Flavour Revolution – Grape

Grumpy Grapes

I try to be as optimistic and happy as I can in life. Sure, not everything has gone the way I’d want it to, but that’s no reason to become a bitter, miserable person… a person who can be defined as a ‘sour grapes’ type. Love them, or typically hate them, here are some of those folks:

Ebenezer Scrooge – A Christmas Carol

Before having his personality and therefore future changed for the better by three visiting Christmas spirits, Ebenezer Scrooge was one of the most miserly men you could ever come across. His cruelty knew no limit, driving even his closest family members away. Scrooge’s misery can be traced back to neglect from his own father, who left the young boy all alone at boarding school during the holiday season. With his trademark “Bah, humbug!”, Scrooge makes his gruff opinion quite clear to anyone around him.

Scrooge 1%

Gregory House – House

This incredibly talented doctor is a miserable prick with a bedside manner that leaves a lot to be desired… and that’s just the way he likes to be. Thanks to an aneurysm in his thigh, House loses the use of one of his legs and the operation that saved what is left of the limb, ruined his relationship with a long-time love. Add a drug addiction to deal with his chronic pain and you can kind of understand why the guy is so angry. Somehow, House has managed to maintain one friend, fellow doctor James Wilson, who manages to put up with the curmudgeonly diagnostic expert.

The Grinch – How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Much like Scrooge, the Grinch has no interest in his fellow man (or in this case, Whovillians). He’s content to live inside an isolated cave and never have any contact with the outside world. The extent of The Grinch’s bitterness leads him to want to ruin Christmas for the Whos down in Whoville and he sets upon a devious plan to steal the holiday. The Whos, however, aren’t phased by this, leading to the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes (really it was a massive coronary episode) and a complete change in character.

Grumpy Cat

The Sip Advisor is a big Grumpy Cat fan (and an admirer of all kitties in general). The memes created using Grumpy Cat – real name Tardar Sauce, although Grumpy Cat is much better – are some of the best on the internet. Many don’t know that Grumpy Cat actually looks the way she does because of an underbite and a form of feline dwarfism. I love how the owner of this feline turned a negative into a positive, creating joy for many, while also amassing a fortune that will help this kitty live comfortably for all of her nine lives!

grumpy-cat-disappoints

Mr. Potter – It’s a Wonderful Life

At every twist and turn, George Bailey’s life seems to always hit some sort of snag, but none of these are more crippling then when George’s uncle Billy absent-mindedly loses the money he meant to deposit for their Building & Loan business. Mr. Potter, an adversary and competitor to the Bailey’s happens to come across the money-filled envelope and takes it for his own gains. We learn, when George wishes he never existed, that without him, the town of Bedford Falls would be known as Pottersville and would be inhabited with all the grime a slumlord could ever dream of.

Grumpy – Snow White

Perhaps it’s the years of wear and tear on his body from working in the mines. Perhaps it’s having to live with seven dudes (total sausage fest!). Perhaps it’s simply the fact that he’s a dwarf. Regardless, Grumpy is not a happy person (that’s reserved for Happy!) and can’t even be cheered up by the musical stylings of Snow White and his fellow mining brethren. Despite not initially welcoming Snow White to the fold, Grumpy is the first to rush into battle with the Evil Queen, after she poisons the fair princess with that dastardly poison apple. Healthy food, my ass!

Inspector Javert – Les Miserables

As the title implies, every character in this musical is miserable (and each has their own good reason to be so), but Javert really takes the cake. He’s obsessed with ruining the life of Jean Valjean, a former prisoner who has escaped from parole and managed to elude capture. Even in the end, Javert just can’t let go of his fixation on Valjean and it ends up costing him his life. The dude commits suicide because he was shown mercy from the very man he has hunted for so many years. You’d think with all the wine the French have access to, they’d be a little more relaxed.

Flavour Revolution: Arctic Summer

Arctic Summer Cocktail

  • Muddle Raspberries
  • 1.5 oz Bacardi Arctic Grape Rum
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge and Raspberry

It’s amazing how many of these characters have a connection to Christmas media. It’s the best time of the year (or so the song implies) so why are miserable people an enhanced version of themselves around the holidays? Speaking of the holidays, if you’re ever in Spain for New Year’s Eve, tradition dictates that when the clock strikes midnight, you should eat 12 grapes, one to go with each chime of the New Year.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This is kind of a mint-less, soda-less version of a Raspberry Mojito, but what it lacked it could have used. I’m looking forward to trying more cocktails with the Arctic Grape Rum, as that was the best part of the drink.

October 25 – Green Ghoul

Spooky Specters

Last week, we kicked off the haunted month of October with a look at the best animated ghosts and this week we get a little eerier with some live-action apparitions. But just like the Ray Parker, Jr. song, “I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts!

#5: Sam Wheat – Ghost

Never has homemade pottery been so sexy… and never will it be again! Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s spin at molding clay has certainly resulted in numerous copycat attempts, with those people realizing how messy the whole process actually is. Back to the movie, though, Wheat is shot and killed during a botched robbery and has to save his love from a similar fate. He also has to unveil former friend Carl as a money launderer, all while a ghost who can’t be seen or heard. That’s where “medium” Whoopi Goldberg comes in, hoping to help Sam tie up the loose ends and move on to the next world.

Swayze Ghost

#4: Freddy Krueger – Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Krueger is by far the Sip Advisor’s favourite horror movie ghoul. Just the thought of a being invading your dreams and snuffing out your life in such a violent manner gives me goose bumps (and not the of the R.L. Stein variety). Add in his look, with the scarred face and clawed glove and you won’t want to ever sleep again. The Nightmare on Elm Street concept has inspired some of the most creative kills in horror movie history. Robert Englund, despite being typecast as a nice guy, took the role of Freddy and rocked it for eight movies and 44 TV episodes, before Jackie Earle Haley took over for the 2010 reboot.

#3: Beetlejuice

Say his name three times and you’re in for a visit from the supernatural con artist and bio-exorcist… a visit you just might regret! Played perfectly by Michael Keaton and set in a world that only director Tim Burton could dream up, this dark, yet oddly colourful movie inspired a cartoon series that turned Beetlejuice into a protagonist and friend of Lydia Deetz (you know, the same teen he tried to force against her will and carry out a dark wedding with in the film). There is talk of Keaton and Burton reuniting for a long-awaited sequel to the original film, perhaps even called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, a follow-up in development since 1990.

Beetlejuice Origin

#2: Jacob Marley & Christmas Spirits – A Christmas Carol

Without the help of these specters, Ebenezer Scrooge may have never learned the true meaning of Christmas and how to be a better human being, in general. First, starting with his former partner Jacob Marley (who is cursed to suffer in the hereafter after a lifetime and greed and selfishness), Scrooge is warned that he will be visited by three spirits: the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. These ghouls guide Scrooge through his early days, showing him where the seeds of misery were first planted, how the people around him are currently suffering, and finally, the end result if he doesn’t change his ways immediately.

#1: Dr. Malcolm Crowe – The Sixth Sense

Spoiler alert! Bruce Willis – or at least his character – is actually dead in The Sixth Sense… he just doesn’t know it at first. The twist in this movie is executed so well that it made a career for M. Night Shayamalan. A career he has since faced challenges in, but a career nonetheless. Dr. Malcolm Crowe is trying to help a youngster, Cole Sear, through issues that include seeing and talking to people that have passed away and are having trouble getting through to the other side. In the process of Dr. Crowe helping Cole, Cole actually helps the good doctor and gives him release from being stuck in limbo.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Green Ghoul

Green Ghoul Shot

  • Rim glass with Green Sugar
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Midori

Who’s your favourite live-action or animated ghost? Which specters and spooks give you the heebie-jeebies? Never fear, cause next week, we’ll delve into the best ways to kill these baddies!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
The best part of this shot, other than the Midori melon liqueur, was the salty rim, created by spreading Lime Juice around the glass, allowing the Green Sugar to stick. It’s not that the shot was bad, but it was strong thanks to the Vodka. Thankfully, I used a really nice Vodka, Tito’s to be exact, and that helped with the overall enjoyment.

England – Reichenbach Fall

Cultured Characters

England is a land of professed culture, what with all its museums, historical figures, and landmarks. Perhaps it can be noticed most in the country’s long history of fine literature. They call it English Lit for a reason! Always one for a good read (kidding, I’m the world’s most prolific non-reading writer), here are the greatest literary characters who call England home:

Sherlock Holmes

Along with his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson, this formidable duo have solved some of greatest mysteries to occur in and around London. Add in arch nemesis Dr. Moriarty, as well as other secondary characters like Mycroft Holmes, Irene Adler, and Inspector Lestrade and you have the makings of some great fiction. It was suggested that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t like the character he is most famous for, as evidenced by Holmes being killed off so the author could pursue other projects. Public outrage brought Holmes back to life years later and the character has enjoyed a long history of different treatments.

sherlock-early-years

James Bond

Agent 007 is the quintessential secret service member. Created by writer Ian Fleming, Bond is just as popular for his prowess in the field as he is for his conquests beneath the sheets. While Bond has been played by Irish and Scottish actors on the big screen (and that is probably where he’s most famous and recognized), his origins are purely English. There is virtually no way to put down the famous MI6 operative, so he’ll probably be around for a very long time.

Harry Potter

For inspiring an entire generation of kids to pick up a book and read (or go to the theatre and watch!), Harry Potter and his pals are a must for this list. So famous is the franchise, that theme parks have set up lands to include Hogwarts Castle and the village of Hogsmeade. Quidich has also become a playable game, although it looks more ridiculous than polo and cricket combined. Wee little sippers want to grow up to become wizards and parents have J.K. Rowling to thank for the next wave of geeks!

Mr. Toad

Written by Scottish author Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows features the friendly and jovial, but selfish and reckless Mr. Toad, as well as his pals Mole, Ratty, and Badger. The stories were based on Grahame’s love of river life along the Thames. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was my favourite Disneyland attraction as a wee little sipper and I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Mr. Toad and careless ways.

Mr. Toad's Ride

Paddington Bear

From “Darkest Peru” (whatever that means… my theory is Paddington was sent to London by his Peruvian owner, who had awoken from a pisco haze and mistakenly shipped the bear away), Paddington Bear arrives in England and is promptly taken in by the Brown family. A Paddington film will be released in 2014, mixing live action and CGI animation. The bear will be voiced by Colin Firth, who ate endless marmalade sandwiches, while donning a duffle coat to get into character.

Robin Hood

Stealing from the rich, to give to the poor, Robin Hood may not have begun life as a literary figure and was more of a folk hero told about in ballads (aren’t those as good or even better than books?), but his legend has inspired countless appearances in media, especially the written word. My favourite adaptation of the vigilante is the 1973 Disney film with Robin Hood portrayed as a fox and opposing a cowardly lion in Prince John.

linkedin-robin-hood

Ebenezer Scrooge

Teaching civilization a lesson about how it behaves while using Christmas as a backdrop, Charles Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the finest examples of turnaround redemption. He goes from a literal scrooge to becoming a man of love, friendship, heart, and caring. One of the greatest scenes ever is ol’ Ebenezer racing through the streets of London like a raving madman after discovering he still has time to change his ways.

Willy Wonka

Roald Dahl’s famous chocolatier and candy producer is about as eccentric as a person can possibly come. That aids him in all the wacky creations he’s able to dream up and put into research and development, but at the same time, makes him guarded and suspicious, staying reclusive in his precious factory. We still don’t know where the hell Oompa Loompas come from, but they aren’t among the world’s greatest literary characters, so it doesn’t really matter.

England: Reichenbach Fall

Reichenbach Fall Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
  • 2 oz Sherry
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Top with Lemonade
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

An honourable mention should go to English authors like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen (although I hate her so very much), J.R.R. Tolkien, and the many others that I just didn’t feel like shoehorning into this list. Their contributions to the literary world, although I’ve only heard of such through movies, TV, and other more visual media, should not go unnoticed!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This recipe comes from my old friends at The Drunken Moogle, who nailed this cocktail inspired by the current Sherlock BBC Series, which is of course inspired by the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories about the sleuth. I used regular Orange Bitters, rather than the Blood Orange variety the drink calls for because I had it on hand. I really enjoyed the flavours and blend provided by this cocktail and was pleasantly surprised by the use of Sherry.

December 3 – Chocolate Peppermintini

Christmas Classics

Especially given it’s the winter months and the weather outside is frightful, it’s nice to snuggle up and watch a bevy of classic Christmas films. What should you include in your movie marathon? Ask and you shall receive. Here are my favourite Christmas flicks!

It’s a Wonderful Life

I absolutely adore this classic. And when you think about it, many of us might have never viewed the tale that has been copied and parodied so many times. It was never intended to be a “Christmas movie”, but that’s what it became. Jimmy Stewart is amazing throughout the movie (no surprise there, as the dude is actually an American hero) and his portrayal of George Bailey, who is too often in the wrong place at the wrong time, is one of the most treasured characters in cinema history.

Elf

The story of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell at his usual level of crazy!) searching out his father and integrating into the fast-paced world of New York City is a fun movie to get into the swing of things during the holidays. Buddy has to work hard to get the hardened folks of New York City, as well as the rest of the world to find their Christmas spirit, which powers Santa’s sleigh, of course. The film, which has material both kids and parents alike can enjoy, has even led to a Broadway musical.

Bad Santa

If you’ve been following this site for any period of time, you knew that a raunchier film was going to come up at some point… here it is! Billy Bob Thornton plays Willie T. Stokes, an alcoholic womanizer who roams from town to town as a mall Santa, staking out his place of occupation in order to rob the store before moving on to the next score. Things are different this time when he falls for a woman and a loner kid and decides to eventually change his ways.

A Christmas Carol/Scrooge

It’s hard to pick a version that is best to view, but my favourites include The Muppet version (no surprise there) and probably the edition with Alastair Sim playing the cranky curmudgeon. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, this is another Christmas tale that has been parodied constantly, as Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, warning him that if he doesn’t change his ways, many will be affected and no one will care when his time on the earth is done.

Scrooge

Home Alone

While I’d caution folks who wish to view any of the movies past Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, the first two entries are cinematic gems. As a kid, you only wanted to see the last segments of the films, where plucky Kevin McCallister sends burglars Harry and Marv (The Wet Bandits) through his nightmarish house of horrors, but with age and wisdom, I’ve come to realize the movies are much more than that. They include a lot of wonderful Christmas imagery and are perfect holiday romps.

A Christmas Story

This movie is a family favourite around the Sip Advisor offices. The story sees young Ralphie embark on a quest to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He runs into obstacles at every corner from his teacher giving him a poor grade on his essay on what he wants for Christmas to Santa Claus himself (a mall Santa that is) telling him he’ll shoot his eye out… and he nearly does in the end. TV network TBS has been known to broadcast the movie in a 24-hour cycle on Christmas day, so if you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

What a treasure this movie is. From Cousin Eddie’s antics to the misadventures of the hapless Clark Griswold, there are so many laughs in this film. Clark is looking to provide his family the perfect Christmas experience, much like the ones he enjoyed as a youngster. That all goes awry as the holiday becomes more of a nightmare with each incident, underscored by Clark’s uncertainty of whether his Christmas bonus will arrive and allow him to build a swimming pool for his clan.

shitter-was-full

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Some people crap on this flick, but I think it’s quite enjoyable. Thanks to the longer running time, not afforded to the cartoon special classic, we get a better understanding of why the Grinch hates Christmas and all the Who’s down in Whoville. Jim Carrey was the perfect choice to play the ‘mean one’ whose heart grew three times that day. This movie ushered in the chain of Dr. Suess stories to be adapted for feature films; some good, some bad… this is one of the good ones.

Die Hard & Die Hard 2: Die Harder

I’m a little disappointed that this series abandoned the Christmas time setting after the first two releases. This is for the action fan out there that wants only a sprinkle of the Christmas spirit in their movies. The first film begins with an office Christmas party that is invaded by terrorists while the sequel is set in an airport, as hero John McClane is waiting for his wife to arrive home for the holidays. Both movies are filled with shootouts, creative kills, and catchphrases galore!

Love, Actually

If you’re looking for a little more romance with your Christmas movie fare, give this film a try. It’s one of those “separate stories that all come together at the end” ensemble cast dealies, but it’s very good… even if Hugh Grant is a featured actor… a Prime Minister, no less. Set in Britain during the lead up to Christmas, the film sets out to prove that “Love, actually is all around us” and they hit the nail on the head through the interweaving narratives.

Drink #337: Chocolate Peppermintini

Chocolate Pepperminti Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Christmas Sprinkles
  • 1.5 oz Vodka (I used Smores)
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cacao
  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • Top with Milk

What are your favourite Christmas movie viewings? I’m always looking to add to my annual “To Watch” list, so send those ideas in!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
While not a bad drink, Mrs. Sip didn’t like how sweet it was. I enjoyed its booziness and flavours (I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate and mint together!), although using the Smores Vodka might have altered the taste and a plain Vodka may have been bettered suited for the recipe.