29 July

National Lipstick Day


So we are drinking an...


"If you're sad, add more lipstick and attack". Advice from the doyenne of fashion herself, Coco Chanel. And rather fitting as today is National Lipstick Day.

Lipstick has been around for millennia, ever since the Mesopotamians first mixed crushed gemstones with oils and waxes so they could prettify their lips and eyes. Cleopatra was also a fan, using crushed bugs to create a red lip stain which quickly became a symbol of social status in Ancient Egypt.

The popularity of lipstick grew in 16th century England where Queen Elizabeth I's signature shocking-white-face-crimson-lip look was widely copied by her loyal subjects. One of the world's first 'influencers' perhaps? But the popularity of lipstick and cosmetics in general hit a snag in the 19th century when it was deemed brazen and uncouth for respectable members of society to wear perceptible make-up.

So it wasn't until the late 19th century that lipstick was produced commercially. In 1884, French cosmetics brand Guerlain began to manufacture lipstick made from deer tallow, beeswax and castor oil, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now there are literally thousands of shades to choose from, something to suit every taste and skin tone. And the choice is endless: Tint or stain? Sheer or satin? Glossy or matte? Frosted or metallic? But we remain optimistic that we'll find the right one for us...with an Optimist cocktail, a beautifully balanced and delicately flavoured riff on a classic Daiquiri. Or put your lipstick to another use with Dick Bradsell's Flirt.

Today is the anniversary of the Cannes Jewel Heist

On this day in 2013, a man in a baseball cap walked through the french windows into a private salon in the Carlton InterContinental in Cannes. Minutes later, he walked out again, carrying a sack with over $100 million worth of jewels - and vanished.

One of the biggest jewellery heists of all time, the Cannes theft was so seamlessly elegant it could have been a scene from a movie - Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief was actually shot at the hotel. And, despite a reward of over $1 million, the diamonds - including some of the world's most exceptional - have never been seen again. Was it the notorious Pink Panthers jewel gang? (Probably not.) Was it just a local guy who got lucky? Or was it an inside job? Nobody knows. But we love a good mystery. So, we're toasting today's anniversary with the potent Diamondback, containing two of our favourite ingredients, rye whiskey and Chartreuse.

It's Nasa's birthday

On this day in 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower (try saying that after a couple of shots) signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency.

Which means that the agency created in response to Soviet space achievements like the Sputnik launch can celebrate its birthday today. After a period when it looked like NASA would be privatised out of existence, the future looks quite bright. We're toasting NASA and that presidential order with a President.

It's also the day Van Gogh died

One of the greatest painters of all time, Vincent Van Gogh, creator of Sunflowers, Irises and some haunting self-portraits, tragically shot himself on this day in 1890. Although his paintings now sell for tens of millions, Van Gogh sold only one during his entire lifetime, trading many for food, art and accommodation.

Whether he actually cut off his own ear or whether it was severed in a fight with fellow artist Paul Gauguin, no one knows - though he did present it melodramatically to a local prostitute before almost dying of blood loss.

Some at the time - and some even now - attributed Vincent's, erm, eccentricities to his over consumption of absinthe, but tests have shown that absinthe from that time didn't contain much higher quantities of psychoactive ingredients than is legal now.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy absinthe today, as in Van Gogh's time, is as an Absinthe Drip, which we thoroughly recommend. But today we're going to leave out the absinthe altogether and remember one of Vincent's finest paintings with a Starry Night cocktail.

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