5 August

National Oyster Day

Oyster Bay

So we are drinking an...

Oyster Bay

Whether you're enjoying them raw, cooked or just trying to find a pearl, the oyster has a long history dating back to the age of the dinosaurs and has been a well-loved food source for hundreds of years.

There are over 200 species of oyster across the globe, but you'll likely only come across a handful of species when eating them and very few pearls. Oysters on the most part are named after the body of water they reside in which also alters the mollusc's flavour, meaning if you eat an oyster from British waters, it'll taste different to one from American waters.

If you can get past their slimy texture, there are multiple benefits to eating them. For one they're a natural aphrodisiac, but they're also rich in several health boosting vitamins such as B-12 and iron.

Now known as a delicacy, there was a time (before overfishing and pollution) when oysters were a plentiful and cheap food source. The ancient Greeks were big fans of the oyster and the Romans were next to fall in love with the slimy mollusc but just like we've done in more recent history they were over harvested and became a rare delicacy.

New York has a significant oyster history as during the resurgence in oyster numbers known as the Golden Age of Oysters in the 18th and 19th centuries, New York was the biggest producer in the world. Much of the city's restaurant trade was built on the success of its oyster beds but again overharvesting and pollution destroyed them. The city is even home to the town of Oyster Bay where Dutch Captain David Peterson de Vries wrote in his journal in 1639, "There are fine oysters here, whence our nation has given it the name of Oyster Bay."

We're remembering Richard Burton

The love of Elizabeth Taylor's life, one of the most-nominated actors never to have won an Oscar, and the most celebrated British actor never to have been knighted, Richard Burton died on this day in 1984.

The twelfth of thirteen children of an impoverished coal miner, Burton rose from a small Welsh village to a peak of shared celebrity equivalent only to Brangelina today - he was even condemned by the Pope.

Burton once boasted he could drink four pints of vodka during a stage performance, and fend off an assault from Elizabeth Taylor without spilling a drop of his favoured large martini. We are toasting his memory with his beverage of choice, none other than the Vodka Martini.

We are also drinking to peace

At the height of the Cold War, on this day in 1963 the United States, the USSR and Britain made a historic move towards world peace by agreeing the first-ever nuclear test ban treaty. (France, the only other nation then known to have nuclear weapons, refused to sign, as did China, which was about to start testing its new devices.)

The Moscow treaty banned all testing in the air, in the water or, for that matter, in outer space, although it did allow for underground tests. Why the treaty? Well, during the 1950s the fallout from nuclear weapons testing in Siberia and the Pacific islands people were starting to realise that radiation could cause cancers, birth defects and long-term damage, and that uncontrolled testing of nuclear weapons could leave the planet a toxic wasteland.

Within a few months, more than a hundred other nations would sign the treaty, an important step to halting the nuclear arms race. Let's raise a toast to our safer world, and the international public pressure that led to the treaty, with a Nuclear Daiquiri, a suitably explosive Daiquiri created in 2005 at London's LAB bar by our much-missed friend, Gregor de Gruyther. The similarly styled and Tiki-influenced Test Pilot by Trader Vic also seems fitting. Cheers.

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