Burns Night has gone for another year with much Scotch whisky consumed in January to celebrate. St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching in March and similar will happen with Irish whiskey. But there are several other slightly less obvious occasions that can give you cause to raid the spirits cabinet and pop open a bottle.
The rise of the ‘international day’ for different spirits and cocktails is a modern phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down. The same can be said for food and other areas of life. International Hamburger Day (May 28), anyone? Garlic Day (April 19)? There’s literally one for every day of the year if you search hard enough.
Here we look at 12 that will have you reaching for your favourite spirit. Or maybe just inspire you to try something new. It is time to sip, savour and enjoy.
11 January | Hot Toddy Day
This classic winter warmer gets its time to shine at the perfect time of year. The Hot Toddy – a drink made of Scotch whisky, lemon and honey topped with boiling water – is great for the cold weather.
The drink is much underrated and had its heyday during the mid-Victorian era amongst the upper classes. Today, it’s seen as little more than a flu remedy, but that undersells it enormously. One sip and you will instantly feel better.
22 February | Margarita Day
Need a lift in the early drab months of the year? How about a Margarita? Whether you like it frozen, straight up or on the rocks, this is one of the world’s great cocktails. Made using tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice, the Margarita is part of the sour cocktail family tree.
Translating as ‘daisy’ from Spanish, the Margarita was first documented in the 1950s although similar drinks had been popular since the early 20th century.
27 March | International Whisky Day
The original and some would say best day (we’re in that camp) that celebrates all things whisky from around the globe. Several others have been created since, but none live up to the original.
One of the biggest international spirits days and the perfect excuse to have a dram.
19 April | International Amaretto Day
The Italian liqueur and its bittersweet almond flavours are delicious over ice. But it also mixes wonderfully with dark spirits such as whisky, rum or Cognac to create fabulous cocktails. Try it in a classic Amaretto Sour or maybe in a quirkier creation such as a Godfather or Petanque.
The drink itself is thought to have originated in northern Italy. Most varieties surprisingly do not contain almonds but use apricot kernels instead.
13 May | World Cocktail Day
While there are many ‘days’ that celebrate individual cocktails, nothing encompasses the entire genre like World Cocktail Day. The specific date of May 13 is significant – it marks when the first definition of a cocktail was published in 1806. This defined a cocktail as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters”.
The modern take is that it must be a minimum of two ingredients, of which one is a spirit.
19 June | International Martini Day
There are now many variations to choose from – think of the Espresso Martini or Pornstar Martini to name but two – but it is difficult to beat a classic Dry or Dirty Martini.
This uncomplicated cocktail is timeless but easy to get wrong.
11 July | World Rum Day
Rum is one of the oldest known spirits and dates to the early 1700s. From humble beginnings in Caribbean sugar cane plantations, rum is now produced around the world in similar environments as far-flung as Australia and Mauritius.
There is no better time to celebrate the diversity of rum than on World Rum Day – sip an aged bottling neat, on the rocks or in a classic cocktail such as a Cuba Libre, Mojito or Pina Colada.
25 August | Whiskey Sour Day
Late summer presents the opportunity to revisit this classic cocktail. While the earliest known mention of a Whiskey Sour appeared in the 1870s, it was not until the Prohibition era and the birth of the speakeasy bar that it rose to popularity.
Traditional recipes feature bourbon or rye whiskey with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar syrup, bitters and egg white shaken up. Add a red wine float for a New York Sour.
1 September | International Australian Craft Gin Day
The Aussies are dominating the artisanal distilling scene and some of the craft spirits being produced there are winning top global awards. At the forefront of this movement is craft gin.
Distilleries are popping up all over the country and pushing the gin-making boundaries, especially with the use of indigenous botanicals. These have created some stunning and unorthodox flavour profiles, and the bubble shows no sign of bursting.
19 October | International Gin & Tonic Day
To be honest, most days are good for a gin and tonic. However, the official day of celebration comes in October.
Gin sales have boomed over the last decade, fuelled by the huge growth of the craft distilling movement around the world. There has never been so much choice for consumers, both in gins and tonic waters.
This age-old combination never goes out of fashion and is super refreshing. Sit back and enjoy.
8 November | Harvey Wallbanger Day
This retro classic cocktail has often been overlooked since its heyday in the 1970s but is deliciously refreshing. Made using vodka, freshly squeezed orange juice and Galliano liqueur, the Wallbanger is served in a highball glass with plenty of ice.
It is said to be named after surfer Tom Harvey from Manhattan Beach, California. In the late 1960s, he would bang his surfboard against the bar wall as he consumed more and more of them.
5 December | Repeal Day
Not so much a day for spirits, but a national celebration. Repeal Day signalled the end of Prohibition in America after 13 years when the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol was banned. This ceased on 5 December 1933, and the date is celebrated every year, not just in the US but in bars globally.
Try a speakeasy cocktail or a shot of American whiskey to celebrate one of the drinks calendar’s most significant dates.