23 Abril

English Martini image

Today is St George's Day

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English Martini

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Saint George is the patron saint of England and gives his name to the English flag, the Saint George's Cross, a red cross on a white background. (For readers outside the UK: this forms the middle part of the United Kingdom flag, the Union Jack.)

What is George's connection with England? Quite frankly, it beats us. Saint George was born in Syria. He was a Roman soldier. And he is supposed to have killed his famous dragon in Libya. Small wonder he is also the patron saint of Beirut, not to mention Catalonia and, more obviously, Georgia.

We'll be celebrating with a cocktail rather more English than our patron saint - an English Martini, with London dry gin, summery elderflower and rosemary.

Today is also Shakespeare's birthday

William Shakespeare is England's greatest poet and playwright but historians know so little about his life that nobody knows when he was born, although he was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, and was probably only a very few days old at the time. People celebrate Shakespeare's birthday today because it's not only St. George's Day but the day on which he died.

Most believe that Shakespeare produced as many as 37 plays in his short life, (he died aged 52) as well as more than 150 poems. Work doesn't get much more eternal than the man the poet Coleridge described as "myriad-minded Shakespeare". More than 400 years after he wrote them, there are numerous film adaptations of his plays and folk still flock to theatres to watch them.

To honour this man who started as a jobbing actor and became a titan of literary history, we have chosen a smooth and elegant Aperol-led concoction, the Merchant of Venice, named for one of his plays.

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