached out to Gui Jaroschy of Unfiltered Hospitality to update its cocktail list to better reflect evolving palates. Some drinks were replaced, while others, like the Astronaut, were reimagined. “It was challenging to update because it’s so beloved by guests of the Continental, as well as the whole team at Starr,” Jaroschy says, noting that he tried the drink both shaken and frozen, expecting to take a single sip, but wound up finishing both and wondering how he could improve it. “It’s just one of those drinks that works despite not subscribing to modern mixology norms.”

The new recipe keeps the peach vodka and triple sec, but adds to it lemon and stratosphere sherbet, which is a mixture of orange juice, sugar, Tang powder, and glitter. The glass is partially coated with Electric Tang, a combination of Tang powder and a dust made from numbing Buzz Button flowers.

Murphy calls it the foundation of the cocktail programme, capturing a sense of “elevated nonsense” while still showcasing balance. In that way, the relaunched Astronaut captures a return to playfulness that is sweeping broader cocktail culture. “It is still somehow relevant,” Murphy says. “It’s come back around full circle with a little more balance than the initial version but still has a nostalgic aspect to it.”


45ml Peach vodka
15ml Triple sec
30ml Stratosphere sherbet
30ml Sour lemon

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well. Dust a cocktail coupe with Electric Tang. Strain cocktail into the coupe and serve.

Sub recipes below (adjusted to 1/8 size from the working specs for the restaurant).

Stratosphere Sherbet
237ml Filtered water
473ml Fresh orange juice
680g White sugar
30g Tang powder
0.5g Gold glimmer powder

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container. Whisk until sugar and Tang are completely dissolved and incorporated. Transfer to an airtight container, label, date, and store refrigerated.

Electric Tang
30g Tang powder
1g Gold Electric Dust

Combine ingredients in a quart container. Seal and shake well to combine thoroughly. Label and store in a cool dry place.

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