It’s Memorial Day. Raise a drink to your fallen comrades. Raise a drink to your friends and family who served and paid the ultimate price. That top-tier drunkard, scholar, and peerless defender of the Free World Sir Winston Churchill perfectly summed it up when he said, and I quote: “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” Damn straight. Let’s drink to them.
It’s also National Mint Julep Day. Did you know that the refreshingly brisk cocktail got its start as a breakfast drink? According to an 1803 account, it was a “dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.” What better way to start your 19th-Century day than with mint on your breath and bourbon in your veins? Or rye, but let’s not get into that. Over the centuries, the cocktail has been elevated to near-mythical status, as evidenced in this 1893 homage by J. Soule Smith:
“Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure.
Then comes the julep – the mint julep.
Who has not tasted one has lived in vain.
The honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul;
the nectar of the gods is tame beside it.
It is the very dream of drinks,
the vision of sweet quaffings.”