Browsing Tag

history

Pop Culture

Hot Air Balloons & Bubbles: A Drinkable History Lesson

August 8, 2012

The custom of serving bubbly after a hot air balloon flight dates back to the 18th century.

If you’ve ever been on a hot air balloon flight, at the end of the magnificent journey, you probably enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine or French champagne. But did you ever wonder how the custom of serving bubbly after a flight began?

AshleyMcCredie, a blogger and content coordinator for Cloud 9 Living, an experience gift company, shares the story of how the champagne toast got its start.

“In late July I was lucky enough to have the once-in-a-lifetime type opportunity of a hot air balloon ride. I didn’t know much about hot air ballooning, and one thing that really stuck with me was the story behind the tradition of a champagne toast at the end of each flight.

My pilot, Jeff Meeker of Fair Winds, briefed us on the tradition and history behind the bubbly toast while presenting us all with a split of Korbel, a California sparkling wine. When I came home I wanted to dive more into the facts and story behind this, and here’s what I found.

The creation of the hot air balloon dates back to the 1700s, and the first flight occurred on Oct. 19, 1783 in France.

In 18th century France, there were educated people living in the city and there were landowners and peasants in the country. People in the rural areas often had little contact and connection to what was going on in the city.

So, picture this, you are a peasant working in the fields and all of the sudden you see this balloon floating through the air with fire coming out of it. Is it an alien? An attacker? For peasants who hadn’t heard of hot air ballooning,  the sight of a balloon falling from the sky surprised and often frightened them; especially when they saw the pilot’s face covered in black from ash and soot from the fire keeping the balloon aloft.

To avoid being attacked by the people they surprised, hot air balloon pilots carried Champagne or wine with them as a way to let onlookers know they were human and to thank them for the safe landing in their field.

Today, the toast often goes along with the Balloonist’s Blessing:

The winds have welcomed you with softness

The sun has blessed you with its warm hands

You have flown so high and so well

That God has joined you in your laughter

and set you gently back into the loving arms of mother earth.

 So, if you do take a flight, hopefully you’ll get to celebrate the experience with a toast and a cold glass of bubbly at the end!”

When she’s not hot-air ballooning, Ashley McCredie is a freelance blogger and writer, a photographer and a traveler. Follow her on Twitter at @ashleymccredie. 

Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

Pimm’s Cup 3 Ways: Sparkling, Updated & Classic Recipes

August 28, 2011

The refreshing Pimm’s Royale at Bubble Lounge in San Francisco features the British cocktail mixer Pimm’s No. 1 and champagne.

I’ve been ignoring all the back-to-school sales and mentally trying to turn this into an endless summer. Sadly, the weather is making it quite apparent that autumn is on its way.

But I’ve been savoring some flavors of summer this month. While I never made it to a tennis or polo match this summer, I did indulge in the classic English summer drink at The Bubble Lounge SF: The Pimm’s Cup.

The Pimm’s Cup cocktail has a rather convoluted history — even for the drinking world — where so many tales are fuzzy because the people telling them are slightly fuzzy-headed.

We do know it was created in 1823 by a man named James Pimm who ran the popular Oyster Bar in London, according to the official site, fetchingly named Anyone For Pimms. The custom was slurping oysters and slugging back London dry gin, which was a bracing 90-proof spirit that didn’t necessarily enhance the flavors of the bivalve.

Mr. Pimm created a cocktail called Pimm’s Cup No. 1 that diluted the gin with citrus fruits, aromatic spices and water, making it a much more food-friendly tipple. Plus, I imagine he was happy his patrons weren’t getting smashed quite so quickly. His Pimm’s Cup No. 1 became fashionable, and Pimm created a few more versions of his drink with brandy and Scotch and rum, that were later bottled for sale.

Only the gin-based Pimm’s No. 1 endures and it’s featured in eponymous cocktails that might also be mixed with lemonade, ginger ale, ginger beer and an ambrosial selection of fruits including strawberry, lemon, lime, apples and cucumber (yes, cucumber is a fruit.)

This season, Bubble Lounge San Francisco in Jackson Square is featuring the Pimm’s Cup No. 1 a couple different ways. Their signature is the Pimm’s Royale, that’s livened up by champagne. They were kind enough to share the recipe:

Pimm’s Royale

1-1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 ounce ginger ale
6 inch ribbon of cucumber, for garnish
2 to 3 ounces champagne
slice fresh strawberry, for garnish
sprig of fresh mint, for garnish

In a tall Collins style glass, add the Pimm’s, lime juice and ginger ale and stir. Slide the cucumber down the side of the glass, then fill the glass 3/4 with ice. Top with the champagne, then garnish with the strawberry slice and the mint.
Makes 1 cocktail

Eileen’s Pimm’s Cup with ginger beer and additional gin, is a more potent version of the original Pimm’s Cup No. 1.

As I was enjoying the Pimm’s Royale, Eileen, a Bubble Lounge bartender, suggested I try her updated version of the classic Pimm’s Cup.

Eileen’s Pimm’s Cup

3/4 ounce simple syrup
3-inch slice cucumber
2 sprigs of fresh mint
1 ounce Pimm’s No. 1
1 ounce gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce ginger beer

In a sturdy rocks glass, muddle the simple syrup, cucumber and 1 sprig mint until fragrant. Add the Pimm’s, gin and lemon juice and stir. Fill the glass with ice, stir again then top with the ginger beer. Garnish with the remaining mint.
Makes 1 cocktail

For the classic recipe , listen in to National Public Radio’s Michele Norris doing a fun interview on Pimm’s Cup history with the catering director at Wimbledon, where Pimm’s No. 1 is the unofficial beverage.

Travel

Top 10 Amazing Museums in Barcelona

August 24, 2011
barcelona_meseum_map

Barcelona is full of wonderful museums; here’s an eclectic list of 10 museums celebrating everything from Catalan history to the art of Gaudì that shouldn’t be missed. Click on the map to be taken to an interactive museum location map created with Google technology.

1. National Art Museum of Catalonia

Explore Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art as well as modern pieces by Gaudí.

2. Picasso Museum

Immerse yourself in the early works, drawings, paintings and personality of this complicated artist.

3. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

The modernist Richard Meier building is stuffed with works by contemporary greats like Casamada, Puig and Bonet.

4. Museums at Disseny Hub

Double your pleasure with a pair of museums: The Textile Museum with a stunning display for fashions from the Baroque period to modern day and the Decorative Arts Museum which explores design of everyday and fanciful objects.

5. Sagrada Familia Church Museum

Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was killed by a taxi before he could complete this Gothic and Modernist Roman Catholic church, but it’s still considered his masterpiece.

6. Ceramics Museum

The collection ranges from the intricacies of early Moorish ceramic coloring techniques to rooms dedicated to Miró and Picasso.

7. Gaudí House-Museum

Fans of the artist Antoni Gaudí will want to see the Torre Rosa where the artist lived and in his then visit his fqnciful Parque Guëll.

8. Barcelona Football Club Museum

There’s tons of Futbolart like trophies and bronze shoes along with some stuff by Dalí and Miró for less-devoted soccer fans.

9. The Egyptian Museum

This archeological museum with more than 1,000 exhibits is dedicated to shedding light on daily life and burial traditions in ancient Egypt.

10. Museum of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation

This influential living artist started as a surrealist, helped establish a movement called Dau-al-Set and then was one of the first to incorporate mixed media objects like marble dust, string and even furniture in his work.

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

Sweet Liberty

January 31, 2011

Sweet Liberty

Sweet Liberty was inspired by the red lemonade served for Juneteenth, the celebration of the day that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached slaves in Galveston, Texas. It’s red and blue color scheme also makes it a natural for the Fourth of July.

Makes 1 cocktail

  • 5 raspberries
  • 5 blueberries
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce Sobieski vodka
  • 5 ounces dry sparkling wine
  • 1 whole raspberry, for garnish
  • 1 thin lemon twist, for garnish

Put raspberries, lemon and sugar to the bottom of a tall glass. Using a muddler, smash the fruit to release its juices. Add vodka and stir. Fill glass three-quarters with ice. Top off with sparkling wine. Add sparkling wine. Tuck ends of the lemon twist inside the raspberry and thread onto a cocktail pick.

© By Maria C. Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion Published August 2009 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House