New Zealand – The Star Gazer

Haka Fear

Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and the All Blacks national team is an intimidating force. First, you have these hulking behemoths and then you add in the Maori war paint and tribal dances meant to scare off opponents… that’s enough to make me forfeit a contest. Let’s learn a little more about this massively popular group:

First things first, we need to investigate the name of this squad. It comes from their all black gear, save for the silver fern across their jersey. In recent years, the All Blacks have also featured an embroidered poppy on their sleeve to salute the New Zealand soldiers who died during the World Wars and other conflicts. Both Adidas and Nike competed to outfit the national team, with Adidas winning the contract, while Nike settled for Tiger Woods.

All Blacks Training

After Charles Monro brought rugby to New Zealand in 1870, what would become the national team was first put together in 1884 for a tour of eight games in New South Wales, Australia. The club went undefeated during that trip. In 1905, the lineup referred to as the Original All Blacks, toured what is now the United Kingdom, winning 34 of 35 matches (their one loss coming controversially) and gaining a reputation as ungentlemanly players.

A dominant team, the All Blacks have won a vast majority of their test matches and have often found themselves at the top of the world rankings (all other nations combined don’t equal the All Blacks time at the top of the table). New Zealand has the only national team that owns a winning record against every team they’ve faced. In their 111-year international history, they have only been defeated by five countries.

With an all-time points differential of 13,572 to 6,615, it’s completely understandable to learn that many countries worst losses in international competition have come at the hands of the All Blacks. France, Ireland, Argentina, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan, and Portugal are all on this list. The All Blacks largest margin of victory ever was a 145-17 drubbing of Japan on June 4, 1995, while their greatest loss was only 28-7 against Australia on August 28, 1999.

All Blacks Heart

The national team has won the Rugby World Cup twice, taking home the top prize in 1987 (the inaugural event) and 2011. The All Blacks have played in all seven World Cup tournaments and hosted the competition twice. Both times they have hosted (once co-hosting with Australia), they have emerged victorious. In most years, the All Blacks enter the World Cup as the odds-on-favourite.

The Tri Nations Rugby Championship (contested between New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and later adding Argentina) has been won by the All Blacks 12 times in 18 years. The team has completed the United kingdom Grand Slam – defeating England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in the same tour – four times, achieving the feat in 1978, 2005, 2008, and 2010.

The infamous haka dance the All Blacks utilize to rev their engines and strike fear into the hearts of their opponents has been associated with the squad since 1888 and may have been used before then. The most commonly used haka is the Ka Mate. In 2005, the All Blacks unveiled a new haka, the Kapa o Pango, but this included a throat slashing gesture, which has drawn some criticism for the imagery it encourages.

All Blacks Dance

There has been close to 1,200 players to suit up for the national team, with a half dozen or so going on to be knighted or received the Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, while a handful have been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. Some of the notable stars of the squad include James Allan (member of the original 1884 team), Dave Gallagher (captain of the Originals), and Sir Fred Allen (former captain and coach).

Don Clarke, Sir Wilson Whineray, Ian Kirkpatrick, Graham Mourie, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dan Carter, Doug Howlett, Christian Cullen, and Jonah Lomu, are among other top players for the national team. Being an All Black runs in the family, as there have been numerous sets of father and sons, as well as pairs of brothers who have suited up and played for the troop.

A devoted fan base follows the national team and why wouldn’t you? It’s fun to regularly be on the winning side. I have to admit that I even bought a mini All Blacks jersey while in New Zealand to go along with my mini Manchester United kit. After years of misery supporting the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, it’s great to put my support behind teams that, you know, don’t lose so often!

New Zealand: The Star Gazer

The Star Gazer Cocktail

  • 2 oz Sauvignon Blanc Wine
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

While I’ve never been a huge rugby fan, it’s an exciting game to watch with fast-paced, hard-hitting action. When the All Blacks are on the field, you can bet you’ll see some serious ass whipping and what could be more entertaining than that!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Just like the All Blacks leave their opponents staring up at the sky, so too will this cocktail… but in a good way. I made this drink for Mrs. Sip and she enjoyed it with her only note of criticism being that it may have been better in a chilled martini glass. Duly noted and next time it will be done!

September 13 – A-Sample

The Gun Show

Over the last two years, the Sip Advisor has become a bit of a gym rat (and not the type that wants to sleep with weightlifters!). As a result, I’ve been witness to some mind blowing behaviour that drives me crazy. Here are the Top 5 exercise room pet peeves:

#5: Letting Weights Smash Together

My theory is, if you can’t let the weight come down slowly, you’re lifting too much. This may not be a completely correct line of thinking, as some people prefer a maxed out lifting regime, but no one in the gym wants to be startled by the loud sound of weights clashing against one another just cause some prick wants to be a big shot and overexert his lifting. I think a perfect punishment for this exercise foul would be a guillotine-style decapitation at the hands of someone lifting too much to let the weight down easily.

gym-cat

#4: Unneccesary Devices

The only device a person should be bringing to the gym with them is something to play music. I can’t count the number of times I see someone sitting on a piece of equipment, staring at their phone and either texting away or holding a long conversation with someone. If you want to do that, get out of the gym and let me have access to the equipment and a work out free of listening to your latest drama. I also despise the folks that bring a laptop to the gym, thinking everyone wants to hear their tunes, you master of human audial enjoyment. Worse is the person who watches a movie and has to awkwardly balance the machine as they exercise.

#3: Using Multiple Machines at Same Time

I know that some people like to work out by rapidly rotating through a few machines, but in a small gym like the Sip Advisor’s apartment has, that means that you’re using up a majority of the possible stations all for yourself and it’s hard for someone else to get in and do their own reps when you’re not sure when this person will be done and how long you might have to wait for your next set. What’s worse is if two people are swapping in and out of the same machine and are taking it up for long periods of time, largely because they’re spending more time chit chatting than pumping iron.

gym-treadmill

#2: Using Machines to Hold Possessions

I really don’t understand how people can be this rude. Do they not realize that others might want to use that bike or bench that they have their jacket laid out on… and on that note, why the hell did you bring a jacket to the weight room in the first place!? It’s not like you had to travel far to get there when it’s within the same building that you live. Did you have a need to look fashionable amongst people wearing kits stained with sweat? Oh, you want to rest your precious iPhone on a bike seat like it’s the freakin’ holy grail?… well, then don’t mind if I “accidentally” destroy it with my rockin’ gluteus maximus!

#1: Not Putting Equipment Away

This one really draws the Sip Advisor’s ire. How hard is it to return whatever equipment you used back to the place you found it? So many times, weights are strewn across the gym floor and mats and those stupid massive rubber balls are left to roam the room. What pisses me off the most is when I’m trying to put heavy weights away, but I’m blocked from getting as close as possible to the rack by a wall of discs and dumbbells, making me have to lurch in awkward ways to return what I was using. These folks are the worst of society and should be barred from the gym until they can prove their rehabilitation and good behaviour.

Super Saturday Shot Day: A-Sample

A-Sample Shot

  • 0.75 Zubrowka Vodka
  • 0.75 Gatorade
  • Garnish with Pills

I would never criticize how anyone chooses to work out (to each their own), but I do want to share one of the funnier exercise routines I’ve ever witnessed: Some dude came in and grabbed one of those big rubber balls before doing two whole sit-ups on it. He then went over to the bike and pedaled for about a minute, before hopping off and returning to the ball again for another pair of sit-ups. He finished with a handful of push-ups and left the gym… and the jerk never put that stupid ball away!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Given the subject of today’s post, A-Sample (what athletes provide for drug testing) was the perfect shooter to pick for the article. Better yet, I wanted to make sure Gatorade was an ingredient and everything really came together. I used Zubrowka Vodka, because it’s made with Bison Grass and to the Sip Advisor, nothing says bulking up like Bison Grass. One problem is that the Gatorade is too light to cover the booze, but this is otherwise a decent shooter.

Morocco – Black, White & Fig

Fun with Fezzes

While it may not be the most stylish headpiece ever adorned, the fez hat is a symbol of Moroccan nationalism, worn to protest French occupation. Hell, even the royal court of Morocco wears the fez, the only Arab nation to do so. Despite all that, today, the fez is seen by some as politically incorrect and viewed with negative connotations. Let’s take a closer look at this polarizing piece of headgear:

Originally called a ‘tarboosh,’ which roughly translated means head cover, this hat dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. It is typically made using red felt with a tassel attached to the top of the cap. When a number of Arab monarchies were overthrown following World War I, the fez was made illegal by the new rulers and those who dared to wear them had their asses tossed in jail.

Fez Cat

The city of Fes, Morocco was actually quite important to the hat’s existence, as it produced the colouring agent, using crimson berries, to turn the hat red. It was the only place that had access to this hue before artificial dyes were later manufactured. Today, the city is known as the ‘Mecca of the West’ and the ‘Athens of Africa’ and not much is mentioned about the hats any longer.

The decline of the fez put it amongst other headdresses that may only be worn for events such as weddings, funerals, or invitations to the royal palace. Many of the male employees at restaurants and hotels in Morocco don the cap to give tourists a little thrill and a trip back through history. You may even get the chance to wear one and snap a few photos, but it will likely set you back a little in the realm of tip money.

If you’d like to have your very own fez, they can be found online. Most sell for under $20 and come in a variety of colour schemes, but ones involving higher quality materials or with some historical value will set you back a little more, in the $100-$150 range. They can also be imported directly from Morocco, adding some legitimacy to the accessory.

Fez Pot

Today, the fez is most commonly recognized as being worn by members of the Shriners men’s fraternity. Despite wearing the fez, the group is not associated with Arabic or Islamic culture and is more in line with Masonry. The group can often be seen participating in parades, while driving around in miniature cars, and also advocating for their Shriners Hospitals for Children, across North America. Members have included presidents and other high-profile politicians, star athletes, musicians, and other notable celebrities.

Others who have worn the hat include: Aladdin and Abu; Moroccan Mole, sidekick to Secret Squirrel in the 1960’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon; Sallah, from the Indiana Jones films; Magician Tommy Cooper; one of the many Doctor Who incarnations; and a number of Disney Theme Parks characters, particularly at the Tokyo and Hong Kong sites. Steely Dan even recorded a song titled Fez for their 1976 The Royal Scam album.

The term FES has also gone on to stand for Foreign Exchange Student, most famously portrayed by the character of that name on That 70’s Show. We never learn Fez’s real name, as the other characters state it’s too hard to pronounce. All we learn is that the first five K’s are silent and his name is made up solely of vowels (which seems to contradict those silent K’s). We also never learn where exactly the character is from and both that mystery and his real name are running gags throughout the series.

Morocco: Black, White & Fig

Black, White & Fig Martini

  • Rim glass with Pepper and Sugar
  • Muddle Apple Slices and Pepper
  • 1 oz Mahia
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Apple and Lime Slice

I personally believe that I would look quite fetching in a fez hat. While it would be similar to a smoking cap, I’d use it solely for getting blitzed and dancing around , preferably with a monkey assistant. I know that sounds like a hundred bad stereotypes, but that’s just how we roll at the Sip Advisor offices!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Mahia is an interesting spirit in that it’s Fig-based. It has a unique taste that I simply can’t place. Mrs. Sip and I both really enjoyed the Pepper & Sugar Rim and it added an different taste to the cocktail that didn’t overpower. For the citrus portion of the martini, you have the option of Lime Juice or Grapefruit Juice. I went with a splash of both because I like my sweet and sour.

Morocco – Night in Casablanca

Lights, Camera, Action

If we’re being honest, for some people, the only exposure they have to Morocco is through the classic film Casablanca. Ironically, not a single scene of the movie was filmed on location in the city for which it’s named. Morocco, however, has become a popular destination for some of the world’s greatest directors and stars. These popular productions share Morocco as a location, despite rarely being set in the African country:

Game of Thrones

The immensely popular HBO TV series has filmed scenes around the world and that includes Morocco (Ait Benhaddou and Essaouira), which has provided the setting for the cities of Yunkai, Astapor, and Essos. This is where Daenerys Targaryen travels in season three to build her army. Morocco was also used in the pilot episode of the series and can perhaps take a little credit in the massive success of the show… but probably not the copious amount of sex, nudity, murder, and other misdeeds.

game-of-thrones-naked

Lawrence of Arabia

This cinematic gem was originally pegged to be filmed entirely in Jordan, but added other locales during production. Ouarzazate, Morocco doubled for the Syrian town of Tafas (site of the Tafas massacre), with Moroccan armed forces subbing in for the Turkish army. Apparently filming was problematic because of the unaccommodating soldiers. In the end, all Arab countries (except for Egypt) banned the movie due to its portrayal of Arabian culture.

The Mummy & The Mummy Returns

While four days was about all the Sip Advisor needed in Marrakesh, the first Mummy production stayed for 17 weeks. Kidnapping insurance was taken out on each of the movie’s stars, who weren’t told of this until shooting had wrapped. The sequel only used the Erg Chebbi Dunes as its “Egyptian” desert. For some reason, Morocco wasn’t used for The Scorpion King prequel to the franchise, nor the third film in the trilogy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, although that story was based out of China.

Inception

The Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio thriller featured a couple scenes filmed in Morocco, most notably the exciting chase scene set in the narrow alleys of the Tangier, Morocco medina. It also served as the place where Dominick Cobb adds con artist Eames and chemist Yusef to his team, prior to the dash. Finally, it is the setting for the riot images, as Cobb infiltrates Japanese businessman Saito’s mind at the start of the film.

inception-explained

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Another Alfred Hitchcock-Jimmy Stewart collaboration which sees an innocent family become embroiled in an international assassination plot, with their son even being kidnapped. The opening scenes of the film, including the murder of a French intelligence operative, are all filmed in Marrakesh, where Stewart and family are vacationing. This movie (murder, kidnapping, and assassination plots, oh my) provided the basis of what I expected from Morocco!

Gladiator

While this Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe epic is set in the Roman Empire, a large chunk of the movie was actually filmed in Ouarzazate, Morocco (which Mrs. Sip and I visited). This Berber city provided the location for Maximus’ gladiator training, early slave life, and scenes traversing the desert. A mud brick stadium for the battle sequences was built using local techniques. I guess that’s all fair enough, given the Roman Empire did extend into Africa.

gladiator-like-life

Othello

One of the first foreign productions to capitalize on Morocco as a filming destination, this Orson Welles adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy ran into a number of logistical issues, resulting in using some unique filming techniques. This included a battle sequence was first filmed in Morocco, but finished while on location in Rome a few months later. When the film won the Palme d’or at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival, it was recognized as a Moroccan creation.

Prince of Persia

While perhaps not on the same level as the other films listed in this article, I have to mention this one, because Mrs. Sip and I were inside one of the Berber homes used during a battle scene of the movie. In fact, the production spent eight weeks in Morocco, which isn’t a huge surprise given the movie largely takes place in the desert. Hell, the movie’s subtitle is The Sands of Time… Morocco was an obvious choice for filming.

Morocco: Night in Casablanca

Night in Casablanca Cocktail

  • 2 oz Mahia
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Bourbon
  • Dash of Peychauds Bitters
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wheel

Of course, not every movie made in Morocco is a classic… after all, Sex and the City 2 filmed there. Given it was hard for our crew to find cocktails around the country, I wonder how easily the girls were able to locate their favoured Cosmopolitans!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was pretty strong, but the ingredients come together well. The Sugar Cube really helps even out the drink. Mahia is an interesting spirit and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. I’ll have to give it another shot and see how it works out with different bed fellows…

September 6 – ABC

A Good Read

With school coming back into session for many little sippers out there (although not here in B.C., where it looks like we might have the makings of a long teacher’s strike), it might be time to snatch some good reading material. While I would never classify myself as an avid reader, there have been some books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Mrs. Sip would love to see me sit down more often with a book, but TV’s warm loving embrace is just too much to break. Here are my favourite books/series throughout life:

#5: Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stein

One of the only things I enjoyed about elementary school (save for gym, recess, and spelling tests… what can I say, I was born to write) was the monthly Scholastic book catalogue that came out, providing me an opportunity to grow my Goosebumps collection, which sits to this day in a drawer at Ma and Pa Sip’s home. I still fondly remember some of these stories, such as Attack of the Mutants, A Night in Terror Tower, and The Phantom of the Auditorium. The covers on these novels alone were enough to chill your blood and get you pumped for your next classroom quiet time. There were 62 releases in the original series and a TV show followed, but when it came to screen screams, I was more of an Are You Afraid of the Dark fan.

goosebumps report

#4: The Rebel League: World Hockey Association by Ed Willes

The World Hockey Association had a brief life, but it changed the landscape of professional hockey and in some circumstances, the entire sports world. Journalist Ed Willes takes the reader through the league’s tumultuous existence from conception to absorption by the NHL, right through a mess of teams going out of business or being relocated. The dichotomy of the league, with its highly-skilled players meshing with fight-filled contests, is just one aspect of a mesmerizing story. Willes captures all the sordid tales and behind-the-scenes dealings that made the WHA such a fascinating flash in the pan. Largely based on this book, I was able to rank the WHA #1 on my list of top defunct sports leagues. I only wish I had been able to experience some of the action in-person.

#3: Get Fuzzy Treasuries by Darby Conley

I never really got into comic books as a youngster, fancying my superheroes on the screen, as opposed to in my hands (save for some of the sexy female heroines). That said, I do prefer to look at brightly coloured pictures, rather than printed words, and that can come in the form of some lighter entertainment. My hands down favourite daily funny is Get Fuzzy, which focuses on the interactions of human Rob Wilco with his pets/roommates Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch. Bucky is a little terror, who is constantly trying to run (scratch that, ruin) the household, while Satchel is a sweet and gentle pup, happy to have a chew toy and a quiet place to nap. Rob just gets stuck in the middle, just like your typical real world pet owner.

GF

#2: Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers by Bathroom Readers’ Institute

I really enjoy learning unknown tidbits about subjects I’m interested in and this series is perfect for exactly that. Thanks to these books, I’m an integral member of any trivia team I’m invited to join (aside from my wonderful personality!) and the lesser known facts my brain is able to absorb have garnered me a fair bit of free booze! The best thing about Bathroom Readers is that you can read one piece or a selection of articles… I guess it depends on how long you’ll be in the bathroom. I personally prefer to not have a book in my hands while I’m on the pot, but admittedly, that is what these releases were meant for. My favourites from the Uncle John library include TV, Movies, and Hockey.

#1: Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley

While my favourite books are sports-related, Mick Foley’s wrestling autobiography is a no-brainer to top this list. And I’m not alone in my fondness for this story. Books released by wrestlers exploded after the success of Mick Foley’s first attempt and the string of publications is going strong to this day. In Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley guides us through the earliest days of his life and career with a wit and warmth that makes it extremely hard to put the book down… even for a non-reader such as myself. I have yet to check out Foley’s other two non-fiction releases, but have heard good things about both and should really take the time to pick them up.

Super Saturday Shot Day: ABC

ABC Shot

  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Cognac
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

Given my penchant for wrestling reads, I would also recommend autobiographies by Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho, as well as the book WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. There are a number of others I would endorse, but it’s time to get back to the library and go silent!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
You layer the ingredients in A-B-C order and that allowed me to finally use the layering tool I received a few months back. It worked out really well and looks great, am I right!? The shot tasted fantastic, especially when the Irish Crème kicked in following the two liquors, which move a little quicker. Too bad I couldn’t think of a D-garnish to continue the ABC theme.

Russia – Estate Cocktail

Pricey Souvenir

Anyone travelling in Russia has to pick up a Fabergé Egg (or at least a suitable knockoff), but what do we really know about these expensive and fragile relics? Luckily, the Sip Advisor is here for all your antiquity needs!

The famous jewel-covered eggs were created by artist Peter Carl Fabergé, starting in 1885. They were originally given by Tsar Alexander III to his wife as an Easter morning treat and continued by Alexander’s son Nicholas II (to his wife and mother), leading up to the Russian Revolution. Of the approximately 50 ‘Imperial’ eggs the House of Fabergé created, 43 still exist. Not that I’m complaining, but all I ever got for Easter was chocolate and candy!

Group Faberge eggs.

Fabergé’s first creation was dubbed the ‘Hen Egg,’ which featured a seemingly ordinary egg, but inside was gold yolk that contained a golden hen (with ruby eyes, no less) on a nest of gold. And the gifts kept coming. Inside the hen was a miniature diamond version of the royal crown, as well as a ruby egg pendant that could be worn as a necklace. While the Hen Egg is among those that have survived, the gifts inside have been lost to time (a sad, but common theme among the eggs).

Other famous eggs include the Diamond Trellis, Rosebud, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Basket of Wild Flowers, Moscow Kremlin, Rose Trellis, Standart Yacht, Colonnade, Napoleonic, Winter, and the unfinished Constellation. Constellation was never completed and presented thanks to the Russian Revolution taking place and the royal family being executed.

Eggs were made each year, except for 1904 and 1905, when Russia was at war with Japan. As the legend of the eggs grew, Fabergé picked up more clients, including industrialist Alexander Kelch, the Duchess of Marlborough, and the Rothschild and Yusupov families. Each egg contained hidden gifts, usually trinkets such as pendants and other jewelry that could be worn by the recipient.

Dos Equis Faberge

Some of the eggs ended up in private collections, while others are on display in museums around the world. Most of the eggs that are missing are thought to still be out there somewhere, while a few have certainly been destroyed, with little reference to them following the Russian Revolution. Next time Easter rolls around, you better be careful about what you discard and what you examine a little closer.

One of the ‘Imperial’ eggs was almost sold as scrap metal. Although the unidentified owner was looking to take home $500 from melting down the piece, the egg was actually worth $33 million US. Thankfully, the owner didn’t get the money he was hoping to score and kept the item. Thought to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of the antique world, it was last listed in an auction book in 1964 before it was located earlier this year.

Cracked Faberge

Fabergé Eggs were Russia’s featured showcase for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. This earned Fabergé, his two sons, and his head workmaster awards from the French government, as well as boosted the company’s profile and client list. The main Fabergé outlet still exists in St. Petersburg. Although it has been renamed, it is still known as the Fabergé store.

As for the artist, Fabergé was forced to flee Russia during the October Revolution of 1917. His company was seized by the new Bolshevik government and broken up. Fabergé died in 1920 at the age of 74, after taking refuge in Switzerland (following stops in Latvia, Germany, and Finland). The Fabergé brand has never disappeared, first being operated by Fabergé’s children before being purchased by larger corporations, which use the name for colognes and perfumes.

Russia: Estate Cocktail

Estate Cocktail

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • Top with Grapefruit Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Mint Leaf

Another Russian treasure is the Matryoshka Dolls (or Nesting Dolls) which feature progressively smaller figures as you open each doll. There are sets for Russian presidents, various holidays, and other famous figures. While in Russia, I picked up a Christmas set for Ma Sip and a Beatles set for Pa Sip. Both were really neat and a perfect memento to bring back as souvenirs.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail comes from the Rum Howler, who has a great site reviewing a bunch of different spirits and including a recipe with each post. I used Squirt instead of Grapefruit Juice to add some fizz to the cocktail and it was a nice addition. It basically turned into a Vodka-based Mojito and with that beautiful Beluga Vodka, it was a knockout of a cocktail!

Russia – Red October

From Russia with Love

The KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti… or Committee for State Security) is one of the most recognizable secret service and intelligence agencies to ever exist. It served throughout the Cold War, from 1954 to 1991, specializing in espionage, surveillance, border patrol, and political control. Here are some of the most infamous spies to work for the organization:

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

This American couple were executed for relaying information regarding atomic bombs to the U.S.S.R. Ethel’s brother David Greenglass was also part of the conspiracy, but only served 10 years of a 15 year prison sentence. There is some doubt as to the extent of Ethel’s involvement in the treason, but that didn’t stop the electric chair switch from being flipped on June 19, 1953.

soviet propaganda kgb

Aldrich Ames

Due to an expensive divorce and living a lifestyle beyond his means, Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer, began selling secrets to the KGB and by the time he was arrested in 1993, had compromised the second most CIA assets ever. For his crimes, which resulted in the deaths of at least 10 operatives and ruined at least 100 operations, Ames received a term of life imprisonment.

Richard Sorge

Working undercover as a journalist in both Germany and Japan, Sorge played a critical role in the outcome of World War II. After informing Russia that Japan did not have plans to attack the country in 1941, Russia was able to reposition their troops to better battle the Germans on the western front, as they tried to take Moscow. Sorge was arrested in Japan shortly after these messages and hung in 1944.

Alexander Litvinenko

Litvinenko is perhaps most remembered for how he died, poisoned by polonium-210, and succumbing to the deadly toxin in November 2006. An investigation in the United Kingdom – where Litvinenko had been living after fleeing Russia and being granted asylum – produced a suspect in Andrei Lugovoy, a member of Russia’s Federal Protective Service, although others have been alleged to have played a part in Litvinenko’s death.

in_soviet_russia

Oleg Lyalin

After being arrested in the United Kingdom for drunk driving, Lyalin decided that he’d had enough of the spy life and defected from the KGB, outing 105 U.S.S.R. spies in the process, the largest action taken against the Soviet Union by a western government. Lyalin was rewarded with a new identity and life (with his secretary mistress!) and remained in hiding for more than 20 years, until his death in February 1995.

Vasily Mitrokhin

Mitrokhin was a former First Chief Directorate of the KGB. When the Soviet Union came to an end in 1991, Mitrokhin defected to Latvia, bringing with him detailed information on operations carried out by the KGB, dating as far back as the 1930’s… he was the senior archivist for the intelligence service, after all. He released a series of works, dubbed the Mitrokhin Archives, which discuss much of what the KGB did during its existence.

Russia: Red October

Red October Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Port
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

Hell, even current Russian president Vladimir Putin served with the KGB during the 1980’s, holding low-level positions in what was East Germany. Now he runs a country and has amassed a massive fortune in the process. Looks like things worked out pretty well for him.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
The Port was supposed to float on top of the rest of the cocktail, but it didn’t really behave as it was meant to. That could have been due to the way I poured it, the ice in the drink or even the type of glassware I used. That said, the drink was quite delicious, with notes of sweet and sour mixing in harmony.