The Trafalgar – a 12 Bottle Bar original
Combine all ingredients but wine in a mixing glass.
Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Float red wine on top.
Garnish with lime wheel.
* * *
The odds were vastly against them. Not only were the British out-numbered, they were out-gunned by more than 500 cannons. The French-Spanish fleet had brought 41 ships to the fight — three of them the biggest in existence at the time — to Admiral Nelson’s 33 vessels. Nelson’s plan was simple but risky, he would divide the enemy line in half, surround one half and defeat it before moving on to the remaining ships. However, when the fight came down, Nelson knew that victory wouldn’t be won by following the rules. ‘No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy,’ he told his officers. The only rule was to fight.
And fight they did. When the smoke finally cleared, Napoleon’s French-Spanish fleet had lost 22 ships (21 captured, 1 destroyed), with more than 13,500 men killed, wounded, or captured. By contrast, the British saw only 1,600 men killed or wounded and not a single ship lost. On October 21, 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson had given Great Britain the most important naval victory of the war — if not of her entire history. There was just one problem: Nelson would not live to see out the day. A bullet fired from the French ship Redoutable would be Nelson’s undoing. “Thank God I have done my duty” were the last words he was believed to have uttered. To preserve his body for the trip home, the men aboard the HMS Victory placed Nelson in a barrel of rum. To this day, naval rum is known as “Nelson’s Blood”.
As for the drink, we have a simple Grog for the British, brandy for the French, and Orange Liqueur for the Spanish — the latter typically made with bitter Seville oranges. And for the fallen hero Nelson, we have the float of red wine. Symbolically, it works perfectly, but how does it taste? Terrific — like a tart sangria. So, next time you feel compelled to toast one of the greatest naval heroes the world has ever known — or if you just need a tasty quaff — try a Trafalgar. England expects that you will enjoy.
Esoterica: Trafalgar remains a living memory for the English. It even inspired songmeister extraordinaire Neil Hannon in his quest to create the perfect pop ditty. A bit long but well worth the watch (and the prolonged setup).