6 August

Jamaican Independence Day

Rum Punch

So we are drinking a...

Rum Punch

This day in 1962, after 300 years of British rule, the Union Jack was ceremonially lowered and the new Jamaican flag proudly hoisted aloft as Jamaica declared itself an independent state. Fittingly, the 6th of August is a national holiday in the Caribbean island nation and one hell of an excuse for a party. And a party in Jamaica calls for overproof rum.

In Jamaica, official celebrations centre on the National Arena in Independence Park but across the island, are street parades attended the revellers earing clothing in the colours of e the Jamaican flag. Instigated in 1962, by the then Community Development Minister (and future Prime Minister) Edward Seaga, the day also encompasses the Jamaica Festival which showcases the country's arts, including music with the annual Popular Song Competition. But there's much more to celebrate about Jamaica.

10 fascinating Jamaican facts

  • Most Church going – Jamaica has the most churches per square mile and that's without counting the commonplace churches in folk's backyards and living rooms.
  • Most rum bars – where there's a church there's sure to be at least two bars and indeed, Jamaica has more rum bars per square mile than any other nation.
  • Coolest religion – Incorporating Protestant Christianity, Rastafarianism started in Jamaica in the 1930s with devotees seeking a return to Zion, the birthplace of mankind according to the Bible.
  • Best coffee – many experts consider Blue Mountain Coffee from the Blue Mountains, the highest mountains in the Caribbean, the be amongst the word's finest.
  • Most cranberry loving - Jamaica is the leading consumer of cranberry juice per capita in the world. More incredible when you consider that cranberries don't grow on the island.
  • Fastest Runners – think Usain Bolt and also Jamaican sprinters such as Sanya Richards and Linford Christie who have run for UK or USA.
  • Hottest Bobsled Olympic champions – what Jamaica lacks in snow it makes up for with fast runners to get a bobsled off to a great start. Stemming from the local sport, "pushcart derby", this is celebrated in the Cool Runnings Disney film.
  • Most musical – with its reggae, ska, folk, drum and bass, dub, calypso, and dancehall music genres, per capita Jamaica is the world's leading musical nation.
  • Bond homely - Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond books at his Goldeneye estate home in Jamaica.
  • Sauciest - Jerk sauce coated pork, chicken and fish is the Jamaican national dish and a delicacy.

  • So, don your best yellow, green and black garb and mix yourself up a Rum Punch, or perhaps a Reggie Rum Punch, or one of these 20 best Overproof rum cocktails and toast this great, and proudly independent, island nation.

    The Savoy's birthday

    This day in 1889, theatrical impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte opened the doors of his brand new hotel in the heart of theatreland - The Savoy. With profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan opera productions, he built this large, luxurious hotel in the American vein, complete with an American Bar, transforming the London landscape.

    D'Oyly Carte hired a certain César Ritz as manager, who brought with him the chef Auguste Escoffier. They established a standard of hospitality and elegant dining that attracted the rich and royal alike. The hotel continued to hire the most talented staff (as it still does) with its American bar managed by the likes of Ada Coleman and Harry Craddock.

    The American Bar has been and still is home to some of the world's great bartenders, as well as one of the world's classic cocktail books. We will be marking today with the splendidly classical Savoy Special, which appears, of course, in Harry Craddock's rightly celebrated 1930 cocktail compendium, The Savoy Cocktail Book. Alternatively, these are three of the most famous cocktails to emerge from, or are closely associated to the Savoy's American bar:

    1. White Lady
    2. Hanky Panky
    3. Corpse Reviver No.2

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