December 14: The Death Of Prince Albert

Prince AlbertOn the evening of December 14, 1861, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, royal consort to Queen Victoria died in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle. He was only 42.

The nation quickly went into mourning, and in fact Queen Victoria dressed in mourning black for the remaining 40 years of her life. Despite Prince Albert’s wishes not to be memorialized, monuments to his memory were erected all over the British Empire, including the famed Royal Albert Hall. There were so many in fact, that Charles Dickens once wrote to a friend about all of the Albert memorials:

If you should meet with an inaccessible cave anywhere in that neighbourhood, to which a hermit could retire from the memory of Prince Albert and testimonials to the same, pray let me know of it. We have nothing solitary and deep enough in this part of England.

In my opinion the greatest monument to Prince Albert was the cocktail called Black Velvet. Invented in 1861 at Brook’s Club in London; the story goes that a barman at the club created this drink because he thought it was inappropriate to serve straight champagne while the country was in mourning. So, he added some Guinness stout to darken the champagne and make it resemble the dark purple or black velvet arm bands that mourners were wearing.

Black Velvet

  • Guinness Stout
  • Champagne

Fill a champagne flute halfway with stout, then float champagne on top.

Tomorrow: We say goodbye to the father of American mixology.


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