Cocktail Corner – Clean Slate

Good Riddance

As the Sip Advisor has done in years past, it’s time to look back at those that enjoyed the best and worst years in 2015. As for me, 2015 was a mixed bag of amazing experiences and personal lows. I’m happy to bid farewell to the year and start fresh with 2016. Let’s see who’s likely to join me:

#5: Jared Fogle and Subway

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Jared Fogle went from the face of Subway and role model to those looking to shed pounds, to public pariah overnight, after it was revealed he was being investigated for paying for sex with minors and receiving and distributing child pornography. The fall was even swifter than his rise to fame as spokesperson of the sandwich shop. As 2015 came to a close, Fogle was sentenced to a 15-year prison term. I wonder if he can get his precious sandwiches from behind bars?

Jared Subway

#4: Hulk Hogan

Once the greatest star the wrestling industry has ever seen, the full damage of Hulk Hogan’s leaked sex tape from 2007 was finally revealed in 2015. In the video, Hogan uses racial slurs in describing the thought of his daughter Brooke’s dating a black man and instantly, the ‘drink your milk, take your vitamins (ahem, steroids),’ all-American hero was gone. There will be no Hulking-up from this and if we ever see Hogan again in a WWE ring, it will be a complete and total shock.

#3: Sepp Blatter and FIFA

One of the most crooked sports organizations in the world was finally served a slice of humble pie, in the form of an FBI-lead investigation into corruption accusations against a number of FIFA officials and president Sepp Blatter. After originally forging ahead and even winning his bid for re-election as head of the football association, Blatter eventually chose to resign due to the scandal. Most recently, Blatter was banned from any FIFA involvement for eight years.

Sepp-Blatter-FIFA

#2: Bill Cosby

Despite a collection of friends, colleagues, and fans who are still willing to defend Bill Cosby, in light of countless drugging and sexual assault allegations, the comedy legend was finally backed into a corner and charged with sexual assault by Pennsylvania authorities, on December 30, 2015. To date, more than 50 women have come forward in recent years, claiming that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them. Depending on where this heads in 2016, Cosby could top this list next year.

#1: Syrian Refugees

With images of bodies – young and old – washed ashore, as Syrian refugees attempted to flee their country for better lives, amidst civil war and unrest, this international incident finally came to the forefront in 2015. With many countries accepting the four million refugees into their borders, let’s hope that 2016 is a year in which the Syrian refugees are moved from the worst list, to the best, finding new and prosperous homes, around the world.

Cocktail Corner: Clean Slate

Jan 4

  • Rim glass with Sugar
  • 0.75 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Cherry Liqueur
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Sour Apple Mixer
  • Top with Champagne

Some dishonourable mentions include fraudster Martin Shkreli, reality star rapist Josh Duggar, Volkswagen, Ashley Madison and their users, Ebola victims, and American police. Next week, we look at those who had a great 2015 and look to ride that momentum in the New Year.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I did some tinkering with this recipe, but the end result was a decent drink. There’s a bunch of different flavours all competing for your attention, with the Amaretto probably winning the battle. A fun drink for New Year’s celebrations.

Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

Israel – Bloodbath

Pilgrimage & Play

Israel has the greatest number of museums per capita in the world. Therefore, it should be no surprise, especially given the country’s religious and historical significance, that many travelers are willing to risk their own security to visit the nation. Let’s take a look at some of those important religious tourism sites:

Western Wall

Also known as the ‘Wailing Wall,’ this location is recognized as one of the most sacred sites to Jewish people and is a favourite pilgrimage spot. It is commonly believed to have been built by Herod the Great, although the project was not finished during his lifetime. Visitors have been known to stuff papers, containing their prayers, into cracks the have developed in the structure. Conflicts between Muslims and Jews occurred frequently at the Western Wall, with both groups laying claim to the fortification. The wall was also the site of a major zombie attack in the film World War Z.

Western Wall

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is located next to the Western Wall, and no, it’s not a temple dedicated to wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson. It is one of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture and has a reputation of being one of the most recognizable sites in Jerusalem and Israel. The shrine’s centerpiece, the Foundation Stone, holds great significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Also known as the Well of Souls, Jews believe it to be the link between Heaven and Earth and typically face it while praying.

Masada

Translated into English, Masada means “fortress” and it was the site of numerous clashes throughout history. It is thought to be the first site that Herod the Great fortified. Masada has become one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions, seen by the citizens of Israel as a symbol of resistance and holding religious significance, as a result. Masada became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and today, visitors can hike up one of two trails (the Snake Trail and the Roman Ramp) or simply ride a cable car to the peak. There’s also an audio-visual lightshow presented each night.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Located within the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, this is the spot where Jesus was said to have been crucified, as well as where he was thought to have been buried. Therefore, it is also where Jesus’ resurrection would have occurred. All of these assumptions make the Church of the Holy Sepulchre a popular pilgrimage site for Christians. Among the church’s treasures are the Stone of Anointing, the Rock of Cavalry, the Aedicule, the Cross of Golgotha, the Prison of Christ, and the Altar of the Crucifiction.

jesus_resurrection

Sea of Galilee

Israel’s largest freshwater lake is said to be the sight of many of Jesus’ miracles, including walking on water, calming the storm, the boatload of fish, and feeding 5,000 people. The Sea of Galilee is also where Jesus recruited at least four of his disciples (Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, John the Apostle, and Saint James the Great) and conducted his Sermon on the Mount. Tourism along the shores today is largely made up of Christian pilgrims, who can walk along the 40-mile ‘Jesus Trail,’ which was opened by the Israeli government in 2011.

The Dead Sea

One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, the Dead Sea gets its name because animals and other life forms can’t thrive in the area. The Dead Sea Scrolls, made up of 981 religious texts were discovered here in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Israelites were said to have lived in caves near the Dead Sea during biblical times and King David used the Dead Sea for sanctuary. Herod the Great turned the Dead Sea into one of the world’s first health resorts and to this day, the sea’s water is used for a number of different therapies, including psoriasis (skin disorder), rhinosinusitis (nasal condition), and osteoarthritis (knee ailment).

Israel: Bloodbath

Bloodbath Wine Cocktail

Other popular attractions include Yad Vashem (Israel’s official memorial for Holocaust victims), The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, along with all those museums located around the country. I’ve never really been too hot on the prospect of travelling to Israel and while writing this article didn’t convert me, it does give me pause to think about the possibility.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail looked like a neat one to try and I suppose the name also goes well with the subject matter of this article given all the blood that has been spilled in the name of religion in and around Israel. This drink was really good… I’m talking great even. That Cranberry-Lemonade mix I’ve been using the last few months is a real gem. Most interesting about the wines from Israel is that many of them are kept kosher and can only be handled by observant Jews, while not including certain ingredients.

Hungary – My Cherry Baby

Cube Compulsion

The Sip Advisor gets easily frustrated by toys like the Rubik’s Cube. I suppose there are some things my massive intellect just can’t solve… and I’m at peace with that fact. Let’s take a closer look at this popular toy, invented by Hungarian Erno Rubik:

The Rubik’s Cube (originally called the Magic Cube, before it was released worldwide in 1980) was created in 1974, as a way for Rubik to help explain three-dimensional geometry. At the time, Rubik was only 29 years old, but was already a sculptor and architecture professor. When Rubik’s had created his cube, it took him a month to solve for the first time. Later, Rubik could solve his own puzzle in under a minute, which he showed off at trade shows.

Rubiks Cube Solved

More than 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold around the world and thanks to these sales, it is the best-selling toy of all-time. After its international release, it won Toy of the Year honours in 1980 and again in 1981. The popularity of the toy bred the first annual International Rubik’s Championships in 1982, which was won by Minh Thai of the U.S. with a time of 22.95 seconds. A World Cube Association was created in 2004 to govern international competitions and chart world records.

The Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less, regardless of how it’s mixed up. This has created an entire sub-genre of speed cubers. These folks can solve the Rubik’s puzzle in under six seconds. All this, despite the fact that the toy has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 (into the quintillions) possible patterns. A guide to solving the Rubik’s Cube was created by a 12-year-old, Patrick Bossert of England, in 1981 and went on to become a best-seller, with 1.5 million copies sold.

The world record for fastest completion to the Rubik’s Cube is held by Mats Valk of the Netherlands. He solved the puzzle in 5.55 seconds, beating the previous best time of 5.66 seconds. A smartphone-powered Lego robot, known by the name CubeStormer 3, solved a Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds, blowing away all the competition. These are the robots who will one day take over the world, pissed that they were made to endlessly solve puzzles.

Rubiks Cube Hard

Within the world of speed cubing, there are those not happy to simply solve the puzzle quickly. Some competitors take things to whole new levels of insanity, like one guy who did one-handed push-ups, while only taking 25 seconds to complete the challenge. Another fella solved the Rubik’s Cube in 23.80 seconds… while blindfolded! Perhaps most intimidating is the three-year-old Chinese toddler who was done with the toy in under two minutes.

You just knew a toy like this would have entries in the smallest, largest, and most expensive categories. The smallest is 1omm wide and was designed by Evgeniy Grigoriev of Russia. The largest can be found in Knoxville, Tennessee and measures three metres tall, weighing in at over 500kg. As for most expensive, it was created by Diamond Cutters International in 1995. Dubbed the ‘Masterpiece Cube,’ it features amethyst, rubies, and emeralds, all set in gold and valued at $1.5 million.

If you simply can’t put the device down, you may be a Cubaholic (and that doesn’t mean you like taking frequent trips to Cuba or chain-smoking fine cigars). A documentary, titled Cubers, was released in 2008 and followed the lives of some of those afflicted with the compulsion as well as those competing for the title of World Rubik’s Cube Champion.

Rubiks Cube Bra

The Rubik’s Cube has been featured in numerous areas of popular culture, including: movies, TV shows, comics, music videos, songs, art, and museum exhibits. Seeking to take advantage of the toy’s popularity, a Saturday morning cartoon debuted in 1983, called ‘Rubik, The Amazing Cube’ and featured a sentient Rubik’s Cube, who could come to the aid of a Hispanic family. It only lasted one season and 18 episodes and starred Ron Palillo (aka Arnold Horshack) as the titular toy.

On the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, earlier this year, the toy was featured as part of the daily Google Doodle, as a playable interactive puzzle. It’s only fitting to end this piece with some words from the inventor himself: “If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.”

Hungary: My Cherry Baby

My Cherry Baby Cocktail

  • Muddle Cherries
  • 0.75 oz Palinka (Cherry)
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Top with Champagne
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Thanks to working on this article, I’m adding “Solve a Rubik’s Cube” to my lifetime bucket list and it may eventually be what does me in (despite the current odds favourite in Vegas being alcohol-induced bungee accident), but I will achieve this feat!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was just too sweet… and not in the New World Order wrestling way. The flavours were nice, but some changes need to be made to the recipe to make it a little more likable and evened out.

Portugal – Saint Valentine

A Pirate’s Life for Me

The Pirate Code was introduced by Bartolomeu Português of Portugal in the 17th century. From there, each captain adjusted the regulations to fit their desires and sometimes even changed the rules for each journey. Each crew member was then asked to sign an agreement ratifying the code, before swearing an oath of allegiance to the captain and ship. All the expected stuff was there, such as how to split any booty (wow, that came out much more sexually than I had intended) and what punishment was to be expected for abandoning the crew in times of battle. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting items the code produced:

Article: Rights to fresh provisions and strong liquors, unless they become scarce

Nuts to the provisions, let’s go straight to the strong liquors! I’m sure an argument could be made, even if supplies ran low that you were simply trying to fend off scurvy and needed whatever booze was available. Granted, other ingredients are needed to fight the disease, but pirates wouldn’t have known that.

Pirate Code Guidelines

Article: Lights and candles are to be put out at eight o’clock at night… if any crew wants to continue drinking, it must be done on the open deck

Eight o’clock doesn’t seem very badass and not what I expected from buccaneers, but at least you can continue getting your drink on if you were so inclined. I would have expected pirates to stay up until at least 12, maybe even 13, singing songs of the sea and setting towns ablaze to light their parties.

Article: Not allowed to fight on the ship, but save it for land, using swords and pistols duel style

The pirates duel was kind of crazy. After their paces, they were allowed one shot with a loaded pistol and if that failed, it was a race back to the starting point where cutlasses were used until blood was drawn. That sounds like the makings of a hot new reality TV series, which I’ll soon put into production.

Article: To compensate any injured crewman, according to the severity of his injury

We’re always told that pirates were in it for themselves and nothing else, but this article proves they were willing to look after each other. A lost limb usually meant a payout of 600-800 Pieces of Eight, while more minor inflictions were judged on a case by case basis. Interestingly, in some codes, a right arm or leg was worth more than a left arm or leg… take that sinister ones. Hands, fingers, and even eyes were the least valuable body parts. Who needs their vision, right!?

Caribbean Pirate

Article: If a crewman betrays the ship, he will be marooned with one bottle of water, one bottle of powder, one weapon and one shot

I gotta say, I’m greatly disappointed that the pirates wouldn’t at least include a little flask of booze for the disowned crewman, but that just leaves more for those still aboard the ship. If I was the marooned pirate, I would ration that bottle of water to the very last drop, hoping some other ship passes and takes me into their crew.

Article: To be amorous with a woman without her consent should be punished by death

This kind of proves the Pirates of the Caribbean (where most of us have learned the entire extent of our pirate knowledge) women chasing scene all wrong. They say that there is no honour among thieves, but this may counter that theory, although the bad acts towards women probably still occurred regularly.

pirate-cat

Article: Whoever sees a sail first, shall receive the best pistol found aboard the vessel when plundered

This is like an epic game of ‘I spy with my little eye!’ Problem is most pirates were probably so out of their mind drunk that their blurred vision couldn’t win them this awesome prize, had they even wanted it. On a side note: I have to incorporate the word plunder into my vocabulary more regularly.

Article: Anyone drunk during pirating will be punished according to what the captain and majority of the crew see fit

This could end with the Sip Advisor walking the plank. It also begs the question: Is there any reason to be a pirate if you can’t be shitfaced most of the time? Being a pirate is about breaking the bonds that normal folks are tied to and going on adventures… and many of those adventures should be of the inebriated variety!

Portugal: Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine Martini

  • 1.5 oz White Rum
  • 0.5 oz Port
  • 0.5 oz Grand Marnier
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

In a perfect world, we would still live according to the Pirate Code and I would thrive and flourish in that society. I’m good at following the rules, as well as getting deep into drinking, making me a prime candidate to work my way up the pirate ladder and eventually becoming a captain of my own ship. Perhaps I should explore career options with today’s Somali pirates!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was strong (not too strong, mind you), but had a very nice taste. The citrus notes, such as Grand Marnier and Lime Juice were particularly pleasant, as was the Port. I actually used Cachaca as my Rum addition and I think that helped with the whole blend.

Portugal – Maria McClaire

Fatal Attraction

The Portuguese are big into fatalism and it has even spawned the country’s national music genre, called Fado. They are quick to use the word “oxalá”, which translated means “if only” or “hopefully”. Let’s check out some of the most popular quotes on fate and see if we can join the Portuguese and get our heads wrapped around this cosmic concept:

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.” ― Lemony Snicket

I think this quote has to be my favourite of the bunch because it greatly describes how so many different people (“the waiters”) can play varying roles in your life and can push and pull you in different directions, some of which you’ll want to travel and others you’d avoid like the plague.

Fate Cat

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” ― John Lennon

Leave it to John Lennon to confuse and interest you all at the same time. This great lyric comes from The Beatles classic, All You Need is Love, and while it’s been proven time and time again that you, in fact, need a little more than simply love, it’s certainly a wonderful start and can be the impetus for your greatest adventures!

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote would seem to say that we have more power than we think in our own lives. That the universe will follow suit and fix itself accordingly to our wishes and desires. I hope that this is accurate. I’d like to think that I drive fate and not the other way around. I’m probably wrong, but I refuse to stop believing.

“Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been fate. People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that’s a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events — the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there — that must also be a miracle. Just because it’s not nice doesn’t mean it’s not miraculous.” ― Terry Pratchett

Mrs. Sip and her sister are huge fans of Terry Pratchett and even I must admit that I dig this quote. It’s so true that the word fate gets tossed around mostly for moments of tragedy. I tend to use it much more in the positive light, such as the fate of love, friendship, and great occurrences during one’s life.

Tempting Fate

“Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.” ― Groucho Marx

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Mrs. Sip does most of our planning and that has resulted in the Sip Advisor living a charmed life, with folks regularly saying they want what I have or being interested in my activities because I lead a fun-filled, fascinating lifestyle. Keep up the good work, Mrs. Sip!

“What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.” ― Donald Trump

So, if we are to believe The Donald, I guess he didn’t react too well to fate in the following situations where he turned out to be a mega loser: the death of the United States Football League; his multiple failed marriages; and worst yet, the bungling of Trump Vodka. Gotta give the guy props for always trying, though.

Tempting Fate Kitty

“I believe in luck and fate and I believe in karma, that the energy you put out in the world comes back to meet you.” ― Chris Pine

I’m a huge believer in karma. It guides most of what I do and when things take a downturn, I’m quick to examine what I may have done to cause my own misfortune. Finding a perfect balance in your own life is something I think all folks chase and if they don’t, they end up suffering and being miserable.

“Just because Fate doesn’t deal you the right cards, it doesn’t mean you should give up. It just means you have to play the cards you get to their maximum potential.” ― Les Brown

This reminds me of the old adage: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You have to roll with what you are given and turn bad into good. If you’re lucky enough to largely get good right off the bat, then you have to embrace that and turn it into as much positivity as possible, staving off the bad as long as you can.

Portugal: Maria McClaire

Maria McClaire Martini

  • 1.5 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz Port
  • 0.5 oz Campari
  • Dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Garnish with Peach Slice

What are your thoughts on fate? Did these quotes inspire anyone out there in the Land of Sip? Did I inspire any of you to be better people? Probably not, so let’s just enjoy a quick drink together and go our separate ways!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
If you’d like to check out more Port recipes, check out this great site. When I originally made this cocktail, I had a bit of a mind lapse and used Irish Creme instead of Irish Whiskey… let’s just say things turned out much better when I realized my transgression and corrected the recipe.

New Zealand – Pink Haze

Island Inhabitants

The Sip Advisor is a huge fan of New Zealand and it is perhaps the place I would choose to live if forced to leave Canada (it may happen one day!). I could become the country’s next big thing… and there are some serious high profile personalities to contend with. Here are some of the most famous citizens of New Zealand, affectionately known as Kiwis!

Kiwi Birds

Mrs. Sip’s sister (an avid reader) will love me for writing this piece on the kiwi bird, a national icon of New Zealand… so long as I don’t advocate for the mass consumption of the bird as a delicacy. The video game NewZealand Story focused on the adventures of Tiki, as he tries to save his mate Phee Phee and other friends, who have been abducted by a blue leopard seal. Kiwis live in pairs and mate for life, so Tiki and Phee Phee may have been together 25-50 years.

Kiwi Bird

AJ Hackett

An original bungee jumper and operator of the first commercial set-ups for the extreme sport, Hackett famously jumped off the Eiffel Tower in 1987, helping to popularize the whole concept. He also holds a number of World Records in the discipline. The Sip Advisor is a bungee enthusiast, completing my first jumps where else but New Zealand. I’ve even plunged off the Auckland bridge, dipping into the harbor far below and I have Mr. Hackett to thank for all of my thrills.

Sir Edmund Hillary

A distant ancestor of one Mrs. Sip, Sir Edmund Hillary was the first person (along with Nepalese guide Tenzing Norgay) to conquer the summit of Mount Everest. Forever grateful to the people of Nepal, Hillary spent a great deal of time there, setting up schools and hospitals to help the Sherpa people, through his Himalayan Trust foundation. The dude was knighted for his achievements, was viewed as New Zealand’s most trusted citizen, and is even on the country’s $5 bill.

Peter Jackson

The director most famous for taking on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and its Hobbit prequel series, Jackson has also worked on such notable films as King Kong and The Adventures of Tintin. Jackson is so fond of his homeland that he chose to bring the filming of the J.R.R. Tolkien books to New Zealand. Mrs. Sip and I visited Hobbiton, as part of a tour stop, but were more interested in grabbing a snack than posing in front of miniaturized doorways!

Peter Jackson

Lucy Lawless

Xena: Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless was a perfect blend of strong and sexy when she starred in the mythological fantasy series. Lawless went on to appear in a number of other shows and has even launched a successful singing career. She currently has a recurring role on Parks and Recreation as the wife to Mr. Ron Swanson. If he can love her, then she should be in everybody’s good books!

Flight of the Conchords

Comprised of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, Flight of the Conchords began as a musical-comedy performance duo before venturing into the TV world together. The boy’s HBO show is extremely funny, with fellow Kiwi Rhys Darby joining in the fun as band manager Murray and Kristen Schaal as their lone fan. Sadly, it only ran for two short seasons, but in that time, they created a number of great songs, including Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor and Hurt Feelings.

Lorde

While I’m personally not a fan of this young artist’s work, Mrs. Sip can be caught belting out her tunes from time to time, and she should be commended for hitting it big at such an early age. Hopefully, she doesn’t burn out like other teen stars. Born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (I can see why she shortened her stage moniker), Lorde’s first hit ‘Royals’ won her two Grammy Awards and she has enjoyed continued success with the song ‘Team’.

The Bushwackers

These rowdy New Zealanders were originally known as The Sheepherders, an ultraviolent tandem of brawling wrestlers, before they arrived on the scene of the child friendly World Wrestling Federation and became the goofy, loveable Bushwackers. Luke and Butch were known to do anything to win a match, from lick their opponent’s faces to use each other’s heads in a battering ram maneuver. The team even battled Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow on an episode of Family Matters.

New Zealand: Pink Haze

Pink Haze Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • Top with Sauvignon Blanc Wine
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with an Orange Slice

Also unique to New Zealand is Black Water Rafting, which Mrs. Sip and I participated in while visiting the country in 2008. In this activity, you explore the caves of Waitomo, repelling and ziplining into the dark depths, before floating downstream with vibrant glowworms lighting your route. You finish by scaling a small waterfall before returning to the surface.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink provided the first chance to use the homemade Grenadine Mrs. Sip and I concocted recently and it was delicious. The Sauvignon Blanc Wine from The Ned is a very interesting vino with a fruity flavour that’s hard to describe, but goes down easy. All in all, the cocktail was quite nice and enjoyable.

New Zealand – The Star Gazer

Haka Fear

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

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

All Blacks Training

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

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

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

All Blacks Heart

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

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

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

All Blacks Dance

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

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

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

New Zealand: The Star Gazer

The Star Gazer Cocktail

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

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

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

France – French 75

Champagne Showers

While I’ve chosen cognac as the spirit of choice while visiting France, that doesn’t mean we can’t devote some time to another well-associated libation for the country: champagne. I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, but Mrs. Sip loves her bubbles and therefore, this article is dedicated to her and her taste in finer things… like the Sip Advisor!

Champagne was discovered accidentally and through a process that makers in the region are still trying to correct. When the cold weather hits this northern area, the fermentation procedure is interrupted and only continues when warm temperatures return while the wine is already bottled. This creates the carbonation and pressure that champagne is known for.

champagne-christopher-walken

Dom Perignon is often credited with inventing champagne in 1662, but he had some serious help from a British scientist named Christopher Merret, who broke down the process for creating the libation. Also, British bottles were stronger than the French ones and helped eliminate the likelihood of bottles bursting from the intense pressure of the drink.

In fact, the real Dom Perignon (a Benedictine monk) was one of the many who worked hard to prevent the second fermentation that creates champagne. What Perignon can be recognized for is giving champagne its classic colour. Champagne used to have a pale pink hue before Perignon started the process of blending grapes before pressing them, which caused red grapes to produce a white wine.

In 1813, Madame Clicquot Ponsardin created the riddling machine, which greatly improved champagne production and the quality of the product being released. These machines allowed for bottles to be turned upside down in order to have sediment (dead yeast) removed, refining the second fermentation process. The Veuve Clicquot champagne house still exists today.

Dom Perignon

Only the bottles produced in France’s Champagne region can be classified as champagne. It is known around the world by such other names as bubbly, Prosecco, brut, and sparkling wine. Today there are over 15,000 grape growers in Champagne, working with pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier grapes.

Although Double-O-7, James Bond, is best associated with the shaken, not stirred martini, in the films, he is most often seen downing champagne. In fact, the secret agent seems to like his bubbles so much, he has consumed close to 40 glasses. Perhaps Bond, the perpetual sex machine, was drawn to the classic champagne glass, which was designed from a wax mold of Marie Antoinette’s breast.

There are about 49 million bubbles in a typical bottle of champagne. Those suds can cause immense pressure in the bottle (90 pounds per square inch), which can launch a cork at 40 miles per hour. The world record for cork flight is 177 feet. Those same bubbles can cause a headache for drinkers, if consumed too quickly, as they cause the alcohol to enter your bloodstream quickly. Take your time with champagne and enjoy the taste of the wine and the cascade of the fizz.

Popped a Cap

Need more than a normal sized champagne bottle? How about a lot more? The Melchizedek serving provides 30 liters of the good stuff. That’s equivalent to 40 typical bottles. Despite the massive serving, these bottles pale in comparison to the price attached to some selections. The Shipwrecked 1907 Heidseick will set you back $275,000 per bottle. 200 bottles of the champagne were discovered in 1997, after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for 90 years, presumed to have fallen off the ship carrying it.

Champagne can be used for many other purposes. In the 1800s, English nobles used the drink to polish their boots. Many moons later, Marilyn Monroe is reported to have bathed in a tub filled with 350 bottles of champagne. Had they re-bottled the used bath water, they could have made millions. Instead, today we have a Marilyn Monroe-themed strawberries and cream vodka from Three Olives. I think some companies really missed the boat on this one.

France: French 75

French 75 Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Cognac
  • Top with Champagne
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Although I don’t love champagne, it is perfect in helping celebrate milestones, triumphs, and even the passing of another day where you made it through alive. Drink up, my little sippers!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Much like Italy, there are a number of liquor options available for France. I went with Cognac because it seemed like a nice way to change things up with this project. This is the Cognac version of the popular Gin-based cocktail that I found in my Mixology App. It tasted alright, but I’m still not a huge fan of Champagne in general.

Argentina – Vampire Voodoo

Flea Kicker

Well, Argentina’s World Cup aspirations didn’t turn out exactly as they hoped thanks to the Sip Advisor’s German squad, but the country can still lay claim to the top footballer in the world today: Lionel Messi. Let’s learn a little more about the man affectionately known as La Pulga (The Flea):

Born on June 24, 1987 in Roasario, Argentina (same hometown as communist revolutionary Che Guevara), Lionel Messi has come a long way to being the wealthiest football player in the world. As a young boy, he suffered from a growth hormone deficiency and today he stands at only 5’7”. Good things come in small packages, though, as Messi has benefited from his speed and skill.

Lionel-Messi-Lionel-Organized

The future superstar’s first contract came at 13 years old and was written out on a napkin after Barcelona sporting director Carles Rexach became enamored with Messi’s play and wanted to sign him immediately. With the contract, Messi and his family were moved to Spain with the youngster’s medical bills being covered. Messi made his debut for Barcelona at the fresh age of 17 and became the youngest person to ever score for the team, at the time.

Messi became a citizen of Spain in 2005 and now holds two passports (including his Argentinian documents). La Pulga turned down a spot with the Spanish national team and made his international debut with Argentina in 2005, although it lasted all of 47 seconds when Messi came on as a substitute and was promptly given a red card for an alleged elbow.

Wearing #10 with Barcelona, Messi was given the jersey number by fellow football great Ronaldinho in 2008. The following year, Messi picked up his first Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. Those two awards were merged in 2010, with Messi winning what is now known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or a total of four consecutive times.

What Messi Sees

Messi is a scoring machine, racking up a world record 91 goals in a single year. He has recorded a staggering 365 goals, including numerous hat tricks, over his career and is still in his prime years. Messi has received praise from some of football’s greatest players ever, including fellow Argentinian Diego Maradona, who thinks of Messi as his “successor.”

Team accomplishments for Messi include: Three UEFA Champions League wins, Six La Liga championships, two Copas del Rey titles, five Supercopas de España victories, two Club World Cups, and a gold medal with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

You ready to be really jealous of Messi? Thanks to his contract and endorsement deals, it’s estimated that the soccer star earns $128,000 each day. Even better, as part of his pact with Barcelona, the club covers his income tax payments. How can the Sip Advisor get that kind of agreement!

discipline-of-funny-soccer

With his substantial wealth, Messi launched the Leo Messi Foundation, which helps provide kids with education and health care. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and is involved with helping people suffering from Fragile X Syndrome. Some of Messi’s charitable attention has been directed towards his hometown, where in 2013, he donated 600,000 pounds to the Victor J Vilela Children’s Hospital. The money was used to renovate the building’s oncology unit and fund training trips in Spain, for doctors.

In his personal life, Messi has been dating Antonella Roccuzzo since 2009. The two have a child together, named Thiago, who was born on November 2, 2012. This prompted Messi to write on his Facebook page: “Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!” At just 72 hours old, young Thiago was signed to a supporters club contract with Messi’s original club, the Newell Old Boys. For lovers of ink (and supportive, loving fathers), Messi had Thiago’s name and handprints tattooed on his left calf.

Messi Scores

A devout Roman Catholic, Messi met Pope Francis (also from Argentina) at the Vatican in 2013. He said of the experience: “Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life. We have to excel on and off the field.”

Despite the international fame and success, Messi is very shy and has been since his childhood. He does most of his communication through text messages, as he avoids talking on the phone as much as possible. Similarly, while most strikers go into epileptic fits when celebrating a goal, Messi is more likely to simply raise both arms in the air, a salute to his late grandma, who he believes is watching over him. Messi does not like to watch highlights of himself, but is a video game enthusiast, so perhaps that’s how he gets to view and appreciate his own virtual achievements. Not surprisingly, Messi has been featured on numerous video game covers.

Argentina: Vampire Voodoo

Vampire Voodoo Cocktail

  • 1 oz Malbec Wine
  • 1 oz Gin
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Raspberries

One last tidbit: Ginza Takana, a jeweler in Japan has created a solid gold replica of Messi’s left foot. The piece weighed in at 55 lbs. and was valued at $5.25 million. The proceeds of its sale are meant to help victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. That’s an artifact every Argentinian football nut would surely covet!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
As I wrote before, Malbec cocktail recipes aren’t easy to come by. Therefore, I adapted this generic Red Wine cocktail to use that beautiful 1884 Malbec. Sadly, this drink was a complete miss. One or more ingredients just wasn’t right. I still can’t figure out if the Lemon or Lime Juice was to blame or if the Gin just wasn’t hitting the right chord. Either way, I have to say that I didn’t fall under the power of Vampire Voodoo.