6 January

The anniversary of Fernand Petiot's death


So we are drinking a...


Fernand Petiot was a legendry bartender credited with inventing the Bloody Mary. As if that wasn't great enough, he served drinks to every US President from 1934 to 1972 (except Lyndon Johnson) and could also drink a two-litre glass of beer in 46.5 seconds.

Petiot began his bartending career in Paris mixing drinks at Harry's New York Bar, which was a popular location for American expatriates including Ernest Hemingway. He moved to the US in 1925, and bartended at the St Regis Hotel bar until the day of his retirement in 1966. He passed away in the unlikely surroundings of Canton City, a small town in Ohio, where he'd been working occasionally at Mergus' Restaurant.

In 1964, Petiot described his original recipe thus, with some credit to the comedian George Jessel: "I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes of black pepper, two dashes of cayenne pepper and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; I then add a dash of lemon juice and some cracked ice; put in two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain and pour." If you have thick tomato juice to hand, give Petiot's version a go. Or try our take on the 1930s cocktail.

The Bloody Mary was our drink of the day a few days ago as the 1st January has been deemed "National Bloody Mary Day", hence we're commemorating Fernand, the father of the Bloody Mary, with a Fernando Cocktail. Of course you may instead decide a Bloody Mary is more appropriate. And you may want to read more about Fernand Petiot and the Bloody Mary.

Today is of course also Epiphany

Today is the 12th day of Christmas, known as Epiphany, or Three Kings' Day, a Christian feast day that marks the end of the festive season.

For the Western Christian church, it's the day that the Magis arrived to see the Baby Jesus in the stable, and in the Eastern Christian church it's the day on which Jesus was baptised in the Jordan River. So today in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria priests will throw wooden crosses into the sea, a river or lake and young men will race in to retrieve them.

The word 'Epiphany' comes from Greek and means 'manifestation', a reference to the belief that Jesus is the son of God and a human manifestation of God.

According to the Gospel of Matthew 2:11, The Magi were guided to Jesus by following a star across the desert to Bethlehem. Named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, they represented Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively. Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, symbolised the importance of Jesus' birth: Gold representing the baby's royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality.

Whether you are a Christian who faithfully believes all the above, or a non-believer pondering the churches ability to spin a good yarn, Epiphany marks the end of a period of extended festivities so deserves a cocktail or two. We do have a cocktail called Epiphany but a bourbon based fruity cocktail somehow doesn't seen apt. Instead, we suggest marking the end of the festivities with a cognac based Celebration, a drink that's suitably reverential and spirituous.

El Día de los Reyes

In Mexico, Spain and some Latin American countries, the 6th January is known as 'El Día de los Reyes' (The Day of the Kings) or 'El Dia de Reyes' (Three Kings Day) and is the most important day of the festive period. Children in particular look forward to this day as this is when gifts are traditionally exchanged, not on Christmas day. This kinda makes sense, after all it was the three wise men who were allegedly the bearers of gifts for baby Jesus, not Santa Claus.

In addition to the gift-giving, the day is celebrated with Rosca de Reyes (King's Cake) in Mexico and Roscón in Spain. This round sweet cake-like bread is shaped to signify a king's crown and is baked with a small figurine inside which represents the baby Jesus. Whoever has the slice with the figurine inside is obligated to host a party on 'Dia de la Candelaria' (Candlemas Day), which occurs on the 2nd February.

We are toasting our friends in Mexico and Spain with a King's Jubilee, a cocktail which W.J. Tarling credits to Harry Craddock in his 1937 Cafe Royal Cocktail Book.

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