Monday, 12 May 2008

The Ascot

The Ascot is fast becoming a fashion trend this Spring. Designer Tommy Hilfiger says that retro ties are cool - American Idol contender Michael Johns sports one, so does David Beckham.

The Ascot is descended from the earlier type of cravat widespread in the early nineteenth century, most notably during the age of Beau Brummell, made of heavily starched linen and elaborately tied around the neck. Later in the 1880s, amongst the upper-middle-class in Europe men began to wear a more loosely tied version for formal daytime events with daytime full dress in frock coats or with morning coats.

Although such dress cravats were no longer worn with morning dress at the Royal Ascot races in the Edwardian era the Ascot was still commonly worn for business with morning dress in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. The day cravat was worn in the early decades of the twentieth century as casual wear, often as sports wear such as when playing golf. The Duke of Windsor often wore one in this manner. It was regarded as an elegant form of casual dress. Ascots did make a come back in fashion in the mid-to-late 1960s – and it seems that the winds of change are swinging back in their favour again this year.

Champagne Cocktails that won't clash with your cravat are the Bellini, the Valencia and the Champagne Julep.


The classic Bellini was invented at Harrys Bar in Italy in 1931 in honour of the painter Geovani Bellini. Giuseppi Cipriani was the inventor. The original recipe was made with fresh puréed white peaches with a bit of raspberry or cherry juice to give the drink a pink glow.

It will take you back to a time when Ernest Hemingway, Orsen Wells and Sinclair Lewis enjoyed this drink canal side in Venice while the USA was locked in Prohibition.

1 parts Peach Scnapps
3 parts Champagne


½ measure apricot brandy
1 measure freshly squeezed orange juice
2 dashes orange bitters

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the first three ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top up with champagne. Serve garnished with a strip of orange peel.

Champagne Julep

Mint Julep is a popular summer drink based on whiskey (traditionally Bourbon) and mint. For a Champagne Julep a splash of whiskey is optional. Take a chilled highball glass. Place in it two sprigs of mint and a sugar cube. Add a few ice cubes and fill, pouring slowly, with chilled sparkling champagne. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

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