The Difference Engine was a machine envisioned by Charles Babbage in the 19th century – the first mechanical calculator capable of polynomial functions, and also the title of one of my favorite books. Due to lack of funding, Babbage never built his Difference Engine or his later design the Analytical Engine which would have been the first general purpose computer. It was more than a hundred years later that either of his two designs were built. This discrepancy in time between the Steam Age conception of the Difference Engine and our computer revolution a century later is the basis of the book The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. What if, just what if, the funding for Charles Babbage’s extraordinary machine didn’t fall through and the computer age came rushing in during the Industrial Revolution? What would our lives and the resulting history look like? Intrigued? Welcome to the literary genre of Alternate History, more specifically Steampunk.
As a tribute to Charles Babbage and the book that bears the title of his extraordinary machine, I created this cocktail The Difference Engine. It’s gin based, naturally. You can raise one in honor of William Gibson whose birthday is March 17th, perhaps while perusing his other works. A master of the Cyberpunk genre, Gibson’s works are seminal to the postmodern Alternate History genre. Pick up a copy of Neuromancer and mix yourself a Difference Engine. Neither will dissapoint.
The Difference EnGine Cocktail
- 2 oz lime flavored gin
- 3/4 oz triple sec
- the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 1 dash of orange bitters
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a generous amount of ice. The Difference EnGine tastes best when you shake it like you’re trying to produce steam by shake power alone. Shake, shake, shake this baby till the liquid is filled with teeny, tiny shards of broken ice. Congratulations, you’ve now earned one cardio unit for the week! Celebrate by straining the cocktail into a martini glass. Serve immediately and savor slowly.
Like this cocktail? You may also enjoy the Analytical EnGine cocktail – a tribute to Ada Lovelace, the 1st computer programmer.
Love, The Nerdista