In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to create a flavor to serve as an Irish-Alaskan fusion. A bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream seemed like a good starting point. Researching the origins of the liquor, I learned that it was invented by a division of International Distillers & Vintners, looking for a new product to introduce to the world market.
But who was this mysterious “Bailey” — what sort of colorful character in Irish lore? Then I learned that it was only a fictitious name used for marketing, loosely inspired by the Bailey's Hotel in London…what a let-down!
When I decided to find a famous Irish Alaskan, I stumbled upon Nellie Cashman: intrepid adventurer, gold prospector, dog musher, entrepreneur, “trail angel,” “Saint of the Sourdoughs,” and overall POWER WOMAN.
And so, this flavor is a tribute to her.
Nellie (1845-1925) immigrated to the U.S. with her mother and sister, refugees of Ireland’s potato famine. When she helped her mother run a boarding house for silver miners in Nevada, she caught a bit of the mining bug herself. She traveled around the West, hoping to strike it rich through mining, but also establishing businesses in each new boomtown. With her extra earnings, she opened schools, churches and hospitals.
Gold lured her north, first to British Colombia. One day, she learned of a group of miners stranded by a blizzard.
As legend had it:
“Wasting no time, she organized a rescue expedition with six men, and a number of pack animals carrying 1,500 pounds of supplies and took off with the expedition to find the stranded men. Conditions in these mountains were so hazardous at the time, that even the Canadian Army had refused to mount a rescue. When they heard about Cashman’s expedition, the commander sent his troops to find her and return her and the men back to safety. However, when they did find her, she refused to return without the stranded miners.
After 77 days, sometimes treading through as much as ten feet of snow, she finally found the men, who turned out to number more than 75 rather than the rumored 26. Suffering from severe scurvy, she loaded them up with Vitamin C in their diets and nursed them back to health.”
Nellie followed the tales of gold to Alaska, where she immediately opened a grocery store in Fairbanks to feed the hungry miners and secure an income. She mined, too, and continued to be an all-around allstar, evidenced by her 17-day, 750-mile dogsled trip across the frozen tundra, taken as a 78-year-old (which got picked up by all the Alaskan papers).
In 1994, Nellie was featured on a 29 cent stamp in the “Legends of the West” series and has she’s been inducted into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame. In Seattle, the "Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year Award" honors local female entrepreneurs who have made outstanding contributions to the status of women business owners through their leadership in business and their community.
This flavor, Nellie’s Irish Cream, is for all you adventuring women and men out there.
Base: Bailey's Irish Cream
Add-ins: Dark chocolate flecks
Photo credits: http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/the-legendary-nellie-cashman/Content?oid=3260775