Wisconsin – Brandy Old Fashioned

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, Wisconsin is on the agenda, nicknamed the Badger State, not for the animal per se, but because early miner settlers either lived in mines or dug homes in the side of hills, like the animal. Let’s find out more:

Motto: “Forward” – I’m more of a backwards kind of guy!

Food: Another nickname for Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland. Some items one would have to try when visiting the state include Cheese Curds, a Butter Burger and an Ice Cream Sundae, since it was invented there. Another dessert that caught my eye was the Kringle (the State Pastry), which is an oval-shaped flaky dough pastry typically filled with fruit/nuts and iced on top.

Drink: America’s Brewery would be another fitting moniker for Wisconsin, as it has been home to a number of major players in the industry, including Schlitz Brewing, Miller Brewing, Pabst Brewing and Blatz Brewing. Beer production and consumption is so important in the state that the TurboTap was invented there, by University of Wisconsin student Matt Younkle.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Site to See: A top attraction in Wisconsin is Noah’s Ark Water Park, the country’s largest water park. Found in Lake Delton, the park features 51 water slides, along with other highlights, including lazy rivers, wave pools and amusement rides. Noah’s Ark uses two million gallons of water each day and its lifeguards have earned the highest safety rating possible.

Street: Today, Road America is a motorsport race course located near Elkhart Lake. However, when racing first gained popularity in the late 1940’s, a series of public streets were used to create the course. Most of this original route, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, can still be driven. It was copied for the now private course, which is used by a number of racing series.

TV Show: Happy Days and spinoff series Laverne & Shirley were both set in Milwaukee. Happy Days ran for 11 seasons and 255 episodes, while Laverne & Shirley enjoyed a run of eight seasons and 178 episodes. The shows shared a universe, which included various guest appearances from characters on either program. Both series were created by industry legend Garry Marshall.

Movie: Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig, takes place in Milwaukee and tells the tale of a woman who is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, while her life is in financial and romantic unrest. Rounding out the cast is Maya Rudolph as the bride-to-be and Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey as fellow bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids

Book/Author: Satirical publication The Onion was created by University of Wisconsin students Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson in 1988, originating as a weekly print newspaper in Madison. The Onion is now one of the most recognized satirical news websites in the world, offering humorous views on international, national and local issues.

Fictional Character: Originally intended to be a minor character, Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli became so popular as the personification of cool, that Happy Days moved to focusing on him, rather than the Cunningham family. Played by Henry Winkler, Fonzie is also infamous for helping to create the ‘jump the shark’ idiom. The Fonz has been immortalized in statue form in Downtown Milwaukee.

Fictional City: Point Place was the setting for That 70’s Show. The series, which ran for eight seasons and 200 episodes, centered on a group of teenagers from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979, making stars of much of its cast, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. Actor Kurtwood Smith, who played gruff dad Red Forman, was the only cast member actually from Wisconsin.

Actor/Actress: This category was a tough choice, narrowed down to Gene Wilder and Chris Farley. The edge goes to Gene Wilder, star of movies such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as well as his long partnership with Richard Pryor. Maybe things would be different had Chris Farley enjoyed a full career and not tragically died at the age of 33.

Fonz

Song: While the only reference to the state is the screaming of “Hello Wisconsin” at the end of the track, In the Street by Cheap Trick (the theme song for That 70’s Show) has the ideals I believe Wisconsin would like to be associated with. It’s all about hanging out, listening to loud music and staying out late. The tune was originally created by rock band Big Star and is also known as That 70’s Song.

Band/Musician: Steve Miller, frontman of the Steve Miller Band, was born in Milwaukee. The band, formed in San Francisco in 1966, is known for a string of classic/psychedelic rock hits, such as The Joker, Rock’n Me, Fly Like an Eagle, Take the Money and Run, and Jet Airliner. Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

People: Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center. His 70-year career produced more than a thousand structures, including many notable homes across America. Wright built and lived in the Taliesin estate in Spring Green, which is now a museum in his honour, offering tours of the home and grounds. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Animal: Samson the Gorilla was so popular, he was featured on Milwaukee bus passes. Samson was gifted by Pabst Brewing to the Washington Park Zoo in 1950, before being moved to the Milwaukee County Zoo. He was an instant hit with visitors and even had toys made in his likeness. The zoo has a bronze bust of Samson’s head near their gorilla exhibit, as well as a recreated model of the primate.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Invention: Among some other notable inventions, I have to highlight Les Paul and his work in inventing the electric guitar. Known as the ‘Wizard of Waukesha’, Paul enjoyed a career as a jazz, country and blues musician, prior to his guitar building. He also developed a number of recording advancements. For his creations, Paul has a permanent exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Crime: Two of the world’s most notorious serial killers called Wisconsin home, Ed Gein (the Butcher of Plainfield/Plainfield Ghoul) and Jeffrey Dahmer (the Milwaukee Cannibal/Milwaukee Monster). Gein’s crimes inspired characters in films such as Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs, while Dahmer murdered and dismembered 17 males over a 13-year period.

Law: In Wisconsin, margarine was once illegal. This lasted for almost 75 years and was done to protect the butter industry. Apparently, a bootleg operation of sorts began in opposition to the law, with people getting margarine from Illinois, risking a maximum fine of $6,000.

Sports Team: Milwaukee has two professional teams with the Brewers (MLB) and Bucks (NBA). Rounding out Wisconsin franchises is the Green Bay Packers (NFL), who play at the famous Lambeau Field and have some of the most unique fans in the sports world, known as Cheeseheads (a term sometimes used to describe Wisconsinites in general), as they wear cheese-shaped foam hats.

Electric Guitar

Athlete: Speed skater Eric Heiden (born in Madison) owned the 1980 Winter Olympics, winning five gold medals, while setting one world record and four Olympic records. His individual gold medal total would have ranked him third amongst all nations. As a result of his success, Heiden is considered by many to be the greatest speed skater of all-time.

Famous Home: The House on the Rock in Iowa County is quite the attraction, as each room, street, garden and shop is designed differently, all built atop Deer Shelter Rock. Created by architect Alex Jordan Jr., the complex is highlighted by the 3000-window Infinity Room, world’s largest indoor carousel and Japanese Gardens. The site was used in the novel and TV series American Gods.

Urban Legend: The Hodag is a folklore creature inhabiting the city of Rhinelander, where a statue of the beast sits outside the Chamber of Commerce. Reportedly, it can only be killed using chloroform, dynamite and… lemons. The character features in many Paul Bunyan myths and has been used in an episode of Scooby Doo, as well as being listed in J.K. Rowling’s book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Museum: The Hamburger Hall of Fame can be found in Seymour, which claims to be where the first ever hamburger was served and calls itself ‘Home of the Hamburger’. The Hall of Fame celebrates this culinary delight and also hosts the annual Burger Fest, where in 2001, the world’s largest hamburger ever was made, weighing more than four tons.

Burger

Firsts: The first automobile in the U.S. was created by Racine’s Dr. J.W. Carhart. His invention inspired Wisconsin in 1875 to offer a $10,000 reward to any vehicle that could complete a 201-mile course between Green Bay and Madison. Amon seven entries, two vehicles started the race, with one completing the course in 33 hours and 27 minutes. Only half the prize was awarded for the first U.S. auto race.

Company: Harley-Davidson is headquartered in Milwaukee, where it was founded in 1903. The motorcycle manufacturer also has a production plant in the city, as well as the Harley-Davidson Museum, which is a popular tourist destination, with an estimated 300,000 visitors each year. The company has been integral in the establishment of biker culture since its inception.

Events: When the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854, giving the new territories the right to choose whether to adopt slavery or not, a Wisconsin man named Alvan Bovay hosted a meeting in the city of Ripon. It was there that the basis for the Republican Party was formed, with the group’s main goal being to stop the expansion of slavery.

Miscellaneous: A couple other notable athletes from Wisconsin should be mentioned. Danica Patrick (born in Beloit) broke gender barriers in the racing world, becoming the only woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Also, quarterback Colin Kaepernick (born in Milwaukee) is best known for his anthem protests against racial inequality, which may have resulted in an early end to his career.

Brandy Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Brandy
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda/Grapefruit Soda/Club Soda
  • Splash of Cherry Juice
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with an Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry

Thanks to Wisconsin’s drinking culture, there were a number of beverage options available, with the Old Fashioned being an unofficial State Cocktail. It is the drink of choice for a number of fictional characters, including Don Draper (Mad Men) and ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan (M*A*S*H). In Wisconsin, they prefer Brandy in their recipes, so I’m happy to honour that.

West Virginia – Copperhead

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 visit West Virginia to see which of the Virginias is best. Will the Mountain State take the title? There’s only one way to find out:

Motto: “Mountaineers are always free” – Great, a prisoner once again…

Food: Pepperoni Rolls are a popular snack in West Virginia, sold at convenience and grocery stores. It is a white bread roll, with pepperoni baked inside. It should also be noted, Golden Delicious Apples (West Virginia’s State Fruit) were cultivated in the state in 1905. It is among the most popular apple types in the country, featured on a 2013 commemorative stamp.

Drink: Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine, named for the famous family feud, is made in Gilbert. The small batch liquor is made from a recipe concocted by Hatfield patriarch Devil Anse Hatfield, on land that belonged to the Hatfield family. Aptly nicknamed the ‘Drink of the Devil’, the booze can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a collection of cocktails.

Pepperoni Roll

Site to See: The Greenbrier Hotel and Resort in White Sulphur Springs, calls itself ‘America’s Resort’. People have visited the areas springs since 1778, hoping to cure what ails them. The resort was built in 1913 and boasts that 26 presidents have stayed there. An expansive bunker exists under the hotel, which was meant to host the U.S. Congress in the event of a Cold War emergency.

Street: When the New River Gorge Bridge was completed in 1977, it was the highest bridge to support a regular road in the world. Each October, Bridge Day is celebrated, with the road being closed so thrill seekers can climb the structure and even jump off it, by rappelling or base jumping. Bungee jumping used to also occur, but was banned from 1993 onwards.

TV Show: Outcast, a horror drama, ran for two seasons and 20 episodes. The series is based on a comic book and is about a man who has been surrounded by demonic possession throughout his life – particular with his mother – in the fictional town of Rome. One of the comic’s authors, Robert Kirkham, co-created The Walking Dead franchise.

Movie: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a very funny movie about misunderstandings. Set in West Virginia, the plot involves a group of campers mistaking two men for being backwoods killers. The film starred Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as Tucker and Dale. Potential sequels have been proposed, with one described as “Good Will Hunting meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

Book/Author: Pearl Buck was born in Hillsboro. Her book The Good Earth, won the Nobel Prize for Fiction in 1932 and contributed to her being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. Buck was the first American female to win the latter. The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace is a museum dedicated to the writer and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fictional Character: Clarice Starling is as tough as they come. The FBI agent has had to deal with psychopaths such as Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill, all while remaining composed and focused on her assignments. The character originated in Thomas Harris’ novels and was played by Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs and Julianne Moore in Hannibal.

Fictional City: Silent Hill is the setting of a long-running popular survival horror video games series, which was also adapted into a 2006 movie, starring Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean, and 2012 sequel. I never played the games myself, but remember friends giving them glowing reviews, getting the crap scared out of them. There’s also a series of novels for the franchise.

Actor/Actress: Don Knotts enjoyed long TV and film career. After winning five Emmy Awards as Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffiths Show, Knotts transitioned into movies. He returned to TV as landlord Ralph Furley on Three’s Company. He later rejoined Andy Griffiths with a recurring role on Matlock. A statue of Knotts is outside the Metropolitan Theatre in his hometown of Morgantown.

Barney Fife

Song: Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver is among four State Songs for West Virginia. The song is about taking a drive through the state and includes Denver calling it “Almost Heaven”, which became a slogan for the state, appearing on license plates and in tourism marketing. The Mountain State Brewing Company has an amber ale called Almost Heaven.

Band/Musician: R&B musician Bill Withers was born in Slab Fork. He is best known for the hits Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean on Me, Lovely Day and Just the Two of Use. Withers won three Grammy Awards during his brief career, choosing to leave the music industry, unhappy with his treatment by record label executives. He was inducted into the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames.

People: Mathematician John Nash Jr. was born in Bluefield. He won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994, for his work with chance and decision-making within complex systems. Nash’s battle with mental illness throughout his career was documented in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated biography of the same name.

Animal: A new species was discovered in West Virginia in 1796, when soldiers came across the bones of what they thought were of a lion. Thomas Jefferson examined the skeleton, determining it belonged to a giant sloth, which he dubbed Megalonyx (aka Large Claw). Scientists named the species Megalonyx Jeffersonii and the remains became the State Fossil of West Virginia.

Bill Withers

Invention: While in West Virginia in the late 1870’s, dentist and inventor Mahlon Loomis developed theories that would eventually lead to wireless communication, including radio and telegraphs. His experiments involved using kites as antennas from high hills and mountains, further stretching how far communication could occur without physical connections.

Crime: In July 2012, teenager Skylar Neese went missing from her home in Star City. Her friends Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy were later convicted of killing Neese, who had been stabbed more than 50 times and her body disposed of. Shoaf confessed to the crime, resulting in Neese’s body being found in January 2013. Both girls are now serving jail sentences in West Virginia.

Law: In West Virginia, fines can be doled out for public swearing and drunkenness. Looks like the Sip Advisor will be short some singles if I’m ever able to get to the state!

Sports Team: The West Virginia University Mountaineers and Marshall University Thundering Herd sports programs play in Division I of the NCAA. Marshall University may best be known for the 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of 37 football team members, which was documented in the 2006 film We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey.

Wireless

Athlete: Fairmont’s Mary Lou Retton became one of the most popular U.S. Olympians of all-time, when she won the all-around gymnastics competition at the 1984 Summer Olympics, making her the first American woman to do so. She was only 16 at the time and performing just weeks after knee surgery. Retton was the first female athlete to be featured on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes.

Famous Home: Blennerhassett Mansion was used by a group led by former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, as they planned an unknown military mission, for which Burr, owner Harman Blennerhassett and others were arrested on suspicion of treason. The estate, resembling George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, burned down in 1811 and was reconstructed in the 1980’s.

Urban Legend: A major figure in West Virginia folklore is the Mothman, a half-man, half-moth creature. It was first seen in Point Pleasant, which now hosts an annual Mothman Festival, as well as having a Mothman Museum, marked outside by a statue of the being. The Mothman gained notoriety from the book The Mothman Prophecies, which was adapted into a 2002 movie, starring Richard Gere.

Museum: Two West Virginia museums that also offer haunted tours are the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and West Virginia Penitentiary. The Asylum operated from 1864 to 1994, often overrun with patients, who were receiving experimental treatments such as labotomies. The Penitentiary was the site of 94 executions, from 1899 to 1959 and also experienced notable jail breaks and riots.

Moth

Firsts: The first modern Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1908 in West Virginia. It was achieved through the efforts of Anne Jarvis, whose mother desired such a holiday. Jarvis later took offence to the commercialization of Mother’s Day and tried to have it ended. The greeting card and flower industries paid for her care in her final years. The International Mother’s Day Shrine can be found in Grafton.

Company: I didn’t find much to go on for this category, but there is the Gesundheit! Institute in Pocahontas County. The Institute was created by Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams, the doctor who inspired the Robin Williams movie Patch Adams, and blends traditional hospital protocols with alternative medicine treatments. Gesundheit! offers free care to patients.

Events: Leading up to the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union, choosing to be a Confederate state. Those who opposed this decision, namely those in northwest corner of the state, separated from the rest of Virginia, forming what would become West Virginia (although the name Kanawha was considered). West Virginia was granted Union statehood in 1863.

Miscellaneous: The largest family reunion in the world, as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009, takes place annually (except for 2020) in West Virginia. Members of the Lilly family have been gathering in Flat Top since 1929. The now three-day event includes live entertainment, loads of food and other activities, with tens of thousands guests attending.

Copperhead

Copperhead

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Copperheads, also known as Peace Democrats, were people who opposed the Civil War and wanted a quick settlement with the Confederates. The Copperheadism movement was strongest in the Ohio River area, which includes West Virginia. The drink, similar to a Moscow Mule, may be simple, but it’s delicious.

Washington, D.C. – Joe Rickey

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 get all political in Washington, D.C. The Federal City has a lot going on, even without the governmental stuff. So, let’s start filibustering and see how long we can last:

Motto: “Justice for All” – I think this is still a work in progress…

Food: A Half Smoke is a hotdog that’s half pork, half beef and covered with herbs, onions and chili sauce. The meal is quite popular in the D.C. region and is sold at many hotdog carts. The Half Smoke sausage was first created by Briggs & Company and sold as early as 1930 by Raymond Briggs. Today, it is the official dog of the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Drink: With all the politicians and lobbyists in D.C., there are/were a number of famous drinking establishments for beverage consumption. This included the infamous Rum Row, which was unfortunately couldn’t survive prohibition. One place that still exists is the Round Robin Bar (dubbed the Oval Office of Bars), where the Mint Julep was introduced to the area by Kentucky Senator Henry Clay.

Site to See: The National Mall is home to a number of attractions, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool and a host of War Memorials (World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, etc.). Mrs. Sip and I walked this extensive area on a hot July day, ducking into nearby Smithsonian Institution museums for occasional air conditioning breaks.

Street: Pennsylvania Avenue, connecting the White House to the U.S. Capitol Building, is known as ‘America’s Main Street’. The route has been used for a parade after each U.S. President has taken the oath of office, as well as the funeral processions of Presidents who died while in office. Protestors have also marched along the street for causes ranging from women’s suffrage to anti-war.

TV Show: While a number of political dramas are set in D.C., I’ll go with classic comedy Get Smart. Starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart (aka Agent 86), a bumbling spy, the series ran for five seasons and 138 episodes. Along with his partner, Agent 99, Smart fumbles his way through missions, somehow always finding a way to thwart the plans of evil organization KAOS.

Movie: So many movies have scenes filmed in D.C. When discussing films that are largely set there (and the surrounding area), some top contenders for this category include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wedding Crashers, Minority Report, The Exorcist, All the President’s Men, and A Few Good Men. My favourite among these, is Wedding Crashers, for obvious reasons.

Book/Author: With so much political intrigue, D.C. is rife with material for books. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, details the Watergate scandal, through the two men who investigated it. The ordeal resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The book was later adapted into a 1976 film, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the journalists.

Fictional Character: Murphy Brown is a journalist for the news program FYI. She is a hard-nosed TV personality and even tougher behind the scenes, as she goes through a series of secretaries. When a storyline which saw Brown become a single mother was criticized by Vice President Dan Quayle, the character became a feminist icon and reflection of how many real-life women live.

Fictional City: With not much to choose from, I will salute The Flintstones here, as many locales (Bostone, Houstone, Rockapulco, etc.) were given some sort of clever prehistoric spin by the show’s writers. D.C received similar treatment with Washingstone B.C. Eh, it’s a living!

Actor/Actress: Samuel L. Jackson is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars, thanks to roles in films such as Pulp Fiction, the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Snakes on a Plane. Jackson has also appeared in numerous Marvel projects, as S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury. Thanks to all these credits, Jackson is the highest-grossing actor of all-time, with his movies earning $27 billion worldwide.

Song: Is there a song that better exemplifies D.C. than Hail to the Chief. The song is the President’s entrance theme, similar to a professional wrestler making their way to the ring. It is also often played in TVs and movies to set up scenes occurring in the Federal City. The tune was composed by James Sanderson (ironically an English musician) and published in 1812.

Band/Musician: The ‘Prince of Soul’ Marvin Gaye was born in D.C. The Motown legend was known for hits such as I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Let’s Get It On and Sexual Healing. Sadly, Gaye was killed by his own father in 1984, shot with a gun Gaye had gifted him the previous Christmas. Gaye was posthumously bestowed a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, along with inductions into a number of Hall of Fames.

People: TV personality Bill Nye hails from The District. He is best known for his popular kids educational program Bill Nye the Science Guy (required viewing in my high school science classes) and the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World. His earlier show won 19 Emmy Awards (from 23 nominations), including the 1998 Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series trophy for Nye.

Animal: A number of presidential pets, living in the White House, have gained notoriety over the years. This includes Checkers the Dog (Richard Nixon), Socks the Cat (Bill Clinton), Bo and Sunny the Dogs (Barack Obama), as well as some more interesting animal choices, such as both John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison keeping alligators and Thomas Jefferson having two grizzly bear cubs.

Invention: Samuel Morse developed Morse Code, to be used for telegraph communications, in D.C. The series of dots and dashes allowed for quick communication between long distances, first used around 1844. Morse’s original telegraph machine, along with its patent application, are on display at the National Museum of American History in D.C.

Crime: The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, occurred at Ford’s Theatre in D.C. The event shocked the nation, as Lincoln was the first President to be assassinated. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth, became the subject of a large manhunt and was killed in a standoff with authorities. Ford’s Theatre, as well as Petersen House (where Lincoln died) are National Historic Sites.

Law: It is illegal to give a false weather report. Isn’t that what meteorologists do on a daily basis, given their low accuracy rate!?

Sports Team: D.C. has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues – Capitals (NHL), Nationals (MLB), Wizards (NBA), Football Team (NFL) – although the Football Team (formerly the Redskins) play in neighbouring Maryland. The state is also known for being the first place a football huddle and baseball’s seventh-inning stretch occurred.

Athlete: Tennis legend Pete Sampras was born in D.C. Over his career, Sampras won 14 Grand Slam tournaments and was ranked No. 1 in the world for 286 total weeks. Nicknamed ‘Pistol Pete’, for his powerful serve, Sampras was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007. In my opinion, though, his greatest achievement is being married to actress Bridgette Wilson.

Famous Home: The White House has been the home for the U.S. President and family since 1800. It was originally known as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion or President’s House. The White House is the most visited home in the country, featuring 132 rooms, along with a tennis court, swimming pool, movie theatre, bowling lanes, and basketball court, among other amenities.

Urban Legend: On display at the National Museum of Natural History, is the infamous Hope Diamond. The gem has so much notoriety because of the curse that is said to be attached to it, bringing misfortune to those who own or wear it. Tragic ends have included losing a fortune, as well as being imprisoned, murdered or executed and taking one’s own life.

Museum: In the capital, you can’t go very far with running into a Smithsonian Museum. The Smithsonian Institution, referred to as “the nation’s attic” has 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research facilities and a zoo in the D.C. area alone. Best of all, entry to all locations is free. Some D.C. highlights include the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History.

Firsts: As the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Kay Graham deserves some attention. She was the publisher of The Washington Post newspaper from 1963 to 1991, overseeing such memorable stories as the Watergate Scandal. Graham’s autobiography, titled Personal History, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998. She was portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2017 movie The Post.

Company: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA, is headquartered in D.C. NASA has been responsible for the Apollo moon landing missions, as well as being in partnership with the space agencies of other countries, resulting in the International Space Station. It should also be noted, that kids haven Toys R Us was founded in D.C. in 1948.

Events: During the War of 1812, the Burning of Washington (1814) occurred at the hands of the British. This included the White House going up in flames, along with the Capitol Building and other U.S. government facilities. Four days after the attack, a massive thunderstorm – known as ‘The Storm that Saved Washington’ – snuffed out the fires.

Miscellaneous: While a theory exists that nobody is actually from D.C., other famous folks born there include former Vice President Al Gore, TV personality and DNA test proprietor Maury Povich, first Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, music legend Duke Ellington, award-winning actress Goldie Hawn, basketball star Kevin Durant, and jack-of-all-trades Ben Stein.

Joe Rickey

Joe Rickey

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

The Rickey is D.C.’s official drink. It was created in 1883 at Rum Row bar Shoomakers, when lobbyist Col. Joe Rickey ordered his daily dose of bourbon on ice and the bartender added some sparkling water to it. The Joe Rickey morphed into the popular Gin Rickey (subbing gin for bourbon) over time, but I will salute the original.

Sip Trips #191: November Notes

Thanks to another round of pandemic restrictions, November’s Sip Trips report is short on outings, relatively speaking. We did manage to squeeze in a few activities, though, as Mrs. Sip and I were both off on parental leaves for most of the month. Let’s get to the action:

To begin the month, we visited ABC Brewing, looking to try the company’s collaboration beers with Steel & Oak Brewing. These included the New West Coast Double IPA and WOW Small Hazy IPA. We also had a glass of the Achtung Berliner Weisse, an Île Sauvage Brewing guest tap, which was very good. For the road, we grabbed a bottle of the Aski Oci Saison to round out our stay.

Beer

That weekend, after a trying day where my vehicle broke down as I was trying to finally eat at Popeyes, Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip helped me finally cross the restaurant off my list, picking up an epic meal of delicious Popcorn Shrimp, Chicken Sandwiches (regular and spicy) and very good fries. The Popcorn Shrimp were a particular revelation for me.

The next day, to officially celebrate the start of my seven-month parental leave, we attended a show at the House of Comedy in New Westminster. The show was great and provided some comic relief from the current world situation. I had a pair of Yellow Dog High Five Hazy IPA tall cans while there, which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

That week, following a visit to Vancouver’s Science World, we took the kids for lunch at Brewhall. There, we took advantage of their $14 Burger and Beer deal, ordering the Crispy Chicken Burger for me and Cheeseburger for Mrs. Sip, along with sides of Curly Fries and Dirty Cheesy Fries. Our beer selections were glasses of the Brewhall Hall Pass IPA and Brewhall/Superflux Days Like This DIPA. Our server also slipped us a taster of the Brewhall/Egan’s Seven One Oh Nine Whisky Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, which was made using Egan’s whiskey barrels, which have now been returned for the Irish whiskey maker to produce a special whiskey with.

Curly Fries

We ended the month with a date night to celebrate the end of our joint time off on parental leave. During the summer, while participating in the weekly New Westminster Downtown Business Association scavenger hunts, I won a $50 gift card to Piva Modern Italian and Mrs. Sip and I decided this was the perfect time to finally cash the card in. We had a wonderful evening at the restaurant, arriving during happy hour and starting with sharing a plate of their Arancini. My beverages included the feature cocktail Whiskey Smash (Whiskey Mojito) and a pint of Steel & Oak Radiant Things Tropical Pale Ale, while Mrs. Sip had a trio of glasses of wine. For dinner, I went with the For Nonno Pizza, while Mrs. Sip had the Market Fish, which was a Seared Sable Fish. For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Lava Cake, while the server provided us with complimentary glasses of Rosé Bubbly.

Hopefully, the pandemic restrictions lighten sometime in December and definitely before Christmas, allowing families to get together for the holiday in some manner. This may be my only Christmas season off from work ever, so I hope we’re able to do some of the many annual activities the season usually offers.

Washington – Washington Apple

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 take a short jaunt over the border (if it wasn’t closed due to COVID) into Washington. The Evergreen State is the Sip Advisor’s most frequently visited in the country, so let’s see what we can learn together about it:

Motto: “By and by” – Alki, a Chinook saying, originally meant “I will see you by and by”, but has since been changed to meaning “into the future”. I hope the future includes being able to go back to Washington.

Food: Aplets & Cotlets are the unofficial State Candy of Washington (with competition from Almond Roca and the Mountain Bar). The gelatin-like confection, made with apples and apricots and a walnut center, are similar in style to Turkish Delight. The Aplets & Cotlets Candy Kitchen can be found in Cashmere, where the factory can be toured and samples had.

Drink: Coffee is Washington’s State Drink and it’s no wonder, given the world’s largest coffeehouse chain Starbucks is headquartered in Seattle. The first Starbucks was opened in Pike Place Market in 1971. The chain spread throughout the city, then opened locations in Vancouver, B.C., Canada and Chicago, Illinois. There are now over 30,000 Starbucks locations across the globe.

Starbucks

Site to See: The Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, is a major landmark and tourist attraction. Mrs. Sip and I once enjoyed beverages at its revolving restaurant SkyCity (previously known as the Eye of the Needle), which was the first revolving restaurant on the U.S. mainland. The Space Needle is used for Seattle’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration.

Street: Pike Street is anchored by the famous Pike Place Market, where Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed beers at Pike Brewing, as well as cheese curds from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, among other businesses. Another highlight of the area, albeit a disgusting one, is The Gum Wall, which is adorned by millions of pieces of used gum. The wall has become a popular photo spot.

TV Show: Frasier, starring Kelsey Grammer, sees psychiatrist Frasier Crane relocated from Boston to his hometown Seattle, to launch his own call-in radio show. The Cheers spinoff aired for 11 seasons and 264 episodes of high-brow comedy, earning the show and cast 37 Emmy Awards, including five straight for Outstanding Comedy Series. A potential revival has been discussed.

Movie: Tag, based on the real-life story of a group of friends who come together each year to play an ongoing game of tag, is set in Spokane. Starring Ed Helms, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner, the comedy received mixed reviews, but was a financial success. The real-life tag group went to high school together in Spokane and used the game to stay close while going off to college and starting their adult lives.

Space Needle

Book/Author: Two divisive franchises were set in Washington, Twilight and Fifty Shades, with the latter originating as fan fiction for the former. Written by Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James, respectively, both series have been adapted into movies that have been critically panned (each winning multiple Golden Razzies), but massively successful at the box office.

Fictional Character: According to co-creator Justin Roiland, the animated series Rick and Morty is set in a suburb of Seattle. Therefore, I’ll pick mad scientist Rick Sanchez for this category. Sanchez is best known for his bizarre inventions and reckless behaviour, which usually make Morty’s life difficult. One of Rick’s most memorable experiments involved turning himself into a pickle and chaos ensuing.

Fictional City: Because of its Canadian connection, I have to choose the town of Hope here, where the original Rambo movie takes place, known as First Blood. The small town is based on Hope, British Columbia, Canada, where First Blood was filmed. Rambo largely destroys the city, but he has a good reason, following being harassed by its sheriff.

Actor/Actress: Legendary actor Adam West was born in Walla Walla. West’s most notable role was as Batman for the 1960’s campy version of the TV series. He enjoyed a renaissance of sorts when he was cast as Mayor Adam West on the animated TV comedy Family Guy, portraying an exaggerated version of himself who runs the town, despite being delusional.

Adam West

Song: A number of Washington’s notable musicians have referenced the state in their songs, but there’s no outstanding ode to the region. The State Song is Washington, My Home (originally America, My Home), written by Helen Davis and Stuart Churchill. There has been some attempts to have a new State Song selected, but those have failed to this point.

Band/Musician: Seattle’s grunge music scene revolutionized the industry in the early 1990s, with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and many others going mainstream. Jimi Hendrix must also be included in this category, as perhaps the greatest guitarist of all-time. Other notable acts from Washington include Sir Mix-A-Lot, Macklemore, Kenny Loggins and Heart.

People: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was born in Seattle. For many years, Gates was the world’s wealthiest person, but now sits at number two on the annual Forbes list. Gates has largely moved into a philanthropy role, running the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charity in the world. He has also pledged to give half of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

Animal: Bobo the Gorilla was a major tourist attraction in Washington, between 1953 and 1968, during his time spent at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Bobo died at the age of 17, about half a gorilla’s normal lifespan. His stuffed skin was on display for many years at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, while his skeleton belongs to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Bill Gates

Invention: One of the most notable companies in Washington is Boeing, which was founded in Seattle in 1916. The corporation has been credited with a number of innovations in the aviation industry, including the passenger airline, jumbo jet and even flight attendants. Today, Boeing is instrumental in exploration outside earth’s atmosphere, having developed the Lunar Rover.

Crime: Gary Ridgway (aka the Green River Killer) was active in the 1980s and 1990s, killing teenage and young adult females in Washington. Ridgway was convicted of 49 murders, the second most confirmed slayings in U.S. history. Ridgway was finally caught due to his DNA being found on some of the victims. His plea bargain resulted in life in prison without parole.

Law: In Washington, it is illegal to harass Bigfoot/Sasquatches or other cryptid creatures. Washington does have the most Bigfoot/Sasquatch sightings, so perhaps officials are justified in their concerns.

Sports Team: Seattle is home to the Seahawks (NFL), Mariners (MLB) and NHL expansion franchise the Kraken, who are to hit the ice for the 2021-22 season. The city also had the SuperSonics (NBA), before the team relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, becoming the Thunder. The Seattle Sounders (MLS) has also enjoyed great success, winning the MLS Cup twice.

Boeing

Athlete: Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos – after being traded by the Baltimore Colts, who drafted him, when he threatened to join the New York Yankees (who also drafted him) and play baseball instead – winning two Super Bowls and setting many records. Today, Elway is the general manager and president of football operations with the Broncos.

Famous Home: Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, was shipped brick-by-brick from England to Washington and built between 1909-1911. It was originally owned by Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma. The estate was used for the Stephen King TV miniseries Rose Red and is currently a bed and breakfast. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Urban Legend: The Maury Island Incident occurred in June 1947, when multiple reports of UFOs in the Mount Rainier area were filed. It was the first widely reported UFO case in the U.S., supported by the credibility of pilot Kenneth Arnold, who made one of the reports. Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl made corroborative claims, adding the element of a government coverup by ‘men in black’.

Museum: The Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame) can be found in Seattle, where it was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The museum is known for its massive sculpture made of different music instruments and extensive collection celebrating the Seattle music scene.

UFOs

Firsts: The first Father’s Day in the U.S. was celebrated in 1909, introduced by Spokane’s Sonora Dodd, who was looking to honour her father, a Civil War veteran who had raised six children as a single parent. The event didn’t reach national acceptance until the 1930’s, when Dodd partnered with industries such as tie and pipe makers, to help raise awareness for the celebration.

Company: Along with other major companies mentioned earlier (Starbucks, Boeing), Washington is also home to corporate giants such as Amazon (headquartered in Seattle), Microsoft (Redmond) and Costco (Issaquah). All three have had a significant impact on my life, as well as the lives of billions around the world. Products from each are all around us.

Events: In 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, resulting in 57 human deaths, thousands of animals killed and over a billion dollars worth of damage to the surrounding area. The eruption has been called the most disastrous in U.S. history. Today, the area is preserved by the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, allowing the environment to respond naturally to the disaster.

Miscellaneous: One more thing to salute Washington for is their involvement in the production of hops for beer. With an estimated 75 per cent of the country’s hops coming from Washington, it’s no wonder the state has such a booming craft beer industry, even in smaller locales like Bellingham, where the Sip Family has enjoyed a number of visits to their Tap Trail.

Washington Apple

Washington Apple

  • 1 oz Crown Royal Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sour Apple Schnapps
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with an Apple Slice

This cocktail honours the State Fruit of Washington, with the state being the largest apple producer in the U.S. Oddly, the recipe specifically calls for a Canadian Whiskey to be used, though I’m happy to oblige. Some drinkers add a splash of club soda to the martini, but I will go with the traditional serving.

Virginia – Lover’s Cocktail

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. This week, we enter federal government territory with our exploration of Virginia. The Old Dominion is home to the Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies, so we’ll have to keep things to a dull roar:

Motto: “Thus always to tyrants” – Apparently, this was said by John Wilkes Booth after shooting President Abraham Lincoln. You’d think that would necessitate a change in slogan.

Food: Smithfield Ham (aka Virginia Ham) has protected designation status, meaning only hams that come from Smithfield and are processed, treated, smoked and cured a specific way can be called Smithfield Hams. It was among the first exports of the U.S. There’s also Brunswick Stew and Peanut Soup to round out Virginia-based delicacies.

Drink: The State Spirit of Virginia is George Washington’s Rye Whiskey, which is produced at the first president’s reconstructed distillery at his Mount Vernon home (more on that later). The whiskey’s recipe was previously used by Washington in the late 1700’s and production made the distillery the largest in the country. The whiskey now sells in limited edition batches.

Smithfield Ham

Site to See: A somber, but popular attraction in Virginia is the Arlington National Cemetery, containing the remains of soldiers from wars America has been involved with, beginning with the Civil War. It’s here that visitors can find the graves of President John F. Kennedy, astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Street: Skyline Drive, which runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the entire length of Shenandoah National Park, is a 105-mile route offering spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont. It also allows access to hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. The road is a National Scenic Byway and National Historic Landmark.

TV Show: Two Seth McFarlane shows are set in Virginia, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Anyone who truly gets the Sip Advisor knows both these series are among my all-time favourites, thanks to characters such as Roger Smith, Klaus Heisler, Cleveland Brown and his drinking buddies, Rallo Tubbs, and many others. Sadly, The Cleveland Show only lasted four seasons, but American Dad is still going strong with over 300 episodes.

Movie: So many movies have scenes that take place in Virginia, thanks to the federal government agencies located there. Two Disney movies completely set in the state are the animated Pocahontas, led by the voice work of Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson and David Ogden Stiers, and live action Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington.

Pocahontas

Book/Author: Ellen Glasgow was born in Richmond. She published 20 books over her lifetime, five of which ranked on best-seller lists. Her most notable work was In This Our Life, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1942. The same year, the book was adapted into a film, starring Hollywood leads Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as the story’s sisters.

Fictional Character: I’ve always enjoyed Cleveland Brown, dating back to his early days on Family Guy. With his own show, Cleveland was expanded even further and came into his own, with his own zany adventures. Not even the cancellation of The Cleveland Show and a voice actor change can keep the man down, as he and the rest of the Brown-Tubbs family have relocated back to Family Guy.

Fictional City: For this category, we go back to American Dad and The Cleveland Show, which are set in Langley Falls and Stoolbend, respectively. Both places have their pros and cons, making it a tough choice if I had to pick one to live in. Langley Falls combines the communities of Langley and Great Falls, while Stoolbend was inspired by Richmond, where co-creator Mike Henry was raised.

Actor/Actress: ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Sandra Bullock was born in Arlington. She won a Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side and has also starred in movies such as Speed, Gravity and Ocean’s 8. Bullock is one of the most bankable stars in the industry, with films grossing over $5.3 billion worldwide. As a result, she is also one of the most powerful women in entertainment.

Cleveland Brown

Song: Virginia Moon by the Foo Fighters is an ode to the state where frontman Dave Grohl was raised and still lives, his basement converted to a recording studio. Singer and pianist Norah Jones joined the band for the track, thanks to her background in jazz and ability to mesh with Grohl. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

Band/Musician: A tough category to narrow down, with options such as Ella Fitzgerald, Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, June Carter Cash, the Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz, and Wayne Newton. Fitzgerald gets the edge as a result of the walls she had to breakdown during her career, earning her nicknames such as the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz.

People: Political allies and friends George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were born in Popes Creek and Shadwell, respectively. Both were instrumental in separating from the British, with Washington would become the first President of the United States and Jefferson not far behind as the third President. Both men are carved into the Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Animal: Secretariat, one of the most popular and successful thoroughbred racehorses of all-time, was born in Virginia in 1970. Secretariat would go on to win the 1973 Triple Crown, setting speed records in each of the three races. Secretariat’s days as a stud produced daughters who would sire many notable champions. A 2010 Disney live action film about the horse was critically and financially successful.

George Washington

Invention: The Foil Electret Microphone, which is used in 90 percent of products, including telephones, video cameras, baby monitors, hearing aids and other devices, was invented by James Edward Maceo West. West, who was born in Farmville, holds many other patents related to microphones and is still going strong at age 89, developing a gadget to diagnose pneumonia in infants.

Crime: Virginia has been home to a number of mass murders, including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the Virginia Tech massacre and the Virginia Beach shooting. The Pentagon attack killed 184 people (including 59 aboard the plane), while the shootings at Virginia Tech (the deadliest school shooting in the U.S.) and Virginia Beach resulted in 32 and 12 deaths, respectively.

Law: In Virginia, it is illegal to hunt wild animals on a Sunday, except for raccoons. I have no clue why they are so against the beloved trash panda.

Sports Team: Virginia has no professional teams, but the state has made a number of attempts to gain one, including a failed bid for an NHL expansion team and the unsuccessful relocation of MLB squads. For now, they settle for supporting nearby franchises, such as the Washington Football Team (NFL) and Washington Capitals (NHL), who have headquarters and practice facilities in the state, but play elsewhere.

Microphone

Athlete: Tennis player Arthur Ashe won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments over his career, the only black man to win each. Ashe’s career was marred with medical issues, including a heart attack at age 36 and later contracting HIV through blood transfusions. He died in 1993 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as having the US Open stadium named in his honour.

Famous Home: George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello can be found in Virginia and are among the nation’s most famous homes. Both are National Historic Landmarks, while Monticello is a United Nations World Heritage site. I’ve personally been to Monticello and can understand why the estate appeared on a 1956 postage stamp.

Urban Legend: The Bunny Man legend is about a man wearing a bunny costume and attacking people with an axe in Fairfax County. The tale is based on two reports, occurring 10 days apart, in October 1970, regarding a man threatening people for trespassing. Other sightings have occurred since and as the legend has grown, people now flock to the area, particularly near Halloween.

Museum: Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum, transporting visitors back in time to the period of the American Revolution. Williamsburg was once the capital of Virginia and is where much activity in gaining independence from the British took place, involving patriotic icons such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others.

Williamsburg

Firsts: Jamestown Settlement was the first permanent English settlement in North America, founded in 1607. 20 miles from Jamestown, the settlement of Berkeley Hundred is where the first Thanksgiving meal occurred in 1619 (two years before the Pilgrims held their own in Plymouth, Massachusetts). The first U.S. whiskey distillery was also established in Berkeley Hundred in 1621.

Company: Virginia is home to many federal government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It is also the headquarters for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Five Guys, a favourite restaurant of the Sip Family.

Events: The surrenders ending both the American Revolution and Civil War each took place in Virginia. The Civil War, in particular, was largely fought in the state, with more than 2,000 military events and many major battles, as Richmond was the Confederate capital. A number of those battlefields have been preserved, although there have been efforts to remove Confederate monuments.

Miscellaneous: Another nickname for Virginia is Mother of Presidents. This is because eight U.S. Presidents were born in the state, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. Also, six U.S. First Lady’s hail from Virginia.

Lover’s Cocktail

Lover's Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Limoncello
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This drink is a reference to Virginia’s tourism slogan ‘Virginia is for lovers’, which has been in use since 1969. The campaign was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009 and listed by Forbes as one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all-time.

Vermont – Old Vermont

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we venture to Vermont, where we’ll cozy up to the fire and watch the leaves change in awe. The more to the Green Mountain State than that, though, so let’s start exploring:

Motto: “Freedom and Unity” – I can’t hear the word ‘unity’ and not think about Dave Chappelle’s Rick James skit, all these years later.

Food: In Vermont, it’s all about Maple Syrup, given the state produces the most in the country. One popular way to serve it is called Sugar on Snow, which calls for Maple Syrup to be boiled and poured on fresh snow. This causes it to harden, so it can be eaten with a fork. Interestingly, it’s served with a donut and dill pickle on the side. The Vermont Maple Festival annually celebrates all things Maple Syrup.

Drink: Switchel (aka haymaker’s punch) is a mix of water, vinegar, ginger and a sweetener, with the additions of maple syrup and lemon juice in Vermont. While the drink is said to have originated in the Caribbean, it became a popular summer beverage in the American Colonies and Vermont’s own spin on the recipe kind of makes it their own.

Maple Syrup

Site to See: Vermont is home to a number of ski resorts, both for downhill and cross-country recreation. There’s also the Green Mountain National Forest, which is called the backbone of the state and is the source of its nickname. Among the forest’s attractions are three nationally designated trails, the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail and Robert Frost National Recreation Trail.

Street: Another top destination in the state is the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington. The four-block pedestrian shopping and dining area was built between 1980-1981 and is host to some of the state’s annual festivals. Chain stores and local retailers make up the businesses along the route. Some of the buildings on Church Street have historic significance.

TV Show: Newhart, starring Bob Newhart as the owner of a rural Vermont inn, ran for eight seasons and 184 episodes. The show may be best remembered for its series finale, which had Newhart wake up on the set of his previous TV show, The Bob Newhart Show, describing his dream of being an innkeeper in Vermont, surrounded by odd characters, to his wife from that series.

Movie: Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams, is a drama about an English teacher who inspires his students through unconventional means at a fictional boy’s boarding school in Vermont. The film was nominated for Best Actor, Director and Picture Oscars, as well as winning for Best Original Screenplay. “O Captain! My Captain!”

Dead Poets Society

Book/Author: Children’s novel Pollyanna is set in the fictional Beldingsville. The story follows the ever-optimistic Pollyanna, an orphan who’s being sent to live with her unaffectionate aunt in an unfamiliar setting. The book was later adapted into a popular Disney live action film, starring Haley Mills, who won a Juvenile Oscar for portraying the young girl.

Fictional Character: I found some conflicting evidence, but a number of sources say Jack and Danny Torrance, the father and son from The Shining, both spent time living in Vermont. At the start of The Shining, the family is moving from Vermont to Colorado to be caretakers of the Overlook Hotel. Years later, in the sequel Doctor Sleep, Danny is middle-aged and back in Vermont.

Fictional City: I love both of the Super Troopers movies, which take place in the town of Spurbury. The movies star members of the Broken Lizard comedy group and while they may not be geared towards film critics, those like the Sip Advisor can enjoy a few beverages while watching and laughing so much it hurts. Hopefully these Vermont state troopers can return for a third assignment.

Actor/Actress: Damon Wayans Jr., star of TV shows such as New Girl and Happy Endings, as well as films including Let’s Be Cops and Big Hero 6, was born in Huntington. He is the son of Damon Wayans Sr. and nephew of Keenan Ivory Wayans, who created the sketch comedy show In Living Color, which featured many Wayans family members. Today, Wayans Jr. is still busy with projects.

Super Troopers

Song: Moonlight in Vermont was written by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf, and first recorded by Margaret Whiting in 1944. The most recognized version is by Frank Sinatra, which was popular with soldiers during World War II, reminding them of home. It is the unofficial state song of Vermont and is often played for the first dance at wedding receptions there.

Band/Musician: Phish was formed in Burlington in 1983. The rock band is best known for their improvisation and blending of musical styles in extended jams. They have a die-hard fan base, similar to the Grateful Dead, who inspired Phish. The band once performed in a hotdog-shaped float, which was donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and hung in the museum’s lobby.

People: There are some interesting candidates for this category. First, political activist Jody Williams was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ban and clear landmines around the world. There’s also Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.), who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, helping countless people overcome their alcohol addictions.

Animal: Since 2019, the town of Fair Haven has elected its mayor by allowing pets to run for the one-year term position. The first mayor was a goat named Lincoln, followed by therapy dog Murfee in 2020. The honourary position was started to raise money for school playground equipment, but it also encouraged kids – who are allowed to vote – to engage in local politics.

Phish

Invention: John Deere, founder of Deere & Company, was born in Rutland. In 1837, Deere, a blacksmith, revolutionized the farming industry, inventing the first commercially successful steel plow, known as ‘The Plow that Broke the Plains’. The achievement is noted on a marker in Middlebury, outside the shop Deere learned the blacksmith trade.

Crime: Israel Keyes murdered at least three people, with at least another eight possible victims, across the country. Two of his confirmed killings were in Vermont, where he broke into the home of Bill and Lorraine Currier, slaying both and sexually assaulting Lorraine. Their bodies were never found. Keyes committed suicide while in jail, awaiting trial for a murder in Alaska.

Law: In Vermont, it is illegal to strip naked in public, but if you leave your house already in the nude, that’s okay. You just have to be mindful of where the nudity originated!

Sports Team: With no professional teams in the state, Vermont’s greatest contribution to the sports landscape may have come from Jake Burton Carpenter, inventor of the snowboard. Improving on the Snurfer, a toy that allowed people to surf in the snow, Carpenter not only developed the snowboard, but also the sport and culture around it. Sadly, Carpenter passed away in 2019 from cancer.

Snowboarding

Athlete: Baseball catcher Carlton Fisk was born in Bellows Falls. At the time of his retirement, following 24 seasons of play, Fisk held the record for home runs by a catcher, with 351. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. Also deserving of mention is alpine skier Andrea Mead Lawrence, who at the 1952 Winter Olympics, won two gold medals.

Famous Home: Hildene, located in Manchester Center, was the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln. The sprawling estate was home to descendants of the Lincoln family until 1975. Today, it can be toured, featuring spectacular gardens and a working observatory. The home also offers a museum, with items belonging to the Lincolns.

Urban Legend: The Bennington Triangle is an area of Vermont, where five people vanished between 1945-1950. Theories on the disappearances include a serial killer, extreme weather, UFO abductions and a sasquatch-like monster. Speaking of monsters, Lake Champlain is said to be inhabited by a sea serpent named Champ, a legend which has been embraced by Vermonters.

Museum: The Snowflake Bentley Museum can be found in Jericho, near the historic home of Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley. Fascinated by snowflakes as a teen, Bentley developed a way to photograph them, amassing a collection of over 5,000 images… and no two are alike. The children’s book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, was written about Bentley and his snowflakes.

Snowflakes

Firsts: Some big firsts have occurred in Vermont, including being the first state to abolish slavery, grant women partial voting rights and make same-sex ‘civil unions’ legal. Vermont also minted the first penny and created the first postage stamp in the country. Lastly, a Vermont resident received the first Social Security check, when Ida May Fuller retired in 1939. She lived to 100 years old and received $22,888.92.

Company: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is headquartered in South Burlington. Childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded the business in 1978, with their first store operating out of a renovated gas station. Today, Ben & Jerry’s products – and many interesting flavours – can be found around the world. The Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury is a top tourist attraction, including its Flavor Graveyard.

Events: Rebel victories in Vermont at the outset of the Revolutionary War gained momentum for the movement, encouraging others to join and fight for independence from the British. When all was said and done, Vermont was the first state admitted to the United States after the original 13 colonies, becoming the 14th state in 1791.

Miscellaneous: I had never heard of a witch window, until doing my research for this article. They are so common in Vermont, they are even sometimes called Vermont windows. They are diagonal windows, designed with the theory that witches on brooms can’t fly through tilted windows. Another explanation is the windows helped with removing coffins from second floors.

Old Vermont

Old Vermont

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

This cocktail highlights Vermont’s mastery of maple syrup, with its inclusion in the recipe. The martini has unknown origins, but has become popular in recent times thanks to being featured on chef Bobby Flay’s TV show Brunch At Bobby’s.

Utah – Bee’s Knees

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we travel to Utah, home to Mormons and polygamists. While that all sounds… fun, I’m a little hesitant entering the Beehive State, given its no fun reputation, but I’ve made good out of dry situations before:

Motto: “Industry” – Well, if that isn’t the most flowery slogan amongst all the states…

Food: As someone who’s always looking to up my condiment game, I have to give props to Utah for being the birthplace of Fry Sauce. Sometimes called the unofficial state condiment, Fry Sauce is a combination of equal parts mayo and ketchup. It was first introduced at Utah restaurant chain Arctic Circle by chef and founder Don Carlos Edwards.

Drink: Utah has a number of odd laws regarding alcohol service, including putting up Zion Curtains (walls and even some roofs, so patrons aren’t forced to watch a drink being made), fines to establishments for serving drinks to customers before they’ve ordered dinner, low alcohol beers and limited amounts of spirits in cocktails. It’s enough to make the Sip Advisor cry.

Fry Sauce

Site to See: The options are endless in Utah, with five national parks, eight national monuments, two national recreation areas and seven national forests, among other attractions. The many famous rock formations (Rainbow Bridge, Delicate Arch, etc.) in the state need to be seen to be believed. There’s also Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet.

Street: Highway 12 is among the most scenic routes in the country, designated an All-American Road/National Scenic Byway in 2002. The 122-mile stretch goes through or near the Dixie National Forest (Red Canyon), Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Escalante River) and Capitol Reef National Park.

TV Show: Big Love, starring Bill Paxton, is about the patriarch of a polygamist Mormon family and his many wives and children. The HBO series ran for five seasons and 53 episodes, receiving Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. If you want the reality TV version, there’s the TLC series Sister Wives, although I have to think Big Love might be the more realistic of the two.

Movie: 127 Hours, starring James Franco, tells the real-life story of hiker and climber Aron Ralston, who found himself alone and trapped between a rock and a hard place in Canyonlands National Park. He documents his struggle with a video camera, finally freeing himself by amputating his arm. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars.

127 Hours

Book/Author: Edward Abbey’s most notable works are set in Utah, the autobiographical Desert Solitaire, which documented his experiences as a park ranger in Arches National Park, and the fictional The Monkey Wrench Gang, about ecoterrorism in the southwest. Abbey’s celebration of life is something I’d hope for, as he requested: “a flood of beer and booze! Lots of singing, dancing, talking, hollering, laughing, and lovemaking.”

Fictional Character: A favourite character of the Sip Advisor, for our shared effort to lack-of-reward ratio, is Wile E. Coyote. The Looney Tunes creation is said to inhabit the deserts of Utah, constantly coming up short in his pursuit of the Road Runner, despite employing an array of Acme gadgets. Although technically a bad guy, it’s pretty easy to root for Wile E.

Fictional City: Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon, is set in Bomont. The town is said to be located somewhere in the Midwest, with many drawing comparisons to Elmore City, Oklahoma, due to that town’s ban on dancing, similar to the storyline in Footloose. However, the movie was filmed in Utah, with no attempts made to hide that fact, so that’s how I’m settling this category.

Actor/Actress: Roseanne Barr was born in Salt Lake City. The stand-up comedian rose to fame thanks to her popular TV series Roseanne (1988-1997), which followed the lives of the working class Connor family. Barr has also been embroiled in a couple controversies, most recently including a racist tweet that resulted in her being written out of the Roseanne revival.

Wile E Coyote

Song: Utah by The Osmonds is a tribute to the family’s home state, highlighting the fun that can be had there. The music video features the band riding motorcycles through the desert and snowmobiles in the forest. The Beach Boys also made an ode to Utah, with their song Salt Lake City, a place they performed often and where they enjoyed early success and popularity.

Band/Musician: The Osmonds, particularly Donny and Marie, are from Ogden. As a family band, the group consisted of five brothers performing as a barbershop quintet. Donny and Marie later teamed up for duets, while each enjoying solo success. The pair had a popular variety show in the late 1970’s and reunited for a daytime talk show from 1998-2000.

People: Businessman and electrical engineer Nolan Bushnell was born in Clearfield. He co-created Pong, one of the earliest arcade games, and the Atari home video game system. Looking for a way to further capitalize on people playing video games, Bushnell conceived the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain, where a young Sip Advisor first enjoyed cheese pizza and arcade classics.

Animal: The Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City has been home to a number of famous animals, including Princess Alice the Elephant (a frequent escape of the zoo), Shasta the Liger (the first liger born in the U.S.), Gorgeous the Gorilla (once the oldest female gorilla), Dari the Elephant (oldest African elephant ever), and Daphne the Giraffe (once the oldest giraffe).

Chuck E Cheese

Invention: Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the TV, was born in Beaver. I’ve enjoyed countless hours of entertainment thanks to Farnsworth, who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1984, with his other patents leading to the development of radar, baby incubators and telescopes. Another notable Utah invention is the Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine.

Crime: Ted Bundy committed murders across the U.S., including Utah, where the killer was finally caught and incarcerated. Bundy would escape when transferred to Colorado and continue his murderous ways until caught again in Florida and later executed. In Utah, he slayed at a handful of women, while studying at the University of Utah Law School.

Law: In Utah, if a woman commits a crime with her husband present, he is technically responsible. I can see this law resulting in an interesting way for women to get revenge on an unfaithful/abusive husband.

Sports Team: Utah was without a professional sports team until the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. The Jazz have never won a NBA Championship, having only appeared in two consecutive NBA Finals (1997 and 1998), led by superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton, but coming up against the Chicago Bulls dynasty both times.

Philo T Farnsworth

Athlete: NFL quarterback Steve Young was born in Salt Lake City, a great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young, founder of Salt Lake City and first governor of the Utah Territory. Young spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, where he won three Super Bowls and was selected as the league’s MVP in 1992 and 1994. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Famous Home: Butch Cassidy’s Childhood Home in Circleville may not look like much, but it’s where the legendary outlaw spent the first few years of his life before going on to a career as a notorious train and bank robber. Cassidy, born Robert LeRoy Parker, was the leader of the Wild Bunch gang and his romanticized history has made the log cabin a tourist attraction.

Urban Legend: The 1956 movie The Conqueror, starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan, was filmed in Utah. This included the city of St. George, which was downwind of the Nevada National Security Site, where nuclear testing had occurred. By 1980, 91 of the 220 cast and crew members had been diagnosed with cancer, with 46 deaths. How much their participation in this film was to blame will always remain a question.

Museum: A major event in Utah’s history was hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, despite the games being marred by bribery scandals involving the organizing committee, as well as figure skating judges. The Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park, found on the campus of the University of Utah until February 2020, provided a remembrance of the competition. The cauldron is being refurbished and relocated.

Olympics

Firsts: The first department store in the U.S. was the Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI), founded by Brigham Young in Salt Lake City in 1868. The chain even used the slogan “America’s First Department Store” for a time. In December 1999, ZCMI was sold to Macy’s Inc., ending 131 years of operation, although the name continued on in some locations.

Company: Ancestry.com is headquartered in Lehi. The genealogy company is the largest in the world, with 27 billion historical records and 100 million family trees as part of their network. They have even inadvertently aided in solving serious crimes, including the Golden State Killer. Recently, The Blackstone Group announced it was acquiring the company for $4.7 billion.

Events: On May 10, 1869, at promontory Summit, the Wedding of the Rails occurred, which marked the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The last spike, known as the Golden Spike, connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad lines. Today, the Golden Spike National Historical Park commemorates this event, including replicas of the two engines from the meet.

Miscellaneous: The Sundance Film Festival, established by actor Robert Redford (who portrayed the Sundance Kid) and others, is held annually in Park City. It has grown to become the largest independent film festival in the country. Countless films, directors and actors have gained notoriety thanks to the festival, which now has spinoffs in London and Hong Kong.

Bee’s Knees

Bee's Knees

  • 2 oz Gin
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Honey Syrup
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

Finding cocktails that originated in Utah was a tough task, given their antiquated views on liquor. Given it’s the Beehive State, I went with this honey-based drink. The recipe is simple enough, so let’s find out if it really is the bee’s knees.

Sip Trips 190: Halloween Haunts

Another month has come and gone and while this year’s Halloween season was very different from others before it, we still had a lot of fun with and without the kids. Let’s get right to the action and see what we got up to in October:

To start the month, Mrs. Sip made an online order with Granville Island Brewing, setting us up nice and proper. Our order included a 12-pack case of Lions Winter Ale and six-pack of Cranberry Orange Wheat Ale, as well as bombers of Granvillator Doppelback, Over and Under Galaxy Hazy IPA, Saison Sous le Pont Farmhouse Style Saison and Birra Obscura Black Pilsner. All that remains are half of the Winter Ale case and the Hazy IPA.

Beer Shopping

A few days later, I received my Jim Beam Bourbon National Talent Search pack, which I had saw advertised on Facebook. I figured, the cocktail making kit might come with a mini bottle and some kind of mixer, so imagine my surprise when I opened the box to discover a full bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon, a bottle of Fentimans Ginger Ale, a bottle of sweet and sour mixer and two t-shirts. I made the suggested cocktail a few times over the next days and enjoyed the servings.

Our next adventure took us to the newly-opened Smuggler’s Trail Brewing in Langley. There, I ordered a pint of the English Export Porter (a collaboration beer with Main Street Brewing), while Mrs. Sip had a flight of the Smuggler’s Trail flagship brews, including their Captain Stone Lager, Wedgehead Kolsch, Canoe Chase West Coast IPA and Flaskers Best Bitter. For eats, we had the Puller Pork Smoked Sliders and a side of Deep Fried Popcorn.

In the middle of the month, Mrs. Sip and I joined friends for the Maan Farms Haunted Corn Maze in Abbotsford. Needing a place for dinner beforehand (and to have a couple beverages for liquid courage), we visited Trading Post Brewing’s Abbotsford Eatery. Our meal began with shared appies of their Salt & Pepper Pork Rinds and Truffle Cheese Fries, with my main course being the TP Classic Burger with Fries. As we ate, I had servings of the Festbier and Best Coast IPA, while Mrs. Sip selected the 10.4% Belgian Quad times two.

haunted-house

The next day, with Ma Sip hosting a small Oktoberfest gathering, the Sip Advisor did a fair bit of liquor store shopping, picking up the Spectrum Box of Chocolates case (White Chocolate Stout, Milk Chocolate Ale, Chocolate Orange Ale, Chocolate Mint Ale) and a six-pack of Spectrum’s delicious Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ale. I also grabbed a tall can four-pack of Whistler Black Cherry Marzen and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey, which has sadly been missing from my bar for far too long.

That week, I received my first BevTri delivery, which provides folks with mini liquor bottles to be tried and reviewed. My first assignment was Ezra Brooks Bourbon Whiskey, which came with a mini can of Coca-Cola. Later in the month, I received a second delivery of Hornitos Reposado Tequila. This is work I can really get behind!

On a recent Friday night, we decided to pack up the kids and go to the New West River Market for dinner and their scavenger hunt. We ate at Longtail Kitchen, enjoying servings of Pad Thai and Tamarind Chicken Wings. To drink, I had a tall can of Steel & Oak Radiant Things Hibiscus-Grapefruit Pale Ale, which made a perfect pairing with our food selections.

Pad Thai

To end the month, we attended a Halloween Trivia at Rendezvous Pub in Langley. The trivia was really fun, with it being not too easy and not too hard and with an interesting point system, where you could double whichever round you thought you’d do best at. For dinner, I enjoyed a Southwest Chicken Wrap and to drink, I had pints of Steel & Oak Red Pilsner and Driftwood Fat Tug IPA, which were both priced very nicely at $5.60.

I’m not sure November will live up to all the fun we had in October, but when there’s a will, there will be a way. I call our will Mrs. Sip! We are creeping into Christmas territory, so I’m sure the schedule will start filling up.

Texas – Texas Margarita

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. I’ve been forewarned, don’t mess with Texas and today we explore the Lone Star State. Let’s see if, in fact, everything is bigger in Texas:

Motto: “Friendship” – Short and sweet… so much for everything being bigger!

Food: Texas is responsible for a number of culinary creations, highlighted by items such as Hamburgers, Corn Dogs, Fajitas and Sopapillas. Lesser known dishes, such as King Ranch Casserole (chicken, cream of mushroom and chicken soups, cheese and tortilla chips), Texas Caviar (black-eyed peas, corn, avocado and mango) and Chicken Fried Bacon also originated in the state.

Drink: A favourite mixer of the Sip Advisor, Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885 by pharmacist Charles Alderton. The drink gained national attention when it was exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The recipe for the soda is kept top secret, split in half and stored in two safety deposit boxes across two Dallas banks. Waco is home to the Dr Pepper Museum, inside a former bottling plant.

Dr Pepper

Site to See: Space Center Houston is among the top tourist attractions in Texas. Visitors can learn about the history and future of the NASA space program, through replicas of a space shuttle and space station, among other exhibits. The adjacent Johnson Space Center and Mission Control can also be toured, making for quite a day of space exploration inside earth’s atmosphere.

Street: Sixth Street in Austin is a historic district of the capital city. Formerly named Pecan Street, the Pecan Street Festival occurs every spring and fall, highlighting local food, art and music. The route is affectionately referred to as Dirty Sixth, thanks to its many entertainment options, including music and film festivals, as well as biker rallies.

TV Show: Two shows created by Mike Judge are set in Texas, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head. I’m a fan of both shows, while Mrs. Sip can’t stand either. Of the two, I like King of the Hill better, thanks to its well-rounded cast of characters. King of the Hill aired for 13 seasons and 259 episodes, while Beavis and Butt-Head ran for eight seasons and 222 episodes.

Movie: Office Space (also from Mike Judge), starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston, is a fantastic movie and all the more enjoyable if you’ve ever worked in an office. The cult film sees programmer Peter Gibbons grow tired of his mundane job and life, pushing him into an embezzlement scheme against his employer. The movie made red staplers a must-have supply.

Office Space

Book/Author: The Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry consists of four western novels about a group of Texas Rangers during the formative years of the Republic of Texas. The books have been adapted into five TV miniseries and two TV series. Also, children’s novel Old Yeller by Fred Gipson is set in the fictional town of Salt Licks. It was adapted into a live-action Disney film.

Fictional Character: While I’d like to give this category to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, I have to go with a character that will scare the hell out of most, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Face hidden by a mask made of the stitched together skin of his victims and wielding a constantly-revving chainsaw, is there a more intimidating horror baddie?

Fictional City: Once again, we go to Mike Judge’s two cartoon comedies, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, which are set in Arlen and Highland, respectively. Arlen is based on a combination of Dallas-Fort Worth towns, such as Garland, Arlington and Allen. Highland is thought to be located near the Texas-New Mexico border. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the upcoming series revival.

Actor/Actress: So many Hollywood A-listers are from Texas, making this a tough category to narrow down. These stars include Jamie Foxx, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Tommy Lee Jones, Owen Wilson, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Garner, Jim Parsons, Patrick Swayze, and Steve Martin. Many of them have worked with one another over their careers.

Leatherface

Song: Deep in the Heart of Texas was written by June Hershey and Don Swander has become an anthem for the state. When it was originally released, five recordings by different artists appeared on the Billboard charts. It was also the title song of the 1942 movie of the same name. The tune’s most memorable version may be by Gene Autry (the Singing Cowboy), who was a Texan.

Band/Musician: The Queen Bey, Beyoncé, headlines a list of popular performers, including Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Meat Loaf, Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, and Barry White. Beyoncé began her career in the girl group Destiny’s Child, before going solo. Now married to rapper Jay-Z, the two comprise one of the music industry’s most powerful couples.

People: Eccentric businessman Howard Hughes was born in Humble. Hughes dabbled in many industries, including aviation, Hollywood films, engineering and Las Vegas hotels and casinos. He was also known for his obsessive-compulsive disorder, which led to him being reclusive in his later years. Hughes’ life was documented in the 2004 movie The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Animal: Bevo the Texas Longhorn steer is the University of Texas at Austin live mascot. The team has had a steer as mascot since 1916 and is currently on the fifteenth version of Bevo. The steer’s head and horns has provided the school with a hand symbol and chant, known as Hook’em Horns. Bevo has been called “the toughest-looking animal mascot in sports”.

Beyonce

Invention: The temptation to select Silicone Breast Implants for this category is quite… titillating, but I will go with the Microchip, which has evolved to allow folks to have personal computers, smartphones and other devices. This was possible thanks to Texas Instruments electrical engineer Jack Kilby inventing the integrated circuit in 1958. In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Crime: Among a long list of candidates, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was one of those moments where people remember where they were when they heard the news. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot in the head as his motorcade went through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. His killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was also murdered two days later by Jack Ruby. Conspiracy theories persist to this day on the subject.

Law: In Texas, it’s illegal to graffiti another person’s cow… but with your own, go nuts! Sticking with cattle, if you steal any, it’s a hangable offense.

Sports Team: Texas is well-represented across the state, in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Dallas is home to the Cowboys (NFL), Mavericks (NBA), Stars (NHL) and Texas Rangers (MLB), while Houston has the Texans (NFL), Rockets (NBA) and Astros (MLB). There’s also the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) to round things out. Texas is football mad, so college and even high school programs are well attended.

Football

Athlete: Texas seems to be a hotbed for professional wrestlers, including international superstars The Undertaker, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and Booker T, as well as horde of famous grappling families such as the Guerreros, Von Erichs, Rhodes’ and Funks. Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling was a major promotion, peaking in the mid 1980’s.

Famous Home: Woodland, in Huntsville, was home to Sam Houston, a key figure in the Texas Revolution and first president of the Republic of Texas. The one-room log cabin can be found on the grounds of Sam Houston State University, with free tours available. The city of Houston (once the capital), the largest city in the state, is named after him.

Urban Legend: Given its proximity and history with Mexico, much of Latin culture is intertwined in Texas, including its legends. These include La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), El Muerto (Headless Horseman) and Chupacabra (Goat-Sucker). There’s also the mystery of what happened to Debbie from Debbie Does Dallas, but that’s a story for another day.

Museum: The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Waco. The Texas Rangers, the oldest law enforcement agency in North America, has been involved in thwarting assassination attempts and pursuing notorious outlaws, such as Bonnie and Clyde. Honourary Texas Rangers include John Wayne, Will Rogers, Chuck Norris and George H.W. Bush.

Chuck Norris

Firsts: A number of things that can now be found around the world, originated in Texas. This includes the first drive-in restaurant Kirby’s Pig Stand, serving up sandwiches and sides starting in 1921; shopping center (a group of stores with shared parking lot) Highland Park Village, established in 1930; and domed stadium the Astrodome, opened in 1965.

Company: Entertainment is important to Texans, with companies such as Dave & Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese and Six Flags all headquartered in the state. While not affiliated, Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese share many similarities, while being geared toward adult and child audiences, respectively. Six Flags was named for the six national flags that have flown over Texas.

Events: The Texas Revolution (October 1835-April 1836) against Mexico, led to the infamous Battle of the Alamo, where legendary figures such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie perished in an outnumbered fight. Although a tactical loss, the event inspired many to take up arms for Texas independence. Today, the Alamo is a top tourist attraction in Texas and the country.

Miscellaneous: In 2005, the small town of Clark (population 201, as of the 2010 census) agreed to change its name to DISH, in honour of satellite TV provider Dish Network. Part of the deal saw every home receive 10 years of free basic TV service and a digital video recorder (DVR) from Dish Network. That’s an arrangement the Sip Advisor can get down with.

Texas Margarita

Texas Margarita

  • Rim glass with Salt
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

The addition of Orange Juice is what turns a Margarita into a Texas Margarita. You could do this Margarita in a frozen blend, to salute the Frozen Margarita Machine being invented in Dallas in 1971 by Mariano Martinez. That early machine now sits in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.