24 February

Tiki Max image

It's the calendar's birthday

So we are drinking a...

Tiki Max

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Today in 1572, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal decree shortening the year by 10 minutes, 48 seconds exactly - and the Gregorian calendar was born.

The old calendar had been inherited from Julius Caesar, whose calendar allowed precisely 365 and a quarter days for each year, with a leap year every four years. Unfortunately, that left almost 11 minutes in every year unaccounted for, and over the centuries, the date of events like the equinox had slipped by more than a week. Gregory's solution? To add ten days to the current date, and make all years that are exactly divisible by four a leap year.

As it still amazes us what a difference those few ticks of the clock can make, we are drinking a Tiki Max.

It's also Barnett Isaac's birthday

Barnett Isaacs was born back in 1852 in the Whitechapel slums of London.

Isaacs was a wheeler dealer entrepreneur right from the beginning. At the age of 21, Barnett sniffed out the diamond rush, so decided to change his name, and headed off to South Africa to make his fortune. Sure enough, he earned his first million within a few years, and went on to sell his company to Cecil John Rhodes with the purchase cheque, signed by Rhodes, then said to have been the largest ever presented for payment.

It goes without saying that Barnett (by this point Barney Barnato) was legend back home. If his entrepreneurialism wasn't enough, then he definitely reached iconic status by his dramatic death. In 1897, Barnato was sailing back to England when he disappeared overboard - whether he was pushed, fell or jumped will never be known!

The cocktail we're recommending today was adapted from Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book from the 1930s - mix one tonight, and impress your friends with the dramatic history behind the Barney Barnato.

Today Is Dragobete

Despite the fact that much of Romania still has snow on the ground, today is, pretty much, the first day of spring. And in some Romanian villages, it's still celebrated the way it was in Roman times - by honouring the pagan god of love, Dragobete.

Today, young men and young women are supposed to head out into the forests and meadows to - ahem! - gather spring flowers, then engage in a game of kiss-chase back to the villages. Married women have to touch strange men for good luck; any man who annoys a woman will have bad luck for the rest of the year; and, if you're truly traditional, love potions made with melted snow work wonders.

In honour of these woodland romps, we're drinking a very foresty-sounding cocktail, the Woodside. Darren Thrower, its creator, actually named it for a classic jazz track. Cheers!

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