23 November

National Espresso Day

Grappa Espresso Martini

So we are drinking a...

Grappa Espresso Martini

Essentially a shot of 'get up and go', the espresso is a firm favourite amongst coffee drinkers and goes incredibly well in a cocktail we think.

Today is all about remembering the day the first espresso machine patent was issued to Angelo Moriondo in Turin, Italy in 1884. We wonder if he could have known how much his machine would revolutionise the coffee industry into the booming success it is today. Using steam and boiling water to brew coffee in the most efficient way, Moriondo's machine was called the "New steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage, method 'A. Moriondo'". Unlike machines we have today this one brewed coffee in bulk rather than by the cup for an individual and they were not mass produced. Over the coming years, technology evolved and now here we are, able to push a button and have a perfect espresso within seconds, in our own home if we so desire.

A good espresso is supposedly all to do with how the beans are brewed. When you force pressurised water through finely ground coffee beans you get a concentrated liquid with a crema to top that contains sugars and oils from the beans and provides a subtle sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the coffee. This small shot of pure caffeine will keep you going all day and if it doesn't, there are coffee shops within everyone's reach and big-name chains on every corner to grab another.

Clearly the most obvious choice of cocktail would be the classic Espresso Martini but there's already a National Espresso Martini Day on March 15th so instead we're selecting a Grappa Espresso Martini. However, there are over 70 espresso cocktail options on Difford's Guide if that doesn't take your fancy, and maybe today is the day you treat yourself to that posh coffee machine you've been eyeing up so you can try them all.

It's also National Eat a Cranberry Day

Who'd have thought that such a tiny and tart berry could pack such a punch. With all their health benefits and popularity, the humble cranberry is an all-round winner it would seem.

Although there is no real reason behind why November 23rd has been chosen for National Eat a Cranberry Day, its aim is to encourage us to eat cranberries all year round and not just with our turkey during American Thanksgiving or the festive Christmas season. For our American friends the cranberry has always been a huge part of thanksgiving celebrations and is believed to have been served at the very first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621.

The little red berry was originally named the craneberry, from the German word 'Kraanbere' due to us Brits thinking the stem and flower of the fruit resembled the neck of a crane. Cranberry bogs formed in areas where ice had melted after the Ice Age and provided the perfect conditions for the fruit to grow.

Full of antioxidants and nutrients, the tiny cranberry can boost your health and has been used in a variety of helpful ways for years such as in making dye and being used as a healing aid for war wounds.

Cranberries are versatile and used in both sweet and savoury settings so you are spoilt for choice on how to enjoy them today but some options include eating them as they are, dried, covered in chocolate, as a sauce, or enjoying them in their juiced version which happens to make a great cocktail mixer in drinks such as the classic Cosmopolitan. However, there is already a National Cosmopolitan Day on May 7th so instead we're opting for an alternative but equally delicious cranberry cocktail, the Eclipse.

St George's Day

No, this is not a misprint. Today, the 23rd November really is St George's Day - in Georgia, where the lucky folk get the day off work to boot.

Known as Giorgoba to the locals, today is one of two days of the year that the locals celebrate their patron saint. Not only did Georgian George slay the dragon, he also wandered around Georgia assisting shepherds and once appeared at a crucial battle riding a white horse.

Eastern European Georgia may not be known for its cocktails. But American Georgia has brought us the Georgia Mint Julep. It is a bit of a step-up from the average mint julep and well worth exploring. Happy St. George's Day.

It's also the juke box's birthday

On this day in 1889, a San Francisco saloon, the Palais Royale, installed the world's first jukebox.

What were bustle and spats-clad patrons dancing to in those days? Well, sadly that first prototype was not what you'd call communal. It featured four innovative earpieces attached to a phonograph inside a cabinet. Each earpiece cost the equivalent of a Dollar per go, but you weren't able to select what you listened to. On the plus side, you did get a towel to wipe off the ends of the stethoscope-style earpieces once you were done. And, amazingly for something so, well, fundamentally insanitary, the nickel-in-the-slot player caught on.

And we are toasting this silver-fuelled machine with a Silver Bullet cocktail.

It's also Doctor Who's birthday

On this day in 1963, the first-ever episode of Doctor Who, generally known as "An Unearthly Child" debuted, with William Hartness as the Doctor, a grandfather living with his daughter, who has to retreat to the Stone Age for fear that his Tardis will be discovered.

An average of 6 million people would watch each episode of the four-episode serial, although the series only achieved its icon status when the Daleks appeared on-screen. Doctor Who, like James Bond, is one of those rare characters to have endured and evolved from the Mad Men era to the twenty-first century. Avid Doctor Who fans watch episodes with an eye for appearances by surviving Doctors of the past.

We'll be drinking to the Doctor with a The Doctor No.1, a drink adapted from Trader Vic which really should be called a Swedish Daiquiri. You may prefer to toast with a The Doctor No.2, The Doctor No.3, or The Doctor No.4.

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