27 February

Snowfall Cocktail image

Today is Polar Bear Day

So we are drinking a...

Snowfall Cocktail

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Polar bears are majestic and pretty fearsome creatures, who also happen to produce the most adorable looking offspring known to the arctic circle.

Today is about raising awareness for their perilous situation as the ice recedes, leaving them with less land and, therefore, less food. So today politicians and environmentalists campaign for everyone to use energy more conservatively and lessen our carbon footprints.

For the remaining 20,000 or so bears we're marking today with a Snowfall Cocktail.

Until about April 1912, it seemed like a great idea to belong to the same family of ships as the famous "wonder ship" Titanic. After that, however, some rapid design changes were in order. So it was only on 27 February, 1914, that the second and last of Titanic's sister ships, the Britannic, was finally launched.

Before the owners had even finished fitting out the ship, however, the First World War broke out. Rather than transporting emigrants and the super-rich between London and New York, Britannic was turned over to carrying wounded soldiers. She managed five trips more than the Titanic. On her sixth, while off the coast of Greece, an explosion hit - and, amazingly, she sank even more quickly than Titanic, in under an hour. Thanks to lifeboats, though, almost everyone on board survived - over a thousand people were saved.

One of the more famous? Violet Jessop. A stewardess, she had survived the Titanic sinking - and survived the Britannic by jumping from a lifeboat that was about to be sucked into the ship's propellers. We are toasting her with a Violet Affinity.

And on this day in 1827 New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras celebration. Held on or Fat Tuesday, this carnival spread from Rome across Europe and eventually to the Americas, but nowhere celebrates Mardi Gras as flamboyantly as they do in New Orleans.

French settlers brought the tradition of Mardi Gras to Louisiana at the end of the 17th century but the province's Spanish governors later banned the celebrations. However, after Louisiana became part of the United States in 1803 the ban on wearing masks and partying in the streets was lifted. The New Orleans Mardi Gras started in 1827 by a group of students who had experienced the carnival whilst studying in Paris.

Today groups known as krewes build elaborate floats which are paraded over the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. Riders on the floats toss 'throws', usually strands of beads, at bystanders. We are drinking to Mardi Grass with a Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans.

Also, on this day in 1883, Oscar Hammerstein patented the first cigar-rolling machine. The grandfather of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II of Rogers & Hammerstein, while a young immigrant he worked sweeping in a cigar factory and progressed through the ranks to eventually edit the US Tobacco Journal. He used the revenue he received from his patented machine to bankroll opera productions and build theatres. We are celebrating Oscar's invention with a fine cigar and a Louisville Sour, which fittingly contains tobacco liqueur.

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