Happy Monday and Happy Leap Year Day.
In our church bulletin yesterday was the notation, “The flowers in the chapel are in celebration of the 5th anniversary and the 20th year of marriage of ________ and _________. Uh? Oh, I get it. This couple must have married on February 29, 1986. That took a wicked sense of humor. I wonder how they explain to their teen-aged kids that they have only been married 3 or 4 years. What a great conversation starter.
In honor of this quirky day in our calendars, I wanted to share a cocktail that Sweet Shark made for me. The article and recipe from the Wall Street Journal, which by the way has great articles on food and beverages, gives an interesting background on Leap Year traditions (such as, a woman can ask a man’s hand in marriage and Leap Year parties), but also the history of this particular drink.
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During Prohibition, legendary barman Harry Craddock had crossed the “big pond” to ply his trade at London’s Savoy Hotel. In 1928, Broadway gossip -columnist Karl K. Kitchen visited Craddock and praised his bartending skills, “Anyone could knock out Martinis”, but Craddock could be counted on something out of the ordinary and “it has always been his idea to provide cocktails for special occasions”. Kitchen asked Craddock what had been the most popular drink of the year and he responded, “The Leap Year”, which he had invented earlier in the year for a Feruary 29th féte. The drink “was responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail in recent times.”
So that’s the back story of the “Leap Year”, a subtle and perfectly balanced cocktail.
And one more bit of cocktail trivia: in 1930, Harry Craddock wrote The Savoy Cocktail Book, the quintessential book on making cocktails. Sweet Shark has this book, given to him over 10 years ago by his sister and brother-in-law who had dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London and bought him a copy as a gift. It’s still in print, available in its original form ~ a great gift for anyone you know who loves a good drink or is interested in cocktail history.
Cheers and Happy Leap Year Day.