10 Fevereiro

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Today is International Scotch Day

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Scotch Sour

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This global opportunity to celebrate Scotch whisky launched in 2017 thanks to an initiative by Diageo, but this day is not about any particular owner of Scotch whisky brands, or indeed any particular brand of Scotch – it is all encompassing, intended to honour whisky from the Scottish Lowlands to the Highlands and Islands.

That said, the 10th February date for International Scotch Day was chosen due to its being Alexander Walker's birthday. He was born this day in 1837 to Elizabeth and her husband John - better known as 'Johnnie Walker' - yes that Johnnie Walker. Alexander (Alec) Walker joined the family business in 1856 and is said to have been instrumental in his father going into whisky wholesaling. When John Walker died the following year, Alec took over the business and had the acumen to make it thrive. It was Alec Walker who in 1865 created the 'Old Highland Whisky' brand and registered it two years later. The forerunner of Johnnie Walker Black Label, the now famous label slanted at an angle of 24 degrees first appeared on The Old Highland Whisky in 1877.

This new celebration of Scotch competes for attention with the well-established World Whisky Day (20th May) and the National Scotch Day (27th July), but you can't have too many excuses to appreciate and enjoy Scotch whisky, so we'll be celebrating with a Scotch Sour. And we've plenty more Scotch whisky cocktails to celebrate with.

It's also umbrella day

Being English we are seldom ever out without an umbrella (or brolly as we call them), and we're particular fans of the nifty pocket sized fold-up variety. Umbrellas are certainly deserved of their own celebratory day.

The word 'umbrella' apparently evolved from the Latin 'umbella', the name of a flat-topped rounded flower. The first umbrellas, or parasols, were to protect from sunlight rather than rain and first appeared in ancient Egypt over three thousand years ago. Obviously rain was and still is not a major issue in Egypt so it is the Chinese we have to thank for the first waterproof umbrellas. Dating back to 11th century BC China these were made of leather. Clever those Chinese!

So in celebration of both the great British weather (at least it gives us something to talk about) and umbrellas of all sizes and colours we are drinking a Damn the Weather based of course on London dry gin - the dry spirit to emerge from our often damp city.

It's also the anniversary of Coco Chanel's death

Gabrielle Bonheur 'Coco' Chanel led an extraordinary life. She introduced clothing staples such as bell bottoms and pea jackets to women round the world, and was the only couturier to be included in Time's 100 Most Important People of the Century list.

Gabrielle came from humble roots. When her mother died, her father did a runner, and she consequently spent six years in an orphanage where she learned to be a seamstress. After a brief stint as a cabaret singer, she met a young French textile heir and became his mistress, simultaneously falling in love with diamonds, dresses and pearls. She had other affairs, but her true marriage was always to her label which she worked for up to the day she died.

Mix up a Grand Designs or a French 75 as a toast to the queen of French fashion and the epitome of elegance.

Mary Pickford became a star this day

The Mary Pickford, a Prohibition-era drink from the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, is one of our current favourite old-school cocktails. And this is the anniversary of the day the actress became famous enough to have a drink named after her, for it was this day in 1914 when Mary Pickford first saw her name up in lights, publicising a silent movie called Hearts Adrift.

Soon she would be known as "the most famous woman of all time". Her second marriage to Douglas Fairbanks made her "Hollywood royalty". The 1920s' answer to Brangelina, their circle of friends included Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Noël Coward and Amelia Earhart, as well as everyone who was anyone in movies.

An ultra-tough cookie and famously hard negotiator, Pickford demanded - and got - the role of producer on all her movies from 1916 and co-founded the United Artists studio in 1919. Though she didn't get everything right. Pickford argued, famously, that "talking pictures are like lip rouge on the Venus de Milo", and her acting career didn't long survive the arrival of sound.

This is also the anniversary of Deep Blue's defeat of Kasperov

How long have we got before computers become more intelligent than us? An early hint occurred on this day in 1996 when the international chess grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, lost the first ever chess game between a human champion and a computer, named Deep Blue. Kasparov recovered, and went on to win the match 4-2, but it was an ominous sign - a year later he lost not only games but the match. Scarily, this was the first time he had lost a chess match to anyone, human or otherwise.

A sign of things to come? Possibly. But since the world's AI experts have yet to build a computer which can hold a natural conversation, our Terminator nightmares may take a while to come to fruition. In the meantime, in honour of Deep Blue, and all its scarily intelligent descendants, we are drinking a Blue Moon.

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