May 7: Versailles

VersaillesKing Louis XIII was rather fond of hunting in the forests around the village of Versailles. So, in 1624 he erected a hunting château for himself, and over the following years he added more rooms to the château. His successor, Louis XIV expanded around the château and transformed it into the Palace of Versailles, eventually becoming one of the largest palaces in the world. In 1678, Louis XIV began moving his court to the palace, with the court officially being established at Versailles on May 6, 1682.

Versailles remained the center of French politics until 1789 when King Louis XVI along with his family and court were forced back to Paris during the beginning of the French Revolution. The opulence of Versailles was amongst the many things cited by Revolutionary leaders, but surprisingly nobody knows how much the palace actually cost. As Versailles was originally intended as an occasional residence of the king, most of the money for the initial château came from Louis XIII’s own purse. Additional funds came from the residents of New France (modern Canada) which although it was a part of France, New France was technically property of the king. Louis XIV on the other hand used public funds to pay for the expansion of the palace, and his successors followed, to the point that Louis XVI even commissioned furniture made entirely out of silver. All together, it was estimated in 2000 that the palace complex cost the equivalent of $2-million in modern money.

The cocktail Versailles was created by New York bartender Brian Miller and uses a flamed orange to enhance the drink’s herbal and citrusy flavors.


  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce St. Germain
  • 1 splash Champagne

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed oil peel.

Tomorrow: I’d like to buy the world a Coke.


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