January 18: A. A. Milne

PoohAlan Alexander Milne, better known as A. A. Milne was born on this day in 1882. Milne was a playwright, poet and humorist, but his best know works are the stories of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and their friends.

The Pooh stories are actually based on toys that belonged to Milne’s son, Christopher Robin Milne. The younger Milne’s favorite playthings were a teddy bear named Edward Bear, a donkey named Eeyore, a tiger named Tigger, a pig puppet named Piglet and a kangaroo and joey pair known as Kanga and Roo. Christopher Milne would later rename the bear Winnie after Winnipeg, a black bear at the London Zoo who served as an unofficial Canadian Army mascot. The sobriquet “the Pooh” would come from a swan that Christopher Milne met on holiday. Christopher Milne’s toys now reside in the New York Public Library’s Main Branch.

The first story about the silly old bear appeared in the British humour magazine Punch on February 13, 1924. However, the character would not be named until December 24, 1925, when Milne wrote a Christmas story about Winnie-the-Pooh for The Evening News. The next year, the first book of Pooh stories (simply called Winnie-the-Pooh) was introduced. In addition to the characters based on Christopher Robin and his toys, which in the original stories were depicted as living toys, Milne introduced two talking animals; a rabbit and an owl. Interestingly, the bouncing toy tiger Tigger didn’t appear in the Hundred Acre Woods until the second volume of Pooh stories, 1928’s The House at Pooh Corner.

The Pooh stories were a big hit and remain favorites of children everywhere. However, not everyone loves the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh: Dorothy Parker found the stories a little too twee. When she reviewed The House at Pooh Corner in her role as The New Yorker‘s “Constant Reader,” she took particular issue with a passage in which Pooh explains that he added a nonsense word to a song he was writing in order to make the song “more hummy.” Quoth Parker:  “It is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.”

Two of Winnie-the-Pooh’s favorite foodstuffs were milk and honey, or as he famously called it “hunny.” So, it’s only natural that we mix a Milk & Honey cocktail. It’s a delicious after dinner drink which utilizes both of the named ingredients, and also the Polish honey liqueur Krupnik, and the perfect choice for celebrating A. A. Milne, his son Christopher and the boy’s silly old bear.

Milk & Honey

  • 2 ounces Scotch
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 ounce Krupnik
  • 3/4 ounce heavy cream
  • 3/4 ounce milk

Stir the scotch and honey together at the bottom of a cocktail shaker in order to dissolve the honey. Add ice and the other ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: The man who came to dinner.

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