St. Patrick’s and ANZAC Days, 2003

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney Australia July 2010

April 25th means little to Americans other than, probably, waiting anxiously for whatever you ordered with your tax refund to arrive. But to the fine folk of Australia and New Zealand it is ANZAC Day which, generally, means a fall holiday. At the very least it is an excuse to have gunfire breakfast, AKA coffee spiked with a very respectable amount of rum, which is something I learned as retaliation for my observance of St. Patrick’s Day with my exceptionally Irish coffees.

For St. Patrick’s, I got up early, relatively speaking, checked my dewars and telescopes, and then went up to Club 90 South. I then spent the next five hours cleaning up months of accumulate detritus and generally ignored maintenance in the bar. FACT: one of the reasons bars are dimly lit is so you don’t have to clean them as thoroughly. Once cleaning was completed, I compiled the finest 14 hours of drinking music that the X Drive had to offer, and then decorated the bar with shotglasses and bottles of Jamesons. At 5pm, I pressed play on the tunes and poured myself some whiskey so that I would be ready to salute whoever came through the door as I poured them their shot.

It was good time. Eventually, people started biting beer cans and spitting torn aluminum at each other. That’s how good a time it was.

A little over a month later, our telescope mechanic and former New South Wales rugby prop walked into the bar a plunked down a bottle of something special he’d brought down in his luggage: a bottle of Bundaberg rum. I was familiar with and fond of Bundaberg’s ginger beer but had no idea they made a rum. Flavor-wise, it’s a grassy salty rum agricole similar to St. George Spirit’s Aqua Libre. I can’t possibly do justice to Allan’s accent which was so thick you could drown sheep in it, but when I asked what that was for he said, “Have a Bundy with me. It’s ANZAC Day.”

Turkish Artillery in the Morning – rum by Bundaberg, mug by R. Stevens of

While I knew the history well, it was thus I was made privy to many of the modern cultural secrets of ANZAC Day, primarily the concept of the Gunfire Breakfast, which is coffee with sufficient rum added to it that you didn’t care about the guns anymore. In honor of that, and the fact that they’re running almost 20 hours ahead of the west coast of the US, I made myself a mug of gunfire breakfast with the Ipsento Panama BBotE and my bottle of Bundy I picked up three years ago in Sydney. This was, perhaps, not the best idea at 9pm but it was goddamn delicious and I hereby dub it “Turkish Artillery in Morning”. The recipe:

  • 1 part BBotE (I found the blueberry fruitiness of the Ipsento Panama went well)
  • 3 parts boiling water
  • 1 part agricole rum (grass, salty flavored rum that uses the whole cane)

So, to all those who fell at Gallipoli, all those that mourned them back home, and all those that returned short a few limbs or marbles, here’s to you. And to the people of Christchurch who had to endure me giving a damn long semi-inebriated lecture on the history of the Great War and why the Arch of Remembrance at the end of Cashel Street was there to my ignorant fellow American Polies in 2003, I apologize again.

With that, the band played Waltzing Matilda…