9 December

Birthday of the world's longest running soap

Coronation Cocktail No.1

So we are drinking a...

Coronation Cocktail No.1

Ever since America's TV series As the World Turns finished its epic run in 2010, Britain's Coronation Street has been the world's longest-running soap opera.

The tale of life in the fictional town of Weatherfield (based on Salford in Greater Manchester, England) debuted on this day in 1960. Over the decades it has featured guest appearances ranging from Prince Charles to Sir Ian 'Gandalf' McKellen, and some of its early stars have worked on the show for over fifty years. We are toasting its impressive longevity with a Coronation Cocktail No. 1.

Lucius Beebe's Birthday

Restaurant critic, bon viveur, snappy dresser, photographer, drinks geek and author, inter alia, of The Stork Club Bar Book, Lucius Beebe, known a little unkindly as "Luscious Lucius" was born on this day in 1902.

Famous for his wardrobe, his wit, and his appetite for food and drink, the luscious one owned multiple fur-lined overcoats, enough jewellery to put a lady of the night to shame and a wardrobe full of handmade shoes and bespoke suits, not to mention two private railroad cars, his era's answer to the private jet. Responsible for lines such as "With only one or two exceptions there are no two of New York's restaurant writers who can pass the mutual time of day without the possibility of a stabbing," Beebe once memorably described New York as "Babylon-on-the-Hudson".

We are toasting him, naturally, with a Stork Club, named for the venue he celebrated in print.

It's also British toll roads birthday

Way, way back in 1888, a government act asked local authorities to take responsibility for looking after roads, getting rid of one of the more inequitable forms of taxation in the UK, the toll road.

A few toll bridges still remained, it looked as though the notion of paying to use a road in the UK had gone out with the ark. No longer, however. In 2003, the London government brought in the Congestion Charge, and then, on this day, the M6 toll motorway opened, offering people with money to spare a chance to escape the congestion round Brum and line the pockets of Midland Expressway Limited with a charge that can rise to over a fiver a pop.

In memory of the days when the only taxes folk had to complain about went to the government in the form of Income Tax, and when a private road was a no-entry road, we're drinking the Income Tax Cocktail - it's basically a Bronx, with extra bitters.

It's also the anniversary of the Great Smog

This day in 1952, a toxic cloud of smog, enriched with sulphuric acid, hydrocholoric acid, smoke and fluorides, finally cleared from London, where it had hovered for the previous four days.

At least four thousand people died during the Great Smog, and probably many more. A product of freak weather combined with coal fires and industrial pollution, it turned the London air into a chilly, brownish, toxic soup. But it wasn't all bad. The Great Smog did for air quality what the Big Stink of 1858 did for sanitation - we have it to thank for the Clean Air Act of 1956, one of the first modern pieces of environmental legislation.

In memory of those bygone times, when folk could burn coal fires without so much as a thought for so much as pollution, let alone carbon cost, we are enjoying a Velvet Fog, a very palatable concoction by the always-reliable Dale DeGroff.

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