If you love gin and tropical drinks, then you have to try the Saturn cocktail! This frozen gin-based cocktail has flavors of passion fruit, citrus, and spices, and is such a fun and unique summertime sipper.
From the Mai Tai to the classic daiquiri, there are no lack of tropical* drinks made with rum. But have you ever had a tropical gin cocktail? If not, then I’m happy to introduce you to the Saturn! This unusual and strikingly delicious cocktail is fruity, rich, tart, and more complex than you’d expect from an easy drinking tropical cocktail. It uses some of my favorite tropical ingredients like orgeat almond syrup, falernum, and passion fruit liqueur, and it’s all topped off with a festive garnish that resembles the planet Saturn. Trust me when I say, it’s out of this world!
*Most people refer to the Saturn as a “Tiki” cocktail, but since tiki culture is a product of cultural appropriation, we’ll refrain from glorifying it and will use the word “tropical” instead.
Saturn cocktail quick facts
- Level of difficulty: Easy! You basically just throw everything in a blender with ice and you’re done.
- Number of ingredients: Five not including the optional (but very fun) garnish.
- Main spirit(s): Gin.
- Season or occasion: Since it’s a frozen blended cocktail, it’s ideal for warm weather! Perfect for the beach, pool, or any spring or summertime get together that calls for a show-stopping frozen drink.
- Type of cocktail: Tropical gin cocktail.
Ingredients in the Saturn cocktail
The Saturn is by far the most well-known tropical gin drink! It’s invention is credited to California bartender Popo Galsini, who entered the cocktail in the 1967 International Bartender’s Association World Championship and won. Fun fact: he named the cocktail after the Saturn rocket that propelled the first Apollo flight! Even though the Saturn won the world championship, it only became a mainstream drink when renowned tropical cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berr rediscovered the recipe and published it in his 2010 book “Beachbum Berry Remixed.”
The Saturn has an all-star team of ingredients that make it distinctively tropical and delicious, but still unlike any other drink in the tropical canon. It’s fruity and tart from the passion fruit and citrus, rich and subtly nutty from the orgeat and falernum, and the gin base prevents the cocktail from being too sweet. My take on the Saturn follows the classic recipe pretty closely, but I use passion fruit liqueur instead of syrup to give the cocktail an extra boozy kick and a pretty pink color. Here’s everything you need to make it!
- Falernum (like Velvet Falernum)
- Passion fruit liqueur (like Passoã Passion Fruit Liqueur)
- Lemon juice
- Crushed ice
- Lemon peel, for garnish
- Luxardo cherry, for garnish
What type of gin to use
The type of gin you use in the Saturn is important since it can really change the overall flavor of the drink. I personally like using a dry gin that’s citrus and botanical-forward, and most London Dry gins fit this flavor profile. Below are my go-to bottles!
- Rutte Dry Gin
These are all popular brands that you can find at any liquor store, and they all work great in the Saturn! You really can’t go wrong. I most recently made it with Beefeater though, and it might be my favorite for this cocktail because it has a subtle fruitiness and spiciness that plays so well with the other flavors.
The three sweeteners in the Saturn
The Saturn is unique for many reasons, and one of them is that it uses three different sweet elements that add their own unique flavors and depth to the drink: orgeat, falernum, and passion fruit. This might make it sound like a super sweet drink, but the Saturn is still a well-balanced cocktail thanks to the lemon juice, dry gin, and the fact it’s blended with ice. Here’s what you should know about these three tasty ingredients!
Orgeat adds nuttiness and creaminess
Orgeat is an almond-flavored syrup typically made with almonds, sugar, and orange flower water. It’s a common ingredient in tropical cocktails, and it adds a delicious creaminess and richness to the Saturn. Here’s what else to know about the almond syrup!
- What does orgeat taste like? Sweet, nutty, and creamy — it’s often compared to liquid marzipan!
- Do I have to refrigerate it? Yes, orgeat is perishable and once opened it’ll keep in the fridge for a little over a month.
- What can I substitute for orgeat? Orgeat is more nuanced than most cocktail syrups, so there isn’t a great substitute that would add the same creamy and nutty flavors. In a pinch though, you can try almond extract or amaretto.
- Where can I buy orgeat? It can be a little tricky to find. Your best bet is to get it online from a reputable brand like Liber & Co, or you can try your luck at your local liquor or cocktail speciality store. My personal recommendation though is to make your own orgeat at home! I always use this orgeat recipe — it only takes a few minutes to make and tastes better than anything you can buy at the store.
Looking for more ways to use up a batch of orgeat? Check out the best orgeat cocktails here!
Use Velvet Falurnum for a velvety texture and spice
Falurnum is a general term for a sweet non-alcoholic syrup or syrup liqueur that has flavors of lime, ginger, almond, and baking spices like clove and allspice. It’s another ingredient you’ll find in a lot of tropical cocktails, and it’s known for adding sweetness, spice, and a velvety texture to drinks. The most popular falurnum brand for cocktails is Velvet Falurnum, which is a rum-based liqueur made in Barbados. Learn more about it below!
- What does Velvet Falurnum taste like? Sweet with a nice acidity, lush velvety texture, and flavors of lime zest, almond, and clove.
- What’s in Velvet Falurnum? Barbados rum, sugar cane, lime, clove, almond, and other Caribbean spices.
- What’s the ABV of Velvet Falurnum? It sits at 11% ABV, so it’s fairly light as far as liqueurs go.
- How much does it cost? A 750ml bottle of Velvet Falurnum costs about $19, which is totally worth it if you love tropical cocktails! I think it’s a must-have bottle for any home bar. Plus, it lasts a really long time since most cocktails only call for a small amount.
A modern twist: use passion fruit liqueur instead of syrup
While most Saturn recipes call for passion fruit syrup, I’ve found swapping out the syrup for passion fruit liqueur makes the cocktail ever-so-slightly less sweet and gives it a gorgeous light pink hue. It’s used in such a small amount that it doesn’t change the overall taste of the cocktail, but I do think it elevates the drink’s presentation to a whole new stratosphere!
- What passion fruit liqueur should I use? The most popular and best passion fruit liqueur is Passoã Passion Fruit Liqueur, which is 20% ABV and made with real Brazilian passion fruit juice. Its sweetness and lightly syrupy texture is perfectly balanced out by a nice citrus acidity. You should be able to find it at any liquor store, and it costs $20 for a 750ml bottle.
- What else can I use passion fruit liqueur for? Passion fruit liqueur is a fun way to give any of your favorite cocktails a tropical, fruity flair! I like to use it in sangria, margaritas, mules, mimosas, daiquiris… the options are endless, and I consider it a necessity for any home bar.
- What if I want to use passion fruit syrup instead? You do you, boo! If you’d prefer to use passion fruit syrup, you use it in the same amount that you would the liqueur in the recipe (1/4 ounce). You can buy passion fruit syrup online, at most liquor stores, or make your own at home by simply mixing 1 part passion fruit puree to 6 parts simple syrup.
How to make the Saturn garnish
The most festive and fun part of the Saturn is the garnish, which is a replica of the planet Saturn. A lemon peel acts as Saturn’s ring and a Luxardo cherry* is cast as the planet itself. While it’s not mandatory, it takes the cocktail presentation to another level and is part of what makes it so memorable! To make it, you need a lemon peel, Luxardo cherry, vegetable peeler, knife, and cocktail pick or toothpick. Here’s the step by step breakdown.
- Make the lemon ring: Shave off a big swath of lemon peel with a vegetable peeler, then trim the peel into a uniform ribbon with a knife. Make sure the ribbon is wide enough so you can stick a cocktail pick through it without it breaking, and long enough that it’ll wrap all the way around the cherry with room to spare.
- Put it all together: Put the cocktail pick through the middle of the lemon ribbon, then add the cherry to the center of the pick, and finally put the pick through the two ends of the lemon ribbon to close the circle.
*As a quick note, Luxardo cherries are the BEST cocktail cherries, so ideally that’s what you should use for this garnish. That said, you could also use a pitted cherry or maraschino cherry.
How to make the Saturn cocktail
The Saturn is a straight-forward, easy cocktail to make, and you have a few options when it comes to serving it. You can serve it shaken or blended over crushed ice, or you can follow the original recipe and serve it as a frozen blended drink not over ice. I personally like it as a frozen blended drink without additional ice in the glass because it feels more festive and tropical than when it’s served shaken over ice, and I find serving it blended over ice can overly dilute it. It’ll still be delicious whatever route you decide go with, and here’s how to make it with each method.
Frozen blended (my recommendation!)
- Blend the cocktail: Add all the ingredients to a blender with a half cup of ice and blend until smooth. If needed, gradually add the other half cup of ice until it reaches a smooth, frozen consistency.
- Pour and garnish: Pour into a rocks glass or serving glass of your choice and garnish with the lemon peel and cherry Saturn replica.
Frozen blended on ice
- Blend and pour over ice: Follow the same steps as above, but pour into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice and add the garnish.
Shaken on ice
- Build the cocktail: Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and shake until you feel it get ice cold.
- Strain and garnish: Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice and add the garnish.
More tropical cocktails
When it starts to get even a little bit warm outside (I’m talking like 60 degrees 😂), my head instantly turns to tropical cocktails. So if you’re anything like me, here’s some more tropical cocktail recipe inspiration!
- If you love rum drinks, here’s how to make the perfect Mai Tai! It’s the quintessential tropical cocktail that’s always a crowd favorite.
- For another gin-based drink that gets a tropical flair from orgeat, try the Army & Navy cocktail.
- Looking for some more frozen blended drinks to sip on this summer? Then try one of these frozen vodka cocktails or frozen margaritas!
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce falernum (like Velvet Falernum)
- 1/4 ounce passion fruit liqueur* (like Passoã Passion Fruit Liqueur)
- 1/4 ounce orgeat
- 1 cup crushed ice
- Lemon peel, for garnish
- Luxardo cherry, for garnish
For the cocktail
- Add the gin, fresh lemon juice, falernum, passion fruit liqueur, orgeat, and half of the ice** to a blender and blend until smooth. If the texture isn't frozen enough, add more ice until you reach the desired slushy consistency.
- Pour into a rocks glass or serving glass of your choice.
- Garnish with a lemon ring wrapped around a cherry on a cocktail pick to resemble the planet Saturn.
For the garnish
- To make the lemon ring, use a vegetable peeler to remove a large swath of lemon peel and trim it with a knife into a long ribbon. Make sure it's long enough to wrap around the cherry with room to spare, and wide enough that it won't break when you put a cocktail pick through it.
- Put the cocktail pick through the middle of the lemon ribbon, then add the cherry to the pick, and finally close the ring by putting the cocktail pick through the ends of the lemon ribbon.
*If using passion fruit syrup instead of liqueur, still use a 1/4 ounce.
**Adding too much ice will impact the texture of the cocktail and make it less flavorful, so add the crushed ice gradually until you reach the desired smooth, frozen consistency.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 231Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 18mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g