Although banned during the Communist era, Christmas is well and truly back on trend in Russia.
Breaking a 40-day Lent period, when practising Christians do not eat any meat, Russian Christmas festivities usually kick off on Christmas Eve with a monumental 12-dish supper. It isn't Father Christmas who delivers presents to Russian children - instead they arrive with Babushka, Grandfather Frost and Grandfather Frost's granddaughter, the Snow Maiden. Today also marks the beginning of Svyatki, an old Slavic holiday in which a young woman would use a mirror and a candle to conjure up the image of their future husband. And, of course, there will be lots of snow, so we think we've the perfect drink for today: a White Russian Christmas.
It's over 40 years since Apollo 17 blasted off and Mission Commander Eugene Cerman was the last man to walk on the moon. Will we see more men on the moon?
Well, even with the technology of the 1960s and 1970s, it was considered both safer and cheaper to send machines into space than to send humans. But that's not stopping the new wannabe superpowers from rising to the challenge. China wants to put a man on the moon by 2030, Russia by 2020 and India (!) by 2025. And - who knows?! - one of them may even put a woman there.
If you ever dreamed of being an astronaut as a kid, today is a great day to remember those dreams, by toasting astronauts past, present and, we hope, future with a Moonlight Martini by Gaz Regan.
On the morning of 7th December 1941, Japanese forces attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, taking out eight US Navy battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, a minelayer and an anti-aircraft training ship, as well as 188 aircraft, and killing thousands. Although the US had been planning for the possibility of war with Japan for around 20 years, no warning was given, and Americans were understandably shocked beyond belief.
Pearl Harbor catapulted the US into the Second World War in Asia, which most Americans had wanted to avoid as much as they wanted to avoid the war in Europe. And after America declared war on Japan, Hitler declared war on the US - which meant that American forces ended up in Europe fighting with the Allies, so changing the course of the war. We are commemorating these long-ago events with a La Perla cocktail, a very adult blend whose name, of course, means "the pearl".
On this day in 1888, an Ayrshire vet named John Boyd Dunlop received a patent for a groundbreaking invention - the pneumatic bicycle tyre. Why was this important? Because inflated rubber tyres roll better and faster than the previous solution - metal wheels. Which was rapidly proved as bike racers equipped with Dunlop's tyres ran rings around the competition.
Dunlop wasn't, in fact, the first person to patent the pneumatic tyre - someone else had had the idea over 40 years before. And he wouldn't make much money from his invention. Instead, the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co., founded to buy up and monetise Dunlop's invention, took much of the glory and almost all of the cash. (And, yes, they'd later go on to make both car tyres and those iconic retro plimsolls.) We are toasting Mr. Dunlop, whose genius, like so many inventors', went largely unrecognised and unrewarded, with an aptly named but Americanly spelled Fat Tire, a bittersweet concoction based on aged rum.