International Women’s Day Revolutionized
It was 1917, however that really put International Women’s Day and Russia squarely on the map. A thaw in the weather on the last Sunday in February — March 8th by the Gregorian calendar still used in Imperial Russia — brought factory workers out in the streets of Petrograd in droves to support International Women’s Day. Three long years of privation and wartime hardship put “Peace and Bread” at the top of the women’s demands. The demonstration swelled with Petrograd garrison troops joining the marchers, signaling the final loss of control of the Russian capital by the Romanov Tsars in what would come to be known as the “February Revolution.”
International Women’s Day, Domesticated
From the fiery spirit of those pioneers for equality and justice who ushered in a century of great progress for women’s rights, we somehow have got here. Today in Russia International Women’s Day is all about the big present, the champagne, possibly some naughty lingerie, maybe a weekend to Paris, and, if all of these fail, the classic trope of the clueless Russian man donning his wife’s apron, taking up her pots, pans, and brooms and doing her work on this one day of the year.
So what happened?
Perhaps it was the loss of so many men in World War II that condemned two generations of Soviet women to the multiplicity of roles: bringing home the bacon and having to fry it up for dinner and wash the dishes afterwards. Perhaps it was the Soviet yearning for glamour and romance that permeated the stagnant Brezhnev years, or the conspicuous consumption mania that characterized the post-perestroika era. Maybe it was an insidious conspiracy by Lancome and Tattinger. It’s a mystery, and yet: Here we are.
Or rather, here you are, Alpha Male Russian. I’ll have my feet up while HRH bumbles about the kitchen trying to find things like salt and coffee. Later we’ll go out because I always remind him to make reservations way ahead of time, which you need to do if you have any hope of getting a table anywhere slightly nicer than Teremok.
If you haven’t made reservations, then your best bet is to get in the kitchen and come up with a meal that tells your International Woman just how much you revere and appreciate everything she does for you the other 364 days a year. Makaroni po Flotski — that classic army dish of ground meat on pasta — isn’t going to cut it today. Your average Russian woman today is not only international, she’s also sophisticated. She’s into hot yoga and exotic travel; she drinks green juice while she curates her Instagram (or is that curates the green juice on her Instagram?); and she loves a good artisanal cocktail with muddled fruit or edible flowers. It’s time to get your A game on, Alpha Male.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
The Signature Cocktail: Start With a Sweet Fizz
International Women’s Day is a sign that spring is definitely on the way! She may be acting a bit coy and hard to get by delaying her arrival a bit, but the bright sprays of mimosa on sale at every metro station tells you that she cannot be far off.
A signature cocktail should reflect that happy meteorological state of affairs. To my way of thinking, there is nothing like the taste of elderflower to herald the arrival of spring, nor the fizz of champagne to indicate we have much to celebrate. This is a sweet cocktail that can be made with either gin or vodka and has enough fresh botanicals and French fizz to get your International Woman in the right frame of mind for the feast to come!
The International Woman Cocktail
- 2 oz (60 ml) lemon vodka or Tanqueray Rangpur gin
- 1 oz (30 ml) fresh lime juice
- 1 oz (30 ml) elderflower liqueur
- 2-3 strawberries tossed with 2 tsp of sugar
- 3 oz (90 ml) champagne (ideally pink)
- Slice the strawberries into quarters, then toss them with the sugar. Place all but one strawberry into the bottom of a wine glass and muddle (crush) with the stick end of a wooden spoon.
- Combine the vodka or gin, the elderflower liqueur, and the lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice cubes. Shake vigorously for about a minute.
- Decant the vodka mixture on top of the muddled strawberries. Top up with the champagne. Garnish with the remaining strawberry.