It's International Tennessee Whiskey Day
The May 21st date chosen for this momentous occasion is significant as it was on this day in 1937 that Tennessee repealed the ban on manufacturing alcoholic beverages, more than three years after the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition so giving control of alcohol to a state rather than it being a federal issue. Nine out of Tennessee's 95 counties remain 'dry' to this day.
The Tennessee General Assembly adopted the resolution declaring 21st May as International Tennessee Whiskey Day on the 5th May 2021. We'll spare you all the "Whereas" and "Be It Further Resolved" in what is a rather wordy resolution but these are perhaps worth a mention:
"WHEREAS, early farm-based distilleries in Tennessee date back to the late 18th century, when settlers traveling west found that our land, grain, water, and climate were perfect for making good whiskey"
"WHEREAS, our State is home to the nation's Oldest Registered Distillery and several other distilleries that date back to the 1800s"
"WHEREAS, in 2013, the General Assembly passed legislation that was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam that set the definition of "Tennessee Whiskey" as being made from fermented mash of at least fifty-one percent corn, aged in new oak barrels, charcoal mellowed, and produced in the State"
That's a lot of officialdom but a good excuse for a Tennessee whiskey and, as May signals the start of barbeque season (they take their charcoal very seriously in Tennessee), a tall refreshing Rackhouse Lemonade seems apropriate.
It's also the day the Manchester Ship Canal opened
"We shall not find a more epoch-making event in the history of Manchester", observed its local paper, The Manchester Guardian, on this day in 1894 when Queen Victoria performed the official opening.
It was, at the time, at an amazing 58km in length, the largest river navigation canal in the world. It enabled the Port of Manchester to become Britain's third busiest port - even though it was more than 60km inland. But, in the long term, it didn't work out. Owners weren't comfortable sending big ships down a narrow, one-way channel; Manchester's exports weren't vital enough to ensure that boats came out laden; and today the canal carries a mere 7 million tonnes of cargo a year. By comparison? A single Chinese freight train can haul over 20,000 tonnes.
Still, the canal does make for lovely riverside apartments, and an excellent holiday jaunt. And so we're toasting the long-gone engineers who built the thing with a Smokey Boat or you may prefer a Navigator or even a Volga Boatman, the latter borrowed from David Embury's seminal Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.
Today is also Afro-Colombian Day in Colombia
Día de la Afrocolombianidad commemorates the 1851 abolition of slavery in Colombia and highlights the artistic, intellectual and social contributions of Afro-Colombians in Colombia.
The day also marks the 17th-century founding of the first village of free slaves in South America - Palenque de San Basilio, which is the only such village that survives today, and its inhabitants very much live by traditional African customs. They are also lucky enough to live on the Caribbean coast, so today we're drinking a Caribbean Breeze as our way of joining the colourful celebrations.