7 April

Penicillin cocktail image

Today is World Health Day

So we are drinking a...

Penicillin cocktail

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In 1948, shortly after the World Health Organisation was established, it designated every 7th April from 1950 onwards as World Health Day, a time to focus on, well, issues of global health.

Scotland's Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and put it to work in 1928, creating the first ever miracle cure. Since then, it and its relatives have been so horribly overused that resistant superbugs flourish around the globe. Today, the WHO is asking governments and doctors around the world to think about the way we use antibiotics and refrain from overuse. If not, the WHO's experts fear, we may return to the health conditions of the era before antibiotics.

To cope with this gloomy prospect, we recommend a Penicillin cocktail. Created by Australia's Sam Ross during his stint at New York's iconic contemporary speakeasy, Milk and Honey, it's one of few 21st-century cocktails already acknowledged as a classic. The combination of smoky Scotch whisky, fragrant honey, lemon and a hint of ginger spice tastes better than any medicine, and after a couple you will, unlike the bugs, lose all resistance.

It's King Kong's birthday

This day in 1933, many Americans who weren't spending their Friday night getting absolutely hammered on newly legal 3.2% beer, headed to the cinema instead. Their destination? King Kong, a piece of groundbreaking stop-mo FX that has left the lovesick gigantic gorilla a popular icon to this day, and a slice of pure escapism from the economic misery of the Depression (not to mention the misery of living in states that still banned beer).

The director, Merian Cooper, whose CV included a stint chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico and a stretch in a Soviet prison, piloted the plane that finally kills the primate on top of the Empire State building.

King Kong would spawn not only at least two remakes but a whole series of later monsters, from the Creature from the Black Lagoon through to Godzilla. We are toasting him with a Monkey Gland, a classic from the 1920s.

It's also Russell Crowe's birthday

I have respect for beer, quoth Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. And the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised star of Gladiator has had his moments - doing a perp walk after assaulting a hotel worker with a telephone, for example, or losing the plot on TV after a poem he wanted to read was cut short. Yet it's still hard to believe the man's over 50. Let alone that 50 is old enough to play Noah...

A hard-partying 60-a-day smoker, who started on the weed at the age of 10, Crowe's also quite the man of action -- he claims he prefers horses to people. He took off with friends on motorbikes to ride thousands of miles around Australia, is a serious kayaker, owns an Australian rugby team, gives regularly to charity and has won one Oscar and been nominated for others.

Which isn't bad going for five decades and counting, really. So, we're toasting him with a Kiwi Collins. Happy Birthday, Maximus. It's been great.

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