11 June

The day of the Trojan Horse

Horse's Neck with a Kick

So we are drinking a...

Horse's Neck with a Kick

According to calculations by Eratosthenes, a Greek scholar from the third century BC, on this day in 1184 BC Troy was sacked and burned by revenging Greeks.

They had sailed to Troy to bring back Helen, stolen by Paris of Troy from Menelaus, the king of Sparta, ten years previously. The Greeks, still unable to infiltrate the city, had built a huge, hollow wooden horse, left it outside the city gates, and pretended to sail away. The unwitting Trojans dragged the Trojan Horse into the city, and after darkness Greeks soldiers, hidden inside, crept out and opened the gates. Thus the Trojans had brought about their own destruction.

It may all be fiction, of course, but in thanks for a great story, today we're drinking a Horse's Neck with a Kick.

Thích Quảng Đức burnt himself alive

This day in 1963, an elderly Buddhist monk sat quietly in the lotus position at a Saigon junction, a fellow monk walked up to him and poured litre after litre of petrol over his head. The monk was Thích Quảng Đức. After he lit a match and set himself alight, his image would shock the world - he neither made a sound nor moved a muscle until he fell back, dead.

The images would go around the world, and help topple the anti-Buddhist South Vietnamese government. Today, self-immolation has been used as a form of protest from Tibet to Tunisia: at least three Americans died by self-immolation in protests against the Vietnam War.

The photographer who took the pictures, Malcolm Browne, would win a Pulitzer Prize. And Thích Quảng Đức's heart is now a holy relic in Vietnam. We are not sure that suicide is anything to celebrate, though bravery certainly is, so we are marking today with an Angel's Draft, a complex, herbal blend created by Matthew Dakers.

Today is also Richard Strauss' birthday

If you've ever seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, you'll know the work of Richard Strauss. The "der, der, der" which introduces the monolith is almost as ingrained into popular culture as Beethoven's "da da da dum" Fifth Symphony - You'll hear it in Wall-E, where the jello-like humans begin to walk, in Zoolander, where he tries to figure out how to use a computer, in The Simpsons Movie, when Itchy and Scratchy go to the moon, and more. During the 70s, Elvis used it to accompany his entrance onto stage, while a funk version made the charts.

Yep, the man who brought us the intimidatingly-titled-unless-you're-German Also Spracht Zarathustra (Thus Said Zarathustra), was born this day in 1864, in Munich, Germany. And some argue he's the greatest musical figure of the 20th century - his operas, most notably Der Rosenkavalier and Salome - are still performed the world over.

We're toasting Strauss, and all his works, but particularly Zara...whatever, with an aptly named Zaza, an eminently drinkable, old school blend of gin and Dubonnet.

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