Today Is World Cocktail Day

Happy “World Cocktail Day” to everyone!

Why a day to recognize cocktails in general as a category of drinks? I dunno… Why not!?

There’s a blog I check daily called Good Spirits News, and just the other day they posted about World Cocktail Day.

The blog post gives several notations about the origins of the word cocktail and cites Good Things Magazine for all its info.

It also explains why May 13 was chosen as the date for World Cocktail Day. Because that’s when the word first appeared in print:

On 13th May 1806, newspaper Balance and Columbian Repository defined a cocktail as, “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind — sugar, water, and bitters.”

This date is now recognised as World Cocktail Day, an occasion on which drinkers commemorate the first recognised publication of the word’s definition.

So the first recognized publication of the word cocktail described it simply as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind with sugar, water and bitters. 

It’s such a beautiful recipe — with all its components being so basic and easily interchanged with other ingredients. There are so many sugars and sweeteners to choose from and now so many bitters on the market, not to mention the open-endedness of being able to use any spirit. 

Whatever you decide to have today, just don’t find yourself without a drink!


Thirsty For More?

— Here’s a link.

— And here’s another link.

And just to round out the “World” part of World Cocktail Day, here’s a link to a site which put together a map of the places where famous cocktails were born.

Here’s the map!


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Cheers, Old Sport — ‘The Great Gatsby’ Turns 90 Today

Today marks the 90th anniversary of The Great Gatsby‘s first publishing.

It surely needn’t be said, but The Great Gatsby was written by author F. Scott Fitzgerald — and even though it wasn’t all that popular at the time of its publishing, it’s now now regarded as more than just a literary classic. It’s a contender for the title of “Great American Novel.”

Before sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll there was sex and booze and raucous jazz parties. 

Of course, the novel’s not all champagne and swanky parties. Its themes of friction between social classes and one’s attempt at re-making himself a la “The American Dream” make sure it endures. There are extramarital affairs and characters pining for others who are married and gluttonous excess and, eventually, murder.

But intermingled with all that are the drinks!

As much a reflection of the times as Fitzgerald himself, booze flows throughout The Great Gatsby. Cocktail history oozes from the book, even when Fitzgerald isn’t specifically talking about a drink or drinking. Take for instance the Seelbach cocktail, named for the Seelbach Hotel. No one actually drinks it in the book and it’s never mentioned, but Fitzgerald’s characters Tom and Daisy Buchanon had their wedding there.

I’ve written about the Seelbach cocktail before. Click here for that post.

The book does mention two drinks by name though, the Gin Rickey and the Mint Julep:

Gin Rickey:

Before there was a “Gin Rickey” or a “Lime Rickey,” there was just simply: “The Rickey.”

The Rickey was created in the 1880s in Washington, DC by a bartender and a Democratic politician named Colonel Joe Rickey.

This first Rickey was whiskey-based (bourbon/rye). The gin version didn’t catch on for another decade, but became a prohibition staple.

The drink is mentioned in Chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby

With a reluctant backward glance the well-disciplined child held to her nurse’s hand and was pulled out the door, just as Tom came back, preceding four gin rickeys that clicked full of ice
Gatsby took up his drink.
“They certainly look cool,” he said, with visible tension.
We drank in long, greedy swallows.

This story in The Telegraph from 2013 has more info, not just about the Gin Rickey but about the Mint Julep and other drinks of the era — and writes about the same Gin Rickey scene that I posted above:

“The drink appears in a scene set on a boiling summer’s day, when Daisy orders her husband Tom to ‘make us a cold drink’ — using his absence to murmur to Gatsby of her love for him.”

Mint julep 

Kentucky Derby day is fast approaching and soon the Mint Julep will be on the forefront of everyone’s mind.

The drink is also mentioned in Chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, and in tandem with Gatsby getting called out on his “Old Sport” saying no less!

“All this ‘old sport’ business. Where’d you pick that up?”
“Now see here, Tom,” said Daisy, turning around from the mirror, “if you’re going to make personal remarks I won’t stay here a minute. Call up and order some ice for the mint julep.”

Another Item Of Note:

As someone who works in the industry, I do so appreciate that Nick Carraway takes the time to remark upon the prep work that goes into getting ready for cocktail service:

Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York—every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves. There was a machine in the kitchen which could extract the juice of two hundred oranges in half an hour if a little button was pressed two hundred times by a butler’s thumb.

Thirsty For More?

— Here’s the full 2013 article by The Telegraph (which I cribbed from earlier in this post about Gatsby‘s gin rickeys and mint juleps).

— This link goes to a blog post from 2012 which has beverage recommendations based on specific excerpts of The Great Gatsby.

—If that’s not enough, you can drink along with the 2013 movie. There are plenty of game rules online, just click herehere or here.

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Happy Birthday, Félix Kir!

Born on this day in 1876, Canon Félix Kir was a French Catholic priest, a resistance fighter and a politician.

His name, “Kir,” also now lives on as the name of a wine & liqueur cocktail (and also the drink’s many variants).

Here’s the drink as shown on the International Bartenders Association‘s website:
People were already drinking the “Kir” in France before Félix Kir, but he served the drink so much that it became associated with his name:

A local drink, then locally known as ‘blanc-cassis,’ consists of white burgundy wine, traditionally Aligoté, mixed with Crème de Cassis, a sweet, blackcurrant-flavored liqueur. Kir habitually served this local drink to delegations and so the drink itself is now known internationally as Kir.

Recipes online (such as The International Bartenders Association) recommend using 1/10 crème de cassis, but French sources typically specify more. Recipes from the 19th century call for a for blanc-cassis blend of 1/3 crème de cassis, but modern tastes find such proportions cloyingly sweet, and modern sources typically call for 1/5.

Hungry for more info? Check out these sites I cribbed from, such as The Kitchn and Cuisine Collection

•About Félix Kir•
•He was born at Alise-Sainte-Reine on the Côte-d’Or.
•He entered a small seminary at Plombières-lès-Dijon in 1891 and was ordained 1901. He then worked as a parish priest.
•During the occupation of France during World War II, he took an active part in the French Resistance, helping with the escape of 5,000 prisoners of war from a camp at Longvic. He was arrested and condemned to death, but he was released because of his status.
•In 1945 he was made a knight of the Légion d’honneur and was elected mayor of Dijon and to the French National Assembly.
•He remained mayor of Dijon up to his death in 1968.

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The Man Behind The “Monkey Gland”

Today is the birthday of Serge Voronoff.

Voronoff has very little to do with cocktails. He was a doctor, a French surgeon of Russian extraction.


He is best known (and really only remembered today) for one thing — a surgery he performed which now has a cocktail named after it.

Voronoff pioneered “the technique of grafting monkey testicle tissue onto the testicles of men for purportedly therapeutic purposes while working in France in the 1920s and 1930s.”

“As his work fell out of favor, he went from being highly respected to a subject of ridicule. Other doctors, and the public at large, quickly distanced themselves from Voronoff, pretending they had never had any interest in the grafting techniques.”

You can read more about him here.

It is from his life’s work that today we have a cocktail named the “Monkey Gland” — a gin and absinthe delight with orange and grenadine flavors.

Monkey Gland:
The Monkey Gland was created in the 1920s by Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France.

Here we have Imbibe Magazine‘s recipe:
•1 1/2 oz. gin
•1 1/2 oz. fresh orange juice
•1 tsp. grenadine
•1 tsp. simple syrup
•1 tsp. absinthe

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled glass.

[Adapted from Barflies and Cocktails by Harry MacElhone (1927)]

I’ve also read that the Monkey Gland was created in April 1923 by Frank Meier, at the Ritz Hotel, Paris.

More About The Monkey Gland:
About.com Cocktails
Art Of Drink

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