8 February

Monkey Gland #1 image

Today H. McElhone bought The New York Bar

So we are drinking a...

Monkey Gland #1

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On this day in 1923, Harry McElhone finally achieved his dream and bought the New York Bar on 5 Rue Daunou, Paris, where he had worked more than a decade before, including on the opening night.


The place had a chequered past. A well-known jockey, Milton Henry, opened it in 1911, then sold it to another racing star, Tod Sloan, before Henry's ex-wife took the place back and ran it for a while. One of very few bars to have remained in the same family for three generations, Harry's New York Bar has played host to some of the world's best bartenders and guests from Hemingway to Sartre.

We will be toasting Harry, and his bar, with one of the few cocktails that all sources agree he created, the Monkey Gland #1. It is named for a pioneering rejuvenation treatment developed by one Sergei Voronoff - a transplant of monkey testicles into the relevant gentlemen's area. Bottoms up!

Today is also this day that in 1974 astronauts Edward Gibson, a doctor, plus two Lieutenant-Colonels, Gerald Carr and William Pogue, returned to earth after 85 days in space - proving that it's possible for human beings to live in space, despite the muscle-wasting effects of low gravity.

Subsequent epic space missions would include Valeri Polyakov, who spent over 14 months on the Mir Station in the 1990s. His aim? To prove that humans would be capable of working on Mars after the long, low-gravity flight to get there.And today, finally, folk are trying to get humans onto Mars. Elon Musk, of private space flight company, SpaceX, dreams of creating a self-sustaining human civilisation there; Obama believes he will see people on Mars during his lifetime; and Mars One is, rather optimistically, attempting to crowdfund a manned Mars mission. In honour of Doctor Gibson, an astronaut and physicist, a pilot and a biker, we're drinking a Gibson - a Dry Martini with the famous pickled onion garnish.

Today is also Pre'eren Day, a marginalised Slovenian holiday which commemorates the death of their national poet, France Prešeren. Prešeren led a fairly tragic life, largely down to his unrequited love with a woman called Julija Primic. He realised that she'd never really love him, so he had three kids with a woman called Ana Jelovšek, but could never bring himself to marry her....and even on his deathbed, he confessed that he'd never forgotten about Julija. It must have been pretty tough for him, but on the plus side it resulted in some damned good poetry!

So, while Slovenia is celebrating the man on their 2-euro coin, why not educate yourself with some of Prešeren's poetry while enjoying a Poet's Dream.

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