Sweden – Hunky Dory

Home Furnishings

Recent ads for IKEA used the slogan “Home is the most important place in the world.” Mrs. Sip and I, however, maintain that the company’s motto should really be “Ruining relationships since… like, forever!” Yes, if you’ve ever survived building any IKEA item with your loved one, then you are, in fact, a special couple, with the strength to overcome any and all adversity. Around the world, IKEA is one of the most recognized Swedish imports, but what do we really know about this furniture and accessory outlet? Let’s dig a little deeper:

Ikea Slogan

IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, with the name coming from his initials (I.K.), along with the farm in which he grew up on (Elmtaryd) and its nearby village (Agunnaryd). The company was incorporated in 1943 and marketed its first piece of build-it-yourself furniture in 1956, with the LOVET, a leaf-shaped side table. There are now 349 stores located throughout 43 countries.

More copies of the IKEA catalogue are printed each year than the Bible. In fact, 212 million copies of the catalogue, more than double the 100 million Bibles, are manufactured. The register comes in 29 different languages and has gained a cult following of sorts, with people able to pick out interesting hidden items within its pages. Some concealed images include odd books making up the shelving units on display, references to Mickey Mouse, and pictures of cats.

IKEA’s 2013 revenue was disclosed as being $37.9 billion (US) and since the company is actually owned by charities established by Kamprad, much of that money isn’t lost to the greedy government via taxes. The INGKA Foundation, which oversees the IKEA brand, is thought to be the world’s largest charitable organization, promoting “innovations in architecture and interior design”. While some decry that this is all a tax evasion strategy, it should be pointed out that the INGKA Foundation gives away millions of dollars each year to various causes and efforts. Granted, that pales in comparison to other efforts, particularly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donations measure into the billions.

returning-ikea

The company employs 150,000 people worldwide. While Disney has its ‘Cast Members,’ IKEA has ‘Co-Workers,’ which really doesn’t sound all that special. It would be much more awesome if employees were collectively known as ‘Swedish Meatballs!’

IKEA’s most popular product today is the Billy Bookcase, which it sells hundreds of thousands of each year. It’s estimated that one of these bookcases is sold every 10 seconds.

Products are named under specific guidelines including Swedish places for upholstered furniture; Swedish men’s names for chairs; Swedish women’s names for fabrics and curtains; Swedish islands for garden furniture; Finnish places for dining tables and chairs; Norwegian places for beds, wardrobes and hall furniture; and mammals and birds for children’s items. Approximately 85% of the items you find in your own IKEA could be located at any IKEA around the world, while the IKEA website contains 12,000 products and is the most comprehensive source for available pieces.

stool_samples

The way IKEA names products has resulted in some unintentional humour when the product arrives in other countries and is translated into the native language. There was the ‘Jerker’ computer desk, which went hand in hand (literally!) with the internet’s primary use; the ‘Fukta’ plant spray; the ‘Fartfull’ workbench (frankfully you should be able to do whatever you want in your own workshop!); and the Askholmen outdoor suite.

IKEA is nearly as famous for its cheap concession food as it is for furniture. Kamprad opened his first restaurant inside a store in 1960, after realizing people left the store without buying anything because they were hungry. Since then, IKEA has sold an untold number of hotdogs, meatballs, and breakfast meals.

While IKEA seems to be a decent company, they’ve also experienced their fair share of controversies. A teenage Kamprad was once involved with a pro-Nazi movement in Sweden, although the IKEA founder calls it the “greatest mistake of my life”. Three people were trampled to death at a store opening in Saudi Arabia over $150 vouchers being handed out (and I thought the Saudi’s were all wealthy princes). In Atlanta, Georgia, historic building were demolished to make way for a IKEA store and in similar fashion, ancient tombs in Nanjing, China were destroyed for another store opening.

ikea fight

It’s estimated that 10% of all Europeans were conceived on an IKEA bed. I know I’ve slept in one, sans conception (not for my lack of trying, of course), and given their popularity among college and university students, you can bet that number will drastically rise over the years.

IKEA was the first company to feature a homosexual couple in one of their ads (targeting the community much more frequently since) and has also compiled commercial material depicting a transgendered person.

If you’re a fan of The Sims video game series, you can actually purchase IKEA furnishings for your virtual family. Lucky for them, they don’t have to put the furniture together, although it would be hilarious to watch your simulated humans get as frustrated as you’ve been. It’s always better when it’s someone else’s misery!

Sweden: Hunky Dory

Hunky Dory Cocktail

  • 1 oz Absolut Vodka
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • Top with Sprite
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

While IKEA served a purpose for Mrs. Sip and myself as we went through our schooling and settled into our first home together, I’m happy to say that the cursed furniture won’t be making any more appearances around the Sip Advisor offices for the foreseeable future. Perhaps when we have to furnish the place for our own little sippers, then we may go that route, but for now, we’re both happy to not be dealing with the make-your-own products.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink wasn’t bad, but Mrs. Sip had a better version of it at a nearby restaurant, Subeez Cafe, and their recipe didn’t outline exactly all the ingredients needed to make the full cocktail. I did my best, but admittedly, the eatery had me beat.

April 12 – Drunken Bunny

Bunny Style

It’s the season of the bunny… which means copious amounts of sex, right? Hmmm, apparently it just means lots of chocolate, jelly beans and other candy… I’ll take it! Here are the top five hippity hoppities (a colloquial term for rabbits):

#5: Br’er Rabbit – Song of the South

Ol’ Br’er Rabbit is always getting himself into trouble, which means the Sip Advisor has to bail him out and end up plummeting into the Splash Mountain briar patch, resulting in getting soaked. You know, sometimes I want to see Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox get their hands on the damn rabbit and tear him limb from limb. Together, we could celebrate with a jug of moonshine, some rabbit stew, and a barbecue cookout with all the trimmings. We could even watch Song of the South, providing we can find a copy of the banned film.

briarpatch

Why does Br’er Rabbit look happy to be thrown off a cliff into a briar patch!?

#4: Roger Rabbit – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

You have to give a ton of respect to anyone (and I mean ANYONE) who can land the vivacious Jessica Rabbit. Sure, all Roger wants to do is play pattycake with her and that’s why I invented a sexual maneuver with the same moniker. Back to Double-R, I wonder if they’ll ever get around to doing the long-rumoured sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It’s taken more than two decades to sort things out, but producers don’t seem any closer to working on the prequel project that would apparently see Roger in his earlier days.

#3: Greg – Greg the Bunny

This adorable Fabricated-American isn’t just cute and cuddly… he’s naïve and innocent to boot. By chance, Greg joined the cast of Sweetknuckle Junction (inadvertently replacing his idol Rochester Rabbit), a children’s show akin to Sesame Street. The difference being that off-screen, his fellow puppets Warren the Ape, Count Blah, and others have a bad side that includes sex, drugs, and alcohol – sounds like fun, don’t it! Greg has to work hard to keep up with his cast mates, all while living the life of a second-class citizen among all the humanoids.

gregbunny

A meal with Gilbert Gottfried… Fabricated-Americans get all the lucky breaks!

#2: Babs and Buster Bunny – Tiny Toon Adventures

Babs and Buster, no relation, are a mischievous duo that head the crop of Acme Looniversity students and are looking to be the next generation of cartoon stars, following in the footsteps of the fabulous Looney Tunes gang. With school principal Bugs Bunny acting as their mentor, the two are the heir apparent to the Looney Tunes throne. Buster is Bugs’ intelligent, calculating side, while Babs represents Bugs’ manic, wild side. The couple comes together for a perfect mixture of mayhem. And I can’t be the only one who found Babs kind of attractive with her spunky attitude and sweetness. I mean, at least if you’re into animated femme fatales.

#1: Bugs Bunny – Looney Tunes

There’s no other way to say it: Bugs Bunny is an icon! His feuds with Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and so many others are legendary. The great thing about Bugs is that he’s not impervious to his own battles and doesn’t always end up on the winning side. Surprisingly, the creators of the character didn’t think it would be the smash Bugs ended up being. Bugs has entertained his way to being a symbol for the entire Warner Bros. company (well, him and that damn singing frog!) and is still used in numerous media today.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Drunken Bunny

Drunken Bunny Shot

  • 0.5 oz Orange Rum
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Whip Cream
  • Garnish with Mini Eggs Bits

I have to give out some kudos to some bunnies that are best associated with company logos and mascots. This would include the Playboy Bunny (logo or girls, they’re all good), the Cadbury Bunny (I love me some crème and mini eggs), and the Energizer Bunny (we all wish we had its stamina). Which rabbit would you have liked to see shoehorned into this list? Happy Easter y’all!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This is actually a cocktail recipe that I’ve adapted into a shooter, which I seem to have to do a lot around here! The liquid is delicious, although I had to combine White Rum and Grand Marnier to achieve the desired Orange Rum. The Mini Eggs Bits at the end of the drink were a very nice touch and were easy to crush up for the shooter.

Spain – First Avenue

I’d Tap That

Without Spain, we wouldn’t have tapas… and without tapas, we would never eat. Okay, that might be a little bit of exaggeration, but we certainly appreciate the invention of the appetizer, for without it, monstrous starter platters could not be devoured! Let’s take a look at some common Spanish tapas (according to Wikipedia – the number one source for online legitimacy) and see whether they pass the Sip Advisor taste test:

Tapas or Tapass

Albóndigas: Meatballs with sauce

Okay, we’re off to a decent start. Who doesn’t like meatballs? Well, I guess vegetarians and vegans, but do they really count?

Tortillitas de Camarones: Battered prawn fritters

Anything described as “battered” can play on my team!

Pimientos de Padrón: Small green peppers fried in olive oil or served raw (most are mild, but a few in each batch are quite spicy)

Finding the spicy green peppers is like locating the toy in a box of cereal. At first, you’re really happy because you found the surprise before anyone else could get to it. Joy turns to disappointment quickly, however, when you realize the toy isn’t that great anyway, much like a spicy green pepper when you’re expecting mild!

Aceitunas: Olives, sometimes with a filling of anchovies or red bell pepper

To me, appies need to be something more than a condiment stuffed with another condiment, but I sadly don’t call the shots in the country of Spain.

fuck-you-tapas

Solomillo al Whisky: Fried pork scallops, marinated using whisky, brandy or white wine and olive oil

Put the pork scallops aside and give me a couple bottles of your best marinade!

Cojonuda (superb female): A slice of Spanish morcilla with a fried quail egg over bread – it can also be prepared with a little strip of red, spicy pepper

Looked up morcilla and it is actually blood sausage, so there’s strike one. Strike two is the fried quail egg although I’m sure somewhere in the world it is a delicacy. While I can’t find anything to call the cojonuda out, I’ve decided to change the rules of baseball to suit my purpose and now all you need is two strike to retire a batter.

Cojonudo (superb male): A slice of Spanish chorizo with a fried quail egg over a slice of bread

So, there are male and female versions of cojonudo… is your sexual orientation decided by which you prefer? What if you like to swing both ways?

Pincho Moruno: A stick with spicy meat, made of pork, lamb or chicken

Nothing beats meat on a stick unless it’s spicy meat!

Appetizers

Empanadillas: Turnovers filled with meats and vegetables

Any food pocket device stuffed with more food will always shoot to the top of my favourite list. The name would have you thinking you’re about to eat a small animal, however.

Gambas: Prawns sauteed in salsa negra (peppercorn sauce), al ajillo (with garlic), or pil-pil (with chopped chili peppers)

Poor prawns… such a small creature and still gets stuffed with any number of items.

Mejillones Rellenos: Stuffed mussels, sometimes called tigres (“tigers”) because of the spicy taste

Mrs. Sip would love her some tiger muscles, but I have to note that tiger ice cream isn’t spicy and I think this calls into the question the process of describing spice levels using animals. I feel calling them dragon muscles would be more apt.

Patatas Bravas or Papas Bravas: Fried potato dices served with salsa brava a spicy tomato sauce – sometimes served also with mayo or aioli

Are these like brave little potatoes… you know, in a similar vein to the Brave Little Toaster?

Tapas Bill

Chorizo a la Sidra: Chorizo sausage slowly cooked in cider

Cider, you say? Not my favourite, but it does have booze in it!

Chorizo al Vino: Chorizo sausage slowly cooked in wine

See above, but even better!

Calamares or Rabas: Rings of battered squid

I wonder if the Spanish can rival Greek calamari? Perhaps both countries should send me some of their finest product and I will, once and for all, get to the bottom of this ever-deepening mystery.

Zamburiñas: Renowned Galician scallops, often served in a marinera, tomato-based sauce

Renowned??? I’ll be the judge of that. Again, Spain, send some my way and we’ll send out the results as soon as our little feast has concluded!

Spain: First Avenue

First Avenue Martini

  • 1.5 oz Sherry
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Campari
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

Sometimes I’m into the idea of tapas and other times, I loathe them. While they’re a treasure trove of variety and perfect portion size for the ladies, a dude sometimes wants something he can really sink his teeth into like a fat burger or other hearty meal. The worst is going out with a group and splitting a bunch of appies… you will not have a good time!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes: (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was pretty good. Even when I subbed in Tonic Water for Club Soda, it wasn’t as bitter as I feared it would be, especially with the splash of Campari there to team up with the Tonic. I guess the Cointreau and Sherry balance out the sweet-bitter war and make for an interesting cocktail.

Spain – Banana Nutbread

Surreal Skill

One of Spain’s most famous figures is artist Salvador Dali. Everything from his collection of work to his personal look was certainly bizarre, but that’s what attracted so many to him. Dali separated himself from the crowd in so many ways. Here are some of the unique aspects of his zany life:

Dali Reincarnate

Dali was the second Salvador Dali to be born into his family. Nine months before he came along, his brother (with the same name) died at the age of 22 months. When he was five, Dali was taken to his brother’s burial plot and told by his parents that he was the reincarnation of his deceased sibling. And we wonder why he turned out to be such a wacky nut! The brothers did resemble one another, with Dali later saying: “[We] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.”

Shit Just Got Surreal

Getting Prepped

In order to do his work, Dali used a few unique tactics to get in the right mood, including sleeping in a chair with a spoon standing on top of a plate on his head. When the spoon fell and hit the plate, he would awaken and quickly take notes on what he saw in his dreams. Dali would also stand on his head (a favourite position of the Sip Advisor) for long periods of time, allowing his brain to function differently than normal.

Famous Pieces

Dali’s most celebrated work is The Persistence of Memory, which features the melting clocks he is probably best known for. Dali’s talent and vision extended to many different kinds of art, including jewelry. He is famous for a number of wearable pieces, most notably The Royal Heart, comprised of pure gold adorned with 46 rubies, 42 diamonds and two emeralds.

For Love of Money

Dubbed “Avida Dollars” (an anagram for Salvador Dali) by some, Dali was known to do almost anything for money. He appeared in commercials for Lanvin chocolates, which featured the artist exclaiming his love for the treat before biting into it, which caused his eyes to cross and his mustache to curl. He also designed the Chupa Chups lollipop logo, which is subtle, colourful, and meaningful all at the same time.

avida dollars

Scam Artist

One of the best stories I’ve ever heard about Dali is how he scammed Yoko Ono (one of the most vile creatures in the known world) to the tune of $10,000. Ono, for her own inexplicable reason, wanted a strand of Dali’s mustache hair. Dali asked for $10,000 and when he was paid, sent her a dried blade of grass instead. As the fable goes, apparently Dali was worried the hair would be sued for witchcraft… proving I’m not the only one who thinks Ono is a witch!

Hail Hitler

Along with a fascination for eclectic animals (the man had an ocelot!), Dali was fixated on Adolf Hitler. He once said: “I often dreamed about Hitler as other men dreamed about women.” I mean, who am I to say what people should be dreaming about, but this one takes the cake. A later painting of Dali’s is called Hitler Masturbating and it isn’t a figurative title. Thankfully, the dictator’s (should I use that word here?) true Nazi salute is obstructed.

Demented Disney

In 1946, Dali and Walt Disney actually joined forces for an animated short, titled Destino. Based on the song by the same name, by Armando Dominguez, Dali blended his artistic style with Disney’s character work. The piece wasn’t finished until 48 years later, when Baker Bloodworth and Roy E. Disney returned to the project, which features strange figures and dreamlike images. Mrs. Sip and I were able to view this work (with free champagne) aboard one of our cruises and it was a trip, to say the least.

Paying Bills

If you ever have trouble paying for a large and expensive meal, you could try this trick, but it probably only works for someone of Dali’s stature. When the bill came to Dali’s table, no matter how many people had enjoyed the outing or how expensive it was, he was quick to pick up the tab. This wasn’t done out of generosity, however, as Dali had a trick up his sleeves (if he even work sleeves!). He would quickly do a little drawing on the cheque and because of his fame, the restaurant wouldn’t dare cash an original Dali piece of art and therefore, his meal (and his guest’s) was basically comped.

Quoted Quotables

A number of interesting quotes came from the mind of Dali. These include: “The only difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a surrealist.”; “I myself am surrealism.”; “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”; and “Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí.” That about sums the man up… let’s have a drink in his honour!

Spain: Banana Nutbread

Apr 14

  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Crème de Bananes
  • 0.5 oz Sherry
  • Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Garnish with Peanuts

I enjoy dreams as much as the next person, but I can’t say that I’ve ever envisioned any of the imagery that Dali did. Love him or hate him, he was certainly a fascinating character who saw and experienced the world in a very different way than any other person. Plus, he was even turned into a Muppet on Sesame Street (Salvador Dada), a long-term goal of my own!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
While this sounds like a recipe for a delicious and nutritious dessert, it’s also the perfect cocktail for an eclectic artist like Salvador Dali. The beverage is quite tasty and it’s not overly sweet. Even Mrs. Sip liked it and trust me, if it’s too sweet, I’ll hear that… to no end!

April 12 – Canuck-tini

Rebuild Realization

As the NHL season winds to a close and the playoffs are set to begin, the Sip Advisor’s team, the Vancouver Canucks only have a spring of golf tee times to look forward to. This rare occurrence over the last decade is the culmination of the squad unraveling since their 2011 Stanley Cup Final appearance, thanks to a few highly-publicized misfires. Please forgive me a moment to regionalize my work for this site, as here are the top five reasons the Canucks are in need of a reboot:

#5: Trading for Derek Roy

While some trade deadline rental deals work out and the player sticks with the team for a few seasons (ie. Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre in 2011), trading for Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars in 2013 completely blew up in the Canucks collective face. Roy never seemed to click with his Vancouver teammates and signed with St. Louis in the off-season. Worst of all, the ‘Nucks gave up some of their future in the deal, trading away defensive prospect Kevin Connauton and a second round draft pick, which was used to select goaltender Philippe Desrosiers. Only time will tell if that comes back to bite Vancouver in the butt later.

Fun for Whole Family

#4: Trading for David Booth

A former 30-goal scorer with the Florida Panthers, Booth has scored a combined total of 26 tallies in his nearly three seasons with the Canucks. While Vancouver only gave up a couple of players (Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm) who didn’t seem to fit with the club going forward, Booth has never been able to live up to the expectations fans first hoped for when he came to the Canucks and has found himself frequently on the injured reserve list. Booth is certainly a buyout candidate this summer, despite his strong play to end the campaign, with one season remaining on his six-year, $25.5 million contract.

#3: Trading for Keith Ballard

Looking to beef up their options on puck-moving defensemen, the Canucks traded for Keith Ballard, of the Florida Panthers, at the 2010 NHL Draft. To land the rearguard, Vancouver gave up former first round draft choice Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and their opening pick of that draft, which turned out to be Quinton Howden. Grabner flourished with the New York Islanders, scoring 34 goals in his rookie season after being waived by the Panthers. Bernier is a regular with the New Jersey Devils, while Howden is now cracking the Florida line-up. Ballard was bought out in the 2013 off-season after a couple seasons of ineffectiveness and time spent in the press box.

Canucks Riot

#2: Trading Cody Hodgson

Hodgson apparently wanted out of Vancouver, but trading him away depleted a strong center ice core. With Ryan Kesler likely on his way out of town, Hodgson could have seamlessly slotted into the second-line center role that would have opened up. Getting Zack Kassian in the deal was a decent return, but he has yet to realize his full potential. Some have argued, however, that he hasn’t been given a fair chance to succeed under the current coaching regime. Hodgson, meanwhile, has put up 85 points for the Buffalo Sabres since the swap, leaving Vancouver (Kassian has 41 points in the same time) without the greatest prospect they’ve had in years.

#1: Trading Cory Schneider/Roberto Luongo

This whole fiasco lost the Canucks not only their number one netminder, but also the goalie of their future. When the team moved on from Luongo during the 2012 playoffs, I knew he was done with the squad… yet the saga lasted until March 2014 and by that time, Schneider had already been dealt. Now, the Canucks are left with two young, inexperienced and unproven tenders in Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, while their once solid tandem wins games for other franchises. That puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Bo Horvat (drafted with the pick exchanged for Schneider) and Shawn Matthias (the other part of the Luongo deal, along with Markstrom).

Super Saturday Shot Day: Canuck-tini

Apr 12

  • 0.5 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • Dash of Honey
  • Garnish with Mint Leaves

Hopefully, the Canucks can clean things up a little at this year’s draft and through free agency. Picking up a free agent goalie and trading Ryan Kesler (I hate to see him go, but he clearly wants out) for a package of assets could get this reboot off the ground quickly. I can’t help but notice that the Florida Panthers have played a great role in Vancouver’s misery and demise. That said, Florida can also be credited with the Canucks’ last ascension, when Roberto Luongo was plucked from the Southeast Division in 2006.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
After a year like the one Canucks fans just endured, downing copious amounts of alcohol is in short order. Will this shot do the trick? Well, it can’t hurt! This martini recipe comes from the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver and I’ve taken the liberty of converting it into a shooter. It was okay and probably makes a better martini, to be honest. You mostly taste the Blue Curacao, with a hint of the Raspberry Vodka. Much like the Canucks 2013-14 season… it’s disappointing!

Mexico – El Diablo

Ancient Civilizations

While this may take on the look of a history class, we’ll try to liven things up with human sacrifices, monuments to the gods, the seven wonders of the world, and mystical mythology. All in a day’s work around the Sip Advisor offices! At recess we can even enjoy some tacos, burritos and enchiladas. So, take your Pepto or Tums, it’s time to get a little freaky with the various cultures that make up Mexico’s history:

Olmecs

These fine people worshipped a god that was half human and half jaguar. It had no name, so I’ve supplied my own: the humuar! You laugh now, but just wait and I bet those thieves writing modern Scooby Doo episodes will eventually steal this title. The Olmecs (now best known for the Olmeca Tequila brand… although I have no verification of this!) developed large parts of the eastern coast of Mexico and can be credited with sculpting the famed Colossal Heads.

The Olmecs have more origin stories than some comic book characters, including tales told in popular culture that they originated from Africa. Most researchers don’t find these accounts to be very credible, but the same could be said for many super heroes. The concept of zero is said to have been developed by the Olmecs, meaning we have them to blame every time we run out of money, food, lives, etc. Before this civilization came along, everything was infinite and unlimited and they went ahead and ruined all our fun in the name of mathematical accuracy.

90's Game Shows

Most importantly, Olmec culture was used for the 90′s Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple!

Aztecs

Usually nomadic, the Aztecs settled in Mexico after spotting an eagle standing on a cactus, clutching a snake in its talons. The image represents the sun, the heart, and the earth, respectively and is now depicted on the country’s flag. Like the Olmecs before them, the Aztecs were big into human sacrifices, believing that without blood, the sun would stop moving and the world would come to an end. During a sacrifice ceremony, the heart of the victim (although they’d have you believe there were volunteers) would be cut out and burned in the temple. The heart was known as “precious eagle cactus fruit,” which should be released as a liquor flavour.

The Aztecs were a bloodthirsty civilization, sacrificing anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 people per year. Ruler Montezuma II even killed 12,000 of his own people in one day. Not content to just enjoy sacrifices as entertainment, the Aztecs played a ball game called tlachtli… although the losers were often killed off to appease the gods. Thankfully, this isn’t the same result after the Sip Advisor’s soccer matches (winless in 2014).

Mayans

The Mayans also played a ball game known as pitz, which is speculated to have featured decapitations, with those separated heads possibly used as balls in the sport. When in battle, the Mayans were known to throw hornet bombs at their enemies, which was an actual hornet’s nest. This is how Macaulay Culkin’s character in My Girl actually died, but the movie covers the fact the Mayans were responsible. Hey, if they used decapitated heads for sport, is a hornet bomb really unimaginable!? The Mayans can be credited with building the Chichen Itza city, now considered one of the seven wonders of the world.

Mayans were perhaps one of the first image-conscious civilizations, but they went about it in all the wrong ways. They would press boards against babies’ foreheads to given them a desired flat surface and cross a young child’s eyes by dangling an object on the bridge of their nose until the desired effect was achieved. Children were named according to the day they were born with a set list for boys and girls that was expected to be followed. Lastly, although they’re always credited with predicting the end of the world in 2012, this is complete hokum (to borrow a line from Sheldon Cooper). The Mayan’s calendar system merely meant that a new cycle would begin on Dec. 20, 2012 and mention of other occurrences past that date do exist in Mayan accounts.

Incans

The Incas recorded their history using a string and knot system, known as Quipu. The Sip Advisor does the same when tying his shoelaces every morning, although those entries are lost every afternoon when the laces are untied and I’ve forgotten to once again jot down the activities of my day. The Incas were prominent users of the coca plant for everything from pain relief to surgeries, energy boosts to appetite suppression. Modern day pop drinkers and cokeheads can thank them for their discovery.

ancient-Incas-2012

The Incan flag depicts two snakes eating opposite ends of a rainbow with a tassel in the middle. I’d give my best interpretation of what this could mean, but I would surely offend a number of groups and therefore, I’ll leave it be. European diseases such as smallpox greatly destroyed the Incan civilization. The disease was able to spread so quickly because of the empire’s own triumphs, such as their highly-developed road system.

Zapotec

This civilization built cities in the south of Mexico and believed that they came into existence after emerging from caves or transforming into human form from being trees and jaguars. Were the tree people more likely to be vegetarians, while the former jaguars were meat eaters? Ah, the experiments one would conduct if they had a time machine!

The Zapotec also developed the first writing system in the Americas, so we have them to thank for this wonderfully-crafted site, but also them to blame for tripe like the Twilight series. While at war (is that all people ever did back in the day!?) the Zapotecs used a cotton form of armour. I have continued on this tradition, as when I enter battle with Mrs. Sip, I adorn myself with Q-tips, cotton balls, and surgical wrappings. It doesn’t help much, but it has provided many amazing selfie photos!

Toltec

The time of the Toltecs was looked at as a “golden era” thanks to developments in writing and medicine, among other advancements. Both the Mayans and Aztecs highly respected the Toltecs and fashioned themselves after the civilization in many regards. To have a ‘Toltec heart’ was a compliment of the highest respect as it carried the weight of being worthy and excellent at all things. This is a commendation that I have received throughout my life, but only now realize that folks weren’t hurling insults in my direction.

Mexico: El Diablo

El Diablo Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Blackberry Liqueur
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

So much blood has been spilt in Mexico and we haven’t even got to the drug cartels that run the country today. Oh well, some stories need to be saved for another time!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I was really looking forward to trying out this recipe and it did not disappoint. I did sub Blueberry Liqueur for Blackberry Liqueur because I was curious about how that would work and it came together very well. The best part of the drink was the smoky tequila aftertaste that can only be enjoyed with an anejo version of the spirit. Given this cocktail and Monday’s 5 out of 5  Sea of Cortez drink, Mexico has the best numbers so far for the Around the World tour!

Mexico – Sea of Cortez

Lucha Libre Lunacy

Wrestling and especially masked wrestlers are a huge hit in Mexico… perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world. The mask adds a dash of mystery to each character and also provides them a colourful outfit and persona. The fast-paced, high-flying in-ring style of the luchadores is mesmerizing for fans and has been captivating spectators for close to a century. Let’s take a look at some of the personalities and history of the genre:

Mask Manufacturing

Don Antonio Martinez is credited with creating some of the earliest lucha libre masks, moving to the face veneers from a successful leather boot business. As the story goes, Martinez employed a set of 17 facial measurements (a trade secret to this day) to help make the masks feel snug for the grapplers using them. Some of Mexico’s greatest wrestling stars would go on to wear a Martinez mask, taking the sport to unimaginable heights.

Lucha_libre_máscaras

The Saint

It takes some dedication to wear your wrestling mask at all times, inside and outside the ring. El Santo became one of Mexico’s cultural icons, appearing in countless movies, comic books, and other media. He only revealed his face to the world late in his life. Appearing on a talk show more than a year after his final match (at the age of 65, no less!), without warning El Santo removed his mask. One week later, the star passed away after suffering a heart attack. The grappler was buried donning his trademark silver disguise. His funeral was one of the biggest in Mexico’s history.

Legendary Lineage

Another hugely popular lucha libre fixture was Mil Mascaras. Hell, the guy even appeared on three different Mexican stamps. Mascaras competed all around the world and is considered one of the most influential wrestlers of all-time. A ban on masked wrestlers appearing at Madison Square Gardens was even lifted specifically so Mascaras could work for the then World Wrestling Federation. His legend lives on today through his nephew and current WWE superstar Alberto Del Rio. While Mascaras has never been unmasked during his lengthy career, Del Rio wrestles sans cover.

Dancing with the Demon

Blue Demon rounds out lucha libres first “Big Three” group of stars (also including El Santo and Mil Mascaras). Much like his fellow “Big Three” alums, Demon starred in numerous feature films, even leading a group of masked wrestlers on the big screen. Together they were dubbed The Champions of Justice and gave other legendary super groups such as the Justice League and Avengers a run for their money. Okay, I made that part up, but they were definitely more proficient when it came to cartwheels and somersaults!

misterioenlasbermudas

I guess the “big three” were kind of like the Rat Pack… yup, Frank, Dean and Sammy were replaced by El Santo, Mil Mascaras and Blue Demon!

For Sale

I nearly every market around Mexico, a traveler can find wrestling masks of varying quality to be purchased. The disguises include replicas for some of the biggest stars of Mexico, as well as those for competitors who have gained popularity abroad. You can even pick up the odd comic superhero façade, such as Spider-Man and Captain America.

Something to Lose

It is humiliating for a wrestler to be unmasked and therefore one of the most exciting and highly-anticipated contests in Mexico is the Mask Match (aka Luchas de Apuestas, which translates to “gambling fights”), where the loser has to reveal their face to the viewing audience. If the masked wrestler’s opponent doesn’t wear a mask, they often put their hair on the line in return. When a wrestler loses and is unmasked, it is common for his personal information to finally be recognized and published. That star is often no longer allowed to compete as that character, a further humiliation heaped on top of the original loss.

Big Time

In 1994, Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) joined forces with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to co-promote a pay-per-view event entitled When Worlds Collide. The show launched the careers of many Mexico-based stars, including Rey Mysterio, Jr., La Parka, Eddie Guerrero, and Konnan. Thanks to this platform, the grapplers started being signed to contracts with bigger American promotions like Extreme Championship Wrestling and the aforementioned WCW.

Mexico Wrestlers

No Respect

Throughout the mid to late 1990’s, more and more wrestlers from Mexico exploded onto the scene in the U.S., exciting fans with their speed, agility, and aerial offense. Things started off pretty well for the imports, but soon turned sour as the roster became flooded with foreign talent, most of whom weren’t featured much and found themselves buried underneath the bigger American grapplers. A number of stars were stripped of their mask in matches that had little to no meaning. Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerra, and Psicosis all found themselves without their familiar covering and despite revealing themselves to fans, saw little improvement to their position in the pecking order.

Return to Glory

In 2002, pint-sized phenom Rey Mysterio (nee Jr.) debuted with the world’s largest wrestling company WWE, returning to wearing the mask that once brought him such great popularity. Bursting onto the scene by defeating some of WWE’s top stars, a renaissance of masked competitors seemed on the horizon. Sure enough, in 2006, Mysterio captured the World Heavyweight Title. No small feat (pun intended) for the 5’6” ultimate underdog!

Mexico: Sea of Cortez

Sea of Cortez Cocktail

 

  • Rim glass with Salt, Sugar and Chili Flakes
  • 1 oz Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Chipotle Spirit
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Grapefruit Soda
  • Splash of Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

The luchadores comprise the Sip Advisor’s favourite style of wrestling. I just love seeing these smaller guys steal the show from the larger, hulking bodies with their crazy, high-risk action-packed contests. Perhaps it’s the cruiserweight in me or maybe it’s just the thrill of watching people fly through the air with complete disregard to their own safety. Either way, I thank them for their contributions to my entertainment.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This recipe provided one of my first chances to use the Chipotle Spirit I picked up a couple months back at Rogue Distillery in Portland, Oregon. On that trip, myself and Ma and Pa Sip ate at Gustav’s Pub, where I found this recipe. My favourite aspect is the rim, complete with Chili Flakes, which take a margarita recipe and make it that much better. I went with Grapefruit Soda instead of Juice and may have found a new mixer to advocate for. I love my drinks that have a bit of a bite to them and this was certainly no different!