23 February

Red Rover image

It's Defender of the Fatherland Day

So we are drinking a...

Red Rover

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Russians, not to mention citizens of old Soviet Republics like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, get the day off work today to celebrate what used to be called Red Army Day.

Back in the old days of the USSR, the holiday celebrated the anniversary of the Red Army's first draft, during the Russian Civil War in 1918. In modern Russia it has been patriotically rebranded as Defenders of the Fatherland Day, while in Tajikistan it is celebrated as Tajik National Army Day. Despite the fact that the Red Army had women soldiers from early in its existence, today is also known as men's day, a time for women to buy gifts for the chaps in their life - partners, fathers, sons, and even colleagues.

We are in two minds about the Red Army, but we do enjoy a Red Rover, one of the better red wine cocktails out there. Give it a try. Or you might like to mark the day with a Killer in Red or even a Russian Qualuude Shot. Na zdorovje!

Dick Turpin was unmasked on this day

Dick Turpin, like Ned Kelly or Bonnie & Clyde, is one of those folk heroes whose bio doesn't quite live up to his rep. He's famous as a lone highwayman, holding up coaches with the heroic message "Stand and deliver!", and for an epic ride across England.

In fact, he started his career as a cattle rustler, then a smuggler, and it was someone else who achieved that epic ride. Failing at these endeavours, Turpin joined a gang that robbed country houses, often torturing and sometimes raping their victims. After that was broken up, he assisted a highwayman - only to shoot his mentor while attempting to break him out of police custody.

Turpin was finally captured when, living under the name John Palmer, he threatened to kill his landlord in a dispute over a rooster. 175 years ago today, his old schoolteacher unmasked him as Dick Turpin - not long after, a potboiling biography created the gallant myth. We're marking today with a drink created by a different Dick, Dick Bradsell, the ever-drinkable Bramble. Enjoy!

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