15 March

Beware the Ides of March

So we are drinking a...

Bloody Caesar

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 for ever 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. So it's fair to say that despite being over a century old, the store is still buzzing...which is why we thought that a London Cosmopolitan would be a great drink to toast its birthday.

It's also a poignant day to remember the SARS emergency

Most scientists are of the view that we're overdue our next pandemic, a global outbreak of a new disease that kills millions, tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, now that planes enable new viruses to spread on a wing and a breath.

Which is why, this day back in 2003, the WHO issued an emergency travel advisory in the wake of a new virus called SARS, which was killing 10% of those infected by it in countries across Asia.

Panic spread around the world - people avoided travel not only to China but to Chinatowns, while Chinese runners were asked to pull out of a Dutch marathon for fear of the disease. But SARS was contained. The death toll, in the end, of this threatened super bug? Under a thousand. (Flu, by contrast, kills around a quarter of a million people in a normal year.)

We are toasting the medical professionals who helped treat and contain this disease, and will doubtless risk their lives whenever the next pandemic comes, with our favourite take on the Doctor cocktail.

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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