1 July

The Journalist image

The world's biggest circulation magazine turns 135 today

So we are drinking a...

The Journalist

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The world's most widely circulated magazine turns 135 today. Churning out over 40 million copies a month, distributed in what its publishers describe as over 236 lands, it was founded on 1 July 1879.


You've almost certainly seen it. You may EVEN, conceivably, have read it. But we very much doubt you'll have ever visited it online, and you certainly won't have bought a copy. It is, of course, The Watchtower, the missionary publication produced by the Jehovah's Witnesses - whose religion requires that they go from door to door converting people, even though there's only room in heaven for 144,000 of us, who will all be physically resurrected with a brand new body.

We're not fans of religion, here. (We worship a different kind of spirit.) But we do love magazines, both print and digital. And so we're raising a glass of The Journalist. Cheers!

Tour de France


On this day in 1903 at 3:16pm, 60 competitors set off on the first Tour de France. Only 21 riders would finish back in Paris on 19 July.

The race comprised just six gruelling stages, and riders who averaged at least 20 kph (12 mph) on all stages were paid a daily allowance equivalent to a factory wage. The event was dominated and won by "the Little Chimney Sweep" Maurice Garin, and the last finisher came in two days after him.

By the following year the competition was already arousing the passions that surround it today, with riders being attacked by spectators and others handicapped by felled trees. Garin said, "I'll win the Tour de France provided I'm not murdered before we get to Paris." He did win in 1904 but was later stripped of his title for cheating.

Today the race consists of 21 day-long stages held over a 23-day period and covers around 3,500 kilometres (2,175 miles). It alternates between clockwise and anticlockwise circuits of France and includes stages in neighbouring countries. Each stage is timed, and the rider with the lowest aggregate time is known as the leader of the race and can wear the coveted maillot jaune (yellow jersey).

Today we'll be raising a cocktail appropriately named La Bicyclette and saying merci to everyone involved in the race for laying on such tremendous entertainment over the years.

The Third Man


On this day in 1963 the former British Foreign Office official, Harold "Kim" Philby admitted that he had been a Soviet double agent, the mysterious "Third Man" who had protected the double agents Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.

Philby's career had almost certainly led to the death of tens, if not hundreds of agents, sent into the recently-formed Communist states by MI6 and the CIA, before he defected to Moscow from Beirut. After Philby, there would be more betrayals: the Fourth Man, Anthony Blunt, and the Fifth Man, John Cairncross, but it is Philby, the Third Man, whose name has gone down in history.

Philby didn't find the paradise he hoped for in the Communist state he had served all his career, although he did marry a Russian wife. He was shocked by the poverty that surrounded him, and drowned his sorrows in the traditional vodka. We are drinking to capitalism and keeping secrets with a Silent Third.

Doctor's Day


In India, today is Doctor's Day, when patients are encouraged to send their doctors cards, the medical profession holds dinners and the most diligent citizens send flowers to their favourite medic.

The Indian government works hard to raise awareness of Doctor's Day, which has been celebrated for 20 years today. India isn't the easiest place to be a doctor. Medics have been subject to public violence when they have done wrong - or been seen to do so - and corruption is a major issue in healthcare as elsewhere.

Why today? Well, this is the birthday (and day of death) of India's most celebrated doctor, Dr. B. C. Roy, who was also a politician and ally of Gandhi. We won't be sending any cards today, but we will be raising a toast to medics, not just in India but all around the globe, with our preferred version of a vintage cocktail, the Doctor No.1.

Today is also National Day in Canada


Virtually every bar in Canada will be able to make you a Bloody Caesar which is pretty much Canada's national drink. It may seem odd that a drink invented in Canada took the name of Rome's most famous emperor, but though its origins are Canadian its inspiration is very much Italian.

Charged with inventing a signature drink to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant, Walter Chell recalled a Venetian pasta dish blending tomatoes and clams. Add in the requisite Worcester sauce and other spices, and the result is a Bloody Mary with a real kick.

The typical finish to a Bloody Caesar is to wet the rim with lemon juice and then turn the glass upside down and dip in celery salt. However, the Caesar actually lends itself to an array of garnishes. Celery and a lime wedge are more traditional, but since the Caesar has become so popular, restaurants and bars have felt the need to customise the garnish to make their version unique, adopting anything from olives and peppers to pickled asparagus and shrimp. Some drinks end up looking more like an appetiser! We've gone for the elegant and deliciously crunchy green bean to garnish ours.

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