Daily Cocktail

7 May - May Bank Holiday

We Are Drinking The Mayflower Martini
Today is our Early May bank holiday, and it could be one of our last, with tentative plans afoot to move it either to Trafalgar Day or, perhaps (in England) St. George's Day in April.

As a nation we have fewer bank holidays than most countries - who call them public holidays - although they do, at least get moved should they fall on a weekend.

Why "bank" holidays? Well, the Bank of England was the first business to routinely close for holidays, an impressive 33 of them each year. (Insert your own banker joke here.)

And, although employers in sectors such as retail and hospitality do not give their employees time off, banks have become a marker for other businesses - and the law about bank holidays is still covered under banking legislation, not employment.

Anywise! Whether or not you're working, we hope you have a good one. We are enjoying The Mayflower Martini.

Mayflower Martini
: Martini
Garnish: Lemon zest twist
Method: SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
1½ shot Bombay london dry gin
½ shot St~Germain elderflower liqueur
½ shot Bols apricot brandy liqueur
½ shot Pressed apple juice
½ shot Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Origin: Adapted from a drink created in 2002 by Wayne Collins, London, England.
Comment: Fragrant balance of English fruits and flowers.

8 May - International Red Cross And Red Crescent Day

We Are Drinking A Red Lion #2
It is hard to imagine an era before the Red Cross. Not so much for the minutiae of life, such as First Aid training and cleaning up nightclubs. But for its role on the battlefield.

Before Henry Dunant created the Red Cross in 1863, there was no agreed system for treating casualties on the battlefield. The wounded were picked up as best they could by colleagues, under fire unless a truce had been negotiated, and many did not survive the wait for assistance.

We have the Red Cross to thank for the first ever Geneva Convention, which, in 1864, began to define what was acceptable and unacceptable in times of war, something we still struggle with today.

Its medics, who operate as the Red Crescent in Islamic countries, still provide assistance in times of conflict around the world.

Today is Henry Dunant's birthday, and Red Cross Day as well. We are toasting both Henry and his brave organisation with a Red Lion, to our preferred formula, #2.

Red Lion #2
: Martini
Garnish: Orange slice on rim
Method: SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
2 shot Bombay london dry gin
¼ shot Grand Marnier liqueur
½ shot Freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ shot Pomegranate (grenadine) syrup
¾ shot Chilled mineral water
Origin: Recipe adapted from one originally published in 'The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks' by David Embury.
Comment: Embury is a Daiquiri fan and this is reminiscent of a Daiquiri in both style and proportions.

9 May - Victory Day In Russia

We Are Drinking A White Russian
On this day on Russian time, in 1945, the Soviet Union accepted the surrender of the German Army, marking victory in the Second World War.

Always ones to do things differently, not least, perhaps, because they began the war on the wrong side, the Russians call World War II the Great Patriotic War.

Between 25 and 30 million Soviet citizens died over the course of the war, and today remains a very important day to many Russians.

In Moscow, folk will be marking today with parades, celebrations and fireworks. Not to mention, of course, a healthy (or unhealthy) consumption of vodka.

Us? We'll be making like Jeff Bridges' Dude in the Cohen Brothers' The Big Lebowski, and enjoying a White Russian, a remarkably palatable blend of vodka, chocolate and cream.

Glass: Old-fashioned
Garnish: Dust with grated nutmeg
Method: SHAKE all ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass.
2 shot Ketel One vodka
1 shot Kahlúa coffee liqueur
½ shot Milk
½ shot Double (heavy) cream
Origin: Popularised by the 1998 film 'The Big Lebowski' in which this drink is the favoured tipple of 'The Dude' character.
Comment: A Black Russian smoothed with cream.

10 May - Nelson Mandela Became President

We Are Drinking An El Presidente No. 1
Eighteen years after Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president, sounding the death toll of the Apartheid era, today is still an occasion worth celebrating.

Because it really is not that long ago that citizens of South Africa were separated in work, life and play because of the colour of their skin.

Families were torn apart because one sibling looked darker than another. The black majority were crammed into ghettoes. And white rule was assumed.

The guiding light of African politics, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mandela served a total of 27 years in prison for his fight for freedom, 18 of them on the notorious Robben Island.

We are toasting this extraordinary achievement, with our favourite take on the classic El Presidente cocktail: No. 1 #1. Mandela is 93: here's hoping he makes it to 100 and beyond.

El Presidente No. 1 #1
: Martini
Garnish: Lime wedge on rim
Method: SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine stain into chilled glass.
2 shot Bacardi Superior rum
¾ shot Fresh pressed pineapple juice
½ shot Freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ shot Pomegranate (grenadine) syrup
Origin: Classic variation on the Daiquiri, of unknown origin.
Comment: Rum and pineapple combine wonderfully and the Daiquiri is the king of cocktails.

11 May - Manhattan Cocktail Classic

We Are Drinking A Breakfast in Manhattan
Ahead of World Cocktail Day on Sunday, the third Manhattan Cocktail Classic begins today, with an Indie Spirits Expo and a gala at the New York Public Library: the industry side of things kicks off tomorrow.

A festival of all things cocktailian, seminars will be held at PDT, Death & Co, Pegu Club, Mother's Ruin, Apotheke and many more, with one at Dans Le Noir enabling people to taste spirits in the dark.

Tailored as much to the casual boozehound or Manhattan foodie as the industry professional, last year saw 3000 guests drink 40,000 cocktails, and this year's event looks likely to be bigger, particularly on World Cocktail Day.

If you're not heading over to join the extravaganza - perhaps saving yourself for Tales? - we recommend you get in the spirit with a Breakfast in Manhattan.

Breakfast in Manhattan
: Coupette
Garnish: Orange zest twist
Method: STIR marmalade with bourbon to dissolve marmalade. Add other ingredients,
1 spoon Orange marmalade
2 shot Maker's Mark bourbon
½ shot Martini Rosso sweet vermouth
1 dash Orange bitters
STIR with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
Origin: Discovered in 2009 at Bentley's, Dublin, Ireland.
Comment: The British Breakfast Martini comes to Manhattan.

12 May - International Owl and Pussycat Day

We Are Drinking A Limerick
200 years ago today, Edward Lear, the artist, writer and poet who produced The Owl and the Pussycat was born, making this International Owl and Pussycat Day.

The 21st child of middle class parents, Edward Lear is famous today for his nonsense poetry, nonsense words and limericks. But he was also a talented painter and illustrator who travelled the world.

The great and the good of Britain's poetry world will attend a ceremony in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner this afternoon, while Westminster Council is unveiling a green plaque on the site of the house where he was born, and zoos are celebrating with Nonsense Day.

Elsewhere? There is an art exhibition opening in Corfu, devoted to his watercolours of the Greek islands; a conference is coming up in Oxford; while Harvard will host both discussions and art exhibits.

We are enjoying a Limerick in his honour, an easy-drinking take on the classic Rickey.

: Collins
Garnish: Lime wedge squeezed over drink
Method: SHAKE first 3 ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass. TOP with soda water and lightly stir.
2 shot Vodka
1 shot Freshly squeezed lime juice
½ shot Monin Pure Cane sugar syrup (65°brix, 2:1 sugar/water)
Top up with Soda (club soda)
Origin: I created this twist on the classic Vodka Rickey in 2002.
Comment: A refreshing lime cooler.

13 May - World Cocktail Day

We Are Drinking An Old-Fashioned
Today is a special day for any cocktail geek: World Cocktail Day.

On this day in 1806, The Balance and Columbian Repository, an upstate New York newspaper, published the first known definition of the word "cock-tail", in response to a reader's query on an article.

For a long time it was cocktail lore that The Balance could also claim the first printed use of the word. Yet today, at least two earlier occurrences are known to exist, one in London's Morning Post and Gazetteer (1798) and a second in a US agricultural handbook called The Farmer's Cabinet (1803).

And, as more and more newspaper archives, books and resources are digitised, and more and more cocktail geeks turn to research, more and more instances are likely to be found - perhaps even an earlier definition.

We are marking today with an Old-Fashioned, a style of cocktail that most closely matches The Balance's famous description of it as "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters." Enjoy.

Can you make this drink in ten seconds? Join the debate here

: Old-fashioned
Garnish: Orange (or lemon) twist
Method: STIR one shot of bourbon with two ice cubes in a glass. ADD sugar syrup and Angostura and two more ice cubes. STIR some more and add another two ice cubes and the rest of the bourbon. STIR lots more and add more ice.
2½ shot Maker's Mark bourbon
½ shot Monin Pure Cane sugar syrup (65°brix, 2:1 sugar/water)
3 dash Angostura aromatic bitters
Origin: As with the Martini, the glass this cocktail is served in has taken the name of the drink. The cocktails creation is credited to a bartender called Martin Cuneo at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. USA. He is said to have made the drink for a Kentucky Colonel (and bourbon distiller) named James E. Pepper sometime between 1889 and 1895. In those days the clubhouse was situated at in the old Belknap family mansion located between Third and Fourth Streets on the south side of Walnut Street (now Muhammad Ali Blvd.) in Louisville. This was torn down and replaced by the current opulent Georgian clubhouse, located about a block to the east, at 218 West Walnut Street, which opened in late 1928.
A number of sources collaborate the Old Fashioned originating the Pendennis Club, including the 1931 book, Old Waldorf Bar Days, in which it author, Albert Stevens Crocket, writes of this drink, "This was brought to the Old Waldorf in the days of the 'sit-down' Bar, and was introduced by, or in the honor of, Col. James E. Pepper, of Kentucky, a proprietor of a celebrated whiskey of the period. It was said to have been the invention of a bartender at the famous Pendennis Club in Louisville, of which Col. Pepper was a member."
Comment: The melting and stirring in of ice cubes is essential to the dilution and taste of this sublime classic.

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