23 March

A star director's birthday

Japanese Maple

So we are drinking a...

Japanese Maple

Akira Kurosawa, probably Japan's most influential film director, and the man who brought his country's cinema to a global audience, was born in Tokyo on this day in 1910.

In a career lasting almost 60 years, he made more than 30 films including the epic Seven Samurai and Ran, his adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear. A perfectionist and former painter who both directed and edited his movies, Kurosawa's work inspired George Lucas's vision of the original Star Wars, as well as classic Westerns like The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars.

Let's remember his legacy with a cocktail based on another great Japanese export: the Japanese Maple, an outstanding Sour-style concoction with Japanese whisky.

It's also the anniversary of Paul I Russia's Death

Paul I was mad as a hatter - though he came from a long lineage of mad Russians.

His mother, Catherine the Great, was promiscuous to say the least. She had a string of affairs - in fact, there was a lot of debate over Paul's paternity. Catherine's final affair was with a man 40 years her junior...and then there was that suspicious horsey incident round her death...!

So, it was no wonder that her son, Paul I was a little unhinged by the time he became Emperor. The first thing he did was to order the bones of Grigory Potyomkin (one of Catherine's lovers) to be dug up, and scattered.

After just five years of Paul I being Emperor, it all came to a gruesome end - stabbed, strangled and trampled to death for refusing to abdicate!

Crack open the vodka, hazelnut and coffee liqueurs and raise a glass to nutty Russians been and gone with a Nutty Russian cocktail.

The anniversary of the discovery of Cold Fusion - allegedly

On 23rd March 1989, two scientists held a press conference. They'd produced energy by fusing atoms at room temperature - a reaction that produced as much as double the amount of energy required to run it.

Before, atoms had only been fused at temperatures around the million degree mark - so Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann's discovery promised a future full of clean, affordable energy. A few more labs seemed to replicate their experiments; no specialists could. And then... Nothing. It turned out there was no hard evidence that energy had been produced, and that they'd most likely misread their results.

Today, some scientists still explore cold fusion - although it's been rebranded as Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, and a man named Andrea Rossi has claimed for years that he's bringing the technology to market. But, for the moment, we're stuck with the old, environmentally hostile forms of energy we used before - which is, like our drink of the day, a Cold Comfort.

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