Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thank you!

Started on January 15th of this year, THI is officially 6 months old!

Last week, the blog went over 3,000 lifetime page views, a very respectable number
for a very niche blog and I owe it all to you, the readers!

Also, and in some ways more importantly, today the blog broke 800 page views for the

Thank you, thank you all for your support and viewership! I hope I have provided some interesting facts, some humor and some cool videos for your enjoyment. Keep tuned, more to come!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Seven Sleepers, National Sleepy Head Day (Finland) and Friday night on the Other side of the Bar

In Finland, today is National Sleepy Head Day. Meaning if today was the day you choose to sleep in past -let's say 7am, someone might just come in and douse you with water or throw your butt into a lake as part of a celebration honoring the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. What can I say, things are just different in Finland...

The story goes, that during the reign of the Roman emperor Decius (about 250AD) in the city of Ephesus (in what is now Turkey), seven young men were accused of the crime of following Christianity. They were given time to consider their situation and either denounce their beliefs or face their punishment. Rather than change their beliefs they decided to leave behind all that they owned and go into the mountains to pray. Once they had reached the mountains they found a cave where, exhausted, they fell asleep.

Upon hearing of how the young men had fled to the mountains, the emperor himself and his soldiers went searching for them. When they came across the young men all fast asleep in a cave Decius ordered the cave and the young men's fate sealed for eternity.

During the reign of Theodosius II (408–450), the then landowner of the cave decided to open it up for future use as a cattle pen. Upon the unsealing of the cave the Seven Sleepers awoke and thinking their slumber only lasted one day sent one of their members into Ephesus to buy food. When the young man arrived in town he was shocked to discover churches in the center of town. He was unaware that 200 years had past and in that time Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire. The townspeople noticed the young man, who wore clothes from another age and carried coins from emperor Decius time and notified the bishop.

The bishop questioned the young man, who told him what he knew about their last days before slumber and brought the bishop back to the cave. There, the rest of the Seven Sleepers told him their miraculous story then all seven died praising God. 

Back to Finland...

Traditionally on Sleepy Head Day, the last person in a house to wake is generally woken up with water, either by dousing them in their bed or by carrying them to a nearby lake and tossing them in. Certain towns celebrate the day with a parade and the festive ritual of throwing a local celebrity into the water.

The Historical Inebriant: The Sleepy Head Cocktail


3 oz Brandy
5 Mint Leaves
Ginger Ale 
Add the mint leaves and brandy to a chilled highball glass. Lightly muddle the mint, then add ice.  Fill with ginger ale and stir gently. Garnish with an orange twist.


As we all prepare for another weekend out and about, consider....

What Friday night looks like from the Other side of the bar?


                                                     Music to wake up to

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton? and The Tequila Esperanto

On this day in 1887, Unua Libro (First Book), was published by Dr. L.L. Zamenhof.
It was the first work written in the new international Lingvo Internacia, the universal language
later known as Esperanto.

Zamenhof, who spoke Yiddish and Polish and German as a youth, later learned French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and English. As he learned these languages, he also learned much of the cultures of the native speakers and of the quarreling between many of these groups. Zamenhof supposed that the many different languages promoted hate and prejudice between cultures and if there was one universal language devoid of nationalistic pride, the world would be a much better place. As a side note, Unua Libro was published under the pseudonym Doktoro Esperanto (Esperanto translates as "one who hopes").

"The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Bialystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential, basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist; I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment to my infant mind, although many people may smile at such an 'anguish for the world' in a child. Since at that time I thought that 'grown-ups' were omnipotent, so I often said to myself that when I grew up I would certainly destroy this evil."

—L. L. Zamenhof, in a letter to Nikolai Borovko, ca. 1895

On this day in 2004, A Staples back-to-school campaign commercial features Alice Cooper and a little girl who challenges him on the true meaning of his hit song  “School’s Out”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Edict of Charles the Bald, (or the Hairy, or the Landless), the Start of Electric Folk and the Bald Head Cocktail

On this day in 864, Charles the Bald, by his Edict of Pistres, orders defensive measures against the Vikings.

The skinny is that West France was continually being looted by Vikings who would land on the coast and even sail up rivers far inland to do their pillaging. The Edict basically asked people who had horses to join the cavalry, or if you had money - but no horse, to buy a horse and join the cavalry so the next time the Vikings came they would ride in and kick their ass.  (There is a little more to it, but it's not that interesting.)

To me the most interesting part of the entry is Charles's nickname (the Bald),  how he got it.

Some scholars suggest the obvious (that he was in fact bald) but there does not seem to be any documentation to support this. Other scholars suggest the nickname is ironic and not descriptive, (that he was in fact hairy) but there does not seem to be any commentary to support this either. Even other scholars suggest the nickname refers to the amount of land he was given when he came of age compared to his siblings, (that he was in fact without land - not bald) but this appears to be more speculation than anything at this point. The mystery still remains.

At any rate I shall let you, the reader, be the judge using this image of a coin bearing his likeness minted shortly after his death.

The Historical Inebriant: The Bald Head Cocktail


4 Parts Gin
3 Parts Dry Vermouth
1 Dash Pastis (Absinthe Substitute)
3 Parts Vermouth, Sweet
1 Peel Lemon
Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon.


On this day in 1965, Bob Dylan would walk onto the stage at the Newport Folk Festival, plug in a '64 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster electric guitar and forever change the sound of folk music.

For a very interesting article on the guitar that Dylan played on that day (and where it is):

                                                 The History Detectives Episode

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Truth and Dare, Dust Bowl Days, Simón Bolívar and The Boulevardier Cocktail

This post appears on Wiki for today:
1487 – Citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands strike against ban on foreign beer.

This would have been pretty cool to write about, if it were true. I was not able to find anything, anywhere that described this event in any detail. By the way, it also appears on countless other blogs that have an "On this Day" format.

So I dare any of my readers to try to find me some shred of evidence that this event actually occurred. I would love to write about it next year.


On this day in 1783, Simón Bolívar was born in Venezuela to a wealthy and politically connected family. After the death of his parents however, Bolívar would become a military and political leader instrumental in Latin America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire.

Similar to this era's Arab Spring, Bolívar would lead forces in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia to independence, and help lay the foundations for democracy in Latin America.

The Historical Inebriant:  The Boulevadier Cocktail


  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • 1 ounces Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass filled with ice, strain into either a stemmed cocktail glass or a rocks glass with ice, to preference. Garnish with a twist of lemon zest.

The NYT article has an interesting history of The Boulevadier including how it got its name.
Well worth the read if you have a chance.


On this day in 1935, The dust bowl heat wave peaks with temperatures of 109°F in Chicago and 104°F in Milwaukee.


On this day in 1897, Amelia Mary Earhart - the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean was born.

For more information on Amelia Earhart including a film about her life:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ford Motor Company, Eddie Rickenbacker, Unspeakable Practices - Unnatural Acts, and The Last Word Cocktail

On this day in 1903, Ford Motor Company sells its first car. Started in a converted factory in Detroit, Michigan with only $28,000 from twelve investors, Ford would grow to be one of the largest companies in the world. To honor Ford and Detroit the featured drink is one that was invented there. You can read the story of the cocktail resurgence in the Motor City (and get a few more drink recipes) below.

The Historical Inebriant:  The Last Word 

Ingredients:  Equal Parts
fresh lime juice
Luxardo maraschino liqueur

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake into a chilled cocktail glass.

If you have interest in watching Rachel Maddow mix The Last Word cocktail in honor of last year's rapture (that wasn't) you can view that here.

As a side note, on this day in 1701, French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac would reach the Detroit river and build a new settlement in what was then Indian territory. He would name it Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit.


On this day in 1973, Eddie Rickenbacker, would pass away. An American fighter ace in World War I with 26 victories to his credit, a race car driver, one time owner of the Indianapolis 500 speedway as well as founder of Rickenbacker Motors and later owner of Eastern Air Lines, Rickenbacker's story is a facinating one so if you have time please read the short wiki piece.


On this day in 1989, Donald Barthelme, the American short fiction writer would pass from throat cancer. His postmodern works included the titles - "Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts" and my favorite children's book "The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, Or the Hithering Thitering Djinn." Barthelme would often describe himself as "a little drunk all the time."


Read one of Barthelme's amusing stories about how children deal with death

There is no moment that exceeds in beauty that moment when one looks at a woman and finds that she is looking at you in the same way that you are looking at her. The moment in which she bestows that look that says, “Proceed with your evil plan, sumbitch.” The initial smash of glance on glance. Then, the drawing near. This takes a long time, it seems like months, although only minutes pass, in fact. Languor is the word that describes this part of the process. Your persona floats toward her persona, over the Sea of Hesitation. Many weeks pass before they meet, but the weeks are days, or seconds. Still, everything is decided. You have slept together in the glance.
“The Sea of Hesitation” Donald Barthelme



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Russian Cocktail News

Tired of the depressing pre-apocalypse news. Looking for timely news with a bit more relevance your lifestyle.

Tune into Russian Cocktail News for a glimpse into the world wide drinking life. Offbeat humorous stories and odd English translations are the norm. Enjoy all 30 videos on YouTube.

In the famous words of Mikhail Zhvanetsky, "Vodka in small doses is harmless in any quantity."