Thursday, August 17, 2017

History in a glass.

The first History in a Glass took place on June 22 at the Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801. History in a Glass pairs fun and fascinating historical collection artifacts with delicious hand-crafted cocktails. Three bar districts - Downtown, Mills/50 District, and Winter Park - battle for the championship to see who can win people's choice in designing the best custom cocktail based on a story from the history of Central Florida. Three ace mixologists from each district will go head to head with their colleagues, the winner advancing to the series finale in December.

In the first competition mixologists from three popular downtown Orlando establishments – Hanson’s Shoe Repair, The Woods, and The Courtesy Bar – received a brief biography of Billy Bluebeard, Orlando’s first swan to create their drink from. Billy was brought to Orlando in 1910 by Charles Lord and placed at Lake Lucerne with his mate Sally. They were a rather romantic pair and Billy took quite an interest in their domestic affairs. Sally would sit on their eggs, but each day Billy would come by to relieve her so that she might swim about the Lake and stretch her legs.  One day, Billy was running a bit behind and Sally decided to take off before his arrival.  Their eggs grew cold, Lord knowing they would be dead, removed them from the nest. Upon finding an empty nest, Billy was furious. He swam out to Sally in the middle of the lake, grabbed her by the throat, and held her head under until she died.

Billy was given a new mate, Mary, who was quite a bit younger than he. Billy grew ill and was taken to a veterinarian. Once he was better, he returned home to find Mary with another swan! Unfortunately Billy wasn't quite the fighting swan he once was, and the new, younger Charlie wasn't having any of Billy's attitude. Lord made the decision to remove Billy to another lake where he eventually passed away.  Some say it was old age, others say Billy died of a homesick broken heart.

In 1933, the proprietor of W.H. Swan Company had Billy stuffed and placed in the foyer of his department store where he stood until becoming one of the very first donations to the History Center.

Mark your calendar! The next History in a Glass, "Hog Wild" Edition is Thursday, August 24 at 6 PM - 9 PM. Not far from the present-day History Center’s door, razorbacks once rubbed their backs on the steps of Orange County’s wooden courthouse in the 1870s, when Florida was a wild frontier. Florida still has an estimated one million feral pigs on the loose. Just recently in the news, wild hogs are still running amok in Brevard County! Come cheer on your favorite bartender from the Mills 50 District in a competition to create the best history-inspired beverage. The winner will advance to the series finale in December.

Admission tickets include great music with a DJ, three hand-crafted cocktails, and tasty cuisine from a local restaurant. Member tickets are $20, general admission $25. This event is for guests 21 and older. For details, call 407-836-7035. Doors open at 6 p.m., cocktail competition and drink service start at 6:30.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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