Test Your Liquor Legends IQ!

Sunday, November 07, 2010 | 0 comments »

By DeLane McDuffie

Liquor touches most of our lives during the holidays in some way. Some of us would never think that a case of liquor could ever be a bad holiday present. Some of us even owe our very presence to liquor, period. Although it usually is the star of the holiday party, most of us never really take the time to think of the people behind the liquor—the people who started it all. See if you can match the correct liquor legend with his or her unofficial title.
  1. Charles Tanqueray – Spiritual spirit-maker. Although he was from a long line (three generations) of holy men, Charles Tanqueray felt that he had another calling: "Surprise, Dad! You worry about warring sin. I'll worry about pouring gin!" He started distilling gin in 1830 in the Bloomsbury part of London. Within 17 years, he was shipping his gin to all corners of the British Empire, where soldiers would sit and drink, and try to figure out how to pronounce Tanqueray.
  2. Tom Collins – Citywide hoaxer. New Yorkers were mad in 1874. Irate, in fact. Some schmo had been talking trash about their fair city, and they wanted to tap dance on this guy's face. Suppose you were walking through Manhattan with some friends during that time; they would have told you where to find him—at a particular bar or tavern. You would have stormed over to this urban saloon's bartender and demanded to know the whereabouts of that despicable varmint called Tom Collins. The bartender would have probably chuckled a little, eventually handing you a refreshing, summery mix of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and club soda. Meet Tom Collins, angry, thirsty person. Tom Collins, meet angry, thirsty person.
  3. Jack Daniel – Unsafe safecracker. One of a baker's dozen of kids of Welsh descent, Lynchburg, Tennessee's Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel was a marketing genius. His gentleman's attire and wide-brimmed hat made him stand out as a self-promoter, almost on a Colonel Sanders–esque level. His decision to go with a square bottle that not only was visually different from other bottles, but also didn't roll around and shatter during travel, was key. Seems like his only downfall was his temper. He arrived at his distillery office early one morning in 1906. He tried to get into his safe, but he forgot the combination. Enraged, he kicked the living tarnation out of the safe, injuring his left foot. Later on, the bruise turned into an infection, which turned into blood poisoning, then gangrene, which spelled curtains for the American whiskey icon.
  4. Rita de la Rosa – Booze muse. There are many claims to this particular throne, but this account is one of the most widely believed. In Rosarito Beach, Mexico, in 1938, a cabaret bartender named Dan Herrera fell head over heels in love with a Guadalajaran showgirl. Not able to get her out of his mind, Herrera went into artist-mode and whipped up a masterpiece of a cocktail. He called it the Margarita, in honor of the woman who took his breath away, Rita de la Rosa. (Good thing, too. With all of that taste-testing and experimenting, he may have failed the breathalyzer test.)
  5. Sir Henry Morgan – Feared privateer. Ever see one of those Captain Morgan commercials with people standing triumphantly with one leg hoisted up? Well, that cheesing pirate on the bottle was a real buccaneer. A Welshman born in 1635, Morgan worked for the governor of Jamaica. His job was to terrorize the Spanish Main (the mainland coast of the Caribbean Sea that was under Spanish rule). With the insane bravery and/or recklessness of a frat boy who would drink too much of the rum that would bear his name centuries later, Morgan managed to capture Spaniards; ransack Port-au-Prince, Haiti; plunder Cuba; hold for ransom, loot, and burn Panamanian cities; and become a knight and lieutenant governor of Jamaica—all before he tried to impress you with that "Hey baby, I'm famous. Ever see me on TV?" pickup line at that bar the other night. Yeah, I know. Pirates can be so tacky.