April 10: Big Ben

Big BenIt was on this day in 1858 that the bell known as Big Ben was installed in the clock tower at Palace of Westminster.

Yes, contrary to popular belief, it is not the tower but actually the clock’s Great Bell that is called Big Ben. Interestingly, the Palace of Westminster’s clock went unnamed for 154 years until it was christened the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to celebrate the  Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

So, why is the bell called Big Ben? There’s no definitive answer, but the commonly accepted belief is that it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the politician and civil engineer who oversaw the construction of the tower. Hall’s name is inscribed on the bell, so it’s highly possible that the bell was named in tribute to him. Amusingly, the bell known as Big Ben was not the original bell for the tower. The original bell cracked beyond repair while being tested in 1856, so a new bell was forged by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same foundry that made the Liberty Bell.

Of course there’s a cocktail called Big Ben. This tropical rum drink is not the most impressive cocktail, but it’s a perfectly serviceable and delicious libation.

Big Ben

  • 1 ounce White Rum
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime cordial

Shake with ice and strain into an ice filled rocks glass.

Tomorrow: Hamlet’s friends.


One response

  1. […] this month we discussed Big Ben and the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament. Well, […]

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