New Jersey – Garden State Cocktail

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we venture to New Jersey. Although some call it the “Armpit of America,” we’ll reserve judgment. After all, it’s been nicknamed the Garden State for a reason. Let’s find out why:

Motto: “Liberty and Prosperity” – I particularly like that second one and the first one ain’t so bad either.

Food: The Pork Roll (aka Taylor Ham) is usually eaten in slices as part of a sandwich, but can also be used in a hash, called a Jersey Breakfast. John Taylor, from Hamilton Square, popularized the meat product in 1856. There are competing festivals celebrating the Pork Roll, both in Trenton. Add a side of Disco Fries (topped with cheese and gravy) and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Drink: Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy) was first produced in New Jersey, all the way back in 1698. It was originally known as Jersey Lightning, which is a name I think they should have kept. Laird & Company is based in Scobeyville, calling themselves America’s Oldest Distiller.

Pork Roll

Site to See: Two sites that highlight American freedom can be found in New Jersey, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island is the spot were countless immigrants first touched American soil, as the busiest inspection station in the country. Meanwhile, Lady Liberty is situated on land shared by New Jersey and New York and surrounded by New Jersey waters.

Street: The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a major tourist attraction in New Jersey. It is the first American boardwalk, opened on June 26, 1870, and the longest boardwalk in the world. There’s a lot going on along the boardwalk, including casinos, hotels, museums, shopping, restaurants, and much more. A number of movies and TV series have used the boardwalk for filming.

TV Show: The Sopranos, starring James Gandolfini, was one of the most popular TV shows of all-time, documenting the activities of the DiMeo crime family. The crime drama, which ran for six seasons and 86 episodes, was largely filmed in New Jersey, using real shops, restaurants and even a strip club to double for locations in the series.

Movie: Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse movies are all set in New Jersey. That includes films such as Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. That all makes sense, given Smith is New Jersey native, himself. Top actors like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have appeared in multiple films, as a variety of characters, throughout the series.

Sopranos

Book/Author: George R.R. Martin, writer of the epic fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones when adapted for TV) was born in Bayonne. At 71 years old, many fans wonder if the series will ever be finished on page, but at least we got – for better or worse – some closure with the TV series. Either way, Martin has made his money.

Fictional Character: The general consensus is that animated adult comedy, Bob’s Burgers, is set in New Jersey. Therefore, I will put the Belcher Family here. The clan includes parents and restauranteurs Bob and Linda, along with mischief-making kids Tina, Gene and Louise. Their antics have led to the show winning two Outstanding Animated Program Emmys.

Fictional City: Gotham City is said to be located in New Jersey, meaning the Batman universe takes place there. While it’s certainly not a place many would want to live, given its extremely high crime rate, corruption at all levels and the threat of death at every turn, Gotham City has remained a popular locale for fans of the franchise.

Actor/Actress: One of the world’s most celebrated actresses, Meryl Streep, was born in Summit. Streep has won three Oscars, based on 21 nominations, with her career as a whole recognized with an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. Other famous New Jerseyans, include Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, and Bruce Willis.

George R.R. Martin

Song: New Jersey doesn’t have a State Song, but that was not because of a lack of effort from one musician. In fact, his campaigning may have worked against him. I’m From New Jersey by Red Mascara was almost made the State Song in 1972, passed by the Legislature, but vetoed by the Governor. Mascara continued the push for his song up until his death.

Band/Musician: New Jersey is the home of so many music legends. Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Frankie Valli, Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra all hail from the state. I saw something that said Springsteen had at least 25 songs with references about New Jersey, which sounds about right, given his extensive music catalogue.

People: Domestic goddess, Martha Stewart, was born in Jersey City. Her media empire has included TV shows, books, magazines, and other projects, making her a household name as a household saviour. Also, travel and food writer, Anthony Bourdain, was raised in Leonia. He came to prominence thanks to the shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown.

Animal: Kids and adults alike love dinosaurs. These beasts from long ago have fascinated many and the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur was discovered in Haddonfield, in 1858. The Hadrosaurus (New Jersey’s State Fossil) find launched the field of paleontology and is memorialized with a eight-foot dinosaur statue in downtown Haddonfield.

Martha Stewart

Invention: Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park is the site where he developed light bulbs, phonographs, motion pictures, and other items. Edison was called the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park’ and he held 1,093 patents in the US alone. Edison State Park now encompasses the site of his lab and a memorial tower and museum dedicated to the inventor.

Crime: There are some alarming crimes from New Jersey history, but when one is called the “Crime of the Century,” you have to profile it. In 1932, aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was abducted, with a ransom note left behind. Despite an exchange of money, the baby’s remains were found two months after the kidnapping. Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the crime and executed by electric chair in 1936.

Law: I’m not sure how this one is going over nowadays, but in New Jersey, it is illegal to frown at a cop. That must make recent protests a little awkward. Even worse, in Bernards Township, it is completely illegal to frown. This will turn your frown upside down, though. It is illegal for birds to poop on statues… finally, people who hate birds as much as I do.

Sports Team: The New Jersey Devils (NHL) are the only professional team to carry the ‘New Jersey’ name, following the New Jersey Nets (NBA) leaving for Brooklyn in 2012, after 35 seasons. New York-named teams the Jets and Giants (NFL), as well as Red Bulls (MLS), play out of the state, commonly referred to as the New York Metropolitan Area.

Thomas Edison

Athlete: Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal had a career filled with championships, including four NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal. O’Neal transcended the sport, starring in movies and video games. Likewise, shortstop Derek Jeter was a five-time World Series champion and 14-time all-star. In 2020, Jeter was one vote shy of being unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Famous Home: The Grover Cleveland Birthplace, in Caldwell, is a museum and National Historic Place dedicated to the only person from New Jersey to become U.S. President. Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th Commander-in-Chief (the only politician to ever serve non-consecutive terms), although he won the popular vote for all three elections which he ran.

Urban Legend: The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature with a horse head, bat wings, horns, clawed hands, and cloven hooves, said to be found in the Pine Barrens area of the state. The being was the 13th child of a witch (with the father being the devil), who cursed it after learning she was pregnant. It is now the moniker of the current NHL franchise.

Museum: The United States Golf Association (USGA) Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History is located in Far Hills. The USGA began collecting items in the late 1930’s, finally opening a facility in New York, in 1951. The collection was moved to New Jersey in 1972 and now offers the Pynes Putting Course, a nine-hole course where visitors can use classic replica putters.

Jersey Devil

Firsts: New Jersey has hosted a number of firsts in the sporting world. This included the first officially recorded organized baseball game (June 19, 1846 in Hoboken), the first college football game (November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick) and the first professional basketball game (November 7, 1896 in Trenton). The first American brewery was also established in Hoboken, in 1642.

Company: The Campbell Soup Company is headquartered in Camden. Along with its soup, Campbell’s is also responsible for brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Prego and Swanson. Another well-known New Jersey-based company is retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond, which was founded in Springfield and is now based in Union.

Events: More battles during the American Revolutionary War took place in New Jersey than any other colony, earning the state the nickname the ‘Crossroads of the Revolution’. The Battle of Trenton and Battle of Princeton were major victories for General George Washington and his troops, turning the tide against British forces.

Miscellaneous: Two infamous incidents, the Burr-Hamilton Duel and Hindenburg Disaster, occurred in New Jersey. First, on July 11, 1804, Vice-President Aaron Burr wounded former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, capping their long feud. This rivalry was turned into the hit musical Hamilton. Later, on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship caught fire and crashed, while docking at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst.

Garden State Cocktail

Garden State Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cucumber Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cucumber Slice

This cocktail honours New Jersey’s nickname of Garden State by using ingredients such as cucumber. The term Garden State is often attributed to Abraham Browning, who noted that New Jersey is a barrel with good things to eat and open at both ends, helping to feed Pennsylvania on one side and New York on the other.

Sip Trips #186: Summer Sizzle

It’s been a while since I did an update on our adventures and we now have Baby Sip up to 13 brewery visits, so there’s lots to talk about. Without further adieu, let’s get right to it:

Our recent activity began in late June, with a visit to Langley’s Five Roads Brewing. There, Mrs. Sip and I split a flight of beers, consisting of their Double Whammy Passionfruit Mango Sour, Harry Porter, Worlds Collide Sour IPA and Do You Even Sk8 Bro? Sour Saison. I also tried a sip of the Jordy Mac’s Work Hard Play Hard ESB off of Cousin Sip’s flight. It was nice to sit outside and enjoy some nice weather after a fairly dreary month.

Following the beers, we were off for dinner at Annora, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I ordered the three-course set menu, choosing prawns with chorizo and risotto as my appetizer; duck with mashed potatoes and vegetables as my main and a chocolate brownie for dessert. The meal was fantastic, all paired with a serving of Red Truck Round Trip Amber Ale and we look forward to going back and trying some other options soon. Their happy hour offerings look particularly good.

happy-hour

For a nightcap, we popped into Farm Country Brewing, sharing another flight. This set was made up of their Whippersnapper Kellerbier, Hootenanny DDH Pale Ale, Slam Dunkel and Countryside Apricot Peach Kettle Sour. I liked the space at this brewery and enjoyed their flight coming out in a bucket. We also took home a tall can four-pack of their Strawberry Rhubarb Kettle Sour, which I really enjoyed.

For Canada Day, en route to Ma and Pa Sip’s place, we stopped at Central City Brewing for a drink. While Mrs. Sip ordered The Mangolorian Ale, I had a glass of the Hazy Dreamer Hazy Pale Ale. For Canada Day celebrations, I went through a pack from Red Truck Brewing, highlighted by the Seas the Day Pineapple Hefeweizen.

A couple weeks back, we visited ABC Brewing and lucked out with both kids sleeping through our drinks. Mrs. Sip and I shared servings of their Priorities DDH Hazy Double IPA and Just a Phase Saison. Afterwards, we put together a tall can four-pack to go, including the two we just drank and also The Hardest Part West Coast Pale Ale and Dazed and Cocofuzed Dark Pilsner. This company keeps pumping out neat beers, just as quickly as I can try them all.

Empty Beer

Last Friday, I took a day off work to take Baby Sip to his four-month doctor’s appointment and since we’d be in Vancouver for that, Mrs. Sip and I figured we might as well hit a few breweries. We started at the R&B Ale & Pizza House, where I had an amazing Pulled Pork Pizza, paired with a very good Out Fer A Ripa Rye IPA. Mrs. Sip had a Caprese Salad and flight (Stay In Your Vancouver Special IPA, Raven Cream Ale, Hipster Haze IPA and Sour Patch Dudes) for her meal. We also had a taster of their Camouflage Is Not A Colour and a charity beer they had just tapped for serving. Afterwards, we ventured down the street for a quick sleeve at Electric Bicycle Brewing, selecting the It’s No Game Hazy IPA.

Yesterday, a drive to Mrs. Sip’s office turned into beers at Steel & Oak Brewing, enjoying their newly-constructed patio, set up to continue serving up suds during this pandemic. I really enjoyed my Surefire Raspberry Tangerine Pale Ale (taking a tall can four-pack home as well), while Mrs. Sip was really into her Smoked Honey Dopplebock. We also grabbed a bottle of the recently-released Otago Saison to go.

Looks like we’re well stocked to beat this heat we’ve been experience lately. If August shapes up anything like July ended up being, I greatly look forward to the next set of adventures!

New Hampshire – Gundalow

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we travel to New Hampshire to see what the Granite State is all about. As one of the first American colonies, there’s a lot of history to delve through, so let’s get right to it:

Motto: “Live Free or Die” – …Hard? Would that not be the coolest State Motto ever?

Food: Boiled Dinner – corned beef with cabbage and root vegetables, such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, and beets – is big in New Hampshire, as well as all of New England. Any leftovers are repurposed the next morning as a diced and fried breakfast hash.

Drink: The Squamscot Beverages soda company has been around since 1863. The company is still based out of their original building and use the slogan: “Experience the Past… One Sip at a Time.” Unique flavours in their lineup include Maple Cream, Half and Half (lemon and grapefruit) and Fruit Bowl (fruit punch).

NH Motto

Site to See: Until 2003, one of New Hampshire’s top attractions was the Old Man of the Mountain, which was a collection of five granite ledges that made the profile of a face. Sadly, the Old Man collapsed due to repeated freezing and thawing. The Old Man appears on New Hampshire licence plates, their Statehood Quarter and state route signs. Today, there is an Old Man memorial used to recreate the original.

Street: Two other New Hampshire highlights, White Mountain National Forest and Mount Washington, each have their own notable route. Kancamagus Highway, which winds through White Mountain National Forest, is said to be one of the best areas to see New Hampshires famous fall foliage, while the Mount Washington Auto Road is the oldest manmade tourist attraction.

TV Show: Adult animated comedy, Assy McGee, is set in Exeter. There, the buttocks detective (yes, you read that right) solved crimes with human partner Don Sanchez for two seasons and 20 episodes. The series was a parody of the buddy cop genre. Most main voices for the show were done by Larry Murphy, who also plays Teddy on Bob’s Burgers.

Movie: The Jumanji franchise of films is set in New Hampshire. The first film, starring Robin Williams as Alan Parrish, was also filmed in Keene. When news of Williams’ death became public, a makeshift memorial to the actor was set up underneath the Parrish Shoes sign, which had remained on a building since the movie’s production.

McGee

Book/Author: Poet Robert Frost earned his first of a record four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry with his book New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. The Robert Frost Farm, in Derry, is where he wrote much of his most celebrated work, including Tree at My Window and Mending Wall. Also celebrating the writer’s legacy is The Frost Place, in Franconia.

Fictional Character: Professor Robert Langdon, the symbology expert protagonist from The Da Vinci Code series of books and movies, is a New Hampshirite. Author Dan Brown is a New Hampshire native himself and created the character as an alter ego, giving Langdon a matching birthdate, hometown (Exeter) and school, among other qualities.

Fictional City: Mandrake Falls is where the story of Longfellow Deeds (from the film Mr. Deeds) begins. The character runs his own pizza joint, while also trying to write the perfect Hallmark greeting card. When a substantial fortune is left to Deeds by his distant granduncle, the small town man is launched into a different world.

Actor/Actress: The Sandman, Adam Sandler, was raised in Manchester, before going onto becoming one of the most bankable film stars ever. A few of Sandler’s films have been set in New Hampshire, including the animated Eight Crazy Nights. While some may have grown tired of his childish act, Sandler has remained popular and excelled in dramatic roles.

Robert Langdon

Song: Granite State of Mind by The Super Secret Project is a parody of Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind. It is a clever spoof of the popular ode to New York, with many points from this article coming up in the song. While some shots are taken at the state, the tune seems to come from a place of love for it, as well.

Band/Musician: Ronnie James Dio was born in Portsmouth. He is famous for founding and fronting a number of heavy metal bands, most notably Black Sabbath. Perhaps his greatest contribution to music and the world, in general, was popularizing the devil horns hand gesture, by using it during performances.

People: Alan Shepard, born in Derry, was the first American in space. He later returned on another mission, becoming the fifth man on the moon. Sadly, New Hampshire’s involvement in space also includes Christa McAuliffe, who was supposed to be the first teacher sent into orbit, but was part of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, which occurred 73 seconds after liftoff.

Animal: Colossus the Gorilla, lived at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, in Hudson, for approximately 20 years, between the late 1960’s to 1987. Colossus, at over 500 pounds, was one of the largest gorillas ever in captivity and was included as a presidential candidate for a New Hampshire primary election, resulting in his inclusion in a set of trading cards for that event.

Invention: A necessary evil, which nearly every single person around the world uses, the alarm clock was invented by Levi Hutchins, of Concord, in 1787. His creation could only go off at 4am each morning, the time he had to get up and start his day. 60 years later, a mechanical alarm clock was finally created and patented by a French inventor.

Crime: In 2017, the previously unsolved Bear Brook Murders were attributed to Terry Peder Rasmussen (aka the Chameleon Killer), who died in prison, in 2010. The crime was uncovered with the discovery of four skeletons (two in 1985 and two more in 2000) in Bear Brook State Park. The victims were identified as a mother and her two daughters, along with another unidentified young girl, linked to Rasmussen by DNA.

Law: New Hampshire is the only state that has no law requiring adults to wear seatbelts in vehicles. That takes “live free or die” to a whole new level.

Sports Team: Another state with no professional teams; therefore, the NCAA programs of Dartmouth College (the Big Green) and the University of New Hampshire (the Wildcats) are the top sporting attractions. Mount Washington also provides the setting for annual bicycle and running races.

Alarm Clock

Athlete: Two Olympic legends hail from New Hampshire, swimmer Jenny Thompson and skier Bode Miller. Thompson won 12 medals, eight of them gold, over four Olympics. Miller won six Olympic medals over his career, including gold at the 2010 Vancouver games, to go along with four World Championship golds and 33 World Cup wins.

Famous Home: American patriotic character, Uncle Sam, was based on meat supplier Samuel Wilson. Wilson’s childhood home, dubbed Uncle Sam’s House, can be found in Mason. The property is now privately owned, but is noted by a historical marker telling Wilson’s story.

Urban Legend: In 1961, New Hampshire residents Barney and Betty Hill claimed they were abducted by aliens. This was the first widely known American case of alien abduction. The spot where the couple claimed to have been abducted from, near Lincoln, has been highlighted with a historical marker. Also, Salem is home to America’s Stonehenge, also known as Mystery Hill.

Museum: Funspot, in Laconia, is home to the American Classic Arcade Museum. Combined, they comprise the world’s largest arcade, according to Guinness World Records. The museum portion exhibits close to 200 arcade games, all released prior to 1990. There’s also a Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff, in Portsmouth, which might as well hold pieces of my lifetime collection.

Uncle Sam

Firsts: New Hampshire holds the first primary election of every presidential election cycle and has a law in place to ensure they always remain first. Originally held on the second Tuesday of March, moves by both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as other states, have required New Hampshire to move their primary as far up as January 8.

Company: The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the oldest continuously published periodical in the U.S., is published by New Hampshire’s Yankee Publishing. Since 1792, the guide has provided farmers with weather forecasts, planting charts, recipes and other info, including predictions on what will occur over the next year, in areas such as fashion and technology.

Events: New Hampshire played a great role in the American Revolution, with patriots removing powder and guns from Fort William and Fort Mary. Later, they inspired other patriots to fight, despite losing the Battle of Bunker Hill. They were the first colony to declare independence from England and set up an independent government, which resulted in them having the first vote towards the Declaration of Independence.

Miscellaneous: Nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb, was created by Sarah Josepha Hale, of Newport. The teacher and activist would go on to a lengthy career as editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. 47 years after Mary Had a Little Lamb was published, it became the first recording by Thomas Edison, using his newly-created phonograph.

Gundalow

Gundalow

  • 2.5 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Cranberry Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

There is a second Gundalow recipe, using Apple Brandy, bitters and sugar. The drink is named after a cargo ship that was often found in New England waters, dating back to the 1800’s. Also, the first known time the word ‘cocktail’ was published in America was in the 1803 The Farmer’s Cabinet, published in Amherst.

Nevada – Casino

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we try our luck in the entertainment capital of the country, Nevada. Mrs. Sip and I have travelled to the Silver State many times, even enjoying attractions off the Las Vegas Strip. Time to roll the dice and see what comes up:

Motto: “All for Our Country” – Such selflessness!

Food: While today, casino buffets offer a culinary delight of worldwide dishes, the early days of these all-you-can-eat feasts were a little different. Las Vegas revolutionized the concept, with the first ever offered at the El Rancho Vegas (also the first casino on the Strip). Dubbed the Buckaroo Buffet, it offered a mix of hot and cold dishes, 24 hours a day, for a whopping $1.

Drink: One of the most unique cocktails I’ve ever had was the Verbena, created by head mixologist, Mariena Mercer, of The Cosmopolitan, in Las Vegas. You begin by chewing a Sichuan flower and then move onto the margarita-like cocktail. With each sip, as the flower takes effect, you become a super taster, thanks to your taste buds being altered.

Buffet

Site to See: Outside of Las Vegas, top attractions include tourist towns such as Reno (‘The Biggest Little City in the World’) and Lake Tahoe, as well as sites such as the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Great Basin National Park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Valley of Fire State Park. However, what happens there, doesn’t stay there.

Street: One can basically travel the world while walking the Las Vegas Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard), with hotels themed after destinations such as Paris, Monaco, Egypt, New York, Venice, and Brazil. Other highlights include the Stratosphere, the tallest structure in the western U.S., and a multitude of dining, drinking and entertainment options. There’s also the Fremont Street Experience, for a taste of old Vegas.

TV Show: I have to go with CSI: Las Vegas in this category for creating the police forensic procedural genre. The show ran for 15 seasons and 337 episodes and was so popular, it spawned spinoffs set in Miami and New York City, as well as a Cyber Crimes series. Honourable mentions go to Reno 911! and Mike Tyson Mysteries for their characters and comedy.

Movie: A tough choice here, as I love The Hangover for its wild and hilarious story. I also enjoy a good heist film, with Ocean’s 11 (the Rat Pack original and the George Clooney remake) ranking among my favourites. Lastly, I can’t leave out Vegas Vacation, for the many lines that have become part of the Sip Family’s vernacular.

CSI

Book/Author: A few other notable Las Vegas films were adapted from books, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson), Leaving Las Vegas (a semi-autobiographical novel by John O’Brien), and Casino (based on the non-fiction Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi).

Fictional Character: I’m surprised at how few options were available for this category. I’ll go with Balrog from the Street Fighter video game franchise. A former boxer, the character was based on Mike Tyson, even being named M. Bison in the Japanese version of the games. Due to legal concerns, some characters were rotated for the North American ports.

Fictional City: The movie Tremors, starring Kevin Bacon, takes place in the fictional town of Perfection. Things are far from perfect, though, as giant sandworm-type creatures are attacking the town in a hunt for human flesh. The movie spawned a franchise of five direct-to-video sequels, one prequel and a TV series, which lasted one season and 13 episodes.

Actor/Actress: Jena Malone was born in Sparks, with her most notable role being Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games franchise. Other stars from Nevada include Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island), Rutina Wesley (Tara on True Blood), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia on Buffy/Angel), and Thomas Ian Nicholas from the American Pie series.

Tremors

Song: Most songs about Nevada focus on Las Vegas and nothing can get you into the Sin City mood more than Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas. Presley was practically an honourary citizen of the state, performing 636 straight sold out shows (two shows a night, seven days a week), as one of the original residency acts. Viva Las Vegas was recorded for Presley’s 1964 film of the same name.

Band/Musician: Rock band, The Killers, were formed in Las Vegas, in 2001. The quartet has sold more than 28 million records and are still going strong today. The group is known for songs like Mr. Brightside and Somebody Told Me. Special shout out to fellow rockers, Imagine Dragons (also formed in Las Vegas), for their song Radioactive being the longest Billboard Hot 100 chart topper ever.

People: Betty Willis may not be a household name, but the artist born in Overton, created one of the most recognizable pieces in Nevada, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. Willis did not trademark her design, instead gifting it to the city. She passed away, in 2015, at the age of 91.

Animal: Nevada has a long history of animal performers. Most famous among them were the tigers and lions part of the Siegfried & Roy act at the Mirage. Sadly, one of those tigers, named Montecore, attacked Roy during one show in 2003, ending the duo’s successful 13-year run at the hotel. There was also Bertha the Elephant, who performed at the Nugget, in Sparks, for over 30 years.

Las Vegas

Invention: While operating a tailor shop in Reno, Jacob Davis invented blue jeans, while making a stronger pair of working pants for a customer’s husband. Davis later partnered with Levi Strauss, who was providing the fabric for the jeans, to apply for a patent on the creation. As a frequent wearer of blue jeans, I thank both gentlemen.

Crime: In 2017, the world was shocked by a mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. Nevadan Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,000 rounds from the Mandalay Bay resort onto the nearby Route 91 Harvest music festival. He killed 58 people and wounded 438 others, with injuries totalling 869 in the panicked aftermath. Paddock committed suicide following the massacre.

Law: Nevada is my kind of state. They have a law that makes sure public intoxication can’t be made illegal and another law that allows the sale of booze to occur 24 hours a day from bars, restaurants and stores.

Sports Team: Nevada was devoid of professional teams until 2017, when the Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL as an expansion franchise. Similarly, should an NFL season be played this year, the Oakland Raiders will officially relocate to Las Vegas. The city is also the epicenter of boxing and mixed martial arts cards, host to numerous memorable fights.

Jeans

Athlete: Tennis star, Andre Agassi, was born in Las Vegas and lives there to this day. Agassi became a pop culture icon in the early 90’s, thanks to his success on the court, good looks, and high-profile relationships with Barbra Streisand and Brooke Shields. Agassi won a total of eight majors, as well as a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, in Atlanta.

Famous Home: The Underground House, in Las Vegas, looks like a normal residence, until you realize it is constructed 26 feet below the surface and doubles as a bomb shelter. The property includes a home, yard, pool, spa, trees, guest accommodation, BBQ, and fountain, as well as outdoorsy murals. In 2019, it was listed to sell for $18 million, although it sold in 2015 for only $1.15 million.

Urban Legend: Area 51’s existence wasn’t confirmed by government until 1990, inspiring a number of conspiracy theories. These include the housing of UFOs and alien lifeforms, as well as experiments involving weather control, time travel and teleportation. Route 375, leading up to the facility, was renamed the Extraterrestrial Highway, in 1996.

Museum: Mrs. Sip and I have visited and fully recommend both the Neon Museum and Mob Museum. The Neon Museum has a “boneyard” of signs from the history of Las Vegas, while the Mob Museum documents the city’s affiliation with organized crime. Another museum we would like to check out in the future is the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Underground House

Firsts: Nevada was the first state to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment, which barred the government and states from denying people the right to vote, based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Nevada is also the only state to legalize prostitution, although it is technically still illegal in area like Las Vegas and Reno, due to their larger populations.

Company: The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the leader in mixed martial arts action, is headquartered in Las Vegas. Since its inception in 1993, the promotion has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but has grown from a one-night tough man tournament to a global phenomenon. UFC President, Dana White, is now among the most recognizable people in sports.

Events: When Nevada Governor, Fred Balzar, signed Assembly Bill 98, legalizing gambling in the state, in 1931, he paved the way for Nevada to become the place it is today. The same year, the Pair-O-Dice Club became the first casino to open in Nevada, with the resort being renamed The Frontier later, which is how most remember it. It closed in 2007, with the property now being owned by Wynn Resorts.

Miscellaneous: I couldn’t wrap this article without mentioning the September 1996 murder of Tupac Shakur, which occurred in Las Vegas. Shakur succumbed to his injuries six days after the drive-by shooting, at the age of 25. The murder has remained unsolved, despite speculation of gang and rap feud ties, drawing much intrigue from fans and filmmakers alike.

Casino

Casino

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This International Bartenders Association official cocktail is perfect for Nevada. It dates back to at least 1917, when it first appeared in a recipe guide. It’s funny how many drinks for this project use a combination of Gin, Maraschino Liqueur and Lemon or Lime Juice. I will say, this was a tasty blend of that formula.

Nebraska – The Nebraskan

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we journey to Nebraska, where the farming is as good as it gets. This had bred nicknames such as Cornhusker State and Beef State, which sounds like the makings of a good meal. Let’s start exploring:

Motto: “Equality before the law” – How’s that working out for you?

Food: The Reuben Sandwich was invented at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha. Comprised of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian/Thousand Island dressing, between slices of rye bread, the meal has become a favourite of the Sip Advisor. Some origin stories have the sandwich being created in New York, but I’ll give this one to Nebraska.

Drink: Bringing smiles to children everywhere for nearly 100 years, Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska by Edwin Perkins in 1927. Originally available in six flavours (cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry), it has become the State Soft Drink. The Hastings Museum has a permanent exhibit called Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream.

Kool-Aid

Site to See: One of Nebraska’s most notable attractions is Carhenge, a duplication of England’s Stonehenge, but using American vehicles to replicate the infamous stones. Other car-based art installments are also viewable at the site. Created by Jim Reinders, the work is highlighted in the documentary, Carhenge: Genius or Junk?

Street: The Old Market Historic District, in Omaha, is notable for its brick-paved streets, which are still used by horse-drawn carriages. Restaurants, art galleries and shopping options make up the tenancy of the area. In 2016, a ruptured gas line caused an explosion in the Old Market, destroying a 100-year-old building and injuring numerous people.

TV Show: Most TV shows set in Nebraska haven’t faired well. One, Bless This Mess, did last two seasons, before being cancelled this past May. The series starred Dax Shepard and Lake Bell in a modern take on Green Acres, with a couple moving from New York to a farm in fictional Bucksnort, after inheriting the property and deciding to stay.

Movie: Films have done better when set in Nebraska, including one of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourites. Caddyshack, the goofy golf classic, starring legends like Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase, has the Bushwood Country Club based in the state. While the sequel was a flop, the original has so many quotable lines and memorable scenes.

Caddyshack

Book/Author: Writer Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha. His works, of the romantic drama genre, include The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Dear John. A total of 11 of his books have been adapted into films, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Sparks has had 15 novels top the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Fictional Character: Penny Hofstadter, the across-the-hall hottie from The Big Bang Theory, is originally from Nebraska. Giving hope to nerds everywhere, she eventually dates and marries uber nerd Leonard. Played by Kaley Cuoco, Penny moves to California with dreams of becoming an actress. She may not have found the career she wanted, but she did find love.

Fictional City: Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (short story and film series) takes place in the town of Gatlin, a place you wouldn’t really want to find yourself, particularly if you’re an adult. Under the guidance of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” the children begin ritualistically sacrificing adults, hoping for a bountiful corn harvest.

Actor/Actress: Movie legends Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda were born in Omaha and Grand Island, respectively. Connecting the two, Brando’s mother gave Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Other notable stars from the state include Fred Astaire, Nick Nolte and Hilary Swank.

Nicholas Sparks

Song: Bruce Springsteen has a song and album called Nebraska, but the song is about a spree killer sentenced to death, while the album is full of tracks about characters with not much to live for. Therefore, we’ll go with State Song, Beautiful Nebraska, for this category. Lyrics include, “We are so proud of this state where we live, There is no place that has so much to give.”

Band/Musician: The consensus seems to be that the best band from Nebraska is Bright Eyes, although I’ve never heard of the indie rock group. Formed in Omaha, 2004 was a big year for the band, touring with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., and filling the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart, with songs Lua and Take It Easy (Love Nothing).

People: Nebraska was the birthplace for a future president and vice-president, as well as the founder of a religion. President Gerald Ford and VP Dick Cheney were born in Omaha and Lincoln, respectively, while Church of Scientology forefather L. Ron Hubbard hailed from Tilden.

Animal: While mammoth fossils have been found all across Nebraska, the largest and most famous was uncovered in Lincoln, in 1922. Nicknamed Archie, the skeleton can be seen at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Mammoths are the State Fossil of Nebraska and a bronze statue of Archie is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Hubbard

Invention: Two of Nebraska’s greatest creations allow users to cut corners. TV Dinners, first made commercially successful by Nebraskan company, Swanson, helps folks avoid having to cook full meals for themselves and others. Meanwhile, CliffsNotes, developed by Clifton Hillegass of the Nebraska Book Company, allows students to prepare for tests without completing the source material.

Crime: Charlie Starkweather was only 19 when he went on a murder spree, killing 10 people in Nebraska and Wyoming. He was accompanied by his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Fugate. Starkweather was sentenced to death for his crimes and was executed by electric chair. Fugate served a 17-year sentence, despite claiming she was a hostage. The spree inspired movies such as Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers.

Law: In Omaha, sneezing in church is illegal, while across the state, if a child burps during a service, their parent(s) could be arrested. A rebellious teenager could cause a lot of trouble with a simple bodily function.

Sports Team: With no professional teams to support, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers are the top game in the state. In fact, home football games make the stadium the third largest population in Nebraska. Omaha has also been home to the College World Series for NCAA baseball since 1950.

TV Dinners

Athlete: Professional wrestler, Gorgeous George (real name George Wagner), is my pick here, not for his athletic abilities, but for his influence on sports and athletes to come after him. Wagner was born in Butte and revolutionized the wrestling industry as the first villainous character. George would be influential to many athletes and entertainers, Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan and James Brown among them.

Famous Home: Scout’s Rest Ranch is the former home of William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, who first promoted his Wild West Shows in Nebraska, beginning in 1883. These shows would later feature such celebrities as Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. The ranch can be found at the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte, which functions as a living history museum.

Urban Legend: Hatchet House (formerly Portal School) can be found in Papillion. The story goes that a teacher one day snapped and decapitated her entire class, leaving their heads on their desks. She then took their hearts to what is now known as Heartbeat Bridge, throwing them into the water below. Driving over the bridgeboards makes sounds that resemble beating hearts.

Museum: The National Museum of Roller Skating, in Lincoln, has a massive collection of skates, wheels and other items, dating back to 1819. Exhibits include Inline Skating, Artistic Skating, Roller Hockey, Speed Skating, and Roller Derby. Admission is free, but memberships with special perks are also available.

roller-skating

Firsts: Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska City, on April 10, 1872. The brainchild of J. Sterling Morton, it’s estimated that one million trees were planted across Nebraska that day. This earned the state the nickname Tree Planter’s State for some time. The holiday was later spread to other parts of the world by Birdsey Northrop of the American Forestry Association.

Company: Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, founded by Nebraskan Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world and among the most savvy investors. The conglomerate owns brands such as GEICO, Duracell, and Dairy Queen, while also investing heavily in Kraft Heinz, American Express, Coca-Cola, and Apple, among other businesses.

Events: Also headquartered in Omaha is the Union Pacific Railroad, which was founded in 1862. From this home base, the railroad connected the country through miles and miles of tracks, becoming the first transcontinental line in America. Today, grain, corn, sand, fertilizer, and coal are among the top items shipped into and out of the state.

Miscellaneous: Despite being a landlocked state, Nebraska has its own navy. The state has had some fun with the concept, appointing admirals such as Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Gates, Big Bird, Bill Murray, and many others to the position for promoting the “good life of the state of Nebraska.”

The Nebraskan

The Nebraskan

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Sweet Corn Milk
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper

Given its association with the state, I wanted to go with a Kool-Aid-based cocktail, but the most notable one has already appeared on this site. So, I went with The Nebraskan, which is quite the interesting blend of ingredients, highlighted by corn, perfect for the Cornhusker State.

Montana – Blue Sky Martini

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we look to strike it rich in the Treasure State. Montana is also known as Big Sky Country, thanks to its abundance of scenic wide open spaces. Let’s check things out and mine us some gems:

Motto: “Gold and silver” – At least they’re being honest… it’s all about the money!

Food: I’d never heard of Chokecherries before, but apparently, they’re huge in Montana. There’s even a Chokecherry Festival, held every September, in Lewistown. The event features cooking and pit spitting contests, among other live entertainment and vendor opportunities. There’s even a Chokecherry Liqueur, which has me quite intrigued.

Drink: A couple beverages unique to Montana include the Hot-N-Tot (cola with cinnamon syrup), which is served up at a couple diners in the state, and the Dirty Girl cocktail, made by mixing root beer with Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur (another Montana creation).

Montana

Site to See: Glacier National Park has been dubbed the crown jewel of the continent. Highlights of the park, include Grinnell Glacier, Triple Divide Peak and International Peace Park, which was made with the shared border of Alberta, Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. There are 250 lakes and countless animal species within the park’s boundaries.

Street: Another highlight of Glacier National Park is Going-to-the-Sun Road, which many consider one of the most scenic drives in America. The route crosses the Continental Divide and has been featured in movies such as The Shining – during the opening credits drive to the Overlook Hotel – and Forrest Gump – part of Forrest’s run across America.

TV Show: Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner as ranch owner John Dutton, recently premiered its third season. The show is filmed around Montana, with the Chief Joseph Ranch, in Darby, providing a primary location. I had not previously heard of this series, but there’s not a lot to choose from for the state, so we’ll go with it.

Movie: A pair of early Brad Pitt films, A River Runs Through It and Legends of the Fall, are both set in Montana. The former is a coming-of-age tale for two brothers between World War I and the Great Depression, while the latter takes place during a similar period, but changes things up with three brothers. Both films won Best Cinematography Oscars.

Speedbumps

Book/Author: Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr. came to Montana at just six months old. His novel, The Way West, won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was adapted into a film in 1967. Guthrie also penned the screenplay for another notable western, Shane, which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Fictional Character: Dynasty villain, Adam Carrington, was from Billings. Kidnapped at birth, he returned to the Carrington family fold in season three of the original series and committed a number of dastardly acts towards his family and others. Originally intended to be short-term character, Adam remained a storyline focal point for the rest of the show’s run.

Fictional City: There’s no notable fictional cities for Montana, so how about a story about a real town, which unofficially changed its name as part of a publicity stunt. Ismay briefly became Joe, in 1993, as part of an arrangement with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, when they acquired quarterback, Joe Montana.

Actor/Actress: Comedian, Dana Carvey, was born in Missoula. Carvey is best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live, where he performed memorable characters, such as Church Lady, Garth Algar (Wayne’s World) and Hans (Hans and Frans), while also impersonating President George H.W. Bush. Carvey’s contributions helped make SNL popular again in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Church Lady

Song: Montana is the only state to have a State Lullaby, Montana Lullaby by Ken Overcast. The song paints quite the patriotic picture, with lyrics such as “From the wide rollin’ plains, cross the Rockies blue range, Wherever the proud eagle flies, A lone coyote croons to a full lover’s moon, A Montana Lullaby.”

Band/Musician: Jeff Ament, a founding member of the band Pearl Jam and ranked among the greatest rock bassists of all-time, was born in Havre. Before Pearl Jam, Ament also worked with other Seattle grunge bands, Green River and Mother Love Bone. Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

People: Daredevil, Evel Knievel, was born in Butte. He is best known for motorcycle stunts, including jumping the Caesars Palace fountains and Snake River Canyon. Many of his stunts resulted in horrific crashes and Knievel holds the Guinness World Record for most bone fractures ever. A cartoon, rollercoaster and rock opera are among the projects based on the self-proclaimed ‘Last Gladiator.’

Animal: We’ve all heard stories of dogs being loyal to their humans, but Shep may be the greatest example of this. In 1936, he followed his owner’s casket to the Fort Benton railroad station and greeted every incoming train afterwards, hoping it would bring the return of the owner. Sadly, six years later, Shep was hit by an arriving train and died. In 1994, a sculpture of Shep was installed in Fort Benton.

Evel-Knievel

Invention: The Heart Monitor was invented by Montana biophysicist, Norman Holter. It allowed for hearts – you know, the most vital organ for life – to be monitored around the clock, recording its electrical activity. The device is still used today, but it has shrunk considerably in size, since it was first released in 1962.

Crime: Ted Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) hid in Montana’s mountains for 25 years. During this time, he sent 16 bombs around the country, resulting in three deaths and 23 injuries. When finally captured, in 1996, Kaczynski was punished with eight consecutive life sentences. The death penalty was an option, but because Kaczynski pleaded guilty, this was avoided.

Law: In Montana, it is illegal to pretend to abuse an animal, while a minor is present… with no minors around, though, anything is possible.

Sports Team: Without any professional teams to support, the University of Montana Grizzlies and Montana State University Bobcats sport programs garner a lot of attention. The two schools have established quite a rivalry, perhaps best seen in football, with the annual Cat-Griz/The Brawl of the Wild game. The winner of this contest, receives the Great Divide Trophy.

Fireworks

Athlete: Phil Jackson, born in Deer Lodge, may be best known for his second act, as coach of NBA dynasties with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, winning 11 championships. He also enjoyed a successful playing career, though, including two championships as a member of the New York Knicks. He was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame, as a coach, of course, in 2007.

Famous Home: In Three Forks, folks can find Jim’s Horn House, which features 16,000 pairs of antlers, displayed in a small shed. This has been the passion project of Jim Phillips, who has been collecting the pieces for six decades. The ‘Antler Man’ is open to visitors, but you have to email ahead, in order to get the address for this interesting collection.

Urban Legend: The Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, was the most significant action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It was a massive defeat of the U.S. Army and visitors to the site today, can sometimes hear screams, yells, horses, and gunshots. There’s a theory the energy of the battle created a ‘recording’ on its land, which can sometimes be played back.

Museum: Dubbed the ‘Smithsonian of the West,’ the Miracle of America Museum provides an all-encompassing view of the country and its history. The museum’s website describes the collection as: “thousands of artifacts scattered throughout dozens of buildings.” Kids can even get hands-on with some of the pieces, including vintage coin-operated games.

Phil Jackson

Firsts: Montanan, Jeannette Rankin, became the first woman elected to the United States Congress, when she was voted in, in 1916. Rankin was known as a pacifist, voting against the U.S. entering World War I and being the only dissenting vote against the country joining World War II.

Company: Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is based in Billings. Founded in 1962, KOA is the world’s largest system of private campgrounds, with 500 locations in North America. Former KOA CEO, Jim Rogers, appeared in a 2013 episode of Undercover Boss, profiling the company and some of its employees.

Events: In 1862, gold was discovered at Grasshopper Creek, leading to a gold rush, resulting in countless people coming to Montana, some of which made their fortunes. In fact, by 1888, Helena was home to more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world. Deposits are still rich in Montana, which is why it’s called the Treasure State.

Miscellaneous: The after effects of the gold rush led to there being dozens of ghost towns in Montana. Some notable ones, include Combination, Comet, Keystone, Black Pine, and Pony. Glimpses of the past can be seen by visiting these sites, where some of history’s most infamous characters once resided.

Blue Sky Martini

Blue Sky Martini

  • Rim glass with Sugar
  • 1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup

Those wide open spaces in Big Sky Country are celebrated with the Blue Sky Martini, which has a variety of recipes, but this is the one I preferred to make. A little side note, if you order a drink in Montana and add the word ditch to it (ex. Whiskey Ditch), you can expect a splash of water to be added.

Missouri – Planter’s Punch

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we’re in the Show Me State, which sounds titillating, but doesn’t mean what most think. Missouri is also the Gateway to the West, so westward we go:

Motto: “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law” – This is one slogan I can get down with.

Food: Who doesn’t like an Ice Cream Cone? This ice cream delivery device was made famous when at the 1904 World’s Fair, in St. Louis, an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and bought some waffles from a neighbouring stall, rolling them up to act as a cone. In 2008, Ice Cream Cones were named Missouri’s State Dessert.

Drink: Another product popularized at the 1904 World’s Fair, was Iced Tea. Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner and merchant, served it up to fairgoers looking to beat the heat. Also, 7 Up was invented by Missourian, Charles Leiper Grigg, in 1929. Originally named Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda, the drink was rebranded 7 Up Lithiated Lemon Soda, before simply 7 Up.

7 Up

Site to See: The Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, is the tallest man-made national monument in the country. Standing 630 feet tall, it is also the tallest arch in the world. It is named for being viewed as the “gateway to the west,” installed to mark America’s westward expansion.

Street: With western expansion, three famous routes all had their starts in western Missouri: the Pony Express mail service and both the Oregon Trail and Santa Fe Trail. All three can still be travelled today, for those wanting to get a glimpse of the past, while enjoying modern comforts.

TV Show: Crime drama Ozark, starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, is about a family forced to move to the city of Osage Beach, when a Mexican drug cartel money laundering scheme goes awry. There, they set up another operation and have to deal with Missouri crime families. The series has produced three seasons and 30 episodes, while receiving a number of Emmy Award nominations.

Movie: As much as I want to select Road House here, I will go with Gone Girl, thanks to being an overall good movie and for having a very good twist in its story. Based on a book by Missourian, Gillian Flynn, this psychological thriller keeps viewers guessing as to how things will play out. The film made numerous top 10 lists for 2014 and there is potential for a sequel.

Gateway Arch

Book/Author: Mark Twain was born in Missouri, with his most famous works set in the state and based on his life. This includes the adventures of characters such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Twain is recognized as one of the country’s most notable writers, even being called “the father of American literature.”

Fictional Character: Star-Lord (aka Peter Quill), leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is originally from Missouri (at least in the movie universe)… until he is abducted by a space ship, becoming a intergalactic mercenary and scavenger. Star-Lord is an unlikely hero, along with the rest of the Guardians, but he gets the job done, to his own beat, thanks to mixed tapes left to him by his mom.

Fictional City: St. Petersburg is the setting for the stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. It was inspired by Hannibal, where Mark Twain was raised. Hannibal has taken advantage of this connection, marking many spots around the city, including the Mark Twain Cave and Huck Finn Freedom Center. They also celebrate Tom Sawyer Days, with contests and fireworks.

Actor/Actress: A few favourites of mine hail from Missouri, including Dick Van Dyke, John Goodman and Jon Hamm. Comedy legend, Van Dyke, from West Plains, is still going strong at the age of 94. Goodman, born in Affton, is best known from TV show Roseanne, but has also appeared in many movies. St. Louis’s own, Hamm, took a while to grow on me, as I wasn’t a fan of Mad Men; however, I now love him in most of his roles.

Mark Twain

Song: Missouri Waltz was made the State Song of Missouri, in 1949. It has been performed by legends such as Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Perry Como, and Johnny Cash. Published in 1914, the tune gained popularity when Missourian, Harry Truman, served as president from 1945 to 1953, despite Truman greatly disliking the song.

Band/Musician: Rock and roll pioneer, Chuck Berry, was born in St. Louis. Nicknamed the ‘Father of Rock and Roll,’ Berry’s best known songs include Roll Over Beethoven and Johnny B. Goode. Fellow musician, Sheryl Crow, is also from the state. Tracks like If It Makes You Happy and Everyday Is a Winding Road, made Crow a household name in the late 1990’s.

People: Legendary outlaw, Jesse James, was born in Kearney. He became a Robin Hood-esque celebrity criminal following the Civil War, robbing banks, trains and stagecoaches, throughout the Midwest. James also died in Missouri, as the $10,000 bounty on his head was collected by a member of his own gang.

Animal: The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales, introduced in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition, are born and bred in Boonville. The horses are trained at Grant’s Farm, near St. Louis, which was formerly the Busch family estate. The Clydesdales are best known for their appearances in company ads, particularly for the Super Bowl.

Invention: The term “the greatest thing since sliced bread” is used to describe landmark creations. Well, how about the original? Sliced bread was made possible by Otto Frederick Rohwedder and first used by Missouri’s Chillicothe Baking Company. A local newspaper described the advancement as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”

Crime: Missouri has a number of “massacres” in its history books. These include the Haun’s Hill Massacre, where a Mormon settlement was attacked, resulting in the bloodiest event of the 1838 Mormon War, and the Civil War-era Palmyra Massacre and Centralia Massacre, which saw the execution of Confederate prisoners of war at the former and slaughter of unarmed Union soldiers at the latter.

Law: Missouri lawmakers seem particularly concerned with yard sales. In Jefferson County, these events can only happen between 7am and 8pm and can’t last more than three days. There goes the idea of a week-long garage sale rager. Also, in University City, yard sales can’t occur on front yards… but isn’t that safer than the alternative?

Sports Team: Missouri has four professional teams, split between the cities of Kansas City – Chiefs (NFL), Royals (MLB) – and St. Louis – Blues (NHL), Cardinals (MLB). The state has also lost a number of franchises from each of the Big 4 leagues: Kansas City Athletics and St. Louis Browns (MLB), Kansas City Scouts (NHL), Kansas City Kings and St. Louis Hawks (NBA), and St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Rams (NFL).

Sliced Bread

Athlete: Yogi Berra was a baseball legend, both on the field and in the dugout. An 18-time All-Star selection and 13-time World Series champion (10 as a player), Berra was one of the most decorated players in the sports history. His ‘Yogi-isms’ include verbal gems like: “90 percent of baseball is mental; the other half is physical.” and “You can observe a lot by watching.”

Famous Home: The Jesse James Home, in St. Joseph, is where the outlaw was assassinated by Robert Ford. Following the killing of James, people flocked to the home, trying to see the body and get their hands on memorabilia. The actual bullet hole from the round that killed James can be seen when visiting the site.

Urban Legend: Lemp Mansion, in St. Louis, is said to be haunted by members of the Lemp family, three of which committed suicide in the home. The family’s money came from the brewing industry, as Lemp Beer was the first to spread nationally; however, the company shut down due to Prohibition. Today, the mansion is a restaurant and inn, with tours available and even a murder mystery dinner theatre.

Museum: The Titanic Museum Attraction, in Branson, spared no expense with its presentation. Set within a Titanic replica, guests enter through a fabricated iceberg and are given a boarding ticket, complete with the name of an actual passenger (some who survived and others that didn’t). There is a similar museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with both complexes owned by John Joslyn, leader of a 1987 expedition to the vessel’s resting place.

Yogi Berra

Firsts: Missouri was the first state the erect a national monument dedicated to a non-president, as well as an African-American. The George Washington Carver National Monument can be found in Diamond, where Carver was raised. It honours his many contributions, particularly in the field of agricultural science.

Company: Anheuser-Busch InBev’s North American headquarters are located in St. Louis. The conglomerate is the largest brewing operation in the world. Budweiser, one of its many subsidiaries, also has a strong foothold in the city, with a brewery that offers tours. The St. Louis location is Budweiser’s oldest and largest facility. There’s also a Biergarten for folks to whet their whistle or try some brew-infused food.

Events: 1904 was a big year for Missouri. They hosted both the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics (first Olympics on American soil), simultaneously. As a result, the Olympics lasted over four months, with one event taking place each day. The games were beset by issues, including St. Louis stealing the games from winning bidder, Chicago, and only 62 of the 651 athletes coming from outside North America.

Miscellaneous: Another nickname for Missouri, is the Cave State, as it has over 6,000 known caverns. Some of the more popular dwellings, include Bridal Cave, which hosts marriage ceremonies, and one in Richland, where the Cave Restaurant (the country’s only eatery inside a cavern) can be found.

Planter’s Punch

Planter's Punch

  • 3 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Mint Sprig

The Planter’s Punch was created by the ‘Father of American Mixology,’ Jerry Thomas, while working at the Planter’s Hotel, in St. Louis. I like rum-heavy drinks, so this was well-received by the Sip Advisor. Be careful, though, after a couple of these, you’ll be floating as high as the Gateway Arch.

Sip Trips #185: Back to the Breweries

The last month or so, since the Sip Advisor last checked in, has been full of brewery visits and orders, as we look to celebrate the summer. Baby Sip is already up to six breweries visited and while I may not get him to his sister’s 54 different locations within her first year of life, we’ll try make a decent dent in that number. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

We have put through a few orders with Granville Island Brewing, with our first one being the most noteworthy. We asked for a bottle each of the Amethyst Purple Sour with Guava, Hop Diffuser IPA and wanted Fumigator Smoked Doppelbock, but they accidentally sent us the Granvillator Doppelbock, which hadn’t even been released yet. To make up for it, they not only sent us the Smoked Doppelbock, but also a second bottle of the Granvillator Doppelbock. Doppelbocks are among Mrs. Sip’s favourite styles of beer, so she was very happy with how everything played out.

Bank Error

A couple weeks back, on a whim, we decided to visit Dageraad Brewing, in Burnaby. This was Toddler Sip’s very first brewery visit and with her sleeping over with Ma and Pa Sip, we decided to repeat the feat with Baby Sip. While there, we had glasses of their Rainshine for me and the Blonde for Mrs. Sip.

We arrived with time for only one drink, so when Dageraad closed, we noticed some of the Port Coquitlam breweries were opened an hour extra. Off we went to Taylight Brewing to share a sleeve of their Pina Colada Ale, followed by nearby Tinhouse Brewing, where we squeezed in a serving of their Hitchhikers Rye to the Galaxy Rye IPA. We hope to return to the area for a couple more first-time visits soon.

The next week, while recovering from my vasectomy (Cousin Sip now calls me the Snip Advisor!), we ventured out to the Delta breweries, stopping first at Four Winds Brewing. We really enjoyed their outdoor patio space and could only imagine what they would have done had their plans for an eatery been approved. Mrs. Sip had a can of their Velo Pale Ale, while I grabbed a four-pack of the Melange Tart Farmhouse Ale, opening one for the stay.

Beer Smiles

Next up, was our first time to Barnside Brewing, which has a wonderful outdoor area, perfect for these crazy coronavirus times. Mrs. Sip and I split two flights, allowing us to try almost the entire lineup offered by the brewery. The beers included: Honey Comb Pale Ale, Cranberry Tart Ale, Summer Days Farmhouse Saison, Ladner Clay IPA, Foggy Fields ISA, Crescent Island Brown, Oatmeal Stout (nitro), and Barrel Aged Oaked Brown.

This past weekend, we were out in Langley, so popped into Camp Brewing, again sharing two flights to try all they had available. The flights were comprised of: Lager, Pilsner, Copa Da Floresta Kiwi & Passionfruit Sour, Upstream Pale Ale, Mile Marker Foggy Pale Ale (loved this beer), Redwood Amber IPA, Dark Lager, and Mother Earth Oatmeal Brown Ale. To go, we also grabbed a four-pack of their Olde Camp Malt Liquor, which they tried to fashion after Olde English.

That wraps up a busy few weeks out and about. I hope all the dads out there had a fantastic Father’s Day. We celebrated by doing a beer tasting, with guests to Ma and Pa Sip’s place each bringing something to share with the group. It was a lot of fun and I was spoiled by Mrs. Sip and Ma and Pa Sip with treats to last quite some time!

Mississippi – Mississippi Punch

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we board a riverboat and sail down Old Man River (aka the Mighty Mississip), to explore the Magnolia State, named for both the State Flower and State Tree. Mississippi holds many treasures, so let’s get to the plundering:

Motto: “By valor and arms” – Someone’s looking for a fight!

Food: The Sip Advisor loves his dips, often wondering how much the item being dipped really matters. One I have yet to try is Comeback Sauce, a Mississippi favourite, mixing mayonnaise and chili sauce, said to put other dips and dressings to shame. It is typically used on fried foods and salads and originated at Greek restaurant, The Rotisserie, in Jackson.

Drink: Barq’s Root Beer was created by Edward Barq, in 1898. The beverage was produced in Biloxi, inside a small home used as the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works. The operation remained in Biloxi, moving to a much larger facility, in 1936. The Barq’s brand is now owned by the Coca-Cola Company, which coincidentally, was first bottled in Vicksburg, in 1894.

root-beer

Site to See: For a state that’s rife with a history of racial tensions, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is probably a good place to start your education. Located in Jackson, the state-sponsored museum opened in 2017 and features eight galleries to be explored. The Museum of Mississippi History can be found next door, so you can double down on the learning.

Street: The Mississippi Blues Trail is a collection of markers throughout the state, which highlight landmarks that greatly contributed to the development of blues music (much more on this subject throughout this article). From recording studios to the birthplaces of blues artists to performance locations, the route has it all and would make for a very interesting road trip.

TV Show: In the Heat of the Night, starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins, ran for seven seasons and 142 episodes, as well as four TV movies. The crime drama dealt with many serious topics, with race relations being examined throughout the show’s run. O’Connor, better known as the bigoted Archie Bunker, won an Emmy for his role and the series was recognized multiple times by the NAACP.

Movie: O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a crime comedy-drama, set in Mississippi during the Great Depression. Starring George Clooney, the story sees a trio of prisoners escape from their chain gang and go on the run, trying to get back a buried robbery score. The film is perhaps best known for its soundtrack, which won Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammys.

Book/Author: Playwright, Tennessee Williams, was born in Columbus. His most famous works include A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, both of which received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and were adapted into successful movies. Williams was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame, in 1979.

Fictional Character: Kermit the Frog rose from the shadows of 2,353 siblings to become one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever known. He can sing, he can dance, he can do it all. Introduced in 1955, Kermit has been making kids (and adults) smile for 65 years. Toddler Sip has become a fan of the frog and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

Fictional City: Although the novel source material for In the Heat of the Night uses the setting of Wells, South Carolina, the movie, its sequels and the subsequent TV series, used the fictional Mississippi locale of Sparta. There’s actually a real Sparta in the state, but the In the Heat of the Night location is unrelated.

Actor/Actress: Jim Henson was seldom seen onscreen, but his acting chops could best be seen performing characters such as Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Ernie, Waldorf, the Swedish Chef, Guy Smiley, and many others on shows such as The Muppets and Sesame Street. Henson was born in Greenville, but raised in Leland, where the Birthplace of Kermit the Frog Museum and Rainbow Connection Bridge can be found.

Kermit Henson

Song: Mississippi is not the easiest state in the union to spell, as I have found while punching it out multiple times for this article. Thankfully, I have the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I song going through my head and keeping me error free. The tune was first performed all the way back in 1916 and wasn’t intended to help people spell the state correctly, but because it was fun to recite.

Band/Musician: The King, Elvis Presley, was born in Tupelo, living there until he was a teenager. The hit maker, known for songs such as Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes, also enjoyed a successful leap into films, including Viva Las Vegas and Blue Hawaii. The Sip Advisor’s teenage self is also demanding I cite pop icon, Britney Spears, born in McComb. While we’re throwing out honourable mentions, island escapist singer, Jimmy Buffett, is from Pascagoula.

People: Born in Kosciusko, media mogul, Oprah Winfrey, has gone on to become one of the most powerful women in the world, establishing the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), in 2008. Her rise to international fame was helped by her long-running talk show, as well as other projects in various media. The Oprah Effect was a term coined to show Winfrey’s ability to make something popular or reviled with a simple endorsement or condemnation.

Animal: Tukota, a rare white bison, was born and lived at the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo. White bisons are born at a rate of only one in every five million births and are considered sacred by many Native American groups. Unfortunately, Tukota had to be euthanized after sustaining life-threatening injuries after a fight with another bison.

Spears

Invention: Mississippi is the birthplace of Blues Music, thanks to notable artists such as Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson. One of the first mentions of the genre, came from an archeologist working in the state, who described the songs of black workers, including themes and technical elements.

Crime: In June 1964, three civil rights activists, working to register black voters, went missing. Three days later, their burnt out car was discovered and their bodies followed two months after that. It took 41 years for anyone to be charged in the case, with Edgar Ray Killen being convicted of three counts of manslaughter, in 2005, and sentenced to 60 years. The case was documented in the film Mississippi Burning.

Law: In Mississippi, it is illegal for a man to pretend to want to marry a woman, in order to woo her. Wouldn’t that put every guy ever behind bars!?

Sports Team: Without any professional teams to support, the sports programs of the University of Mississippi (aka Ole Miss Rebels) and Mississippi State University Bulldogs are the top games around. The two schools are great rivals, competing in many disciplines, most notably the annual Egg Bowl, which closes each football season.

Blues

Athlete: A bevy of NFL greats hail from Mississippi, including Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Brett Favre. The trio hold or held many of the records for each of their positions: Payton at running back, Rice at wide receiver and Favre at quarterback. Combined, the three have won five Super Bowl Championships and been selected to 33 Pro Bowls, among numerous other accolades.

Famous Home: The Elvis Presley Birthplace, in Tupelo, is not only where the legendary musician lived the first few years of his life, he was also born in the two-bedroom home. Today, the site includes the house, a museum, the actual church Presley first attended (which has been moved there), and a chapel. The entire complex is a stop along the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Urban Legend: Stories have long be told that Robert Johnson’s mastery of blues music was thanks to a deal he made with the Devil. The tale goes that Johnson met with a being at a crossroads or in a graveyard, who tuned his guitar and played a few songs before returning the instrument… in exchange for Johnson’s soul. Johnson’s unreported death by poisoning, at the young age of 27, only helped to further such legends.

Museum: There are four Grammy Museums located around the U.S., with one found in Mississippi. Opened in 2016, in Cleveland, the site was chosen thanks to the rich history of music in the state, as has been noted throughout this piece. Exhibits include iconic instruments and clothing worn by musicians on the red carpet, prior to Grammy award ceremonies.

Deal

Firsts: The University of Mississippi Medical Center achieved two major surgical firsts one year apart. In 1963, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first human lung transplant. He followed that up the following year with the world’s first heart transplant, when he put the heart of a chimpanzee into the body of a comatose, near-death man. The man lived for an hour with the new heart, but never regained consciousness.

Company: With no companies recognizable to me residing in Mississippi, I can point out FedEx was founded by Mississippian, Frederick W. Smith. During FedEx’s humble beginnings, Smith took the company’s final $5,000 to Las Vegas, hoping to keep the business afloat. Playing blackjack, Smith walked away with $27,000, good for another week of operating.

Events: Mississippi was the site of numerous Civil War battles, but what happened following the war may be how the state is best remembered. One year after the Civil War ended, four women decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Columbus’ Friendship Cemetery. The act, known as ‘where flowers healed a nation,’ was originally dubbed Decoration Day, eventually turning into the national holiday, Memorial Day.

Miscellaneous: Mississippi is one of many words used as a placeholder to count seconds (one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.). Nobody seems to know the origins of why Mississippi was chosen, but it is a lasting legacy of the state.

Mississippi Punch

Mississippi Punch

  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

This drink was created by the ‘Father of American Mixology,’ Jerry Thomas, also called “the greatest bartender in American history.” A number of variations of the cocktail exist, especially when it comes measurement differences. Thomas’ version called for a wine glass of Cognac and half glasses of both Bourbon and Rum… That would make for an impressive beverage!

Minnesota – The Bootleg

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, Minnesota welcomes the Sip Advisor. The Land of 10,000 Lakes actually has many more, so at least they’re humble folk. Let’s see what the North Star State has going on:

Motto: “The star of the North” – Canada may have some objections to that…

Food: Hotdish is a Minnesota classic. These casseroles come in a variety of forms, but typically combine a starch, a meat, and vegetables, mixed with canned soup. A popular version uses tater tots, ground beef and cream of mushroom soup. Hotdish can even come served on a stick, with the soup used as a side dipping sauce.

Drink: Craft beer is big in Minnesota, with brewing in general having a long and storied history in the state. Companies such as Surly, Summit, and Schell’s are among the best today, with Schell’s being the second oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S., founded in 1860.

Hotdish

Site to See: For those who love to shop, a mecca of mall madness can be found in Bloomington. The Mall of America is the largest mall in the U.S., home to such attractions as the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience and FlyOver America. Opened in 1992, the mall contains 520 stores and restaurants.

Street: Summit Avenue, in St. Paul, is notable for being the longest street of Victorian homes in America. National Historic Landmarks along the route, include the James J. Hill House, F. Scott Fitzgerald House and Frank B. Kellogg House. However, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald both disliked the area.

TV Show: Coach, starring Craig T. Nelson as Minnesota State University football coach, Hayden Fox, ran for nine seasons and exactly 200 episodes. The final two seasons were set in Florida, with Fox becoming the coach of an expansion NFL team, but it was revealed in the series finale, Fox retired and returned to Minnesota.

Movie: I’m a huge Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon fan, so among some tough competition, I have to go with Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men for this category. Set in Wabasha, feuding neighbours, Max Goldman and John Gustafson Jr., trade insults and pranks, while their respective son and daughter enter into a relationship together. The sequel sees everyone happily ever after, so perhaps the movie titles don’t fit.

Grumpy Old Men

Book/Author: It is generally accepted the Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles M. Schulz, is set in Minnesota. After all, Schulz was born in Minneapolis and some mentions during the comics run place memorable characters, such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy, there. Schulz retired on January 3, 2000, dying a month later of colon cancer.

Fictional Character: Minnesota is a hockey mad state; therefore, hockey legends with fill this category. First, the rough and tumble Hanson Brothers, from the classic film Slap Shot, are Minnesota-bred. Next, we have the Mighty Ducks minor hockey team, led by coach Gordon Bombay. Can you just imagine if these great players all united to form an all-state squad!?

Fictional City: Frostbite Falls is the hometown of Rocky J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. Based on the real-life International Falls (nicknamed the Icebox of the Nation due to its extremely cold temperatures), Frostbite Falls is where antagonists Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are often trying to capture “Moose and Squirrel,” perhaps to make a hotdish.

Actor/Actress: Funnymen Chris Pratt and Vince Vaugh were born in Virginia and Minneapolis, respectively. Coincidentally, both have had roles in Jurassic Park films. Other notable stars from the state, include Judy Garland, Jessica Biel, Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder (born in Winona), and Seann William Scott.

Hanson Brothers

Song: Skyway, by the Replacements, is an ode to the Minneapolis Skyway System, a network of pedestrian footbridges, which allow folks to remain inside and safe from the elements for 11 miles and 80 city blocks (the longest continuous system in the world). The Minnesotan band’s song is about two lovers, one on the street and one within the Skyway System, who are unable to connect.

Band/Musician: Two icons of the music industry were born in Minnesota. Bob Dylan has been recognized as one of the most influential artists of all-time, earning such accolades as a Nobel Prize in Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and induction into various Hall of Fames. Fellow Minnesotan, Prince, also enjoyed a very successful career, sadly passing away of an accidental fentanyl overdose, in 2016.

People: The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, were born in St. Louis Park and are among some of the most successful filmmakers in the industry. Their most notable movies include Fargo (set and filmed in Minnesota), No Country for Old Men and True Grit, all of which were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, with No Country for Old Men taking home the prize.

Animal: Not only was a dog (Duke) elected mayor of small town Cormorant Village, but the canine was re-elected three more times, serving for a total of four years, before retiring. Duke’s human deputy mayor, said the canine “hangs out at the local pub and makes sure everything is running.”

Duke the Mayor

Invention: Frank C. Mars founded Mars Inc., in 1911, in Minneapolis. His famous chocolate bar creations included the Milky Way, Snickers and Three Musketeers. His son, Forrest Mars Sr., later developed the Mars bar and M&M’s candies, while estranged from his father. He returned to the fold, when he inherited Mars Inc. and merged it with his own company.

Crime: I had this article all written up and ready to go… then the murder of George Floyd occurred and a rewrite was needed. Floyd’s death, at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his colleagues, has resulted in Black Lives Matter protests across the country and abroad, seeking reforms on policing and highlighting racial inequalities. Floyd was 46 and is survived by five children.

Law: In Minnesota, nursing homes and senior care facilities may only stage games of bingo twice per week. Yeah, that will keep the residents in line!

Sports Team: Minnesota has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Minneapolis is home to three of those clubs, the Vikings (NFL), Twins (MLB) and Timberwolves (NBA), while the Wild (NHL) play in St. Paul. The defunct North Stars (NHL), had played in Bloomington from 1967 to 1993, but were relocated to Dallas, Texas.

Bingo

Athlete: Minnesota has long been a breeding ground for professional wrestlers. Such notable stars from the past, include Verne Gagne (whose American Wrestling Association was based in Minneapolis), Bob Backlund, Bronko Nagurski, Curt Hennig (aka Mr. Perfect), the Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Barry Darsow, Rick Rude, Jesse Ventura (former governor of Minnesota), and Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac).

Famous Home: The Glensheen Historic Estate, in Duluth, is an expansive property, operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Famous for its architectural design, the mansion was the site of a grizzly double murder of owner Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, at the hands of Congdon’s adopted daughter’s husband. Tours of the estate are available, but questions about the murders can only be asked afterwards.

Urban Legend: Although there’s a drunken prankster, Ola Värmlänning, among Minnesota folklore, I can’t find much info about the character, so we’ll go with the Kensington Runestone in this category. The Runestone, which details the experiences of 14th century Scandinavian explorers, has been the subject of much debate over its authenticity. Most scholars have debunked the artifact as a hoax, but it remains on display at the Runestone Museum, in Alexandria.

Museum: Spam, the canned pork product, was invented in Minnesota. Therefore, the state is home to the Spam Museum, located in Austin. Visitors are offered spamples from spambassadors, with a highlight of the museum documenting Spam’s importance during World War II. Austin also celebrated Spamarama annually, from 1978 to 2007, with the event returning in 2019. The festival featured a Spam cook-off competition.

Spam

Firsts: The University of Minnesota has been responsible for many major medical developments. These include the first open heart surgery, as well as the first bone marrow, kidney and pancreas transplants in the U.S. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic is also a Minnesota institution, known for its treatment of patients and research programs, leading to many medical innovations.

Company: General Mills, makers of popular cereals such as Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Golden Grahams, is headquartered in Golden Valley. Other General Mills brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, and Old El Paso. Two more notable companies based in Minnesota are retailer giants Target and Best Buy.

Events: The Miracle on Ice, which saw the U.S. defeat the powerhouse Soviet Union (and later capture the hockey gold medal) at the 1980 Winter Olympics, was accomplished by a team loaded with University of Minnesota players and led by the program’s coach, Herb Brooks. The victory was iconic during the Cold War era and made all the more memorable by commentator Al Michaels call: “Do you believe in miracles?!”

Miscellaneous: Minnesotans must enjoy their leisure time, having invented a number of objects for fun on your own and with friends. These items include snowmobiles, water skis, rollerblades, the game Twister, Nerf balls, and Tonka Trucks.

The Bootleg

The Bootleg

  • 1.5 oz Vodka, Gin or Rum
  • 3 oz Bootleg Mix (recipe below)
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint

The Bootleg Batch

  • Bootleg Mix (Combined in Blender)
  • 1 Can Frozen Lemonade
  • 1 Can Frozen Limeade
  • 1/2 Cup Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Simple Syrup

The Bootleg is a country club favourite in Minnesota. Some say the recipe first appeared during prohibition, used to mask the taste of alcohol. This drink was very good, which I mixed up for friends and family to enjoy poolside on a warm day. Anything is better than the alternative Minnesota cocktail of choice, the Beertini/Midwest Martini, which combines lager beer with green olives and brine.