Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

The Ortona Toast Recipe

The traditional white china mug used by The Royal Canadian Regiment for the Ortona Toast.

The traditional white china mug used by The Royal Canadian Regiment for the Ortona Toast.

By: Captain Michael O'Leary, CD

"December 21st 1943"

"Today is the Regimental Diamond Jubilee."

"The R.C.R. was first formed on 21st December 1883 as the "Infantry School Corps." To command the Regiment on such an occasion is indeed a notable thing, and I am very proud of the fact."

"Contacted Brigade by field phone and reminded Colonel Spry of the occasion, inviting him to join us at my Command Post and "drink a health to the Regiment." He arrived at four o'clock in the afternoon in the midst of spasmodic shelling of the area which forced him to jump out of his jeep and take to a ditch just before reaching us. Sandy Mitchell made a punch out of issue rum, sugar and water. I gave a short speech and Colonel Spry replied. Just as he was finishing, Dick Dillon arrived in from a fighting patrol, the objective of which was less than 500 yards from Command Post. Buck Bowman also got in from a brush with the enemy some thousand yards away. I had laid on both these activities during the early afternoon, Dick's show was against a supposedly fortified house. he had a troop of tanks to assist him and one platoon of his company. The tanks riddled the house but by the time the platoon assaulted it, no enemy were to be found."

"Sandy Mitchell made a punch out of issue rum, sugar and water."

So reads the paragraphs in Strome Galloway's book "Some Died at Ortona" which form the genesis of the Regimental Toast of the The Royal Canadian Regiment. From this, The RCR adopted the Ortona Toast in 1993 and a mixture of rum, water and sugar has filled china cups at regimental birthday Mess Dinners since then. It has also started to appear at other regimental gatherings as it has slowly begun to evolve from the regimental birthday toast to a general regimental toast.

Curiously, there has never been a documented recipe for the Ortona Toast with more detail that that offered by Strome. Recently, I attended the 2012 Mess Dinner for the Regimental Officers' Indoctrination Course. One of my dining companions asked what ingredients, exactly, made up the toast. Having run a few regimental dinners, I was able to jot down the ingredients I have used in recent years to brew an acceptable potation, and watched as he used the latest technology to store the data, by photographing it with his iPhone.

In the interests of sharing this recipe more widely, I (perhaps not so humbly) submit The Ortona Toast recipe.

The Ortona Toast Recipe

(as developed by Capt Michael O'Leary, CD)

On 16 Dec 2017, I attended the regimental birthday dinner hosted by the 4th Battalion. Lt Kevin Yu shared his approach to mixing the Ortona Toast. Kevin started by making a simple syrup with the sugar and water, using that as a base and adding the rum. I can attest to the fact that the result was excellent. - MMO

Combine all ingredients, add water to taste. The tasting and addition of water should be done by someone who actually enjoys rum, otherwise you risk thinning the results to a watery waste of good rum.

Serves 40-60, depending on serving size. If guests are pouring their own libations, such as at a Mess Dinner, don't thin the results out to make more, start at the top and actually make more.


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