On this day in 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state of the United States, meaning that the Sazerac cocktail, is definitively not French but American.
Home to one of our all-time favourite cities, and cocktail geek mecca, New Orleans, Louisiana takes its name, obviously enough, from a French king called Louis, in this instance Louis XIV. It was fought over by both the French and the Spanish for some time, before Napoleon sold it off in 1803, a deal that, covering over 800,000 square miles, was then probably the biggest ever real estate deal.
The state of Louisiana covers only a fraction of the land that Napoleon sold. But as home to cocktails including not only the Sazerac but the Vieux Carré; and the Ramos Gin Fizz, it punches above its weight in cocktailian terms.
Happy birthday, Louisiana! We are enjoying a Sazerac in your honour.
This day in 1999 a bomb exploded in a packed London, Soho pub, the Admiral Duncan, hurling four-inch nails through a crowd of drinkers getting the bank holiday weekend off to an horrific start. The bomb killed three people and injured almost 80.
A group named the White Wolves claimed responsibility for the attack, the third in a series to have rocked London. It turned out to be one man, David Copeland, a Neo-Nazi, who is today serving 50 years in Broadmoor Hospital.
Every year, some of the people affected by the bombing gather at 6pm at the Admiral Duncan, walk to St Anne's Church for a short service, and observe a two minute silence at 6.37, the time the bomb exploded. In honour of the bravery of those who rushed to help the injured, not knowing whether there was another bomb, and London's inclusive spirit that makes such hate crimes rare (the Admiral Duncan is a LGBT bar), we're drinking a London Cocktail, a drink we discovered in Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book.
Back in 1963, Britain was a less tolerant place than it is today, to put it mildly. The Race Relations Act was still a couple of years away, and discrimination against non-whites was common. So when the Bristol Omnibus Company, a government-owned company, instituted a policy banning the employment of "coloureds" as bus crews - they were allowed jobs in canteens and workshops - it wasn't completely atypical.
After four young black men decided not to take this lying down, the Bristol bus boycott began. Students, politicians and parts of the Bristol community marched and protested; pressure was applied to the unions, which had opposed apartheid in South Africa but not in the UK; and, exactly four months after the protest began, on the 28th August 1963, the colour bar was over. We're glad we have the Britain we have today. So we're toasting the brave guys behind the boycott, and the unions who came round in the end, with a Union Club Cocktail.