Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanack on December 28, 1732, so we’re mixing up the Statesman cocktail. Not that Mr. Franklin was a statesman in 1732 but we need a date to drink in his honor. He was, you see, America’s first diplomat so the Drink of the Day comes from that side of his story. After all, he was probably the greatest bon vivant among the founding fathers of the United States and a man of legendary wisdom. Let’s face it, he’s the only one that can be quoted as saying,
“There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking.”
Words to live by, indeed. He even published a listing of 200 terms to express drunkenness. Our favorite is “eat a toad and a half for breakfast.”
Poor Richard’s Almanack
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston during 1706, ran away to Philadelphia at the age of 17, and by the age of 22 set up a printing house and soon became the publisher of The Pennsylvania Gazette. This gave him a forum in which he could write, and his adroit commentary led to a positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man.
Franklin frequently wrote under a pseudonym, and published Poor Richard’s Almanack under the name Richard Saunders. His writing was distinctive in tone, being plain, pragmatic and self-deprecating. As a result it was no secret that he was the author even though the Richard Saunders pseudonym always denied it.
Nonetheless, he had a lot of fun with it when he wasn’t flying kites during thunderstorms or taking his morning ‘air bath’ au naturale. He wrote typical almanac items like a calendar, weather forecast, astronomical and astrological information, and an occasional poem here and there. But Poor Richard’s is really best known as Franklin’s repository of proverbs and general statements of truth that require interpretation, or aphorisms.
We saw one bit of Mr. Franklin’s wisdom above. There are many memorable examples, and we have selected a few for your benefit:
“Fish and visitors smell in three days.”
“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward.”
“He that speaks much is much mistaken.”
Franklin urged readers to be virtuous, diligent and frugal, proclaiming the superiority of the common man doing this over his supposed betters. And he urged the common man to assume roles in the “public sphere” and shape the destiny of society. In the end, Franklin was influential enough that the Old Farmer’s Almanac still includes a picture of him on its cover.
Franklin the Statesman and the Statesman Cocktail
Franklin kept his almanac going until 1758 but then higher duties called. From 1776 to 1778 he served on a commission to France whose intent was to gain French support for American independence. In the terminology of the time he was a minister, but that really boils down to being America’s first ambassador.
He was a good guy for the task, as the aristocrats and intellectuals embraced him as a symbol of New World enlightenment. He advocated for religious tolerance. That helped tip arguments being made by local philosophers which resulted in Louis XVI signing the Edict of Versailles. That nullified a prior edict that had denied non-Catholics civil status. As it turns out he was also American minister to Sweden, but he never got around to visiting the place.
America’s founding fathers were great drinkers and we’ve covered some of the things they liked, such as the Stone Fence. The Statesman Cocktail is a far more modern invention, created by Erick Castro who has also brought us drinks such as the Kentucky Buck and Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. He invented it around 2008 in San Francisco, and it is immortalized in The PDT Cocktail Book. PDT, if you are not already aware, is a legendary New York bar and among your correspondent’s favorites.
- 2 oz Gin
- ½ oz Pear Liqueur The original recipe calls for Rothman and Winter Orchard Pear, but use what you can find.
- 1 barspoon Green Chartreuse
- 1 dash Orange bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
- Add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir to chill.
- Strain into pre-chilled glass.
- Express twist and garnish drink.
- Pour in the direction of your liver.