3 December

Illinois' statehood

Chicago Fizz

So we are drinking a...

Chicago Fizz

On this day in 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the United States. Of the fifty U.S. states, Illinois has the sixth-largest population, the 25th-largest land mass and the fifth-largest gross domestic product (GDP).

Illinois stretches from Wisconsin down to Kentucky, sandwiched between Iowa and Missouri to the west and Indiana to the east. Importantly, its Northwest tip connects it to Lake Michigan, the other Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to its natural harbour, this is where the Port of Chicago and one of America's great cities developed.

The Mississippi River to its west, where the city of St. Louis has grown, gives access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois Waterway. The Wabash and Ohio rivers to its south are also important waterways.

These shipping routes and its relatively central location have made Illinois a natural transportation hub, with Chicago considered the nation's railroad hub since the 1860s. Its O'Hare International Airport, among the world's busiest, adds airfreight to this transportation network.

Illinois also boasts a wealth of natural resources such as coal, timber, petroleum, and fertile soil, so is also a major industrial and agricultural hub. Illinois is one of America's most industrialized states.

Springfield may be the state's capital, but Chicago is the leading cultural, economic, and population centre, housing 65% of the state's 12.8 million residents. We're celebrating the state and this metropolis, not with a Chicago Cocktail but a Chicago Fizz. Although, some may consider this a Chicago Mistake.

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First human heart transplant

On this day in 1967, a human heart was transplanted for the first time. The procedure took place in the Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town by Dr Christiaan Barnard for patient Louis Washkansky.

Louis Washkansky, 53, was terminally ill with heart failure when Denise Darvall, 25, died from a brain injury following a car accident. Not only did her heart play a hugely important part in medical history, but one of her kidneys was also used to save a 10-year-old boy.

Although the heart transplant procedure was successful and a medical breakthrough, Mr Washkansky unfortunately died of pneumonia 18 days later. From the hospital's first ten heart transplants, four patients lived for more than a year following their procedures, one living for a further 13 years and one for 23 years.

There was a lot of controversy around transplants when they first started, and a long road of challenges ensued. Luckily today, the transplant success rate is much higher and seen as an almost routine operation, however there is still very long waiting lists for operations due to a lack of suitable donor organs.

We're celebrating the incredible feats of modern medicine with a Love Heart.

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It's also Joseph Conrad's Birthday

The man who brought us Heart of Darkness, the book that inspired the film Apocalypse Now, Joseph Conrad was born in Poland on this day in 1857, and christened Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski.

Conrad's early years were spent at sea, exploring the world's furthest corners, and as a born storyteller, he later pulled his experiences together to create a body of enduring fiction, thus fulfilling another of his childhood ambitions. Despite growing up Polish and being educated in French, Conrad chose to write in English, a language he only learned in his twenties, because "it's so plastic - if you haven't got a word you need, you can make it".

As a chain-smoker, we reckon Joseph would have appreciated the peat-smoke richness of our cocktail of the day, the fabulous Smokey Joe.

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