12 April

Black Rose image

It's Tatler's birthday

So we are drinking a...

Black Rose

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More than three hundred years ago today, the English publisher Richard Steele launched the first version of a society gossip and manners magazine that has been through multiple incarnations but finally settled down as Tatler.

Steele's version, published under his pen name of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq, featured gossip from the coffee shops of London and contributors as esteemed as Samuel Johnson. Today's Tatler is best known for coverage of socialites and, of course, The Little Black Book, the magazine's list of London's most eligible under-30s, most of them aristocrats, heirs or heiresses.

While we - and we guess you too -- are insufficiently royal or rich to figure in The Little Black Book, we know that you would love to join us in a Black Rose. The taste? It's in the Sazerac vein, just a little less elitist. Or console yourself with a Black Cherry, a deliciously simple fruity vodka martini-style cocktail.

It's also the New Statesman's birthday

On this day in 1913, the first edition of a new magazine rolled off the presses: the New Statesman. Established by a group of influential socialists, and backed by the playwright and intellectual George Bernard Shaw, among others, the aim was to permeate the influential classes with socialist ideas.

Which, as anyone who's watched Downton Abbey will know, was quite a tough call in those times, although World War I transformed the magazine's fortunes. Today the New Statesman staggers on. With a mix of highbrow culture and political insight, it remains required reading for anyone in leftwing politics and media, and quite a few on the right.

We're toasting the good ship Staggers and all who sail in her with, what else, a Left Bank Martini.

It's Thai New Year's Eve

For most of us New Year hangovers are a distant memory, but the good people of Thailand will be getting wet and slippery today, with some Bangkok streets a virtual wet T-shirt competition, in honour of Songkran, their very own New Year.

Cambodians and Laos celebrate New Year today as well, but none participate with quite the enthusiasm of the Thais. Originally a ceremony where folk solemnly and symbolically cleansed themselves of their sins using holy water, today Songkran is a giant, countrywide water fight. Expect water bombs, hosing, water pistols and particularly lethal traffic, as motorcyclists cope, or fail to cope, with playful blasts of the wet stuff.

If you're lucky enough to be in Thailand today, we wish you all the fun of Songkran. And, if you're not, why not get in the mood with a Thai Red Daiquiri?

Captain Phillips was rescued five years ago today

If you saw Tom Hanks gallantly locking heads with Somali pirates in the 2013 movie, Captain Phillips, you'll probably know who Richard Phillips is. He's the man who was captain of the Maersk Alabama, when it was captured by Somali pirates, who proceeded to take him hostage. And, this day in 2009, he was rescued by Navy SEAL Team Six. Yes, the very same SEAL team that assassinated Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps predictably, various members of the crew, depicted as signally unheroic in the film, have come out to dispute Phillips' version of events. They say he ignored repeated warnings to move further away from the Somali coast, that he was known as a difficult captain, and that no one wanted to sail with him. Even the only surviving pirate, whose mother claims he was 16 at the time, argues from prison that his side of the story has yet to be told.

No matter what the truth of Captain Phillips' heroism, we're toasting captains everywhere with a Captain Collins, one of our favourite variations on the classic Collins cocktail.

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