29 May

Mountain Man cocktail image

Everest was first summitted this day

So we are drinking a...

Mountain Man cocktail

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On this day in 1953, Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander, and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Some climbers believe that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine may have reached it in 1924, but died on the way down.

The 1953 expedition was Norgay's seventh to Everest - he already shared the record for getting higher on the mountain than ever before - and Hillary's second. Hillary chose Norgay as his climbing partner after he saved his life in a crevasse lower down the mountain. Norgay stated in his narration The Dream Comes True that Hillary had indeed taken the first step on top of Everest, despite Hillary's assertions that they both summited at the same time. They were there for just 15 minutes.

In the years that followed, Hillary founded the Himalayan Trust and spent much time helping the Sherpa people by building schools and hospitals in Nepal. Sherpas are an ethnic group from the high mountainous region of Nepal and they do the hardest and most dangerous work to help so many up Everest. Today we'd like to remember them, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay with a Mountain Man Cocktail, but any of these cocktails would also be appropriate:
Highlander Cocktail
Mountain Cocktail
Blue Mountain
Rocky Mountain Rootbeer
Mountain Sipper

Oak Apple Day

Today is the birthday of King Charles II. You know. Or you used to, at least. No, not the King Charles who got his head chopped off. But his son, the one who ended up hiding up an oak tree.

For many years after Charles II became king, today was an English public holiday, known as Royal Oak Day or Oak Apple Day - but, in the days where we like our monarchy posing and partying, rather than, ya know, ruling, it has rather fallen from favour.

That said, Chelsea Pensioners, the old soldiers who live in London's Chelsea Hospital, will be celebrating Founders' Day. And folk in a handful of villages around England still celebrate Oak Apple Day. The good people of Great Wishford will be cutting an oak branch. Others will be collecting "oak apples" from the branches.

And what's an oak apple? Well, it's a mutated leaf, caused by the gall wasp, whose babies inject chemicals into oak leaves to warp them into a nutritious nest for themselves. Isn't Mother Nature wonderful?

We will be marking today with something a bit more appetising than an Oak Apple - a Apple Blossom Cocktail by Trader Vic. A remarkably effective combination of just two ingredients: Calvados (or applejack, if you must) and sweet vermouth.

Memorial Day

In the US, the last Monday of May is a national holiday, Memorial Day. Traditionally in honour of soldiers, sailors, pilots and more, who died to serve their country, it now also marks the start of the summer holiday season, with Labour Day marking its end.

On Memorial Day, folk attend parades, visit cemeteries and memorials, fly the national flag at half-mast and hold a moment of silence at 3pm local time. A concert is held every year on the lawn of the Senate building, and broadcast on public radio and television.

In honour of this special day, we will be taking a trip back in time, and indulging in an old and oft-forgotten classic, the Army & Navy. We have borrowed the wonderful David Embury's formula for this surprisingly subtle drink, and added a twist of our own.

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