New Years Traditions – The Twelve Grapes of Luck


Happy (almost) New Year, everybody!

All over the world people are getting ready to ring in the New Year. If the line at my local supermarket is anything to go by, a great deal of the celebrating will involve consuming an almost offensive amount of food.  Good times!

Here in Australia, we don’t really have any specific food traditions associated with New Years, unless of course alcohol counts as a food group. It does, right? This made me wonder whether other nations celebrated with specific food. After a bit of research, my question led me to Europe.

The Twelve Grapes of Luck is a Spanish New Years tradition that dates back to 1895. It consists of eating a grape with each chime of the clock at midnight. Anyone who manages to consume all twelve grapes before the last chime strikes will have twelve months of prosperity and good luck.In some areas, it is believed that the tradition also wards away witches and general evil. Nautrally, this is an incredibly difficult feat to concur. Most people end up with a mouth full of grapes that they’re trying to choke down between fits of laughter.

So how did this tradition come to be? Surely it must be ancient and sacred. Not exactly.

Its origin can be traced back to the end of the 19th century where there was a bumper crop of grapes in Alicante – a southern Spanish province on the Mediterranean. Farmers were going to be left with an abundance of surplus grapes if they couldn’t convince people to buy them. The result was the promotion of eating twelve grapes to celebrate the twelve rings of the bell at New Year. Obviously, this practice caught on in Spain and is even celebrated in Mexico and within Hispanic communities in the USA today. It’s even possible to purchase cans containing 12 pre-peeled grapes for the consumers convenience. Clearly, this fabricated tradition was nothing short of marketing genius.

I hope you all have a delicious New Year. See you all next year!

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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.