Europa Geology: The Mocktail That Simulates Jupiter's Moon

Non-alcoholic drinks might be the last thing that comes to your mind when it comes to space travel, but for the folks over at the European Space Agency, it was the first. In January 2023, as part of their efforts to draw attention to the launch of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (aka JUICE) — a spacecraft set to search for signs of life on the moons of the giant planet for the next 12 years — the organization started a mocktail competition. Since then, the European Space Agency has released its winners, and ultimately the Europa Geology won the hearts of the judges.

The Europa Geology stood out from its competition by masterfully representing the various layers found in Europa, one of Jupiter's largest moons. The brown rock sugar at the bottom of this mixed drink represents this celestial body's stone center, topped by the sparkling blue water that stands for its vast oceans, and a layer of cinnamon-coated ice that illustrates Europa's rocky surface. Just pair this non-alcoholic cocktail with food and let it take you to space.

The Europa Geology pays homage to the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer launch site

Margherita Gagnoni, the student responsible for the creation of the Europa Geology, writes on Instagram that she got the inspiration for the drink from more than just the layers of the icy moon. Through its ingredients, her mocktail serves as a gesture to French Guiana, the tropical European territory that served as the launch site for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer. The recipe subtly nods to the flavors of South America by using coconut juice, and the star anise pod skewers represent the palm trees found in the region. The European Space Agency itself also got a shoutout through the incorporation of ginger ale, which originated in Europe — specifically, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Gagnoni added yet another layer of symbolism in the Europa Geology, and it just so happens to be the crucial ingredient that gives the beverage that signature blue. Spirulina comes from algae, and according to Gagnoni, the inclusion of it represents her wishes that the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer will find life on Europa.

Swap out spirulina for blue dye if you're having trouble sourcing it

Spirulina is certainly no bar cart essential for non-alcoholic cocktails. While people sometimes use this algae as a supplement, finding this blue powder at your local grocery store could prove troublesome — especially if you're not using online retailers to look for it. Luckily, the European Space Agency had a feeling that the essential ingredient for the Europa Geology isn't usually found in most kitchen pantries, so they recommend aspiring mocktail makers to try out blue dye instead (per the ESA). Simply replace the spirulina with your blue dye of choice, and you should be left with a sparkly blue mixed drink that will take your taste buds through space.

Keep in mind that if you use blue food dye, the shade of your Europa Geology might come out a little different. Spirulina naturally has hints of green — a color that is crucial in getting the aquamarine hue of this beverage. If you're finding that your regular blue food dye leaves you with results that look off, try using less dye or purchasing green food coloring as well — or one with a green-blue tint. Mocktails are for experimenting, after all.