March 24: Harry Houdini

houdiniOn this day in 1874, Erik Weisz was born in Budapest. He went on to great fame as the magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.

Houdini had many iconic escape tricks: Handcuffs, water tanks and even being buried alive were no match for Houdini. One of Houdini’s most frequently performed feats was the jail escape. Typically, he would plan these jail escape performances in advance, but in one famed instance, Houdini engaged in a surprise performance; meaning he was surprised that he would have to perform the jail escape trick. I’ll explain.

In 1904, Houdini was meeting with the Chief Constable of Scotland Yard. The Chief Constable decided to test how good Houdini actually was and asked him to perform the jail escape right then and there. Houdini accepted the challenge and was taken to a cell where he was stripped. The naked Houdini was taken to an adjoining cell, and both his cell and the one containing his clothes were triple locked, as was the door to the cell block. On top of all that, the iron gate at the entrance to the cell block was locked with a seven-lever lock. The Chief Constable and his associates then left Houdini alone, fully expecting that they’d eventually have to come back to release him. Five minutes after they left, Houdini strolled, fully dressed, into the Chief Constable’s office. How he pulled this feat off remains a secret.

A few years ago, Kevin Martin, the bar manager at Boston’s Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drink, created a cocktail called Houdini. This mysterious drink has an herbal taste thanks to the use of Benedictine and Bols Genever.


  • 2 ounce Bols Genever
  • 1 ounce Cocchi Americano
  • 1 ounce Benedictine

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tomorrow: A city founded at noon, or so the legend goes.


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