Even though she only committed one robbery, Pearl Hart became a minor icon of Wild West mythology as one of the era’s few female outlaws, and it was on this day in 1899 that she committed that crime: One of the last stagecoach robberies.
Pearl Taylor was born around 1871 to an affluent family in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. At the age of 16 she eloped with a young drunken gambler by the last name of Hart. Their rocky on-again, off-again marriage isn’t of any particularly notoriety, except for one event in 1893: During the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Mr. Hart worked as a midway barker, and while he was working, Pearl Hart regularly attended Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and began to fall in love with the Wild West. When the World’s Fair ended, Hart hopped a train to Trinidad, Colorado, leaving her husband behind.
By 1898, Hart had moved to the mining town of Mammoth, Arizona, working in either a boarding house or brothel/ Unfortunately, when the mine closed, her finances took a severe hit. Desperate for money, Hart began working on a friend’s mining claim and when it became clear that there was no more gold to mine, Hart and her associate determined the best way to make some quick cash would be to rob the Globe to Florence, Arizona stagecoach.
The robbery occurred on May 30, 1899 just outside of Kane Springs Canyon. The Globe-Florence route was one of the last surviving stage coach routes and had not been robbed in years; as such it did not have a shotgun messenger riding alongside the driver. So, when Hart appeared dressed in men’s clothing and brandishing a .38 revolver, with her associate at her side with a Colt .45, it was easy pickings. They quickly held up the stage, taking the driver’s revolver, two pistols belonging to the passengers and $431.20. Before departing, Hart returned a single dollar to each passenger.
Of course, the law caught up with Hart soon enough when she and her partner were caught by deputies a week later. Hart put up a fight while her partner surrendered quietly. The novelty of a female stagecoach robber struck the public’s fancy and Hart became a media star, especially after she made a successful escape attempt in October. After two weeks on the lam, she was recaptured and forced to stand trial. Hart pleaded with the jury, saying that she only robbed because she needed money for her ailing mother. Amazingly, the jury found her not guilty, which inspired the furious judge to scold the jurors.
As soon as they were released, Hart and her partner were rearrested, this time on the charge of tampering with the U. S. mail. During this second trial, Hart was found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Despite being sent to the big house, Hart remained a subject of fascination. The warden came to enjoy the attention Hart brought his prison and gave her a large cell with a yard and plenty of opportunities to speak with reporters.
She was pardoned by Arizona’s governor three years into her sentence, the reasons for which were never made clear. After leaving prison, she went on tour recreating her famous crime for paying audiences, and amusingly enough even spent some time as a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. In 1904, Hart was running a cigar store in Kansas City, and it’s said that in 1928, Hart made a surprise appearance at the Tuscon jail she was imprisoned in and asked to visit her old cell…and that was the last anyone heard from Pearl Hart. Various reports claim that Pearl Hart sightings were made as late as 1960, but her true fate remains unknown.
Let’s toast Pearl Hart’s stagecoach robbery with a decidedly western cocktail called Stagecoach. It’s a bright and aromatic cocktail with a slight citric notes that’s as mysterious and complex as Pearl Hart’s life.
- 1 1/2 ounce Reposado Tequila
- 3/4 ounce Punt e Mas Sweet Vermouth
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 2 dashes Fee Bros Aztec Chocolate Bitters
- 1 or 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
- 1/4 amber agave nectar
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Tomorrow: Punk rock’s greatest moment.
Although the concert hall hosted a few events in April of 1891, Carnegie Hall’s official opening night wasn’t until May 5.
Carnegie Hall’s May 5, 1891 opening night was a New York Symphony Society concert conducted by maestro Walter Damrosch and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Interestingly, when it first opened, Carnegie Hall went by another name, simply the Music Hall. The Music Hall was originally built by Andrew Carnegie as a home for the Symphony Society and the Ontario Society of New York. It wasn’t until 1893 that the board members of the Music Hall Company of New York were able to convince Carnegie to put his name on the building.
The Carnegie family remained the owners of Carnegie Hall until 1925 when Andrew Carnegie’s widow sold it to a developer. In the 1950s, the developer tried to sell it to the New York Philharmonic, the building’s chief tenant. However, the Phil was set to move to Lincoln Center, which at the time was under construction. It was not believed that New York could have two successful large concert venues, and so the developer put the building on the market, and the worst possible scenario soon arrived: Another developer bought the land with the intention of demolishing Carnegie Hall and building another skyscraper on the site. Thankfully, New York’s artistic community, led by violinist Isaac Stern, rallied to save Carnegie Hall, and special legislation was passed allowing New York City to buy the land and hall for $5-million. Nowadays, the concert hall is run by the nonprofit Carnegie Hall Corporation, and hosts concerts of nearly every genre.
I’ve discovered a cocktail called the Carnegie Sunrise, but tragically I can’t find an explanation behind its evocative name. Regardless of its origin, this drink is a sweet cross between a Bloody Mary and a Tequila Sunrise. I don’t know how it works, but somehow this Frankencocktail is delicious.
- 1 1/2 ounces Vodka
- 1 ounce Tequila
- 1 can frozen orange juice
- 3 ounces tomato juice
- 4 strawberries
Blend all ingredients and strain into a highball glass.
Did you know that once upon a time the United States minted a 20-cent coin? Despite being an instant failure with the American public this coin managed to hold on for three years before it was officially canceled. It was on May 2, 1878 that the 20-cent piece’s brief life came to an end.
The 20-cent piece was brainchild of Nevada Senator John P. Jones. After his arrival in Congress in 1874, Jones submitted a bill calling for the creation of a 20-cent piece. Jones cited the shortage of small change in the Western states and territories and believed that a 20 cent piece would help relieve the shortage. The bill quickly became law and in May 1875, the coin was released to the public.
There was just one problem with the 20-cent piece; many Americans began confusing the coin for the similarly sized quarter. It also didn’t help that the two coins had similar Lady Liberty designs on the obverse side. Allegedly, mistakes in change-making became quite common and the 20-cent piece lost favor among the American people. In July 1876, just over a year after the coin was released to the public, a bill was proposed in Congress to kill the 20-cent piece. Although it did not pass, Mint Director Henry Linderman significantly lowered the 1876 mintage of 20-cent pieces. In March 1877, Linderman authorized the melting of 12,359 20-cent pieces at the Carson City, Nevada mint. Finally, on May 2, 1878 Congress got around to officially abolishing the 20-cent piece and Linderman promptly ordered the few remaining 20-cent piece at national mints be melted. Today, only a few 20-cent pieces still exist, and notably one sold at auction for $564,000 in 2013.
Since we’re dealing with money, let’s mix a Money Maker. The Money Maker was created by Charles Joly, Chief Mixologist at Chicago’s The Drawing Room. It’s a fluffy, bittersweet drink with just a hint of mint, thanks to the mint infused tequila.
- 3 ounces Mint Infused Tequila
- 1/2 ounce Raspberry Liqueur
- 1/4 ounce Branca Menta
- 1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
For decades, astronomers had theorized that there were other planets out there past Neptune and Uranus. In 1906, Percival Lowell, founder of Flagstaff, Arizona’s Lowell Observatory announced the search for a ninth planet, the so called “Planet X”. Lowell continued searching for Planet X until his death in 1916, and due to a legal struggle with Lowell’s widow, the search did not pickup again until 1929. Shortly thereafter, the director of the observatory put Clyde Tombaugh, a 23-year old who had just been hired, on the Planet X beat.
Tombaugh’s task was fairly simple: Take pictures of the night sky and compare pairs of photographs taken weeks apart to determine if any celestial object had changed its position in the heavens. On February 18, 1930 after roughly a year of searching, Tombaugh noticed an object that might be Planet X when he compared photographs taken on January 23 and January 29 and noticed a possible moving object. After doing further comparison using other images, the Lowell Observatory contacted the Harvard College Observatory on March 13, 1930 to announce that Planet X had been found.
The news quickly spread across the world. As the Lowell Observatory had discovered Planet X, they got the honor of naming it. Instantly, the observatory was flooded with proposals for names. Constance Lowell, Percival Lowell’s widow, made three suggestions: Zeus, Percival and Constance. All three were swiftly rejected. Eventually, the suggestions were whittled down to a list of three and a vote was held amongst the Lowell Observatory staff. The finalists were Minerva, Cronus and Pluto. Pluto received every vote. This was possibly because Minerva was already the name of an asteroid and the case for Cronus had been promoted by Thomas Jefferson Jackson See, an arrogant American astronomer who was largely reviled in the scientific community and in fact went on to die at the age of 96 with no major accomplishments to his name.
Pluto, named after the Roman god of the underworld, was actually the suggestion of 11-year old Venetia Burney. Burney was an English schoolgirl whose grandfather was once a librarian at Oxford. Burney’s gradfather passed the name on to a colleague who sent it in to the observatory. The name Pluto was officially announced on May 1, 1930, and Burney received a prize of five pounds for her contribution to science.
Now, the question I know you’re all asking is “How does Mickey Mouse’s dog fit in to this?” Well, the dog’s first cartoon appearance was in the 1930 Mickey Mouse cartoon The Picnic. However, he was called Rover at that time. Walt Disney and his animators thought that Rover was too common a name, so they decided to come up with a new name for the character. So, in 1931 when Disney released the cartoon The Moose Hunt, Mickey’s dog returned, this time going by the name Pluto the Pup, inspired by the newly christened planet.
Of course, in 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet, but that shouldn’t discourage you from enjoying a good drink. Sunrise On Pluto is a variant on the Tequila Sunrise that uses Blue Curacao to presumably give it a more alien appearance. A day on Pluto is the equivalent of 6.39 days on Earth, so sunrise doesn’t come by too often; but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a Sunrise On Pluto whenever you feel like it.
Sunrise On Pluto
- 1 ounce Tequila
- 1 ounce Vodka
- 1/2 ounce Blue Curacao
- 1 dash grenadine
Pour the tequila, vodka and blue curacao into a highball glass with ice. Then nearly fill the glass with lemonade before adding the grenadine.
Tomorrow: A much mythologized engineer.
It 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.
- 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.
“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” -Marty McFly & Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future
It was on this day in 1981 that the 1980s’ most iconic sports car began to role off an assembly line in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. I speak of course of Doc Brown’s time machine of choice, the DeLorean.
The DeLorean Motor Company was founded by John DeLorean who wanted to create a distinctly new kind of car for the 1980s. The original DeLorean DMC-12 prototype was designed by William T. Collins, Pontiac Motors’ former chief engineer, but the final design for the DeLorean was created by famed Italian auto designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. The DeLorean DMC-12’s most unusual feature was of course its gull-wing doors. However, the car’s unpainted stainless steel body gave it a magnificent futuristic shine.
Roughly 9000 DeLorean DMC-12s were produced by the DeLorean Motor Company during a three year period in the early 1980s. Why did the DeLorean have such a short lifespan? Well, there were two factors, both of them distinctly 1980s: The first was the decline of the U. S. car market, and the second was John DeLorean’s arrest for cocaine trafficking. He was later found not guilty, but the damage was done and the DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt.
I was absolutely ecstatic when I found today’s featured drink, because there is no better cocktail to pair with the anniversary of the gull-winged DeLorean than a drink called Gull’s Wings. It’s a twisty tequila cocktail that utilizes creme de bananes liqueur and lemon juice. Don’t worry, the banana flavor and the lemon juice actually balance each other out kind of nicely, although it doesn’t dull the tequila’s traditional sting.
- 2 ounces Tequila
- 1/2 ounce Creme de Bananes
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into an ice filled rocks glass.
Tomorrow: A mad monk
On the morning of January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash went to prison. He left later that afternoon, after recording one of the most iconic concerts of all time.
So, how did Johnny Cash wind up performing at Folsom Prison? Well, it all started back in 1955 when Cash released the song “Folsom Prison Blues.” Unsurprisingly, the song, written from the point of view of a prisoner dreaming of his freedom, became massively popular amongst inmates. In 1957, Cash performed at Huntsville State Prison and over the ensuing years he performed at several other prisons. In the mid-1960s, Cash’s career had hit a bit of a skid due to his increased drug addiction. However, by 1967 he was ready for a comeback and proposed a novel idea to his record company: What if Cash recorded one of his prison concerts? Even better; what if he went to Folsom Prison and sang his hit song?
The bosses at Columbia Records realized this was a winning proposition. On January 13, 1968 Cash, June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers and the Tennessee Three arrived at Folsom Prison where they performed two concerts for the inmates. Naturally, Cash opened the show with “Folsom Prison Blues,” much to the delight of the audience. His set included several songs about prison, some novelty tunes, a few duets with June Carter and the song “Greystone Chapel” which was written by a Folsom prisoner.
Now, the songs and performances on the ensuing At Folsom Prison record are fantastic, but what makes this record its je ne sais quoi are the audience elements that sneak into the record: The convict audience hoots and hollers during the prison themed songs a little bit more than a regular crowd. In between songs, there are announcements for prisoners to report to certain locations within the prison. Of course, the record’s best moment comes when the prisoners spontaneously boo when the show’s MC mentions one of Folsom’s guards by name. Although Columbia Records did very little to promote At Folsom Prison, the record proved to be a smash success, spawning an artistic and commercial renaissance for Cash.
It was hard finding a prison themed cocktail that wasn’t too disgusting, but the Extended Prison Sentence will work just well enough. It’s an odd mix of whiskey and tequila, because let’s face it, when you’re in prison you’ll drink what you can get. At least it’s better than prison wine.
Extended Prison Sentence
- 1/2 ounce Whiskey
- 1/2 ounce Southern Comfort
- 1/2 ounce Gold Tequila
- 1 splash pineapple juice
Blend with ice and serve in a highball glass.
Tomorrow: A man with an eponymous rum.
On this day in 1888, one of history’s first great film directors was born. F. W. Murnau was a leader of the German Expressionist film movement and the creator of many silent masterpieces. Murnau was a versatile film director, and nothing quite exemplifies this like two of his out and out masterpieces: The horror film Nosferatu and the romantic drama Sunrise.
Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu is an all time horror classic. It’s an unofficial adaptation of Dracula that, despite the technical limitations of its day, features some of the creepiest imagery ever committed to film. If you’re anything like me, the shadowy sequence of Count Orlok creeping up a flight of stairs is enough to make your skin crawl.
On the flipside, Sunrise is a beautiful humanistic fairy tale about a married couple rediscovering their love for each other. Of course, this all happens after the husband considers murdering his wife so he can be with his mistress. As strange as that plot might sound, it’s a beautiful film that again features striking imagery. In fact, at the first Academy Awards, Sunrise won the Oscar for Best Unique and Artistic Production, an award that is the equivalent of the modern Best Picture Oscar.
Tonight, why not enjoy one of these two silent pictures with a nice cocktail? For Nosferatu, the obvious choice is the Vampire Kiss, which we talked about two months ago and for Sunrise, why not mix a Tequila Sunrise? This basic cocktail was created by Gene Sulit, a bartender at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel sometime during the 1930s or 1940s.
- 1 1/2 ounces Tequila
- 3 ounces orange juice
- 1/2 ounce grenadine
Pour the tequila and orange juice into a highball glass over ice. Then add grenadine and do not stir, let it sink to the bottom. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
Tomorrow: A motorcycle pioneer.
It was on this day in 1959 that America was introduced to Rocket J. Squirrel, his friend Bullwinkle J. Moose and a cavalcade of other assorted goofs when ABC aired the premier episode of a show that at the time was called Rocky & His Friends. During its five years on the air, the program experienced changes in its name, network and time slot; and was never a ratings hit, failing as both a prime time show and a Saturday morning show. However, the program developed a loyal fan base that included many future comedy writers.
From a production standpoint creator Jay Ward’s show about the moose and squirrel is notable for two things: Its crude animation and quick, sometimes subversive wit. The jokes on Rocky & Bullwinkle (as it is popularly known) came fast; full of word play (including knowingly terrible puns) and cultural references both lowbow and highbrow. On top of that, the series didn’t exactly break the fourth wall, so much as it shattered it and then destroyed the pieces so that it couldn’t be rebuilt: Rocky, Bullwinkle and the rest of the show’s cast weren’t just aware that they were characters on a tv show, they would also argue with the unseen narrator and comment on the show’s declining ratings. Rocky & Bullwinkle was also fond of poking fun at the American government. Lest we forget, this was a show produced during the height of the Cold War in which America’s only hope against Eastern European spies was a squirrel and an incredibly dumb moose.
Rocky & Bullwinkle‘s subversive streak even extended into real life. In the fall of 1962, Jay Ward decided to start a campaign for statehood for Moosylvania, a fictional island that appeared in a few episodes of Rocky & Bullwinkle. According to the series, Moosylvania was located in the Lake of the Woods between Canada and the U. S., but neither nation wanted to lay claim to the island. In fact each claimed that it belonged to the other country. So, Ward decided to make Moosylvania a reality. First, he leased a small island in the Lake of the Woods, and then embarked on a cross-country tour in a decorated van to promote Moosylvanian statehood and also Rocky & Bullwinkle. The tour culminated with Ward driving the van up to the White House gates to seek an audience with President Kennedy. However, when he drove up to the White House he was greeted by several armed guards, with guns drawn, telling him to get out of there. As Ward later discovered, he had driven to the White House on the first day of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Moosylvania still hasn’t been recognized as an American state, but until it is we can celebrate Rocky and Bullwinkle’s tv debut with a Flying Squirrel cocktail. It’s a solid tequila cocktail, and after a few of these you might think you can fly. However, let me remind you that just like Bullwinkle’s “pull a rabbit out of my hat” trick, that’s never going to work.
- 1 1/2 ounces White Tequila
- 1 ounce Triple Sec
- 1 dash lime juice
- 1 splash sweet and sour mix
- orange juice
Pour all ingredients into a highball glass half-filled with ice and stir.
Tomorrow: “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network was a Department of Defense project that served as a precursor to the internet. The early ARPANET began as four small computers, essentially primitive routers, called Interface Message Processors at four western universities: UCLA, Stanford, Utah and UCSB. It was on this day in 1969 that the first ARPANET message was transmitted, thus making today the unofficial birthday of the internet!
So, what was the first message sent out via ARPANET? Well, it’s kind of a funny story. You see, the unofficial birthday of the internet is also the unofficial birthday of the internet error. At 10:30 PM on October 29, 1969, UCLA student programmer Charley Kline attempted to send a simple message to Stanford’s ARPANET station. The message was the word “login”. However, the IMP at UCLA crashed after sending the letter “o”, so the official first message sent over ARPANET was “lo”. An hour later, the computer rebooted and Kline was able to send out his full message. It wasn’t be until December 5 that the whole system was connected.
Now, as far as I could tell, there is no cocktail named for the internet and Googling “internet cocktail recipe” only gave me results for cocktail recipe websites. So, since I can’t find an “internet cocktail,” I had to go with the next best thing and find a cocktail honoring the birthplace of the internet. The UCLA Bruins Shot was one of two cocktails created by Ryan Kelley a few years ago to celebrate UCLA and USC’s annual football rivalry match. It’s a sweet little blue and gold shooter that mixes tequila with rum and limoncello.
UCLA Bruins Shot
- 1/8 oz Blue Curacao
- 1/4 oz orgeat syrup
- 1/8 oz White Rum
- 1/8 oz Limoncello
- 1/2 oz Tequila Añejo
Combine the blue curacao, orgeat syrup, and rum in a double shot glass and stir. In a separate glass, stir the tequila and limoncello together. Layer the tequila and limoncello mixture on top of the blue curacao, orgeat syrup, and rum mixture in the double shot glass.
Tomorrow: “Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.”