Czech Republic – Beerly Legal

Brew Handles

Budweiser (made by Anheuser-Busch) is one of the most popular beer brands around the world thanks to corporate sponsorship deal with various sports leagues, heavy advertising, and product placement in movies and TV. What many people don’t know, is how Budweiser came to be, taking their moniker from two breweries based in the city of České Budějovice (Budweis), in the Czech Republic. Let’s take a closer look at this sordid tale:

Beer has been brewed in the city of Budějovice since the 13th century, evening holding the position of imperial brewery for the Holy Roman Empire at one time. The Czech Republic’s largest brewery is the “Pivovar Budějovický Budvar” (Budweiser Budvar Brewery), which was established in 1895. One hundred years earlier, the oldest Czech brewery was founded, under the name “Budweiser Bier Bürgerbräu.” Both companies sold their beer under the name Budweiser.

bud versus

Budweiser Bürgerbräu crossed the pond and hit the United States in 1871. Five years later, in 1876, Anheuser-Busch began using the Budweiser brand and registered it as a trademark two years later, in 1878. The Anheuser-Busch version of Budweiser was originally an imitation of the Czech product, before carving out its own niche in the brewing industry.

The Budweiser trademark dispute has been fought since 1907, with Anheuser-Busch trying to worm its way into European countries, citing their trademark registration. To counter, the Czech breweries state that Budweiser is not just a generic name, but actually refers to beers made in the city of Budweis. The direct translation is ‘beers from Budweis,’ which Anheuser-Busch certainly can’t claim, unless there’s a town in St. Louis nobody has previously heard of, also called Budweis.

Regardless, an agreement between all three breweries was reached in 1938, allowing Anheuser-Busch to label their beers Budweiser in North America only. Anheuser-Busch has made numerous offers to buy out the Budweiser Budvar Brewery, in order to acquire the global rights to the name and beer, but the Czech government has stepped in and declined all bids. The Budweiser name is a matter of national pride and who doesn’t like sticking it to big American corporations every now and again!

i before e bud

With the fall of communism in the early 1990’s, the Czech breweries worked to regain the rights to their names, using international Protected Geographical Indication, to help with their fight. As of January 2013, the Czech companies had won 89 of 124 cases against Anheuser-Busch (eight ending in a draw), but there are many other actions pending, in jurisdictions around the world.

As a result of the litigation between the three companies, beers made by the state-owned Budweiser Budvar Brewery are labelled Czechvar in North America, while Budweiser America is sold as simply Bud across European Union markets. Today, Budweiser Bürgerbräu is known by “Pivovar Samson” or “B. B. Bürgerbräu” in the U.S. and recently regained the Budweiser naming rights for Europe.

i-love-you-too-beer

Anheuser-Busch and the Budweiser Budvar Brewery have even worked in partnership with one another. Starting in 2007, Anheuser-Busch started to import the Czechvar beer into the U.S. Business certainly does make for strange bedfellows, although the agreement was terminated in 2012. The United Kingdom and Ireland are some of the rare places where all brands are able to use the Budweiser name.

As for Anheuser-Busch, they keep plugging along, hocking their water… er, I mean beer to hundreds of millions of people who just don’t know any better. Mrs. Sip and I hate it when a place we go to is featuring Budweiser as their daily deal. We’re not saying you have to be a craft beer snob or anything like that, but if you’re going to put anything in your system, it might as well be a decent brew!

Czech Republic: Beerly Legal

Beerly Legal Beer Cocktail

  • 1 oz Campari
  • Top with Czechvar Beer
  • Splash of Orange Soda
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Sticking with brews, the Pilsner style of beer was also invented in the Czech Republic, this time in the city of Plzeň. Beer brewing is still a thriving industry in the Czech Republic, with countless breweries. Heck, the Czech’s even have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I love the name of this cocktail, but Campari has ruined (yet again) what should have been a great drink. If I make it again, I would completely exclude the Italian herbal liqueur. Thankfully, my bottle is almost empty and I can say without any hesitation that it will not be replaced. On a side note, I used Orange Soda in place of Tangerine Juice.

Czech Republic – Magic Eye

Castlevania

There are more castles per capita in the Czech Republic than any other place in the world. More than 2,000 structures exist in the country, which is fair given the Czechs are surrounded by a number of countries and have been invaded, conquered, divided, and annexed numerous times over their existence. Let’s take a look at some of these fortresses:

Prague Castle

The largest castle in the world is located in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, where the best view of the city can be found atop the main tower of the stronghold. A highlight of Prague Castle grounds is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which features beautiful stained-glass windows, as well as the burial plots of Czech saints and emperors. The whole site combines many different aspects of Czech architecture and design from across the centuries and is a feast for the eyes. A hidden room within the castle walls hides the Bohemian Crown Jewels and even Adolf Hitler spent a night in the structure, after the Nazis invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia.

Cat Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Thought of by many as the second most popular tourist attraction in the Czech Republic, Karlštejn Castle is a Gothic-style castle located 30km southwest of Prague. Built by King Charles IV, the fortress was needed to guard the crown jewels, holy relics, and other treasures belonging to the royal family. Unfortunately, many rooms at the landmark are hidden from tourists due to earlier robberies. Apparently, you can even drink water from a hand-powered well, although the Sip Advisor will take his bottled options (water, beer, etc.) over the natural stuff. If castles aren’t your thing, a golf course is located nearby and shares the same name.

Cesky Krumlov Castle

Not only does this landmark house an impressive main castle, but there are also a number of mini castles, making the town seem almost maze-like. In the castle moat, visitors can see a family of brown bears, the protectors of the site. Special to the Cesky Krumlov grounds is the Baroque Theatre, which is one of the world’s most preserved theatres, including stage, orchestra pit, machinery, costumes, stage curtains, and much more. The area was made a national monument in 1989 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.

Cesky Sternberk Castle

This stronghold is still owned by the same family that built it in the mid-13th century, after it was returned to the Sternberg’s in 1992, following the fall of communism and Velvet Revolution. The name of the castle, Sternberk, translates to Star Mountain, which kind of sounds like a world in a video game, such as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. The complex is one of the best preserved medieval castles and tours are highlighted by a visit to the Knight’s Hall, which holds a number of historic items. There are also 545 copper engravings on display, which detail the entirety of the Thirty Years’ War.

Darth Vader Castle

Cervena Lhota

This picturesque bright red castle was built in the middle of a lake, atop an island and connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. The castle’s gardens are a major attraction and the site is visited by over 120,000 tourists each year. Nearby, is a park that offers attractions such as the Renaissance Chapel of the Holy Trinity and a fish pond where boats can be rented for a trek across its waters. The castle’s name, meaning “Red Lhota” comes from the red tiles that make up its roof.

Zleby Castle

Originally built around 1289, the Zleby Caslte has changed its look many times over the centuries. Beginning as a Gothic style structure, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style, following the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. Later, it was changed again to a Baroque style and it has remained this way since. Tours at the castle take visitors in one of two directions: either to the kitchens or to the high tower and its dungeons. Travelers could ask for a nice meal before being ushered to the dungeon to meet their maker! Also in the area is a population of white deer, as well as various birds and other animals.

Hluboka Castle

One of the first Gothic style castle in the world, Hluboka was built in the mid-13th century and contains many expensive furniture pieces, particularly in the “Morning Guest Room,” which includes woven tapestries from Brussels, hand-painted Chinese vases, and other objects of art. The fortress was even featured in a scene from the Owen Wilson-Jackie Chan film, Shanghai Knights. The castle is close to the city of Budějovice (where the real Budweiser was created and is still made today – the next Czech article du jour), so tourists can always get smashed before or after their castle visit.

Czech Republic: Magic Eye

Magic Eye Beer Cocktail

Some people have it on their bucket list to stay overnight at a castle, but not the Sip Advisor. On my bucket list is “Own a Castle!” Can you imagine the parties I could throw if I had my own palace? The booze would be flowing like blood did during the Middle Ages and we would pour one out for all the homies that perished with the walls!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Originally, I was going to pick up a bottle of Absinthe for our jaunt through the Czech Republic, but then I learned of the country’s long history with beer and decided to go that route, instead. While I can’t call this my favourite beer cocktail, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it could be. To get the whole drink effect to look its best, I put the shot glass already into the empty goblet and used a pourer to get the beer around the shooter, so as to mix it up as little as possible. It all led to a rare success in the Sip Advisor’s Creation Kitchen!

December 13 – Black Death

Better Luck Next Year

Last week, we took a look at the people/groups who are riding high in 2014, enjoying success in their chosen field. This week, we examine the people who suffered (some deservedly and others not) through a tough year and are hoping for better fortune in 2015:

#5: Donald Sterling

One minute, you’re the owner of a NBA franchise (the Los Angeles Clippers) and the next, you’re handed a lifetime ban and being forced to sell the team because you put your foot in your mouth and alienated the league’s players, coaches, and fan base with racist remarks. Sterling and his estranged wife did walk away with $2 billion from the sale, which will help in paying off his $2.5 million fine, levied by the NBA. Sterling is no stranger to controversy, as he’s been sued twice under sexual harassment allegations and been the subject of discrimination lawsuits even before this latest scandal.

donald-sterling

#4: Comedy Community

With the deaths of comedic legends Robin Williams and Joan Rivers coming under a month apart, a lot of laughter was lost this year. While I can’t say that I was a fan of Rivers (I do respect her trailblazing career), I certainly was a Robin Williams supporter. From his stand-up to roles as Mork (Mork & Mindy), Peter Pan (Hook), Alan Parrish (Jumanji), and the voice of the Genie (Aladdin), he had such a lasting presence. The man could even do dramatic roles, as seen in Good Will Hunting, which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and Dead Poets Society. Sadly, the longtime voice of Shaggy (from Scooby Doo), Casey Casem also passed away in 2014.

#3: Roger Goodell & NFL

In the wake of domestic violence and child abuse scandals, the NFL was under intense pressure in 2014 to change a culture that it has let exist for years, with countless player arrests occurring throughout the league. Many groups called for commissioner Roger Goddell to step down from his post after the mishandling of the Ray Rice incident – first suspending the running back for only two games for beating up his now wife, only to extend the suspension indefinitely when a video showing the incident surfaced – and his role in trying to cover up the whole story. That said, business wise, the NFL is thriving and raking in the cash.

NFL Ratings

#2: Ebola Victims

West Africa has been hit hard this year with the potentially deadly Ebola Virus Disease. It must be really bad, because I remember learning that illnesses are either viruses or diseases and it looks like Ebola is covering both sides of that ledger. To this point, thousands have been infected, while close to half of those have died from the sickness. The scariest thing about Ebola is that nobody quite knows how to treat it yet. A vaccine is in development, but has yet to be approved. Mrs. Sip wants to travel to South Africa next September, but we’ll just see about that (as if I have any say!)…

#1: Malaysia Airlines

Despite being voted as having one of the best in-flight services in the industry, Malaysia Airlines has experienced some serious turbulence in 2014, starting with the disappearance of Flight 370, over the Gulf of Thailand. The plane, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, is assumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board. Just months later, another Malaysia Airlines craft (Flight 17), was shot out of the air with a missile, crashing in the Ukraine and killing 298 passengers and crew. Following a drop in bookings, the airline was forced to cut 6,000 jobs, while other staff have chosen to leave the company.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Black Death

Black Death Shot

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Splash of Soy Sauce
  • Garnish with a Kiwi Slice

There were others I considered (ie. Israel/Palestine), but in some cases, how is one year shittier than others when you’re constantly at war and such. Who do you think had a miserable 2014? Feel free to respond below.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (0.5 Sips out of 5):
In choosing this shooter, I scoured the internet for the worst recipes out there and this one, while some would immediately think is repulsive, I have an affinity for Soy Sauce, so wanted to give it a try. The only question left was which Vodka should I use, knowing full well that it would probably be wasted in this recipe. I went with my Absolut Texas (Serrano Chile and Cucumber) and that was the only good part of the shot (the lowest score I’ve ever handed out). The Soy Sauce was just way too salty and pushed me to the edge of madness. As for the Kiwi Slice as garnish, I figured why the hell not. No other reason than that!

Netherlands – Amsterdammertje

Red Light Diaries

No trip to the Netherlands would be truly complete without a stroll through Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. No matter how illicit you want to get, it is a cultural experience that must be enjoyed. Mrs. Sip and I imbibed a little too much while we were in the “Venice of the North” (seriously, every place is the Venice of something!), but I’m itching to go back and try my luck again!

Amsterdam actually has three Red Light Districts, but the most famous of them is the area also known as ‘De Wallen’ in Old Amsterdam. This Red Light Distrcit has existed for hundreds of years. Since the 14th century, brothels have called the region along the city’s numerous canals, home. Once banned, but tolerated if kept underground, houses of ill repute were first allowed in 1811 and were frequented by French soldiers.

Hot Chicks RLD

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and with any time spent in the Red Light District, you will be sure to see an array of women (and on some occasions, even men) advertising themselves through red-light lit windows for various services. If you agree upon a price with one of the workers, you will be ushered into their cabin. It is a big no-no to take any photos of the workers, some of whom are students making money for their studies.

De Wallen is also famous for their Coffee Shops, where locals and tourists alike can eat, smoke, or even drink any number of normally illegal substances. These shops are licensed by the Dutch government. It should be noted that these stores are prohibited from selling alcohol and cigarettes, so you’ll have to get your drink and normal smoking done elsewhere.

There are also live sex shows, sex museums, sex theatres, sex shops (sex, sex, sex, is that all you ever think about!), bars and clubs, museums, and even a department store. In fact, Amsterdam is home to 51 different museums, making it one of the most museum-populated cities in the world. You should enjoy the destination while it lasts, as there are fears it will eventually disappear, given most of the city is already below sea level.

What's a RLD

If you want to see the city, but aren’t so interested in the darker activities offered in the Red Light District, there are a number of other attractions definitely worth checking out. This includes: Canal Cruises, Walking Tours, the Heineken Experience, the Vodka Museum, the House of Bols, the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandthouse, and the Rijksmuseum, which is described as the Louvre of the Netherlands.

Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of Europe, with one million bikes for a population of 700,000 people. Any travelers spending time around the city or going through the Red Light District, should always be vigilant and keep an eye out for bicyclists and whether or not they’ve accidentally entered onto a bike path. I suppose given all the libations available in the city, intoxicated biking is better than driving!

Some events to keep in mind if planning a trip to Amsterdam are King’s Day in April, providing the perfect excuse for crazy parties and the High Times Cannabis Cup, described as “five days of pure hedonism,” in late-November. Worldwide events, such as Pride and New Year’s Eve, when celebrated in Amsterdam sound quite interesting. For Pride, there’s a naughty boat parade through the canals, while at New Year’s, most bars don’t even open until midnight hits.

Netherlands: Amsterdammertje

Amsterdammertje Cocktail

  • 1.25 oz Jenever
  • 0.75 oz Peach Schnapps
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

Talk about crazy folks: Adults in the Netherlands like to add sprinkles (like the ones used as an ice cream sundae topping) onto their toast. This is something the Sip Advisor will surely have to try in the future!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Friends of Mrs. Sip and myself visited the House of Bols while they were in the Netherlands and were incredibly kind enough to pick us up a couple treats, while there. This included this wonderful bottle of Bols Jenever that I used for our Around the World stop here, as well as a cocktail recipe booklet, which is hilariously in Dutch (English version does not exist yet) and requires some Google translating! This is one of the drinks that looked fun to make and it certainly hit the spot on the taste scale.

December 6 – Oil Spill

What a Year!

With the arrival of December, it’s time to reflect on the year that was. While most stories only hit the mainstream when they’re of the negative variety, there are some groups and people that had amazing calendar years. Here are the folks that had the best 2014:

#5: Hockey Canada

The Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey team has the utmost pressure on them each and every Winter Games. While Russia, as event hosts, would have loved to walk away with the gold, hockey is Canada’s game and anything but a tournament victory would not have sat well with the entire country. Therefore, it was much more palatable to watch the gold medal game, starting at 4am Vancouver time, when the boys easily defeated Sweden 3-0. It should also be noted that the Canadian Women’s Olympic hockey team took home gold, as well, thanks to some last minute heroics.

Gold In Here

#4: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

It was the fad of the 2014 summer and it was about more than cooling off and finding relief from the heat. If you were nominated to participate, you typically had 24 hours to dump a bucket of water/ice on your melon, before challenging the next round of participants. Whether you completed the task or not, you were encouraged to donate to charity. While not everyone agreed with the movement – citing the lack of money that would actually go towards curing ALS, the waste of water, health issues the challenge could result in, etc. – the Ice Bucket Challenge certainly raised the profile of ALS around the world. Mission: Accomplished!

#3: Germany Football

Winners of the 2014 World Cup of Soccer (which I predicted from the start!), Germans will hold football bragging rights until at least the 2018 contest in Russia. Mario Götze, who scored the lone goal for Germany against Argentina, to clinch the title, will be a national icon for the country for the duration of his life, and likely, long after. Germany went undefeated through the World Cup, highlighted by a 7-1 drubbing of host county and competition favourites Brazil, in the semi-finals. At the same tournament, Costa Rica became underdog fan favourites with stunning defeats over Uruguay, Italy, and Greece, before bowing out to the Netherlands on penalty kicks.

meanwhile-in-germany

#2: John Oliver

Thanks to his HBO series, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver is quickly becoming the most trusted source in news. That’s pretty good standing, given he’s a comedian anchor and his show is largely centered on making fun of the news. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed Oliver’s segments on FIFA, Scottish independence, student debt, and Middle East translators, among others. Oliver’s HBO contract runs through 2015 with the option for more years. And to think, all of this largely came about because Oliver was the guest host of The Daily Show in the summer of 2013, leading to rave reviews and his own program.

#1: Chris Pratt

With two monster hit movies – The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy (third and first, respectively, in highest grossing films of the year) – to go along with his role as goofy, loveable Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt is riding high in 2014 and the sky is the limits for this talented actor. Thanks to his success, Pratt was tapped to host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, in September. 2015 could see his star continue to rise, as he will play the lead in Jurassic World, the next installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, as well as wrap up Parks and Recreation with a 13-episode seventh and final season.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Oil Spill

Oil Spill Shot

Of course, the Sip Advisor could have also topped this list after yet another rock n’ roll year, but I’ll let the others have the spotlight! Next week, we tackle those that had a horrendous time in 2014 and probably can’t wait to see the year come to an end.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Simply layer the Jagermeister on top of the Goldschalger and you have an oil find that would make Jed Clampett blush! I think this shooter turned out pretty well image wise… the taste wasn’t bad, to boot!

Trinidad & Tobago – The Cephalopuch

How Low Can You Go?

We’ve all taken a crack at shuffling under the limbo bar. In fact, the Sip Advisor is quite adept at the limbo, thanks to flexibility and willingness to do stupid things. Well, we have Trinidad and Tobago to thank for this dance style. Let’s take a closer look at the popular contest:

Limbo goes all the way back to the mid-1800’s. Before its days as a party contest, it was used at funerals and wakes under a more somber tone. To signify death turning into life, the bar was set at its lowest point, rising in progression. I don’t think this would work for the Sip Advisor, as I’m planning on having my entire celebration of life centered on TV show theme songs: The Price is Right, Family Feud, etc.

Invisible Limbo

The general rules of limbo has each competitor shuffle under the bar with their backs to the floor. If the bar is touched or the dancer falls backwards to the ground, they are eliminated. Once everyone has gone, the survivors move on to the next round, with the bar lowered a little for the next challenge. The process repeats until there is a lone winner.

Today, you can often see the limbo being contested at Caribbean and Hawaiian (although used to celebrate luaus, the limbo was not created in Hawaii as some people have falsely theorized) resorts and aboard cruise ships, with travelers taking turns to see who is the most limber vacationer. Some daredevil limbo lovers will even take their dance moves to the extreme, such as lighting the limbo bar on fire. Next up, the Sip Advisor’s razor and barbed wire challenges!

Julia Edwards (born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad) is known as the First Lady of Limbo. A celebrated limbo champion, her dance troupe helped spread the limbo across the globe, appearing in a number of films, as well as touring the world’s hotels, clubs, and restaurants, all for the expansion of the dance and its contests. After retiring from active dancing, Edwards stayed in the game as a choreographer. In 1991, she was awarded the Trinidad and Tobago Humming Bird Medal Gold for Culture.

Beware of Limbo Dancers

Limbo was actually popularized outside of the Caribbean by musician Chubby Checkers, thanks to his song, “Limbo Rock”, released in 1962. The track rose to #2 on the Billboard Top 100 chart and popularized the question: “How low can you go!?” Other popular songs made specifically for limbo, include “Limbo” by Lord Tickler and the Calypsonians, “Limbo Break” by Brigo, and “Limbo” by Denzil Laing and the Wrigglers. Even David Hasselhoff entered the fray with his “Do the Limbo Dance”.

The World Record for limbo is an astonishingly short six inches. That’s right, the average penis size can be limbo’d under! The man who achieved the feat was no spring chicken and was, in fact, 55 years old. The women’s record was set by Shemika Charles (aka Limbo Queen), who passed under a bar only 8.5 inches off the ground. There have also been records set for performing the limbo wearing roller skates, including rolling under as many as 39 vehicles.

In the sci-fi cartoon Futurama, in the year 2980, limbo has become an Olympic sport. Jamaican national Hermes Conrad is a limbo enthusiast and competes in the event, which resembles hurdles, but instead of going over the bar, athletes have to go under. Hermes also applies his skills in other areas, such as using the limbo to get under a door and other obstacles that only have clear space at the bottom.

Trinidad & Tobago: The Cephalopuch

Cephalopuch Cocktail

  • 1 oz Kraken Rum
  • 1 oz Coconut Rum
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with Coconut Shavings

Some folks may debate which limbo is more painful… the one where you try to squeeze under a bar or the whole stuck between heaven and hell concept. To the Sip Advisor, this is a ‘pick your poison’ scenario and neither one is all that appealing!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This drink wasn’t so bad. The flavours are all right, with Rum, Coconut, and Pineapple coming together. I still love garnishing a drink with Coconut Shavings because they look neat and are so fun to chew during the cocktail consumption.