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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Glassmaking

Glass recovered from a ship wreck, circa 1025, Turkey. (Image via the Institute of Nautical Archaeology)

Seeing the light: glass recovered from a ship wreck from c. 1025 near Serçe Limanı, Turkey. (Image courtesy the Institute of Nautical Archaeology)

As anyone from Alfred the Great to Dr. Moreau will tell you, an island is a great place for defending secrets. Italy’s Venetian Lagoon — and in particular the island of Murano — has been trading off its closely-guarded glassmaking methods for over a millennium (the earliest works dating back to the reign of King Alfred). It’s a true cottage industry, one that has enjoyed no less then two periods of global domination of the decorative glass market.

In that time, the island of Murano and its skilled workforce have been venerated, ostracized, plundered, restored, canonized, brought under the control of numerous empires and much imitated, but never bettered for sheer craftsmanship.

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The Hot Toddy

Grating the nutmeg for a hot toddy

Lydia grating nutmeg into a bowl for an extra large spiced brandy bowl.

Before central heating and electricity, heating a cup of spirit with a hot poker was one of the more effective ways to warm up in the winter. The warmth soothed the senses and the alcohol mellowed the mind. But hot drinks are also delicious, which is why they survive well into our era of radiators. Jerry Thomas — the father of bartending as a skilled profession — allegedly even moved back to to the cold Northeast, after years bartending around the South, so he could once again live the pleasure of a hot drink on a cold day. So powerful was his call to warm a chill that he invented drinks like his famous Blue Blazer, a cocktail so hot it strikes fear into the hearts of men.

Below are variations on the classic hot toddy, and some tips on how to make your own with what you’ve got in the spice cabinet.

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