Arizona – Original Tequila Sunrise

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Arizona is called the ‘Nation’s Valentine’ after joining the union on February 14, 1912. So, let’s give the Grand Canyon State (bet they had to think long and hard before picking that nickname) a little love:

Motto: “God enriches” – I’ll take me some of those enriches over here!

Food: The Chimichanga is an enhanced Burrito, taking an already great food item and deep frying it. As with most invented dishes, there is a dispute over which restaurant served a Chimichanga first, but regardless, it happened in Arizona.

Drink: AriZona Beverages is not from Arizona and is actually based in New York. That said, Eegee’s Frozen Fruit Drinks can actually call Arizona home, growing from a two-man vending truck operation in 1971 to having 24 locations serving up their Slurpee-like concoctions in a variety of different flavours.

Chimichangas

Site to See: Arizona has more national monuments (18) than any other state, so there are plenty of places to visit. Of course, the top attraction of the state is the Grand Canyon National Park, with over six million people making the trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site each year, in recent times.

Street: Had the Sip Advisor existed during Arizona’s pre-statehood days, I would have certainly ended up in Bisbee, where the street known as Brewery Gulch once hosted close to 50 saloons. Today, a half-dozen breweries now reside on Brewery Avenue, which Brewery Gulch turns into.

TV Show: Medium, starring Patricia Arquette, ran for seven seasons and 130 episodes. The series was about a medium (imagine that) who works with the Phoenix district attorney’s office, assisting them with solving crimes. The series is based on real-life medium, Allison DuBois (also the name of the show’s main character), earning Arquette an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Movie: While providing the backdrop for many western movies, my favourite Arizona-set film has to be Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton. Sure, the sequel didn’t hold up at all, but the original is a holiday classic. Also, it was John Ritter’s last live-action movie, prior to his premature death, so there’s that.

Grand Canyon

Book/Author: Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series of books, was raised in Phoenix/Scottsdale. Meyer even gave her main heroine, Bella Swan, the hometown of Phoenix, so you’d have to imagine the entire plot of Twilight, involving vampires and werewolves and the like, is completely autobiographical.

Fictional Character: After finally watching the first two movies from the franchise a couple years back, my vote goes to Bowie’s own John Rambo. Rambo is a former Army Special Forces fighter, who has shot-up his fair share of baddies, over five films. The iconic character has since also appeared in comic books, video games and an animated TV series.

Fictional City: While Radiator Springs, from the movie Cars, is an amalgamation of places and attractions from America’s famous Route 66, a map seen in a flashback in the film pinpoints the town in Arizona. Radiator Springs has even been recreated within Disneyland’s California Adventure park, allowing visitors to experience the place first hand, from Flo’s V8 Café (home to the Sip Advisor’s favourite beer in the park) to Mater’s Junkyard.

Actor/Actress: Oscar-winner Emma Stone was born in Scottsdale. Stone’s film debut came in the 2007 hit Superbad, leading eventually to starring roles in Easy A, The Help and La La Land. I also have to give a shout out to Danielle Fishel, from Mesa, who was a teenage crush of the Sip Advisor, for her role of Topanga on Boy Meets World.

Rambo

Song: Arizona by Rex Allen Jr. was adopted as the Alternate State Anthem of the Grand Canyon State in 1981. More interestingly, Allen narrated the movie Me, Myself, and Irene, starring Jim Carrey, Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger.

Band/Musician: Alice Cooper moved to Phoenix in his younger years and lives there to this day. The ‘Godfather of Shock Rock’ owned a popular restaurant in Phoenix called Alice Cooper’stown, which closed after 18 years in operation. Cooper even ran for Governor of Arizona in 1988, using the tagline: “Alice Cooper: A Troubled Man for Troubled Times”.

People: Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, was born in Phoenix and educated at the University of Arizona. Without her efforts, my brother from another mother, Cookie Monster, may have never existed.

Animal: From Morristown, Grumpy Cat – real name Tardar Sauce – became a viral sensation after a picture of the kitty was posted to Reddit. Always appearing cranky, due to a form of dwarfism, Grumpy Cat’s likeness was plastered on everything from toys to calendars. The popularity of the feline even allowed her owner to quit her job. Sadly, Tardar Sauce died in May 2019, due to complications from a urinary tract infection.

grumpy-cat

Invention: Given Arizona’s hot temperatures, being able to cool off by having fun in the water is a big priority or Arizonans. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Jet Skis and Keystone Kool Deck (for swimming pools) were invented in the state. Tasers were also invented there, but that gets folks a different kind of hot and bothered.

Crime: On January 8, 2011, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was the victim of an attempted assassination, as Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head outside a Safeway grocery store, as she hosted a “Congress on Your Corner” public meeting. Giffords survived the attack, but six others were not so lucky. Loughner pled guilty to 19 charges, avoiding the death penalty with his plea bargain.

Law: As a man who loves his water, the Sip Advisor is happy to learn that in Arizona, it is illegal to refuse to give a person a glass of the good stuff. I wonder if an argument could be made that beer and other alcoholic beverages should also fall under this umbrella, given they are all water-based!?

Sports Team: Arizona has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues, with the Diamondbacks (MLB), Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL), and Phoenix Suns (NBA). The state is also host to MLB’s annual Cactus League Spring Training, with games occurring at multiple locations. Lastly, golf course are in abundance in Arizona and PGA events, such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is played there yearly.

jet-skis

Athlete: Gymnast Kerri Strug, from Tucson, helped her American team win gold at the 1996 Olympics, memorably landing a vault attempt, despite a severely injured ankle. Becoming a hero for her bravery, Strug appeared on boxes of Wheaties cereal and even in a segment of Saturday Night Live.

Famous Home: Boyce Luther Gully designed Mystery Castle in Phoenix, with his daughter in mind. As an adult, she inherited the property, constructed from all available materials, including rail tracks, automobile parts and telephone poles. The 18-room dwelling has a chapel, dungeon and cantina and can be toured by the public.

Urban Legend: The Superstition Mountains, near Phoenix, are said to be the location of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, one of the most infamous lost treasures in the world. Immigrant Jacob Waltz “discovered” the mine in the 1800’s and went to his grave revealing the site to only one person, while on his deathbed. While a number of mines have been claimed to be the Lost Dutchman’s, we’ll likely never know the real story.

Museum: Located in Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum features a collection of over 15,000 music makers from close to 200 countries around the world. The MIM, as the cool kids call it, also contains a concert hall for live performances.

saxophone

Firsts: On January 1, 1960, the first retirement community in the world opened, known as Sun City. The destination proved to be so popular that 100,000 visitors came to the development on its opening weekend. Today, the municipality has eight golf courses, seven rec centers and four lawn bowling courts, among other facilities. There’s also a museum on the site, containing artifacts from the project.

Company: Best Western International is headquartered in Phoenix. The corporation oversees the licensing of its brand to 4,500 hotels worldwide, 2,000 of them within North America. Best Western was founded in 1946, gaining its name from the fact most of the business’s locations existed west of the Mississippi River.

Events: Three decades before Arizona was even an American state, its most infamous happening occurred. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place in Tombstone, between the law and outlaws, making legends out of people like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The shootout lasted only 30 seconds, but resulted in the death of three outlaws. Today, Tombstone is known as “the town too tough to die”, presenting a recreation of the gunfight three times daily for tourists.

Miscellaneous: Flagstaff could have been movie central, as director Cecil B. DeMille wanted to shoot his movie The Squaw Man there, before settling on Hollywood, California for filming. At least Flagstaff can claim a role in the discovery of the planet (I still think it’s one) Pluto, which was first detected by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory.

Original Tequila Sunrise

Original Tequila Sunrise

  • 1.25 oz Tequila
  • 0.75 oz Crème de Cassis
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

This cocktail was invented at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, by bartender Gene Sulit, when challenged to construct a refreshing beverage that could be enjoyed poolside. While the drink is better known for its Californian variation of tequila, orange juice and grenadine, I much prefer the Arizona original. I did sub in Pomegranate Liqueur, in place of the Crème de Cassis, however.

Alaska – Midnight Sun

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. The Last Frontier… the Land of the Midnight Sun… whatever you want to call it, Alaska is where we venture to today, so let’s enjoy the setting before it gets dark:

Slogan: North to the Future – Is that better or worse than going Back to the Future?

Food: Alaskan King Crab is a delicacy found through fishing in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. These crabs are the most expensive and highly sought of all crab species, but are also difficult to catch. The industry has been highlighted by hit reality series Deadliest Catch, which has been airing since 2005.

Drink: The Alaskan Brewing Company was founded in 1986, in Juneau. Beers from Alaskan are available across half the country’s states. Visitors can tour the brewery, where 20 beers are on tap each day and a selection of merchandise is also available.

alaska

Site to See: Alaska is all about natural beauty, from its National Parks (Denali, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords) to Glaciers (Mendenhall, Matanuska, Portage). You can also view the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis during most of the year.

Street: Ketchikan’s Creek Street is the former red light district of the city. Built on wooden stilts, a number of brothels set up shop here between 1903 and 1954, when they were forced out of the city center and until they were outlawed for good. The nearby Married Man’s Trail was used by customers escaping the brothels when raids occurred. Apparently, it presents a nice hike these days.

TV Show: Northern Exposure was a comedy-drama series, which sees New Yorker Joel Fleischman sent to the fictional town of Cicely to work as a doctor and pay back the student loan for med school that Alaska funded for him. While in Cicely, Joel interacts with the eclectic townsfolk, while adjusting to his new setting. The show lasted six seasons and 110 episodes, winning the 1992 Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. A number of reality shows are also filmed in Alaska, including the previously mentioned Deadliest Catch, along with other popular series, such as Gold Rush and Ice Road Truckers.

Movie: While I remember enjoying the 2002 mystery thriller Insomnia (starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank), I have to choose Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds led The Proposal for this category, almost entirely based on the scene where Bullock is running around naked, looking for a towel. Cinema at its finest, my little sippers!

Northern Exposure.jpg

Book/Author: Gentle Ben by Walt Morey, tells the tale of a lonely boy who befriends a brown bear. Morey based the story on his own experiences in Alaska and based characters from the book on real-life Alaskans. Gentle Ben has since been featured in movies and TV series.

Fictional Character: Chilly Willy, the cute little penguin from The Woody Woodpecker Show, hails from Fairbanks. Upon debuting, Chilly Willy became the second most popular Lantz/Universal cartoon character after Woody Woodpecker.

Fictional City: Since we’ve already highlighted Cicely from Northern Exposure, we’ll devote some space to the town of Mystery, from the movie Mystery, Alaska, which sees an amateur hockey team battle the NHL’s New York Rangers in an exhibition match. The film has quite the cast, including starring roles for Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds and Hank Azaria, as well as a cameo by Mike Myers, playing a commentator similar to the controversial Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada fame.

Actor/Actress: While not recognizable by name, Irene Bedard has a very familiar look and sound. She voiced Pocahontas for the Disney film of the same name and its sequel and was also used as a model for the character’s design. The actress was born in Anchorage and was named one of People Magazine’s ’50 Most Beautiful People’ in 1995.

Gentle Ben

Song: North to Alaska by Johnny Horton was featured in the opening credits of the 1960 John Wayne film of the same name, setting up the story to the point where the movie takes over. The song topped the Billboard Country Singles chart, but sadly, Horton never got to reap the success of the track, dying in a car accident one week before the film was released.

Band/Musician: Jewel, famous for her songs “Who Will Save Your Soul”, “You Were Meant for Me” and “Foolish Games”, moved to Alaska shortly after her birth, being raised in Homer. The talented singer-songwriter has also dabbled in acting, with cameos as herself in a number of projects.

People: Sarah Palin was the first female governor of Alaska and later became John McCain’s vice-president candidate for the 2008 U.S. election. Palin’s run brought on a Saturday Night Live impersonation, as well as an adult industry doppelganger (or would that be a doppel-banger). The Palins are practically Alaska’s first family, with husband Todd being a champion snow mobile racer and daughter Bristol gaining attention as a reality TV figure.

Animal: Siberian Huskies, Balto and Togo, led a serum run in 1925, to deliver the supplies from Anchorage to Nome, amidst a diphtheria epidemic. Known as the Great Race of Mercy, both dogs have had their stories turned into movies, with Balto getting the honour in 1995 and Togo at the end of 2019.

Balto

Invention: The Sip Advisor is a big-time consumer of ranch dressing, so thanks should be heaped upon Steve Henson, who created the sauce while living in the Alaskan bush as a plumbing contractor. He and wife, Gayle, later moved to California and owned and operated the Hidden Valley Ranch, selling the dressing to customers in products they could take home.

Crime: As the Last Frontier moved from lawlessness to a place of rules and enforcement, a famous shootout occurred on the Juneau Wharf in 1898, between conman and gang leader Jefferson “Soapy” Smith and vigilante Frank Reid. The gunfight resulted from growing tensions between Smith and his associates and the Citizens Committee, a group looking to restore order in Juneau. Both men died in the altercation, with Soapy Smith being the one who is celebrated each year on July 8.

Law: It is legal to shoot a bear, but illegal to shoot them in a way that doesn’t harm them, as waking a sleeping bear to take a photograph of it is against the law.

Sports Team: There are no professional sports teams in Alaska, but the state is famous for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, known as “the last great race on Earth”. The Iditarod was first run in 1973, with the 938-mile trek typically taking place during blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. The quickest completion of the route was eight days, three hours and 40 minutes (set in 2017), while it took original competitors more than 20 days to finish. One of many reasons why dog mushing is Alaska’s State Sport.

flat tire

Athlete: Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling was born in Anchorage. The four-time World Series champion (with three different teams) is perhaps best remembered for his gutsy performance during the Boston Red Sox run to the title in 2004, where he had to have tendons in his right ankle stabilized for each performance, resulting in a visibly bloody sock. One of those socks now sits in the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite Schilling not being elected into Cooperstown as of yet.

Famous Home: Dolly’s House, located on the infamous Creek Street, allows visitors to see how Alaska’s best known prostitute lived and operated her business. Dolly Arthur came to Ketchikan in 1919 and remained at her home long after the brothels were banned, passing away in 1975, at the age of 87.

Urban Legend: Since 1988, it’s estimated that more than 16,000 people have disappeared in an area known as the Alaska Triangle. The region, which consists of a sizeable chunk of the state, is comprised of mostly unexplored land, from forests to mountain ranges to frozen tundras. Usual suspects, such as Bigfoot and UFOs have received their fair share of blame for the disappearances, along with a creature known as Otterman (half man, half otter, all cute). The Triangle first gained notoriety in 1972, when two politicians (one the House Majority Leader at the time) an aide and their pilot vanished into thin air over the zone.

Museum: The Saloons that dot the Alaskan map, such as the Red Onion in Skagway and Red Dog in Juneau, are home to interactive and educational experiences, while patrons are also able to enjoy a drink and bite to eat. The Red Onion offers brothel and walking city tours, while the Red Dog displays Wyatt Earp’s gun, among other memorabilia.

Dolly's House

Firsts: Completed in 1942, the Alaska-Canada Military Highway was the first stable link between Alaska and the rest of the U.S. The highway stretched all the way to Great Falls, Montana.

Company: Ironically, Alaska Air is not based in the state, but Santa Claus House is. The retail store, located in North Pole, was first a trading post and post office, before becoming a gift shop. The store, whose slogan is “Where it’s Christmas Every Day!”, is also home to the world’s largest Santa statue and receives thousands of letters each year, addressed to the jolly gift giver.

Events: In 1867, the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million in gold (approximately two cents per acre). Americans called the deal, negotiated by Secretary of State William Seward, “Seward’s folly”. Five years later, gold was discovered in Sitka, with other locations to follow. In 1959, Alaska became the 49th state of the union and nearly 10 years later, oil was discovered. That’s quite the return on your investment!

Miscellaneous: Alaska’s State Flag was designed by 13-year-old Benny Benson, in 1927. His submission for a contest open to kids in grades seven to 12, featuring the Big Dipper and North Star in gold on a blue background, was selected from 142 contenders.

Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun

  • Muddle Strawberries and Basil
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Egg Whites
  • Garnish with a Strawberry

There are many variations of the Midnight Sun cocktail. I went with a recipe I found from the Alaskan Spirits distillery in Anchorage, making one change by muddling the basil, rather than making a basil-infused simple syrup. To be honest, I didn’t love this drink, but probably didn’t make it as well as Alaskan Spirits would.

Alabama – Yellowhammer

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 explore the Heart of Dixie, Alabama, for a dose of southern hospitality:

Motto: “We dare defend our rights” – That’s as intimidating as “Don’t mess with Texas”.

Food: The pecan is the State Nut of Alabama, therefore, pecan pie is a fixture. Other more unique dishes include Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce and Fried Green Tomatoes, although the latter can be found across the southern U.S.

Drink: One of the most famous drinks the world over is the Alabama Slammer, comprised of Amaretto, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin and Orange Juice. The cocktail is thought to have been invented at the University of Alabama in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, first as a shooter, before becoming a full-size beverage.

Pecan Pie

Site to See: If you have a need for speed, the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, celebrates America’s space program. There’s also the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, of course, where many memorable NASCAR moments have occurred.

Street: For a measure of reflection, 16th Street in Birmingham is home to the Civil Rights National Monument and Civil Rights Institute, located across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church. The area is known as the Civil Rights District, the epicenter of so much history for not only the state, but the country as a whole.

TV Show: The only TV show of note to be set in Alabama is ‘Hart of Dixie’, which I’ve never seen. The series lasted four seasons and 76 episodes and was about a doctor named Zoe Hart, who dreams of being a heart surgeon. When that falls through, she takes her talents to the fictional town of Bluebell to be a general practitioner.

Movie: Numerous movies have been set in Alabama, but my favourite of the bunch is Forrest Gump, which sees the titular character born and raised in Greenbow, as well as become a football star at the University of Alabama, before setting off on his adventures around the world.

Forrest Gump

Book/Author: Few folks leave their education days without reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. The story takes place in the fictional location of Maycomb, which was loosely based on Lee’s hometown of Monroeville. The book tackles Alabama’s race issues of the 1930’s, with the main trial plot said to be inspired by an amalgamation of real-life events.

Fictional Character: While the Sip Advisor loves Forrest Gump, I have to choose folk hero John Henry in this category. Henry, a steel-driver, raced against a steam-powered rock drilling machine to create a tunnel for the railroad, dying as he completed his task and beat out his mechanical opponent. Dwayne Johnson has been tabbed to play Henry in an upcoming Netfilx film.

Fictional City: Since we’ve already highlighted Maycomb from To Kill a Mockingbird, let’s give some attention to Whistle Stop from the novel/movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. Whistle Stop was used by Alabaman Fannie Flagg, who based her setting on Irondale and its Irondale Café.

Actor/Actress: Magic Mike himself, Channing Tatum, hails from Cullman. For the ladies, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer was born in Montgomery and graduated from Auburn University.

Channing Tatum

Song: Hands down, the most iconic song associated with the state is ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The rock anthem was written in counter to Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’, which took the state to task for its history of slavery and racism.

Band/Musician: Having seen him in concert, I have to give the nod here to Lionel Richie, from Tuskegee. It should also be noted that FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, is one of the most famous recording studios in the world, used by the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and others.

People: Rosa Parks, also born in Tuskegee, became one of the key faces of the Civil Rights Movement, when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger and was arrested for the act. Parks had sat in a row meant for black passengers, but when the bus filled and some white passengers were forced to stand, the driver moved the sign back and demanded black passengers vacate their spots.

Animal: Miss Baker was a squirrel monkey from Peru, who was one of two animals to be the first sent into space and survive, in 1959. Miss Baker would be moved to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in 1971 and live out the rest of her life there, dying in 1984 at the age of 27. Prior to her death, Miss Baker was recognized as the oldest living squirrel monkey. She was buried on the grounds of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and inducted into the Alabama Animal Hall of Fame in 2005.

sweet-home-alabama.png

Invention: Despite important inventions such as the hearing aid, windshield wipers and air bags, Alabama’s greatest creation offered to the world has to be the Super Soaker. Invented by Lonnie Johnson, an engineer and former NASA employee from Mobile, the product was originally dubbed the Power Drencher, upon debuting in 1990. The Super Soaker is a member of the National Toy Hall of Fame, inducted in 2015, with lifetime sales nearing $1 billion. Johnson had to sue for underpaid royalties in 2013 and was awarded $73 million.

Crime: In 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church was the site of a deadly bombing, killing four African-American girls (aged 11-14) and injuring 22 others. It took more than a decade for one of the four bombers to be convicted. Two others were finally tried and sentenced in the early 2000’s, while another died in 1994, never being charged with the hate crime. The bombing actually backfired against the Ku Klux Klan members who committed the attack, as support for the Civil Rights Movement increased afterwards, leading to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Law: Despite being the first state to celebrate Mardi Gras, it is illegal to use both plastic confetti and silly string. You’d think Alabamans were party people.

Sports Team: In Alabama, it’s all about college football, with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn University Tigers competing for the hearts of fans across the state. Their rivalry, existing since 1893, is known as the Iron Bowl, with games traditionally played during Thanksgiving weekend.

Football

Athlete: Alabama’s greatest sporting influence can be seen in baseball, with a host of legends hailing from the state. Among them, are icons such as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, and Satchel Paige. Track and field star Jesse Owens, famous for his defiant performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in front of Adolf Hitler and other Nazis, also called Alabama home.

Famous Home: The Helen Keller Home (aka Ivy Green), is where the future activist learned to overcome her disabilities of being both deaf and blind. Located in Tuscumbia, the home now houses a museum and presents performances of The Miracle Worker – the play based on Keller’s autobiography – every summer.

Urban Legend: Dead Children’s Playground, located in Huntsville’s Maple Hill Cemetery, is said to be haunted by the spirits of children. In 2007, the original playground was demolished to make room for more graves. Due to public protest, another playground was built on the site. Swings are reported to rock on their own and the voices of children can be heard playing.

Museum: The Drive-Thru Museum in Seale, allows visitors to view works of art, set up in shipping containers with one wall removed, without ever having to leave the comfort of their vehicle. I have to ask: is there a speed limit folks must abide by, or can they peruse the works at their own pace, potentially causing traffic jams?

Helen-Keller

Firsts: On February 16, 1968, small town Haleyville received the very first 911 call made in the U.S. They’re so proud of the accomplishment, they’ve encased the rotary phone that took the call and have it on display at city hall.

Company: While no notable companies (for the Sip Advisor, at least) have their headquarters in Alabama, it should be noted the Unclaimed Baggage Center can be found in the state. On a daily basis, thousands of items are added to the store’s inventory, coming from deserted airline luggage. Each year, one million customers visit Scottsboro to search for deals, with items sold at a discount between 20-80 per cent.

Events: The American Civil War and Civil Rights Movement have largely defined Alabama over its existence. Montgomery was the capital of the Confederate States of America and also the site of Rosa Parks arrest in 1955, as well as being the terminus for civil rights marches originating from Selma.

Miscellaneous: The infamous Confederate Flag was designed and first flown in Alabama.

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Garnish with a Cherry

The Yellowhammer is the State Bird of Alabama (also giving Alabama the nickname Yellowhammer State). The drink is a favourite among Crimson Tide fans, who are known to buy the secret recipe cocktail in droves at Gallettes bar, located near the University of Alabama stadium and where the drink was invented. I enjoyed the beverage, despite generally steering away from concoctions using fruit juices.

Best of 2019

As we wrapped not only the year, but also the decade, the Sip Advisor was doing a fair bit of reminiscing. It was another fantastic year, filled with shocking developments, explosive action and more twists and turns than a Hollywood blockbuster. Here is the Sip Advisor’s Top 19 of 2019:

Whiskey In the Jar

A new tradition for the Sip Advisor is to attend a friend’s annual whiskey tasting event. In my second year going, I put together a good crew of drinking buddies and we had a great night going back and forth between whiskeys and beers. It was such a good drinking session that some friends have declined joining for 2020.

Cerveza Por Favor

In February, the Sip Family travelled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week at an all-inclusive resort. After breakfast and a few hours of swimming, the drinks usually began flowing at happy hour and throughout the night. Another highlight was visiting the two craft breweries in the area.

All-Inclusive

Renewing Hostilities

For the second straight year, Mrs. Sip and I attended the NHL grudge match between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs (the hatred likely more so between the fans than the players) and were rewarded with a Canucks overtime victory. There is nothing sweeter than seeing Toronto lose.

Sweet Home Abbotsford

In our younger years, a fair bit of time was spent playing Guitar Hero, with one of our favourite songs from the series being Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. With the band in the area for a concert, we had to check it out. Hearing favourites like Sweet Home Alabama, Simple Man and an encore of Free Bird made for a rocking night out.

Say It Ain’t So

Next up was another concert, as Mrs. Sip and I, along with friends, attended the Weezer concert at Rogers Arena. The evening began with an excellent chef’s choice meal at Wildebeest and the good vibes continued right throughout the concert. To close the night, we even ended up in another friend’s private suite for encore time.

concert

Emerald City Easter

Over the Easter long weekend, we took a road trip with Ma and Pa Sip to Seattle, Washington. While there, we got to take Toddler Sip to the Woodland Park Zoo and ride the Great Wheel located in the Seattle Waterfront. Each night of our stay also featured many drinks at the hotel’s cocktail reception.

Taco Time

A six-course Mexican-fusion meal, paired with beers from two of my favourite breweries? It was not hard to commit to the Mucha Lucha Dinner at El Santo in New Westminster. The night was a lot of fun, as the two breweries (Steel & Oak and Four Winds) took turns serving up their wares, paired with a tasty dish from the restaurant.

East End Boys, West End Girls

While in London, the girls in our group wanted a night out at the theatre. In exchange, the guys got an afternoon of watching football, while pouring copious amounts of beer and booze down our gullets. Seemed like a fair trade for all. Heck, even our night in looking after the little ones was a lot of fun, filled with good food and drinks.

football.jpg

European Vacation

Other highlights from our European escapade included wineries in Sicily, Italy; somehow watching the Game of Thrones series finale in Gozo, Malta, after an afternoon of beers at our countryside home; and watching the sunset and chaos on the streets below from our apartment in Vallata, Malta.

The Last Frontier

An Alaskan cruise was up next, starting with one night in Anchorage and three craft breweries. Another memory from the journey was scenic cruising of glaciers, made all the more enjoyable with my concoction of spiced rum and hot chocolate. We also made a point of having a drink in an infamous saloon in each port we stopped at.

BC Brew

For the first time over its 10-year run, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival on the PNE grounds. There were so many good beers to sample, with each brewery bringing more than just flagship options. And boy were there a ton of breweries to choose from, a sign of the success of the industry in these here parts.

festival.jpg

Beer-A-Mania

Combining two of my favourite things: beer and wrestling, a friend and I attended Parallel 49’s Brawl at the Brewery, where the looks of a wet, rainy day turned into a fun evening of drinking and mat action. After the event, we hit some other local watering holes to wrap the outing.

Battle Royale

Mrs. Sip and I first attended the Battle of the Brews in 2018, as a wedding anniversary celebration. We returned in 2019 with a group of friends, which amped up the fun. The last hour of the event was spent racing around the venue, while double fisting our souvenir glasses.

Cask Conditioned

I’ve been to the annual Caskapalooza at Craft Beer Market three years in a row and it’s one of my favourite events on the summer schedule. With so many breweries in attendance, selection is in abundance and it’s a lot of fun trying all the different concoctions the brewers have dreamed up.

cask

California Dreamin’

To celebrate my and Toddler Sip’s birthdays, we boarded a cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles, finishing with a day in Disneyland. The entire journey was full of fun and even though not a single drink was drank during our Disney stay, watching Toddler Sip enjoy the park was sweet perfection.

Get Your Dirndl

A new brewery to the scene in 2019, and one in which I am a member of, ABC Brewing threw one heck of an Oktoberfest party. There was a large selection of German beers, from breweries around the Pacific Northwest. The festive atmosphere made for a wonderful afternoon of boozing.

Circus Maximus

Mrs. Sip’s Mother’s Day gift was tickets to Cirque du Soleil: Luzia, which we attended in October. Prior to the show, we had a fantastic dinner at Coast (part of the Glowbal Group restaurants), dining on lobster and other seafood dishes. The show afterwards was simply a cherry on the sundae.

cirque tryouts

Aloha Adventures

Looking to get away from the winter weather for a week, we booked a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii in early November. The days were spent swimming, while nights were filled with good food, drinks and long walks around Waikiki. Family memories to last a lifetime.

Bavarian Lights

Our last getaway of 2019 had the family travel to Leavenworth, Washington for the town’s Christmas Lighting Festival. Watching Toddler Sip experience snow for the first time was wonderful. We also had the chance to have a couple drinks outdoors, which is something the Sip Advisor is a bigtime fan of.

‘Tis the Season

For our family Christmas dinner, the Sip Advisor painstakingly put together a menu of cocktails for all to enjoy. The night was spent doing something I really enjoy, tending bar and drinking my own creations. It’s a win-win situation.

There are a lot of honourable mentions that just missed the cut this year (anyone notice I slipped 20 items in, instead of 19!). What does 2020 have in store for this site? A new project begins next week, with the Sip Advisor travelling the United States of America, in search of a cocktail each state is known for!

Sip Trips #181: Tidings of Joy

The last few weeks of December have been filled with a bunch of events, usually geared around Christmas and family time together. Here’s what we’ve been up to during the marathon holiday season:

Earlier this month, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs contest, which may be the closest I ever come to a playoff atmosphere live. I had also circled this game on the calendar, as the perfect opportunity to use my member gift card, of which I used nearly all of the $50 total on two tasty 24oz Postmark Juicy Pale Ales and a BLT from the Bacon food stand, which really hit the spot. Sadly, this is the first time we’ve attended this rivalry meeting where the Canucks lost, but the night was still fun.

TML

A couple nights later, we were out at Glow: Abbotsford, which had the same food menu as the Vancouver location, but a better selection of beers. I went with a Parallel 49 Filthy Dirty IPA to pair with my Buffalo Chicken Fries and half Philly Cheesesteak (split with Ma Sip). The fries were a little too spicy for my liking, but the meal overall was good. We finished off with a bucket of Mini Donuts to compliment everything. My Fried Chicken Burger, enjoyed when we revisited Glow: Vancouver later in the month was tremendous.

That weekend, while in the area to do the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park Christmas Train, Mrs. Sip and I visited Stanley Park Brewing. My Fried Chicken and Waffles was perhaps the best serving I’ve ever had of this favoured dish. Meanwhile, my Big Jan IPA paired very well with the meal. Following the train, we enjoyed our annual family dinner at White Spot, where I enjoyed a few glasses of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale from a pitcher ordered for the table.

Christmas Day brought a number of liquor-themed gifts, including Cocktail Balls, Orgeat Syrup, a bomber of Steamworks Salted Chocolate Porter and mini bottle of Ole Smokey Moonshine Butter Pecan from Mrs. Sip. From the Sip-in-Laws, I also received a $50 gift card to Liquor Depot, which I can’t wait to use and look forward to a different selection than that of BC Liquor Stores, which I’ve become accustomed to.

TP.jpg

For our family’s Christmas dinner, I concocted a handful of cocktails to serve. These included the Jingle Juice (Gin, Club Soda, Cranberry-Lemonade Juice, Lemon Juice); Mele Kalikimaka (Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice); Yule Mule (Candy Cane Vodka, Ginger Beer, Lime Juice); Snowflake (Tarantula Azul Tequila, Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, Coconut Flakes); and Winter Comfort Shooter (Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack and Southern Comfort Gingerbread). Once again, the cocktails went over really well with the crew.

On Boxing Day, we met up with friends for a beer at the newly-opened Five Roads Brewing. I ordered the Christmas Staycation Red IPA (collab with Farm Country and Camp), to go along with a Margherita Pizza shared with Mrs. Sip. This was Baby Sip’s 80th brewery visited, a stat which I’m very proud of!

What a way to end the year and the decade, as well. Our New Year’s Eve will be spent with a quiet night in and we greatly look forward to what 2020 has to offer including a calendar that is quickly filling up and a baby boy on the way!

Sip Trips #180: Liquid Leavenworth

Last week, the Sip Family celebrated Ma Sip’s birthday with a getaway to Leavenworth, Washington. The adorable Bavarian-themed town was the perfect site for a weekend away, as we enjoyed their annual Christmas Lighting Festival, as well as other activities the area has to offer. Here’s what we got up to over a busy few days:

As we approached Leavenworth, we stopped for lunch at the ’59er Diner, where I ordered a Dirty Face Amber Ale from Icicle Brewing, to go along with my BLT and Curly Fries. This is one of my all-time favourite diner meals and an easy choice whenever I spot it on a menu.

Curly Fries

After checking into our accommodation at the Icicle Village Resort, we hit the local Safeway to stock up on provisions for the stay. I had a tough choice for my weekend beers, as every mixed case was very IPA heavy. I felt for those who don’t like hoppy beers, as nearly every set was comprised of four different IPA variations. I settled on the Red Hook Hoppy Hook Pack (Wintershook Hoppy Brown Ale, Big Ballard Imperial IPA, Atomic Robot IPA, Bicoastal IPA) because it included a brown ale, so at least there was some style variety. I also snagged bottles of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (to be enjoyed there) and Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum (to be brought home). Lastly, I picked up a bottle of Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, which was a new mixer find for me.

On Friday, we visited the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where we had a fantastic experience learning about and meeting the reindeer. Following the farm, we stopped into Blue Spirits Distilling, where I enjoyed the All Bets Are Off cocktail (lime tequila, grapefruit juice, margarita mix, triple sec, cola syrup, smoked). Pa Sip even had the honour of smoking my cocktail for me!

After returning Mrs. and Toddler Sip to the Icicle Inn for naps, Ma and Pa Sip and I journeyed back to the town hub for drinks at the Rhein Haus. Here, I had half liter fills of the Ninkasi Sleigh’R Winter Ale and Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. Ma Sip and I also shared an order of Currywurst und Fries and the entire visit was great with very fast service. I love drinking outdoors, warmed by fire and you can’t beat a setting like the Rhein Haus offers.

beer meals

Saturday morning was spent at Icicle Brewing, again taking advantage of an outdoor table. As I was split between two beer options, Mrs. Sip suggested I order both and avoid having to lineup again on what would surely be a busy day for the brewery, given the tour buses coming into town for the lighting ceremony. My two choices were the Dark Persuasion Stout (German-cake flavoured) and the German-Style Hefeweizen, which was a limited release. Over the course of our beverages, we also indulged in two Beer Pretzels that really hit the spot.

On our way home, we stopped at Walmart for some more shopping. I bought a bottle of Tarantula Azul Tequila. The interesting blue liquor will make a great addition to my collection and allow me the opportunity to create blue tequila-based cocktails without the use of Blue Curacao.

We’re now back home for the sprint towards Christmas. I’ll never forget (hopefully!) Toddler Sip’s first experience in snow and the joy she shared with us as we pulled her around in a sled. It was a wonderful time away in a very unique and special place.

Sip Trips #179: November Rain

Now that we’ve truly entered the chaos of the Christmas season, I thought it best to wrap up the end of November for the Sip Family. Here what we got up to upon returning from our Hawaiian getaway:

We spent a fair portion of November staying at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, so treated them to dinner at White Spot one evening. I ordered my usual Legendary Burger and paired it with a pint of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale, my first winter ale of the season. Hopefully, there will be many more in December.

snowman beer

A couple weekends back, a friend and I converged on Port Moody’s Brewers Row for an afternoon of drinking. We hit all five breweries (Moody Ales, The Bakery, Parkside, Yellow Dog and Twin Sails) along Murray Street, the first time I’ve done the entire strip since a fifth location was added earlier this year. The highlights for me was a neat flight at The Bakery (Marzen Kellerbier, Irish Whiskey Barrel Stout, South African IPA, Raspberry Stout) and the Lights Out Imperial Stout with Coconut at Twin Sails, which came in at a whopping 15.1% ABV. I can attest, it did actually knock my lights out!

Following Mrs. Sip’s most recent midwife appointment, and prior to taking Toddler Sip to her first Disney on Ice spectacle, we ate dinner at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. The place had a great $5 beer special, so I selected the Strange Fellows Talisman West Coast Pale Ale. The brew paired nicely with our Bacon & Potato Pizza and Cheesy Flatbread, as well as our Irish Crème Cheesecake for dessert.

Mrs. Sip’s office Christmas party was held this past Friday at El Santo in New West. The set menu included tortilla chips and trio of salsas and guacamole, ceviche, grilled salad, a soft tacos dish with mushrooms and almond mole, and main courses of salmon and steak. There were also churros for dessert. As for drinks, I began with a serving of Strange Fellows Krampus Belgian Abbey Dubbel, before moving onto their expansive cocktail menu. I had servings of the El Campechano (Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, watermelon, mint, lime, soda) and Suenos de Coco (Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Mezcal, pineapple, toasted coconut syrup, nutmeg), while also trying sip of other people’s beverages. It was a good night out with the work crew.

aftermath-office-christmas-party

To finish the weekend, we attended Glow: Vancouver, which we found to be a great place for Toddler Sip. While Glow: Langley had more drink options, I did have a Spiced Rum and Coke on this occasion, but will probably not order drinks on future visits with our “year pass”. There was only one beer to choose from and it wasn’t even on tap. We did have a nice slice of Peanut Butter Cream Pie at the food area, another drastic change from the convoy of food trucks that served their wares in Langley. The Glow team is doing a good job with their available space in Vancouver, but I still curse whoever made an issue of the event being in Langley.

This weekend, we’re off to celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday in Leavenworth, Washington. I can’t wait to return to this winter wonderland and watch Toddler Sip experience it (and snow) for the very first time!