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Bitches' Brew cocktail (Difford's recipe) image

It's Peter O'Toole's birthday

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Bitches' Brew cocktail (Difford's recipe)

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One of the world's great drinkers, a buddy of hellraisers Richard Harris and Richard Burton, as well as the most-nominated lead actor never to win an Academy Award, Peter O'Toole is said to have been born in Connemara, Ireland, this day in 1932. O'Toole died aged 81 on 14th December 2013 and his memorial plaque in St Paul's, the Actors' Church in Covent Garden, reads "Good night and joy be with you all."

After his heartthrob days were gone, O'Toole played the celebrated lush Jeffrey Bernard on the West End stage. Yet his own exploits were legendary in their own right. O' Toole once went out for a drink in Paris and woke up in Corsica, and advised a young Michael Caine never to ask what he had done the night before - "it's better not to know".

After being refused service on the grounds that a pub was closing, he wrote out a cheque to buy the place -- then thought better of it when he woke up. We are toasting this wild Irishman with a Wild Irish Rose, based on his homeland's native whiskey.

Today is James Baldwin's 90th anniversary

An inspiration to writers from Toni Morrison onwards, the African-American, gay writer James Baldwin was born on this day in 1924. And, no, that was not a particularly easy time to be black in America - and nor was it a great time to be gay.

Baldwin's second novel, Giovanni's Room, published at a time when homosexuality was illegal in many places, dealt with a lovestory between two men. His essays are still widely read and cited.

Baldwin had the courage not only to be out in those difficult days, but to campaign for Civil Rights at a time when most Civil Rights activists were openly homophobic. We're toasting this brave, talented man with a Charlie, in honour of his play, Blues for Mister Charlie.

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