May 20: Blue Jeans

Jacob-DavisThere’s a pretty good chance that as you’re reading this you’re wearing blue jeans. You have the man at right, Jacob Davis, to thank for that particular fashion innovation, and it was on this day in 1873 that Davis and a San Francisco merchant named Levi Strauss received a patent for riveted blue jeans.

In the early 1870s, Davis, a Latvian immigrant, was running a tailor shop in the then small town of Reno, Nevada. There, he used cotton “duck” cloth and denim ordered from San Francisco’s Levi Strauss & Co. dry goods store to make tents, wagon covers and other goods. It’s said that Davis had a customer who frequently came in to his shop to buy cloth to reinforce her husband’s torn pants. Inspired by this, Davis decided to use the demin and duck cloth to make good quality work pants. Then, he added copper rivets to reinforce the key points of strain.

Word got around about Davis’ pants and people from all over the west began to order them. Soon the demand was too much for Davis and he realized that he needed assistance, so he reached out to his fabric supplier, Strauss, for financial assistance. So, with Strauss’ financial backing, Davis was able to file a patent for his riveted pants, or more specifically “Improvements in fastening pocket openings”. Upon receiving the patent on May 20, 1873, the two men went into business together. Although Davis continued to design the pants, including adding a signature stitched double orange thread design on the back pockets, it was Strauss who ran the business and eventually it was his name that become synonymous with blue jeans.

So, contrary to popular belief, Levi Strauss did not invent blue jeans during the California Gold Rush. On the anniversary of his patent, let’s toast Jacob Davis with a Blue Jeans cocktail. This drink comes to us from the Dodgy Dock, the bar at the True Blue Bay Hotel on the island of Grenada. It’s a refreshing, and bright blue, Champagne cocktail.

Blue Jeans

  • 1 ounce Blue Curacao
  • 1 ounce Gin
  • 3 ounces Champagne
  • 1 splash lime juice
  • 1 splash simple syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a cherry.

Tomorrow: We jump up and down on a stick.

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