St Patrick’s Day Special – The Origin of Guinness


A vintage Guinness Advertisement used in the 1950s – 1970s

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Food History Lovers!

To celebrate this amazingly booze sodden day, we’re going to be incredibly stereotypical and borderline offensive by looking at the origin of Guinness.

What if I were to tell you that someone wanted to make beer in order to improve the health of the unwashed masses? It’s okay if you’re laughing at this notion. In fact, I’ll even give you a moment.

Finished? Great.

As laughable as this idea is, it’s actually quite true. Furthermore, in the 18th Century, it made perfect sense. This was a time when no one understood micro-organisms or how disease is spread. People routinely drank from the same water in which they dumped their garbage and sewage. As a result people died, and this made nearly everyone avoid water entirely. Instead, they drank alcoholic beverages. And no, you should not take this as a sign to start polluting your own water in order to justify drinking alcohol for hydration.

Popular spirits such as gin were being consumed en masse. Because of the high alcohol content, this resulted in a significant rise is violence, poverty and crime. To help heal society, some turned to brewing beer. It was lower in alcohol, the process of brewing killed the germs that made the water dangerous, and it was nutritious. No, really. Furthermore, the art of beer making was respected and honoured, and those who did it were considered to be do-gooders. Monks brewed it, Christians brewed it and aspiring young entrepreneurs like Arthur Guinness brewed it.

At the age of 27, Arthur Guinness had achieve far more than I probably will in a lifetime. In 1752, his Godfather Arthur Price, the Archbishop of Cashel, bequeathed £100 to him in his will. In true entrepreneural  fashion, Guinness invested the money and in 1755 bought a brewery at Leixlip, just 17 km from Dublin. This venture into the world of brewing was clearly successful, because in 1759 Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the St. James Gate Brewery for £45 per annum. Ten years later, Guinness first exported his ale to Great Britain.

Guinness’s sales soared from 350,000 barrels in 1868 to 779,000 barrels in 1876. In October 1886 Guinness became a public company, and was averaging sales of 1,138,000 barrels a year. This was despite the brewery’s refusal to either advertise or offer its beer at a discount. Even though Guinness owned no Public Houses, the company was valued at £6 million and shares were twenty times oversubscribed, with share prices rising to a 60% premium on the first day of trading.

The Guinness Brewery

Clearly, Guinness has remained successful today, but this isn’t all that the company has been know for over the years. Guinness has also been dedicated to being a company that has the interests of common people in mind. This is evident in Arthur Guinness’ reason for starting the company – to help improve health. This charitable ideal has lived on. Throughout the centuries, Guinness has continued to prove that they don’t just want to make a profit, they want to make a difference. They started by paying better wages than any other employer in Ireland. Then they decided they should provide an entire slate of services to improve the lives of their workers. With the passing of decades, they became one of the most generous, life-changing employers the world had ever seen.

Guinness also showed unparalleled upport for the war effort. During World War II, the company promised every British soldier a bottle of Guinness with his Christmas meal. However, there was a problem. Their manpower was depleted because so many of its workers were serving in the military. Despite this setback, they were determined to keep their promise. The brewery operated around the clock, but there simply weren’t enough employees. Clearly the generous spirit of the company had been passed on though, because retired workers showed up to volunteer their time. They were then followed by workers from competing breweries. By Christmas, every soldier had his pint.

Deeds like these are prominent throughout the history of the Guinness company, and are just as inspiring as some of the family members themselves. One heir received five million pounds for a wedding gift, but then moved with his new wife into a poor neighborhood to draw attention to the poverty in the land. We don’t hear about many other heirs doing this in the media.

Given the generous nature of the Guinness company, it is hardly surprising that its beer has become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, it’s Irish, so of course it’s going to be consumed in vast quantities on a day that celebrates Irish culture and heritage. However, I think that the symbol Guinness  offers is far more significant than that. Guinness is a beer that from its very conception was being brewed as a benefit for others. It’s a symbol struggle, national pride and overcoming adversity. As such, I urge you all to have a pint of Guinness today, not as an excuse to  get wasted whilst wearing green, but in honour Arthur, and all those who use the resources at their exposal in order to help others.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to hear it in your earbuds? If so, I humbly ask you to take the time to donate $1 to the Delicious History Podcast Project.Only $500 is needed make this dream a reality, and all donations over $10 receive a reward! 

Ides of March Special – The Bloody Caesar Cocktail


A depiction of the Assassination of Caesar inside the Theatre of Pompe

Caesar:

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer:
Beware the ides of March.

– William Shakespare

Welcome back to Delicious History – the most alcohol friendly site for historical enquiry on the internet.

Today we’re going to be drinking learning about the Bloody Caesar Cocktail – a Canadian drink that is used to commemorate the assassination of Julius Caesar. This cataclysmic event fell on the March 15th, also known as The Ides of March. Before we get into the alcohol soaked portion of the post though, let’s have a quick look at what the Ides of March actually is.

During Caesar’s rule he established and instituted the Julian Calendar. This was both a precursor to our modern-day calendar, as well as an hilariously self-important move on the naming front. The Julian Calendar didn’t number days of a month sequentially from the first through the last day. Instead, it counted back from three fixed points of the month – the Nones (5th or 7th, depending on the length of the month), the Ides (13th or 15th), and the Calends (1st) of the following month. The Ides occurred near the midpoint, which was the 13th for most months, but the 15th for March, May, July, and October. The Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, thus reflecting the lunar origin of the Julian Calendar.

The Ides of each month were sacred due to its lunar association, however, the Ides of March was celebrated in particular due to also being a feast day. This feast was in celebration of Anna Perenna , a goddess whose festival concluded the ceremonies of the new year. The day was enthusiastically celebrated among the Roman people with picnics, drinking, and revelry. I think we need to bring this festival back.

The tone of The Ides of March dramatically changed when Caesar was assassinated in 44BC. That, along with Shakespeare’s infamous quote – “Beware the Ides of March” – have turned the once celebrated day into something to be wary of. This reputation has been aided by the fact that some incredibly significant historical events have taken place on March 15th. Some of these include –

1311 – Death of Pope Lucius II
1889 – A devastating cyclone hit Samoa
1917 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicates the throne
1937 – Death of H.P. Lovecraft (admittedly, this is more to do with a personal interest)
1939 – Germany invades Czechoslovakia

The Bloody Caesar Cocktail, in all its celery-salt rimmed glory

Although March 15 has become a day of historical wariness, there are some of have chosen to channel the ancient festival spirit – the Canadians. To commemorate the Ides of March, bars across The Great White North serve the rather delicious sounding Bloody Caesar Cocktail, a drink that is somewhat reminiscent of the Bloody Mary. The ingredients typically include:


-Vodka
– Clamato (a blend of tomato juice and clam broth)
– Hot sauce
– Worcestshire sauce
– A stlk of celery or a wedge of lime
– A celery salt rimmed glass
– A celery-salt rimmed glass

So, how did this cocktail come to be?

It was invented in 1969 by restauranteur Walter Chell in Calagary in order to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant in the city. Chell said his inspiration came from Italy, recalling that in Venice, they served Spaghetti alle vongole – a dish containing tomato sauce and clams. He reasoned that the mixture of clams and tomato sauce would make a good drink. He was correct, because the Caesar quickly became a popular mixed drink within Canada, where over 350 million are consumed annually. In fact, annual Best Caesar in Town events are incredibly popular. For the 40th anniversary of the drink’s invention, people were  encouraged to create variants, some of which included glasses being rimmed with coffee grinds, the inclusion of maple syrup and the use of bacon-infused vodka. 

Today, the popularity of the drink, as well as its name, have given birth to its association with the Ides of March. Personally, I think that the Canadians have the right idea. Lets get March 15 back to its roots – by being a day of drinking and debauchery. In the Middle of Lent. Surely the Catholics won’t mind…right?

Have a safe March 15th, everyone. And remember – Beware the Ides of March…or at least have a drink to celebrate it.

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to hear it in your earbuds? If so, I humbly ask you to take the time to donate $1 to the Delicious History Podcast Project. Only $500 is needed make this dream a reality, and all donations over $10 receive a reward! 

A Very Tudor Christmas


Merry Post-Christmas, everyone!

Now, I know I’m at least two posts overdue and am therefore a very naughty blogger. I can assure you that I have a very good excuse in regards to the END OF THE WORLD post. I was melting down sugar to make salted caramel and it splashed up and burnt every finger on my left hand. It wasn’t pretty. I’m convinced that I’m going to have a rather obvious scar on my thumb.

As for the lateness of my Christmas post, I have no good excuse. I spent the day I had allocated to writing at a water park. I’d apologise if I didn’t have so much fun.

Anyway! Onwards, upwards and every-other-way-wards! Seeing as we’re still within the confines of the Festive Season, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the delicacies involved in Tudor period celebrations.  So, as you recover from your food and family comas, enjoy reading about just how damn long the Yule Tide season was celebrated in 16th century England. If you weren’t exhausted already, I can guarantee that you will be by the end of this.

Unlike in Modern society, Tudor Christmas celebrations didn’t begin until Christmas Day itself, which kicked off the 12 days of Christmas. That’s right, they partied and feasted for almost two straight weeks. No thank you.

The period leading up to the Christmas celebrations was (and still is) known as Advent, and it began on the fourth Sunday preceding December 25th.  Ironically enough, this was a time of fasting and prayer, as opposed to a time of scoffing tiny chocolates out of an Advent Calendar.

A traditional Christmas boar head being presented by a creepy 16th Century Colonel Sanders

Christmas during the Tudor times involved traditional foods, as it does today. For example, on most modern tables ones would find a leg of ham. A Tudor Christmas table was much the same. Just replace the pig with a boar and the leg with a head. Tasty. The boar head was the centerpiece of the table and an all round Christmas pièce de résistance.

Christmas Day wasn’t the most important day in the Tudor Yuletide calendar. That honour went to Twelfth Night, aka the twelfth day of Christmas. One of the most important items associated with the day was the Twelfth cake, and not only because it was the dessert.

Traditionally, a gold coin or ring was baked into the cake. The idea was that whoever found the prize within their piece would preside over the evenings festivities. If it was a man, he would be the King of the Bean, if it was a woman, the Queen of the Pea. These names originated from poorer households that couldn’t afford to bake gold into the cake, and thus used a pea or a bean instead. This tradition is still maintained in France, where a coin or a small gold figurine of the Christ child is baked into an almond tart.

Despite its importance to Twelfth Night, the exact nature of the Twelfth Cake remains a mystery. However, one source suggests that the main ingredients were flour, honey, ginger and pepper.

Due to the importance of Twelfth Night, it was often a political affair within the Royal Household. Those who were in favour with the Monarch often had the coin planted within their piece of cake. Often this included ladies in waiting or maids. The theory behind this was to prove that the King or Queen were happy to be upstaged by servants, thus demonstrating their kindness and benevolence.

Another Christmas tradition was that of wassailing. This was a fertility rite that was leftover from the Pagan days of Britain where one would toast fruit trees in order to encourage them to produce a good crop the following year. Every region had its own traditional Wassail beverage. Some of these included cider, ale or spiced drinks such as lambswool, a kind of beer that was served warm.

That’s it for our Tudor Traditions today, however, there will be a great deal more where that came from in the future. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you’re still enjoying all of those lovely leftovers. As for me, I need to get my Yuletide loving butt to the gym before gravy and sugar start escaping through my pores.

What does German Chocolate Cake, French Toast and White Russians Have in Common?


Hello food history lovers!

Today I intend to answer a question that has been plaguing mankind since the dawn of time. A question that perplexed the likes of Gallileo, Socrates and Plato. A question of such magnitude, that I almost fear answering it.

What does German Chocolate Cake, French Toast and White Russians have in common?

Three seemingly unrelated consumables. All delicious. All fairing from different corners of the Earth. What could possibly link them?

The answer?

None of them were invented in the countries that grace their names.

Are you terribly shocked and appalled? That’s a natural reaction. I’ll give you a moment to fetch your smelling salts…

Recovered? Excellent. Let us then move onto the exploration of the origins of these three individuals and how each of them acquired their incredibly misleading names.

 

This, in actual fact, needs to get in me immediately

German Chocolate Cake

The roots of this rich and delicious mistress can be traced back to 1852 when an American by the name of Sam German developed a brand of dark baking chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate Company. The product, German’s Sweet Chocolate, was named after him.

In 1957, the original recipe for ‘German’s Chocolate Cake’ was sent into a Dallas newspaper by a local homemaker. The recipe utilized German’s dark baking chocolate, and it became quite popular. General Foods, which owned the Baker’s brand, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers across the country. Sales of Baker’s Chocolate is said to have increased by 73% and the cake itself became a national staple. The possessive form, ‘German’s’, was dropped in subsequent publications, which resulted in it being referred to as ‘German Chocolate Cake’. The outcome? The false impression of a German origin for the dessert.

Nom nom, French Toast

French Toast

French toast existed long before France was established as a country. The exact origins of French Toast are unknown, but it’s unsurprising that humans developed the recipe quickly, given that it is traditionally made out of stale bread. Bread has been a staple of most cultures since food preparation first began. Coupling this with a rejection of food wastage (which is really only something that is acceptable in modern society), it’s unsurprising that man had to find a way to make stale bread palatable.

The earliest reference to doing this dates back to 4th century Rome, in a cookbook attributed to Apicius. This style of toast was called Pan Dulcis. The Romans would take the bread and soak it in a milk and egg mixture, and then cook it, typically frying it in oil or butter.

This practice of cooking stale bread became common throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. In fact, the name for French Toast in France is “pain perdu”, which literally means “lost bread”. There are some that still insist that French Toast  originated in France, however, it’s interesting to note that before the French called it “pain perdu”, they called it “pain a la Romaine” (Roman bread).

So why is this clever concoction attributed to the French? One theory is that it’s reminiscent of French cooking before the invention of proper refrigeration. It’s said that many of their rich, heavy and creamy sauces were created to hide the fact that the meat or fish in the dish was, or was very nearly off.

Me thinks this would go quite well with the German Chocolate Cake

White Russians

This origin story is quite short, and most definitely sweet.

The White Russian is the sister cocktail of the Black Russian – a drink concocted from vodka and coffee liqueur. Both initially appeared in 1949 and were invented Belgium Bartender  Gustave Tops. Black Russians transform into White Russians with the simple addition of cream. Neither drink is Russian in origin, but were named due to vodka being the primary ingredient. It is unclear which drink preceded the other.

 

 

BOOM! That’s the sound of knowledge bombs blowing up everywhere. I do love a good debunking, so I naturally loved writing this post. In closing I pose this question – Do you know of any other food names that are misleading or outright incorrect? I’d love to hear about them.

Tealicious History: Earl Grey


I’ve always considered myself to be a tea drinker. With an incredibly British grandmother and a relatively British mother, I don’t think I ever had a choice in the matter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good coffee, but I see it as something that lights up the nerve endings in my brain in the morning. It enables me to face the day in something other than an incoherent zombie-like state. But tea? To me it is the ultimate comfort drink. It’s an old friend that warms the body and soul and always cures what ails you.

A Shit Day at Work? Tea
Head Cold? Lemon and Honey Tea
Heartbreak? Tea
Upset Stomach? Ginger Tea
Natural Disaster? Tea
Apocalypse? Tea…with a shot of rum.

I once read a story about a woman who was shot in the head in her home. Miraculously, she was hit at such an angle that she was able to make herself a cup of tea whilst waiting for the police. I was always horrified by this prospect.  Not due to the brutality of the crime, but because I knew that this is exactly what the women of my family would do, including me.

Tea fixes everything.

I adore Earl Grey in particular. Nothing makes me happier than writing my blog whilst sipping on that wonderfully scented brew. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying it, Earl Grey is an intoxicating blend of black tea infused with the oil of bergamot, an Italian orange. It gives it a lovely zesty aroma and taste that I find enchanting.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my correct opinion. I have heard my beloved Earl Grey described as tasting like dirty dish water mixed with detergent by the boyfriend some. Well to him those people I quite intelligently retort – Your face tastes like dirty dish water mixed with detergent. Yeah, take that.

The actual Earl Grey. He, unlike the tea, doesn’t look particularly appetising

So, who was Earl Grey and why on earth did he have a tea named after him? True to form, there are conflicting historical tales.

Charles Grey was the 2nd Earl of Grey and British Prime Minister between 1930 and 1834. He is still renowned for being one of the primary architects of the 1832 Reform Act. This act introduced a wide range of beneficial changes to the electoral systems in England and Wales.

The Grey family state that the tea was specially blended by a Chinese Mandarin for the Earl. Legend has it that it was made with bergamot oil to compliment the water on the Earl’s estate, which is said to have had a hint of lime to it.

Some believe that in 1803 one of the Earl’s men saved the aforementioned Mandarin’s son from drowning. He then showed his appreciation by presenting the Earl with the tea as a gift. However, bergamot oil wasn’t present in China at the time, and nor was the Earl. A far more likely story is that the Earl was presented with the tea by an envoy upon returning from a routine trip to China.

The belief in this origin story is universal, unless of you ask Twinings. Their website claims that they themselves developed it and named it after the Earl. Conveniently enough there is no explanation as to why. Every historian knows that it’s those who hold power that decide what version of history will be considered as truth, and this is no different, albeit on quite a small scale.

The tea rose in popularity due to Lady Grey, as she often used it to entertain guests in London. Others wished to purchase the tea and this is where Twinings most definitely became involved. They began mass producing the tea on a large scale and it quickly became a household name. Unfortunately for the Greys, they didn’t have the forethought to register the trademark. Subsequently, neither they nor their ancestors received any royalties from the sales of Earl or Lady Grey tea.

Because I’m sure you don’t know what tea looks like

For those who haven’t heard of Lady Grey, it was developed by Twinings and named after Lady Elizabeth Grey. It is far more delicate and fragrant than her husband’s counterpart. In addition to the bergamot oil, it contains both lemon and orange peel. I find it to have quite a flowery aroma and a very sweet taste.

Earl Grey has remained popular throughout the years and is used quite often in cooking and baking. I’ve personally tried Earl Grey flavoured macaroons and chocolate and they were both delicious.

I’d like to thank the lovely Katie for requesting this topic. As a result, I have decided to not only write about other teas, but to start an entire series on High Tea. I’ll most likely roll this out in September so it will coincide with  one of Habitat for Humanity’s annual events – High Tea for Habitat. It’s a fantastic and delicious way to raise money for a great cause. I urge you all to get a group together and participate. More info can be found at http://www.habitat.org.au/hightea.

Please leave a comment if you have a favourite tea that you would like me to explore the origins of. I absolutely love taking requests. Yes mum, I will definitely write about Russian Caravan for you.

Have a lovely weekend!

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to hear it in your earbuds? If so, I humbly ask you to take the time to donate $1 to the Delicious History Podcast Project.Only $500 is needed make this dream a reality, and all donations over $10 receive a reward! 

Cocktail Party: Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary


Greetings!

We’re up the the final drink of the cocktail party! Are you excited? No?

Well, that’s embarrassing for me.

As discussed yesterday, it’s morning and many a party goer have wandered out into the harsh light of day to forage for a tasty grease-ridden breakfast. Surely they can indulge in a final cocktail without being considered ‘rampant alcoholics’? Oh come on, they haven’t slept yet, so technically it’s still night-time, right? Some are feeling the beginnings of particularly gruesome hangovers, and what better cure is there than water sleep stomach pumps a little hair of the dog?

A round of vodka soaked Bloody Marys will certainly do the trick.

Once again, I have a variety of histories to present to you, all riddled with contention and speculation. But that’s what makes this fun, right?

This isn’t the Bloody Mary you were expecting?

Our first tale attributes Fernand Petiot with first concocting the drink. He was a bartender at ‘ Harry’s New York Bar’ in Paris and legend has it that he created it in 1921 by mixing equal parts tomato juice and vodka. If this story is true, it only describes the fledgling beginnings of the cocktail, as it didn’t contain any salt, pepper or tabasco sauce.

As a side note, Harry’s was popular with a broad clientele of high-profile expatriates such as Ernest Hemingway, Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart.

Another story claims that comedic actor George Jessel concocted the drink around 1939. He claims to be the true inventor of the Bloody Mary due to adding key ingredients such as the Worcestershire and celery stick. There is also a claim that Fernand Petiot moved to America and reinvented the Bloody Mary as the ‘Red Snapper’ at the ‘St. Regis Hotel’ in 1934. This was supposedly due to public objection over the “vulgarity” of the original name.

So the big question is – who was Mary?

Many assume that it was named for Queen Mary, half-sister of Elizabeth I. She was nicknamed Bloody Mary due to the amount of Protestants she had killed throughout her reign. However, this supposed namesake is unlikely to be true.

A widely believed rumour is that a patron of Harry’s suggested the name after noting that the drink reminded him of the ‘Bucket of Blood Club’ in Chicago, and a girl there named Mary. However, another popular candidate is 1920s silent film icon Mary Pickford who had another cocktail named after her that consisted of rum, grenadine and a Maraschino cherry.

This leads me to wonder why no one has named a cocktail after me. This is being added to my Life Goals List, alongside owning a llama, getting arrested and being thrown out of a classy establishment. I’m genuinely surprised that the latter hasn’t occurred yet.

Time for a recipe!

Ingredients

45ml Vodka
90ml Tomato Juice
15ml Lemon Juice
Tabasco Sauce, dash
Worcestershire Sauce, dash
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method

Add dashes of Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper into highball glass. Shake the vodka, tomato juice and lemon juice before straining into the glass. Add ice cubes. Stir gently. Garnish with a celery stalk and lemon wedge

So that’s it, the end of the Cocktail Party. The hardcore attendees have finally wandered home to pass out, and I’m being reminded of all the embarrassing stuff I did by my housemate. Whilst on the bathroom floor. Cradling the toilet.

Next time – something less liquidy. And less alcoholic…maybe.

Cocktail Party: Irish Coffee


So we’re onto our last cocktail of the night, and everybody who is still conscious has agreed that it will be much easier to just stay up. Besides, it’s only three hours until they can go and get pancakes for breakfast! Everyone’s getting sleepy though, so it’s time for some caffeine. Alcoholic caffeine.

Fact: Anything can be improved by adding copious amounts of alcohol and cream. For example – steak, pain medication, tax time.

Between 1939 and 1945 many Americans flew to Ireland in a Pan Am Flying Boat. This extraordinary sounding aircraft was actually just a seaplane that contained a hull. Why not make a few extra bucks by storing passengers there?

The planes would land in Foynes, Limerick after what I imagine would be a gruelling eighteen hour flight. After landing, the passengers would be shuttled by boat to the terminal. On cold days, the passengers would often be chilled and miserable after the ride. As such, they greatly appreciated a cup of hot coffee or tea upon arrival at the terminal.

The Irish have taken whiskey in their tea for many centuries and this gave the chef at the airport restaurant an idea. He thought he would provide the freezing passengers with a little Irish hospitality with an American twist. He knew of their partiality to coffee with cream, so he added some whisky to the cups. One of the pleasantly surprised passengers asked “Is this Brazilian coffee?”, “No” replied the chef, “That’s Irish coffee.” And thus the original Irish Coffee recipe, as well as another excuse to drink, was born.

Ten years later, the owner of a San Franciscan restaurant decided to recreate the alcohol laced coffee that a friend had tasted in Ireland.They thought it would be a simple process, but after many experiments using a variety of whiskey they weren’t satisfied. It didn’t taste the same and the cream always sank to the bottom.

Being persistent, the pair travelled to the Limerick to sample the original. When they returned, it was decided that only high quality Irish whiskey could provide the proper taste. Furthermore, the cream had to be slightly aged and lightly whipped. Voilà, Irish Coffee crosses the Atlantic and began to grow in popularity throughout the United States and the world.

Now, in case you have the uncontrollable urge to get boozed up over your morning/afternoon/evening coffee, here’s a recipe!

Ingredients:

40ml Irish Whiskey
80ml Hot Coffee
30ml Cream, whipped
1 tsp Brown Sugar

Method

Heat the coffee, whiskey and sugar on a medium heat. Do not boil. Pour into a glass and top with cream. Serve hot.

Now, I realise that I began this post by saying that this was the last cocktail of the night. However, I never said that we wouldn’t be indulging in one in the morning. I wonder what it will be?

Check back tomorrow to find out what delightful concoction we’ll be finishing our cocktail party with!

Cocktail Party: The Mint Julep


Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

Greetings! Welcome back to Delicious History. After a few minor technical setbacks I’m here to give you all the historical goss on the lovely and refreshing Mint Julep.

So, we’re onto cocktail number five. At this point of the evening the heavy weights are attempting to chat up a hottie/anyone in the corner so they don’t have to take the train home. Meanwhile, the light weights are lying outside on the grass crying down the phone to their mums, apologising for all the horrible things they have done in their lives. This is something I have seriously done – just replace ‘grass’ with ‘driveway’ and ‘phone’ with ‘parents standing on the front porch hanging their heads in shame’.

Tegan’s Tip – Never let a seventeen year work colleague serve you ten wines in an hour at a Christmas party. On a Monday night. In February.

I need these glasses in my life

The mint julep is predominantly famous for being the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. The popularity of the drink at the racetrack began in 1938 when it became the official cocktail of the Derby. Back in those days, the drink set the fans back a cool 75c. Today, a mint julep in a collectors glass starts at $1000.

Seventy five of these commemorative glasses were made earlier this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Derby. Sixty Five were made from pewter and were hand engraved with a racing scene. They also came with a sterling silver drinking straw. You think that sounds impressive? Oh no, those were only the thousand dollar plebeian glasses that had been fashioned for the peasants.

Ten of the glasses were made entirely from sterling silver, plated in 24 karat gold and featured a diamond horseshoe with 43 diamonds totaling approximately one carat. Furthermore, a jeweler selected and set each diamond by hand.

Just, damn.

The origin of the Julep goes back much further than the Derby though. In fact, it doesn’t even begin in the USA. Centuries ago, there was an Arabic drink called julab,  which was made with water and rose petals. The beverage had a delicate and refreshing scent that people thought would instantly enhance their quality of life. When the julab was introduced to the Mediterranean region, the native population replaced the rose petals with mint, a plant indigenous to the area.

The mint julep, as it was now called, grew in popularity throughout Europe, particularly in agriculture regions. This also happened when it was introduced to the USA. Americans also enjoyed juleps made with genever, an aged gin, during the nineteenth century. However bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed gin-based ones in recent years.

The julep was originally a morning drink – a spirited equivalent to coffee. Apparently,  one sip enabled farmers and workmen alike to face the day. I must say that I adore how many of cocktails have been used for medicinal purposes or as an excuse to drink in the morning. It would be great to walk into work and buy a $4 cocktail off my coffee guy. “Hmm one Julep and a croissant thanks, Emilio. No, I’ll definitely go the large. It’s feeling like a double shot day.”

With that steady slide into alcoholism, let’s get to the recipe!

Ingredients

90ml Bourbon Whisky
4 – 6 sprigs Mint Leaves
Granulated Sugar, to taste

Method

Place mint, sugar, and a small amount of bourbon into the bottom of a mixing glass. Gently muddle and then let it stand for a couple of minutes to allow the mint flavour to be released. Strain and pour into a julep cup (A glass with a pewter base. Or silver if you’re a rich bastard), rotating to coat the sides. Fill with ice and then add the remaining whisky. Garnish with a small mint sprig.

Fun Fact – Mint juleps are traditionally served in pewter based glasses and held by the handle or rim in order to maintain optimum frost.

Tomorrow – A Dessert Cocktail!

Cocktail Party: Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville…


…searching for my lost shaker of salt.

Greetings, lovelies!

How are you feeling after your first two drinks? Ready for some more? I certainly hope so because we’re heading into Tequila Territory, and there’s just no coming back from that. We’re at that point of the party where you know you shouldn’t do it, but you’re just sauced enough to throw caution to the wind and to let your Future Self deal with the stomach churning consequences. Then, when you’re paying homage to the Porcelain God the following afternoon, you curse your Past Self and swear to never touch tequila again, because it is truly Not of the Lord. But it’s never true.

Never. True.

I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to learn that the Margarita is yet another cocktail with an elusive history. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a peek at the possibilities though! There are of course numerous accounts of ‘this bartender here’ and ‘this bartender there’ being attributed with its invention, but I want to keep things interesting. As such, here are a few short tales describing the birth of this tasty and dangerous beverage. I’ll leave it up to you to choose which reality to believe.

It looks so pretty despite being a demon liquor from hell.

Our first story hails from Acapulco in 1948. A Dallas socialite had a holiday home in the Mexican city that she would visit with her family during the holidays. She was well-known for indulging in a game where she would duck behind the bar and mix up weird and wonderful concoctions for her guests. I know I’ve said it before, but I would rather enjoy partying with this dame.

During a Christmas gathering she decided to mix tequila, Cointreau and lime juice for her guests, and did so with great success and praise. They were so enamoured with the drink that they took it home to the States where it spread like wildfire. They thought that it was only fitting to name th drink after their socialite friend, Margarita.

Our next story is yet another shout out to the ladies. We’re in Mexico, circa 1938 and following a showgirl by the name of Majorie King. Unfortunately, our damsel suffered from a truly tragic ailment – she was allergic to all alcohol, with the exception of tequila.

King was visiting Rancho Relaxo Del Gloria Bar in Rosarita Beach, Mexico and, like a champion, wasn’t going to let her allergies get in the way of a good time. She explained her predicament to the bartender and he proceeded to pour tequila over shaved iced and then added some lemon and Triple Sec. Once again, the drink was a hit and he decided to name the concoction after the Spanish equivalent of Majorie – Margarita.

Our final story comes from Juarez, Mexico. A gentleman named Pancho Morales was working as a bartender  in 1942 when a patron ordered a drink called a Magnolia. Alas, Morales couldn’t remember what was in the cocktail, except Cointreau. Instead of explaining this, he decided to roll the dice and fake it. I’m sure you can all guess what happened next. He decided to name the his new invention after his favourite flower, the daisy. For those of you who are well aquainted with the language will already know that daisy translates to Margarita in Spanish.

And now – recipe time!

Ingredients

35ml Tequila
20ml Triple Sec
15ml Lime Juice
Salt

Method

Rub the rim of the glass with lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the ingredients with ice, then strain into the glass.Garnish with a lime or lemon wedge and serve over ice.

So there you have it, three drinks down and four to go. I do hope you can all manage to stay standing for tomorrow’s exciting brew.

See you then.


Cocktail Party: The Cosmopolitan


Alright ladies and gents, we’re one drink in and the party is starting to heat up. Day two of our soirée has begun and someone has started passing around the Cosmos.

I’m afraid that we can’t avoid the horse faced elephant in the room so we might as well get it out of the way.

The vast majority of the population associate the Cosmo with the ever popular Sex and the City. Ever since the late 90s, fans of the show have been ordering the pink concoction under a false pretense of sophistication. Unfortunately, most of them were ordering them in backwater bars on the corner of Tumbleweed Road and You Got a Pretty Mouth Avenue.

I believe that it’s due to the Carrie Bradshaw association that little is known about the true origin of this sweet and chic drink. I have even heard people muse over whether it was invented for the show itself. This notion is enough to send my inner historian into a rage blackout, so I think that it’s best if we move on.

Drinking this won’t make you pass for a classy New Yorker

It seems that conflicting origin stories are becoming a theme on this blog, and the Cosmopolitan is no exception. The general school of thought concedes that the Cosmo was born in the 80s, but nobody can seem to agree where. This seems to be common with drinks – they are notoriously difficult to patent and are so often based off other similar concoctions. However, I am able to provide you with a few theories and possible creators.

The first culprit is Dale Groff, a bartender who spent a large portion of his career at the legendary Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Plaza. It was there that he supposedly had the idea to add liqueur and a mixture of vodka, cranberry  and lemon juice to create the original Cosmo. This theory is naturally quite popular with Manhattanites.

Another rumour is that there is a version of the cocktail that can be attributed to the entire gay community of Provincetown, Massachusetts. I just love that an entire group of people can supposedly invent a drink. Thanks, internet.

The last commonly cited story is from South Beach, Florida. A bartender named Cheryl Cook is said to have invented it in 1985. Although this isn’t interesting in itself, there are some who believe Cook to be a mythical character invented by the community in order to lay claim to the drinks creation.

These stories may seem somewhat devoid of information. Unfortunately, this is because there is very little out there. I think that the consequence of this is that despite its origin, the Cosmopolitan is doomed to be forever associated with Carrie and her Prada clad pals.

Now, because I know you all just skipped to this part anyway, onto the recipe!

 Ingredients

40ml Vodka
15ml Cointreau
15ml Lime Juice
30ml Cranberry Juice

Method

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake well. Double strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a lime or lemon wheel.

I hope you can all hold your liquor adequately because I’ll be serving you up yet another delicious concoction tomorrow!

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