10 January

The day the world lost a glam rock icon


So we are drinking a...


On this day in 2016, the world bade a tearful farewell to music legend David Bowie when sadly, he lost his 18-month battle with liver cancer, two days after his sixty-ninth birthday.

Born David Robert Jones on January 8th 1947, this painfully shy boy (in the beginning at least) from South London, would go on to become one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, known across the world for his musical diversity as much as his wild, outlandish costumes.

Bowie began his career as the frontman of various mod-era bands in the 1960s, before going solo and releasing the single "Space Oddity", which he timed beautifully to coincide with 1969's Apollo 11 Moon mission. But it wasn't until some years later that Bowie hit the big time and became a household name. The 1970s would turn out to be Bowie's signature decade, a time when he cemented his identity as a musical shape-shifter and a glam rock god.

In 1972, Bowie introduced Ziggy Stardust to the world, his fictional alter ego, and together with his band The Spiders from Mars, he was catapulted into international stardom. In the years that followed, Bowie would become known as a master of music and stage. A singer-songwriter and actor (none of us will forget his role as goblin king 'Jareth' in the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth), Bowie was celebrated by critics and fellow musicians alike and over the course of his career, he was awarded 10 platinum, 11 gold and 8 silver album certifications and he released an incredible 11 number one albums. In 1996 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was even honoured with a CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003, but Bowie declined both awards stating of the latter "I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for."

But honorary title or not, Bowie's music and stagecraft will no doubt continue to influence popular music for generations to come. He was a fearless innovator and a true rock legend and so today we thank him for the music and toast Ziggy Stardust with The Star cocktail.

The London Underground's birthday

The London Underground, and indeed the world's first underground railway, made its debut today back in 1863 as the Metropolitan Railway.

It ran gas-lit wooden carriages that were hauled by steam locomotives from Paddington Station to Farringdon Street, stopping off at Edgware Road, Baker Street, Portland Road, Gower Street and King's Cross along the way. Despite a few teething problems, including a sewer flooding the construction works, 38,000 folk came out for a ride on the first day. By 1880 the new Tube was carrying 40 million passengers a year.

The London Underground continues to grow, now carrying four million passengers a day and a staggering 1.305 billion per year. Love it or loathe it, The Tube is a London creation to be proud of, so today we're drinking a Piccadilly Martini to the London Underground and all its staff [who we'd love to accept that they are well paid and stop going on strike. Driverless trains ASAP please]. Our Piccadilly Martini recipe is adapted from one in the 1930 edition of Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book. Alternatively, you might consider a London Scramble more appropriate.

It's also the day HMS Tiptoe ran aground

Today, back in 1964 the unfortunately named HMS Tiptoe, a British submarine, ran aground on a mudbank in the River Clyde, causing red faces all round, particularly as it run aground opposite the house of the Royal Navy's Captain in Charge for the Clyde area, Captain G. D. Pound.

We should mention that the sub had been named Tiptoe, over howls of protest from the Navy, by none other than Winston Churchill, who may have been drinking at the time.

This wasn't, in fact, the first incident in Tiptoe's career - as the embarrassing moment when a French nuclear-powered sub and a British nuclear-powered sub bumped into each other in the Channel shows, submarines are surprisingly prone to hitting things.

In 1955, Tiptoe had hit a steamship in Tromsø Harbour, Norway; in 1965, she had a whoopsie with the Royal Navy ship, HMS Yarmouth, off Portland. When she was finally retired, in 1969, a ballerina danced on her deck in honour of her name. We are toasting Tiptoe with a Tip Top Cocktail, a surprisingly delicious spirit-free concoction we found in Albert S. Crockett's 1935 Old Waldorf Bar Days.

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