Five Boozy Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhog Day

By Margaret Henry
Posted in The Field Guide to Drinking in America, on February 02, 2016

It’s Groundhog Day, the holiday where, for 130 years, we’ve looked to the humble woodchuck for meteorological advice. The ‘official’ groundhog is known as Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sages of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire. Some 20,000 people will gather outside Phil’s burrow on Gobbler’s Knob to witness his prediction.

For those of us that can’t make the trip, here’s some facts befitting of a holiday dedicated to rodent weather psychics:

1. Thought to be the birthplace of Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has some of the nation’s strictest liquor laws. Read more about them in the Washington Post’s interview of The Field Guide to Drinking in America’s Niki Ganong.

2. Remarkably, during Prohibition, Phil threatened to burden the community with sixty weeks of winter if they didn’t give him a drink—stat. Don’t believe us? Take it from The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

3. In the 1800s Groundhog Day celebrations featured a feast of various groundhog-meat dishes, washed down with a vodka, milk, egg and an orange juice drink known as groundhog punch. While we wouldn’t want to drink it, we might want to eat it. Check out Nigella Lawson’s take on the colonial-era posset.

4. Arguably one of the best moments in the 1993 film, Groundhog Day, starring Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray, is when Phil bamboozles Rita with sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist.

Recipe

2 ounces sweet vermouth

Lemon twist

Fill an old-fashioned cocktail glass with ice. Pour the vermouth and twist lemon over the glass. Stir. Serve with the twist as garnish.

Make one to sip while watching the clip.

5. We all know that alcohol is tough on the liver. But did you know that groundhogs have been studied at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine for 30 years, leading to major discoveries in the treatment and prevention of liver-related illnesses? Read more about the groundhog’s scientific contributions.