Monthly Archives: February, 2015

February 28: Napoleon Returns To France

NapoleonIn April 1814, Europe breathed a sigh of relief. After nearly eleven years of war, Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as the self-appointed Emperor of France had finally come to an end. He had lost several major military engagements, Paris had surrendered to the Coalition forces and France’s Sénat conservateur had passed the Acte de déchéance de l’Empereur (“Emperor’s Demise Act”) officially deposing Napoleon. Peace finally arrived in the form of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which amongst other things exiled Napoleon to the Mediterranean island of Elba, 12 miles off the coast of Tuscany. All was well until February 26, 1815 when Napoleon escaped from Elba with the help of a small group of followers. Then, on February 28, 1815, Napoleon set foot once again on French soil and prepared to take back his throne.

As Napoleon began his march to Paris, he was confronted on March 7 by the 5th Regiment of the French Army, ready to intercept him. Napoleon did not panic; instead, he approached the 5th on his own, stepped off his horse and stepped within gunrange before yelling “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish.” There was a pause before the regiment began cheering “Vive L’Empereur!” and promptly rallied to the former emperor’s side. Upon hearing that the 5th and other regiments had joined Napoleon, King Louis XVIII fled Paris. Soon, the Congress of Vienna named Napoleon an outlaw and the Coalition powers (now led by Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia) vowed to bring a permanent end to Napoleon’s rule.

Napoleon took Paris on March 20, and by June he had 200,000 loyal soldiers at his disposal. It was at this point that Napoleon decided to go on the offensive and sent the French Army of the North to invade part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (now modern-day Belgium). There were three reason for invading the Netherlands: First, it might trigger a pro-Napoleon revolution in French-speaking Brussels, giving him more loyal troops. Second, by launching a pre-emptive strike, he was able to catch the Coalition off guard, cutting off communication between the British and Prussians.  Most importantly, if a major victory was achieved by France’s large army against a single army of a Coalition nation, he might force peace talks which would either end in him getting to maintain power or a continued war which would lead to the defeat of the remaining Coalition forces.

For a time Napoleon’s plans actually worked. The French engaged in battle with the Coalition forces and forced both the English and Prussians to retreat in opposite directions. Eventually, the Prussians made their way to the town of Wavre, while the British forces, under the command of the Duke of Wellington, deployed themselves behind an escarpment in the tiny village of Waterloo. However, unknown to Napoleon and his generals, three Prussian corps had broken off and were making their way towards Waterloo.

So, on June 18, 1815 the British and French engaged in battle at Waterloo. Napoleon made the key mistake of waiting to start battle until the ground had dried from the previous evening’s rain. This gave the English plenty of time to prepare a defense and for the Prussian corps to make their way towards Waterloo. When the battle finally happened, the English held the line and the Prussians arrived to take care of France’s right flank. The unthinkable had happened to Napoleon: The Coalition armies had not only managed to come together, but were now actively sending the French into retreat. Napoleon returned to Paris and discovered that the legislature and Parisian citizens wanted him gone. He abdicated the throne on June 22, and after an ill fated attempt to escape to the United States, he surrendered to the British on July 15. His second reign only lasted 111 days.

The Coalition forces learned from their earlier mistake and rather than exile him in the Mediterranean, Napoleon was sent to the island of Saint Helena, 1,162 miles off Africa’s west coast. There Napoleon lived with a small group of followers and wrote his memoirs. Still, some wanted to free Napoleon from his island prison like the British Lord Cochrane who wanted to free Napoleon and then help him establish a new empire in South America. There was even a group of French soldiers who had exiled themselves in Texas in the hope that they could free Napoleon and set up a new empire there. However, none of these plans came to pass, as Napoleon died on St. Helena in 1821.

So, toast Napoleon’s second reign with a cocktail made with an ingredient named after the emperor. The Imperial Sour is a cocktail made with Mandarine Napoleon liqueur. This liqueur was actually developed by Napoleon’s physicist, Antoine-Francois de Fourcroy, who created a mix of cognac and distilled mandarins to create a liqueur that quickly became Napoleon’s favorite drink. The Imperial Sour comes to us from Mandarine Napoleon’s website and is a twist on a classic sour using Mandarine Napoleon and the ginger liqueur Domaine de Canton.

Imperial Sour

  • 2 ounces Mandarine Napoleon
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 ounce Domaine de Canton
  • 1 dash Green Chartreuse

Shake with ice and strain into an ice filled tumbler glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Tomorrow: A witch hunt.

February 27: The Hinomaru

Japanese FlagIn my opinion, the Japanese flag, officially called the Nisshōki (“sun-mark flag”) but popularly known as the Hinomaru (“circle of the sun”) is one of the greatest works of minimalist art. The red circle on a plain white background is a striking and instantly recognizable image that easily makes the Hinomaru one of the world’s best flags. It was on this day in 1870 that the Hinomaru was first adopted.

The Hinomaru was originally adopted as the national flag for merchant ships, but the Japanese Navy soon adopted it. However, Japan’s official national flag was the Rising Sun flag. The Rising Sun remained the national flag until the end of World War II. Unsurprisingly, as the Rising Sun became associated with the atrocities committed by Imperial Japan during the first half of the 20th century, the Rising Sun was quietly retired in 1945, with the Hinomaru becoming Japan’s national flag by default. Interestingly, it was not until 1999 that the Hinomaru was officially recognized as the national flag.

Today, salute the flag with a Red Sun. It’s a bittersweet drink made with the herbal liqueur Amaro Ramazzotti.

Red Sun

  • 4 ounces Amaro Ramzzotti
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce grenadine
  • apple juice

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice and then fill with apple juice. Stir and garnish with a lemon zest.

Tomorrow: Napoleon returns.

February 26: Livery Stable Blues

livery_stable_bluesIt’s rare that you can point to one song and distinctly cite it as the first record of its genre. For instance, there’s still much debate about what was the first rock and roll record. Even when it seems there’s agreement, such as the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” traditionally being cited as the first hip-hop record, there’s still debate. In that case, some give that title to the Fatback Band’s “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” or other tracks. So, with all that said, jazz is unique in that there is distinctly one recording that all pop music scholars point to as “the first jazz record”: The Original Dixieland Jass Band’s “Livery Stable Blues” which was recorded on this day in 1917.

The Original Dixieland Jass Band were a New Orleans based group of white musicians. They frequently played some of the hottest clubs in New York and Chicago, introducing these two cities to the sound of New Orleans. They were soon approached by a few record labels to record and initially did a few tracks for Columbia, but none of those recordings were usable. Then, on February 26, 1917 they did a recording session for Victor during which they recorded “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jass Band One-Step”. The record was released on March 7 and became a big hit. In fact, it might have been the first record to sell a million copies. From there, it was only a matter of time before jazz was being played all across America.

As you’re listening to “Livery Stable Blues”, why not mix up another New Orleans classic? The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Seriously, the Louisiana Legislature officially proclaimed it as such in 2008. The cocktail was invented in New Orleans’ Sazerac House and was originally made with Sazerac cognac and bitters created by local druggist Antoine Amedie Peychaud. The drink was made with Brandy for years, until the 1870s when France’s wine grape crops were devastated by a phylloxera epidemic, forcing Sazerac proprietor Thomas Handy to change the cocktail’s main ingredient to rye whiskey.

Sazerac

  • 2 ounces Rye Whiskey
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 splash of Absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube

In an Old Fashioned glass muddle a sugar cube with ice water and then add ice cubes, rye whiskey and bitters and stir. In a second, chilled, Old Fashioned glass, roll around the splash of absinthe until the glass is nicely coated. Strain the contents of the first glass into the second and garnish with a lemon twist.

Tomorrow: The rising sun.

February 25: SMU Gets The Death Penalty

SMUIn the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s intercollegiate sports system, the harshest penalty that can be handed down upon a member college is known as “the death penalty”, a complete cancellation of an offending team’s entire athletic schedule for an entire year. Typically, this punishment is combined with other penalties. It was on this day in 1987 that the NCAA handed down its most famous death penalty ruling, when the Southern Methodist University Mustangs football team received the dreaded punishment.

SMU’s Mustangs were perennial contenders in the Southwest Conference and in the early 1980s the team enjoyed great success thanks to the “Pony Express” offense lead by running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James (pictured above); and in fact in 1982, SMU was the nation’s only undefeated football team.

So, what did the Mustangs do to be sentence to “death”? Well, it all has to do with how one of the NCAA’s smallest Division I schools managed to achieve great success. For one thing, the school had committed several recruiting violations, leading the football program to be put on probation. Amusingly, at the time most of the SWC’s member schools were on probation for recruiting violations.

Of course, it was more than just that. It was soon discovered that since the mid-1970s SMU had been maintaining a slush fund to pay members of its football team. There were even several instances in which it came to light that the university had been paying for nice apartments for some members of the football team. In one particularly heinous case, Mustangs offensive lineman Sean Stopperich revealed that he had decided to enroll at SMU after he and his family had been offered thousands of dollars by SMU boosters. The worst part came when school officials swore to NCAA investigators that the slush fund had been shut down…only for the investigators to discover that the fund was still going strong.

So, on February 25, 1987 the NCAA brought the hammer down and brought it down especially hard. While the death penalty only required a one year ban from competition, the NCAA added further penalties: In addition to the cancellation of the 1987 season, all of SMU’s home games in the 1988 season were canceled. They were still permitted to play on the road, so the other institutions wouldn’t be financially affected. However, SMU decided to sit out the whole of the 1988 season too.  Their current prohibition was extended to 1990, and the team’s bowl game and live television ban was extended to 1989. Additionally, the school lost many scholarships and was given a limit on how many paid assistant coaches the team could have. Finally, the school was not allowed to visit with potential recruits or pay for recruits to visit SMU until the 1988 school year.

Unsurprisingly, the death penalty destroyed SMU’s once mighty football program. Within days of the death penalty announcement, recruiters from rival schools arrived on SMU’s campus to poach some of the team’s best players. When the team returned to the field in 1989, they did so with a young and inexperienced team. In the quarter century since SMU came back from the death penalty, the school has only had five years in which they emerged with a winning record. The NCAA has only used the death penalty on two further occasions, but never again for a college in its top division. For more information on the SMU death penalty scandal, I suggest ESPN’s excellent 30 for 30 documentary Pony Excess.

Since the SMU Mustangs were running wild, I thought it appropriate that we mix a Wild Mustang. This stiff cocktail balances Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon and grapefruit juice and a rosemary sprig gives it a nice herbal twist.

Wild Mustang

  • 1 1/2 ounces Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon
  • 3 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1 dash Bitters

Pour all ingredients into a tumbler with ice and stir. Garish with a sprig of rosemary.

Tomorrow: Jazz

February 24: The Battle Of Los Angeles

Battle_of_Los_Angeles_LATimesLate in the evening on February 24, 1942, the skies above Los Angeles were lit up as the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade engaged in battle with either the Japanese, a UFO or perhaps a weather balloon?

The west coast was already a bit on edge prior to the event that became known as The Battle Of Los Angeles. After all, less than three months earlier Pearl Harbor had been attacked and literally the day before, on February 23, the Bombardment of Ellwood had occurred in Santa Barbara. So, when something was spotted in the sky late in the evening on February 24, Angelenos took it extremely seriously. The air raid sirens started blaring and the city instantly went into black out conditions.

Starting at 3:16 AM the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began shooting at the unidentified flying object, eventually firing 1,400 shells. Shelling went on for about an hour and an all clear was sounded just before 7:30 on the morning of February 25. The shells damaged many buildings and vehicles, and although no one was directly injured by the shelling, five civilians did die as an indirect result of the night’s events: Three individuals died in a car crash and two others suffered fatal heart attacks presumably brought about by the hour long barrage.

So, the million dollar question is “What was the 37th shooting at?” Well, initially there were fears that it was a Japanese air craft. The official military report said that the events were sparked by a loose weather balloon and that the smoke from the continued shelling created the impression that there were more objects in the sky and that those objects were firing back.

Of course, ome people refused to take this explanation at face value. The front page of the February 26 edition of the Los Angeles Times featured a photo of spotlights shining in the sky. Naturally, this  led some people to assume that the unidentified flying object was no weather balloon, but an actual UFO; an alien spaceship. Proponents of this theory claim that the Times photo clearly shows searchlights focused on an alien vessel. However, in actuality the photo had been modified before publication. At the time, a certain level of photographic modification was considered acceptable in the newspaper industry, especially when modification would improve the contrast in black and white photos. So, by making the searchlights clearer, a UFO myth was born.

So, on the anniversary of the Battle of Los Angeles, and its accompanying blackout, let’s mix a Blackout. It’s a nice after-dinner drink that takes a Gimlet and adds blackberry brandy.

Blackout

  • 1 3/4 ounces Gin
  • 3/4 ounce Blackberry Brandy
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: An entire football team is given the death penalty.

February 23: Dick Turpin Is Identified

Dick TurpinDuring the 1730s no name was feared more in England than that of Dick Turpin. Turpin was a highwayman who’d ambush stagecoaches, robbing travelers while yelling his famous order to “Stand and deliver!” before escaping on his fierce steed Black Bess. His exploits have become the stuff of legend, with his story often becoming romanticized to the point where the routinely brutal and truly vile Turpin is regularly portrayed as a roguish hero. English authorities had trouble capturing Turpin, and for a period he went into hiding; but it was on this day in 1739 that Dick Turpin was identified and soon brought to justice for his crimes.

Turpin’s life of crime began simple enough as a common cattle rustler and horse thief. Soon he took up with a gang of scoundrels known as the Essex gang. The psychopathic Essex gang were the 18th century equivalent of the droogies from A Clockwork Orange. They preyed on country homes, and while they undoubtedly enjoyed robbing the country folk, their main passion seemed to be in sadistically torturing the people they robbed.

Thankfully, in 1735 most of the gang was captured, ending their four year reign of terror, but Turpin evaded his pursuers. It was at this point he decided to go solo, becoming a highwayman. But first, he took a pseudo-apprenticeship under a more established highwayman who he later killed while attempting to break him out of police custody. Some say it was an accidental killing, but with Turpin who can be sure? From there he embraced his role as a highwayman, robbing travelers and striking terror amongst those that journeyed along England’s roads. Eventually, a bounty of £200 (the equivalent of £27,000 today) was placed on his head.

Then, in 1737 Turpin disappeared. In June of 1737, a horse trader named John Palmer checked into an inn in Brough, East Riding of Yorkshire. In October of 1738, Palmer was arrested after killing a man’s rooster and then threatening to kill the man. The local authorities soon launched an investigation into Palmer’s background, suspecting that he had a criminal past. Soon, reports came in that he might not be a horse trader but a horse thief, which at the time was a capital offense. Soon, Palmer was transferred to the prison known as York Castle.

While jailed, Palmer wrote a letter to Pompr Rivernall, a man who lived in Hempstead and happened to be married to Dick Turpin’s sister, Dorothy. The letter arrived at the Hempstead post office and Rivernall refused to pay the charges as he claimed he “had no correspondent at York”. Soon after that, fate intervened when James Smith, who taught young Dick Turpin how to write noticed the letter and recognized the handwriting as that of his now infamous pupil. He quickly paid the postage and made his way to York Castle where on February 23, 1739 he informed the police that John Palmer and Dick Turpin were one and the same. Smith was awarded a £200 reward for his service.

Surprisingly, horse theft was the only charge that Turpin stood trial for. It was a speedy trial and unsurprisingly he was found guilty. On April 7, 1793, the 33-year old Turpin was hung, with the highwayman voluntarily jumping off the gallows dais. He hung in the town square for most of the afternoon before being buried the next morning. Soon after his body was stolen, only to be reclaimed by the citizens of York who reburied Turpin’s corpse, this time with quicklime. A gravestone in the graveyard of St George’s Church, Fishergate purports to mark Turpin’s final resting place, but there remains debate about whether the outlaw is actually buried there.

As Turpin was only ever formally charged with horse theft, let’s mark the 175th anniversary of his undoing with a Horse’s Neck. The Horse’s Neck got its start in the 1890s as simple ginger ale and ice with a lemon peel garnish. However, by the 1910s, the “Horse’s Neck with a Kick” (the kick typically being brandy) became popular, eventually surpassing the original non-alcoholic drink. This drink gets it’s name from the long lemon spiral that is used as a garnish. When properly placed in the drink, the lemon spiral should resemble a horse’s neck.

Horse’s Neck

  • 1 ounce Brandy
  • 3 ounces ginger ale
  • Dash of Bitters

Pour the brandy and ginger ale over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Add a dash of bitters, stir and garnish with a long lemon zest spiral.

Tomorrow: Los Angeles is attacked by either the Japanese, aliens or a weather balloon.

February 22: Don The Beachcomber

don the beachcomberToday we honor another of the legends of bartending: Don “The Beachcomber” Beach (born on this day in 1907), one of the founding fathers of the tiki bar, alongside his longtime friendly rival Trader Vic.

Don Beach was born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt in Texas’ Limestone County. As a young man, Gantt traveled to the Caribbean and South Pacific before arriving in Los Angeles in 1931. There, he worked a few odd jobs including some time as a bootlegger during the last months of Prohibition. In 1934, he opened a small tropical themed bar in Hollywood that he named Don’s Beachcomber Cafe which later moved to a larger space and was rechristened Don The Beachcomber.

It was at this bar that Gantt, now using the bar’s name as his own, mixed island inspired rum cocktails and served Cantonese cuisine much to the delight of his customers, which included many of Hollywood’s elite. The first pu pu platter and Mai Tai might have been served at Don The Beachcomber’s, although Trader Vic would also take credit for creating the latter.

Many other Don The Beachcomber restaurants opened across the country during the post-war tiki fad of the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately, while Trader Vic’s restaurants still exist to this day, there are no longer any Don The Beachcomber restaurants, not even the historic Hollywood bar. However Don Beach’s legacy lives on to this day in the continued popularity of the many tiki drinks he either created or popularized.

The Beachcomber’s most notable creation was a cocktail called the Zombie. The story goes that Don the Beachcomber created this highly potent potable when a hungover customer came in and asked for something that could help him get through a business meeting. So, Don whipped up this recipe as a hair of the dog style solution. The patron came back the next day and said that while he was able to get through the business meeting, he felt like a zombie. The cocktail quickly became a hit, and because it was so highly alcoholic, Don the Beachcomber restaurants limited customers to two Zombies per visit. The Beachcomber often changed his Zombie recipe, so we’ve got two different takes on the Zombie today. The first is Don Beach’s very own original 1934 recipe; and the second is a simplified take on the drink.

Zombie (Beachcomber’s 1934 version)

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Don’s Mix (2 parts grapefruit juice, 1 part cinnamon-infused sugar syrup)
  • 1/2 ounce falernum syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounce Lowndes Jamaican Rum (sub in any Dark Rum, as Lowndes is extinct)
  • 1 1/2 ounce Gold Puerto Rican Rum
  • 1 ounce 151-proof Demerara Rum
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Dash Grenadine
  • Dash Absinthe
  • 6 oz crushed ice

Put everything into a blender, saving ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a chimney glass. Add ice to fill. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Zombie (Alternate Version)

  • 1 ounce Light Rum
  • 1 ounce Golden Rum
  • 1 ounce Dark Rum
  • 1 ounce Apricot Brandy
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce papaya juice
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • 1/2 ounce 151-proof rum

Shake all ingredients except the 151-proof rum with ice and strain into a Collins glass or Hurricane glass. Float the 151-proof rum and garnish with a pineapple or cherry.

Tomorrow:  A horse thief.

February 21: The Romanovs’ Rise And Fall

Tsar_Mikhail_IToday we mark two historical events that together create a bit of historical irony; the first of which occurred on February 21, 1613: The election of Tsar Michael I of Russia.

After the expulsion of the Poles, Russia turned its eyes towards the powerful Romanov family for guidance. During The Time of Troubles, family patriarch Feodor Nikitich Romanov had experienced disgrace and was forced to exile himself from political life and take a monastic vow. After The Time of Troubles though, the Romanovs had returned to prominence, but Feodor Nikitich Romanov could not take the throne as tsar because of his vows to the church. So, his son Michael was elected to the throne…with Feodor helping to run the country from the shadows. The Romanovs continued to rule over Russian until they were deposed in 1917 during the Russian Revolution.

So, what was the second event we wanted to draw attention to today? Well, on February 21, 1848 (235 years after the Romanov dynasty began), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published a political thesis called Manifesto of the Communist Party, which eventually inspired the Russian Revolution that brought about the end of the Romanovs.

Let’s raise a glass to the Romanov dynasty with a Tsar Cocktail. It’s a regal cocktail made with champagne and vodka, naturally.

Tsar Cocktail

  • 3 ounces Champagne
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier Orange Liqueur
  • 1 ounce Vodka
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake all ingredients except for the champagne with ice anf strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne.

Tomorrow: A legendary bartender.

February 20: Swan Lake

TchaikovskiIt was on this day in 1877 that the Bolshoi Ballet staged the first production of the ballet Swan Lake featuring a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by Julius Reisinger, the Bolshoi’s director.

The ballet, inspired by Russian and German folktales, tells the story of a princess named Odette who is transformed into a swan by a wicked sorcerer. Now, over the last few months of this blog, it’s become a recurring theme that many now classic works of theater and film were not appreciated in their time. Well, Swan Lake adds a little wrinkle to this motif. The original production of Swan Lake was savaged by theater critics of the day. There were a couple reasons for this. For one thing, the role of Odette was recast at the last minute, so an understudy was brought in to dance the part intended for a prima ballerina. Additionally, the Bolshoi was forced to stage the show on the cheap, so the critics had harsh words for the unintentionally minimalist production.

However, most of the criticism for Swan Lake came about because the critics were, how can I put this gently, stupid ill prepared for the task of reviewing ballet. You see, most of the critics who reviewed Swan Lake were not familiar with ballet; instead their prior theatrical focus was on melodramas. This led to some rather, interesting criticisms. Some critics found the score to be “too noisy, too ‘Wagnerian’ and too symphonic”. Some critics even dubbed the plot itself to be dumb and said the character names were unpronounceable. Surprisingly, Tchaikovsky was unperturbed by these reviews and paid it no mind. According to his brother Modest:

The poverty of the production, meaning the décor and costumes, the absence of outstanding performers, the Balletmaster’s weakness of imagination, and, finally, the orchestra…all of this together permitted [Tchaikovsky] with good reason to cast the blame for the failure on others.

So, what is the wrinkle tt our “art not appreciated in its time” motif? Well, despite the critical lambasting, the public adored Swan Lake. The Bolshoi staged 41 performances of the ballet over the following six years, only retiring the production because the sets and costumes were starting to look tattered.

Over the years, Swan Lake has inspired countless other works, the most recent work of note being the 2011 film Black Swan. The Dobel Tequila company was in turn inspired by Black Swan to create a cocktail called Twisted Swan. It’s a sweet after-dinner cocktail that when properly built creates a colorful balance of light and dark.

Twisted Swan

  • 1 ounce Silver Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Amaretto
  • 1 1/2 ounces Chambord

Shake the tequila and Amaretto with ice and strain into a chocolate rimmed cocktail glass. Then carefully layer the Chambord on top of the drink by pouring it over the edge of a bar spoon.

Tomorrow: The beginning (and end) of a Russian dynasty.

February 19: Cracker Jack Prizes

cracker jackAllegedly,  it was on this day in either 1912 or 1913 that Cracker Jack began placing prizes in every box of the popular mix of candy coated popcorn and peanuts. One of the first major prizes to appear in Cracker Jack were baseball cards for players from the American, National and Federal Leagues.

After the baseball card promotion (which was reprised many times over the following decades), Cracker Jack began placing toys, figurines and trinkets in the Cracker Jack boxes; many of which became much desired collectables amongst children. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Cracker Jack prizes have taken a turn for the bland, largely taking the form of pieces of paper which could barely be described as “prizes”; and since we are living in the smartphone era, modern Cracker Jack prizes come with codes for Cracker Jack’s game apps.

Outside of the prizes, Cracker Jack’s biggest claim to fame is its appearance in  Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer’s song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” So, in that spirit today we shall make a Peanuts And Cracker Jacks. It’s a clever little drink that mixes sweet and salty ingredients and is served in a Cracker Jack coated glass.

Peanuts And Cracker Jacks

  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Frangelico
  • 1 ounce Amaretto
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 ounces soda water

Rub a lemon slice around the rim of a cocktail glass and coat the rim with crushed Cracker Jack. Pour all ingredients except the soda water into a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top off with soda water.

Tomorrow: Swans