Admittedly, I don’t know much about our next stop, Slovakia. I know a few hockey players from the European country: Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, and the late Pavol Demitra, among others. Aside from that, there’s not much space in me ol’ noggin’ dedicated to Slovakian culture. That said, there are a number of Slovaks who are known the world over for varying achievements. Here is a small sample of those fine folks:
The Stastny Brothers
When Peter Stastny defected from Slovakia to Canada in 1980, he became the first red curtain star player to do so and ushered in an exodus of players leaving Soviet Europe for a better life in North America. Peter and his brother Anton joined the Quebec Nordiques and were later united with eldest brother Marian, becoming only the third trio of brothers to play for the same squad. All three enjoyed successful career, particularly Peter who was a scoring phenom, notching 1239 points in 977 games. He retired in 1995 and was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998. The brother’s legacy continues with Peter’s sons Yan and Paul suiting up for the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche (ironically, the relocated Quebec franchise his father starred for), respectively. The Stastny’s are the first hockey family to represent four different countries – Czechoslovakia, Canada, Slovakia, USA – in international play.
Slovakia has its own version of the legendary Robin Hood and that is this man. Jánošík is said to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor… sound familiar? Jánošík even had his own collection of “Merry Men,” although I’m sure they were called something more badass than that. The vigilante met his end after being sentenced to death. Scholars have debated how he was executed with most believing he was impaled on a hook and left to die, while others theorize he could have been hanged. As it often is with legends, stories persist that he went out in grand style, ever thumbing his nose at the authorities, by jumping onto the hook, rather than accept the grace offered to him in exchange for enlisting soldiers from his able ranks. Jánošík’s fable can be found in numerous films, books and even the odd song or two.
Adriana Karembeu (nee Sklenaríková)
This one is for all my little sippers out there who love gorgeous women! “Miss Wonderbra” as the beautiful and busty blonde has been dubbed has also appeared for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Peroni Beer. The gal is smart, too. Karembeu won her first modelling contest while she was studying medicine in Prague. If the “Miss Wonderbra” moniker isn’t enough to sway you or you’re more of a legs man, it should be noted that Karembeu once held the Guinness world record for longest legs among female models at close to 50 inches. I made sure to arrange my article so that squeezing in a picture of Karembeu didn’t seem out of place!
The former world top-ranked women’s tennis player entered her first tournament at the age of four. Along with her mother, the two defected to Switzerland when she was just six years old and a decade later, Hingis became the youngest Grand Slam champion of all-time, winning the 1996 Wimbledon women’s doubles tournament with Helena Sukova. Following that victory, Hingis won Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the Australian and U.S. Opens. The only major championship missing from her resume is the French Open, although she did win in doubles at the tournament in 1998 and 2000. Hingis retired from tennis in 2003, at the young age of 22. She returned to the sport in 2005 and left in 2007, being handed a two-year ban after testing positive for a minimal amount of an element in cocaine. She returned again in 2010 and still plays in the occasional doubles tournament to this day.
After immigrating to the United States and witnessing a plane crash, Banič invented the first military parachute every deployed in action. The man had so much faith in his product (an umbrella like device attached to the jumpers body) that he tested it himself, first from the top of a 15-storey building and later from an actual airplane. Once successful (you know, meaning he didn’t plummet to the earth and burst into a million pieces), Banič then did something extraordinary… he donated his patent to the United States military. His invention saved the lives of countless soldiers during World War I, but the coal miner never received much money or fame for his creation.
Slovakia: Royal Tatrateani
- 1.5 oz Gin
- 0.5 oz Tatratea Citrus
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Dash of Agave Nectar
- Garnish with a Lemon Slice
So, now you know a heck of a lot more about Slovakia than you did before… and really, that’s my only mission in life: to educate while getting people so blitzed they forget half the shit they knew. Full circle, my little sippers, full circle!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Mrs. Sip was kind enough to pick these liqueurs up for me for Christmas, adding a country to my 52-week tour that I did not have on my radar. We have the Forest Fruit, Citrus, and Coconut flavours, but the company also sells Peach & White Tea, Original, Bohemian, and Outlaw varieties. This martini was really strong, but grew on me with each sip. To enhance the use of the Tatratea Citrus, I selected Tanqueray Rangpur as my Gin of choice.