15 March

Espresso Martini Day

Espresso Martini

So we are drinking an...

Espresso Martini

Somebody somewhere (OK in America) as ordained March 15th "Espresso Martini Day" but we suspect this date was chosen due to its previous lack of notable celebrations calling for a particular cocktail, rather than any link between the date and Dick Bradsell's much imbibed "wake her up, and f@@k her up" Martini.

Dick originally created this cocktail in 1993 as the more appropriately named Vodka Espresso before the 1990s fashion for Neo-Martinis led him to reinvent the decerning drinker's answer to a Vodka-Redbull as the Espresso Martini. By 1998 he'd renamed it again, the Pharmaceutical Stimulant, but it was as the Espresso Martini that his creation became one of the world's most popular cocktails.

Over the years, as Dick moved from bar to bar, he made each version of what is essentially the same drink. He also wrote about the Espresso Martini for my CLASS magazine. I've looked back at notes and racked my brains as to why the 15th March should be Espresso Martini day rather than say 4th May, Dick's birthday, but to on avail. [Please set me straight if I've missed the bleeding obvious!] No matter, any day is a good day to enjoy an Espresso Martini, or for that matter a Vodka Espresso, or even a Pharmaceutical Stimulant. Perhaps read about the creation of Dick's trilogy of Espresso cocktails while you sip.

Beware the Ides of March

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a soothsayer warns the hero to "Beware the Ides of March!" – and, in due course, the emperor is assassinated on that self-same date.

George Clooney took The Ides of March as a title for his political thriller film, for today's date is forever associated with doom and desolation. Rather unromantically, the Ides marked the middle of the month for Romans, and because March was sacred to the war god, Mars, Romans would usually hold a military parade in his honour.

So unless you are a Roman emperor, you have little to fear today, though if you can lay your hands on some Clamato juice it's well worth remembering Caesar with that quirky Canadian mix, the Bloody Caesar.

It's also Selfridges' birthday

On this very day in 1909, Selfridges opened up on London's Oxford Street. It's still the second largest shop in the UK at 50,000 m2 (only beaten by Harrods).

Ever since Wisconsin-born H. Gordon Selfridge opened the store, his aim was to make shopping a fun experience rather than a chore. From displaying the monoplane that Louis Bleriot used to make the first cross-Channel flight to its stunning window displays, it's always an experience.

The London flagship store now has two other branches in Exchange Square, Manchester, and Birmingham's Bull Ring. The entire chain was bought by Canadian, Galen Weston, in 2003 for £598 million. Then in 2013, the store's early history was dramatised in ITV's 2013 television series Mr Selfridge. The store also has a successful online incarnation, so it's fair to say that despite being over a century old, Selfridges is still buzzing... which is why we thought that a London Cosmopolitan would be a great drink to toast its birthday.

It's also the anniversary of Burton and Taylor's first marriage

On this day in 1964, in probably the scandal of the century, Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton: it was his second marriage, and her fifth. No lower an authority than the Vatican had officially condemned her as an "erotic vagrant" after they began their affair on the set of Cleopatra - the paparazzi drama made the Aniston-Jolie-Pitt love triangle look mild.

They would divorce in 1974, remarry in 1975, and divorce again in 1976 - though Taylor always referred to Burton as the love of her life.

Heroic drinkers - Burton referred to Taylor's capacity for hard liquor as "a medical miracle" - they partied, fought and indulged around the world. During one epic fight at Le Grand Hotel in Rome, Taylor assailed Burton with a bunch of roses - Burton held on to his "extremely large" Martini throughout and didn't spill a drop.

They don't make stars like they used to, which might be a good thing. But we're toasting these giants with a Chocolate Martini, one take on a drink Taylor claimed to have created with Rock Hudson.

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