26 December

Boxing Day

Bloody Mary (Difford's recipe)

So we are drinking a...

Bloody Mary (Difford's recipe)

Depending on where you're from, today is St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day, Wren Day or just the day after Christmas.

St Stephen himself was an early martyr, stoned to death in Jerusalem for praising Jesus in front of a sceptical audience; St Stephen's Day is, of course, the day on which Good King Wenceslas went to help a poor peasant with his firewood; and it's quite likely that a tradition of giving alms to the poor, Wenceslas-style, gave Boxing Day its name. Wren Day, meanwhile, is a long-standing tradition in some Celtic parts of Europe, where people hunt real or fake wrens.

The tradition of giving visiting tradespeople a box of gifts on the day after Christmas, has now sadly diluted to slipping the trashman and the postman the smallest note you can get away with, if you even know who they are any more.

Today is about many things for many people. Countryfolk will be out on the hunt, or in that equally venerable tradition, hunt saboteuring. Masochists will be braving one of Blighty's many outdoor swimming events. Families will be escaping one another with long, healthy walks free of all discussion of politics, religion or finance.

And people who have yet to discover the internet will have been queuing since 2am to get 80% off toothpaste, or 40% off some horrid Gucci belt, in the January sales, a ritual that makes Black Friday look, frankly, almost appealing.

Us? The only walking we'll be doing will be from the sofa to the bar. For we are enjoying that American tradition, the brunch, with still the world's best brunch cocktail, no matter who invented it, the Bloody Mary.

Or, if you've hit Christmas hard this year, then we imagine that cocktails are the last thing on your mind today. It's a public holiday though, and needs celebrating in its own right, so we're here to help you pick a drink wisely for the occasion.

If you're feeling bloated and sluggish, then a digestif is an excellent idea. For that reason, try a Zeus Cocktail, which contains seasonal ingredients, and is Fernet Branca-based, so great for the digestive system- beats an Alka seltzer any day!

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