November 11 – Burnt Martini

Hall of Fame 2014

Last year, we opened the doors to the Sip Advisor Hall of Fame, inducting five spirits, one entry into the beer and wine wing, and one mixer, as well. It was a festive evening, although nobody really remembers much about it! Without further ado, here is the class of 2014!

Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

Honey Whiskey was the final cut from last year’s Hall of Fame class (with two other whiskeys going in), making it a surefire entry this year. I love this stuff, going so far as to chip one of my teeth when I couldn’t get my flask open and the container was carrying this elixir… not one of my finer moments, but it did occur. Even Mrs. Sip, who has a love-hate relationship with whiskey, is a fan of cocktails made with JD Honey (which would be my porn name if the industry was lucky enough to have me!).

JD Bees

Tanqueray Gin

Although I’m a big fan of gin, this is the first alcohol of that genre to enter the hallowed halls of the Sip Advisor Hall of Fame and it was a tough choice. After a close race between Tanqueray and a competitor brand, the nod went to Tanqueray thanks in large part to the Rangpur variety that I have enjoyed so much, since picking up earlier this year. It has leap-frogged all other options in the phylum to find its place amongst so many other fine spirits.

Appleton Rum

I’m sad to say that Appleton Rum is currently not part of the Sip Advisor liquor colletion after being a mainstay for years. After using and finishing it for Jamaica week, I have yet to replace it and Appleton has become a casualty of having to pick up other rums for the Around the World project, instead. That doesn’t mean that the fondness has faded, however, and it won’t be long before the shelves are stocked again with this fine rum.

Absolut Vodka

Like gin, vodka was absent from the inaugural Sip Advisor Hall of Fame class, an act that must be remedied. Also like gin, it came down to a very difficult decision between a few companies, but in the end, it was inspirational flavours that won the day. Absolut has all the usual suspects available for consumption, but advancements such as their fine City Series, and mixing of interesting flavours has pushed Absolut ahead of its contemporaries and into the hall.

Absolut Flavors

Hiram Walker Peppermint Schnapps

Rounding out the spirit entrants into the Hall of Fame is Peppermint Schnapps, which is great on its own as a shooter, or combined with hot chocolate and a few other drinks. Around Christmas, there are so many events that are favourable to Peppermint Schnapps-spiked beverages. It’s no wonder that mint is often on the Sip Advisor’s breath and emanating from Sip family mugs and thermoses.

1884 Malbec Wine

Wine gets the nod over beer this year in the category they share. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed many lazy Sundays with a bottle of this Argentinian red. I even used it for this year’s Around the World project, when the Sip Advisor visited Argentina. This wine is perfect great evenings with a loved one, relaxing and boozing (the two things the Sip Advisor does better than perhaps anyone else). I like adding a little ice to my wines (even reds), which I hope you little sippers won’t hold against me.

Dr. Pepper

In the mixer wing, Dr. Pepper joins Pepsi, perfectly depicting the evolution of the Sip Advisor’s drinking habits. When I’m looking for an easy-to-make well drink, I’ll often toss in anything from the aforementioned Honey Whiskey to Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (part of last year’s HoF class) and top whatever spirit I’ve chosen with Dr. Pepper. The flavours are more intense with this soda than others available, making for a crisp, tasty, and effervescent experience.

Hall of Fame 2014: Burnt Martini

Burnt Martini

It’s so nice to see everyone all decked out in their finest threads. We sure make a great looking group. I wonder which spirits will finally hear their names called next year for enshrinement… only time will tell!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
As we did last year, with the Dirty Martini, we’re pulling out a very classic recipe for our annual Hall of Fame article. This edition gets the Burnt Martini, which combines two of my favourite alcohol varieties in Gin and Scotch. It was a nice drink, but certainly strong. The smoky flavour of the Scotch at the end of each sip was quite enjoyable.

Sweden – Unforgettable Night

Prize Fights

Nobel Prizes are awarded in six fields: Peace, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Economic Sciences, none of which the Sip Advisor excels in, but I’ve made peace with my shortcomings, even if all you little sippers have not. The host country for the ceremony is Sweden (home to prize creator Alfred Nobel), except for the Peace Prize which is presented in Norway. Nobel, also the inventor of dynamite, is said to have created the awards to leave a better legacy after his condemnable obituary was accidentally printed in France (nothing good ever comes out of there!) following the death of his brother. Let’s take a look at the awards and see if Nobel’s image has indeed been altered:

Alfred Nobel

The first awards ceremony took place in 1901, five years after Nobel passed away… for reals this time. Since then, the event is held annually on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death. Prizes don’t have to be handed out each year for every category, but each award must be tendered at a minimum of every five years. Throughout World War II (1939-43), no Nobel Prize events were held.

Nobel wrote the final draft of his will, including the Nobel Prize request on a torn piece of paper. The process was witnessed by four associates, as Nobel didn’t trust lawyers… I can’t really blame him given Mrs. Sip is one and I sleep with one eye open every night! Also, Nobel never bothered to ask any of the bodies he expected to govern the awards, whether this was something they were cool with. Nobel’s family contested the will after finding out they were shit out of luck and the cash would go towards awards for strangers. Clearly, the appeals did not work out.

There are anywhere between 100-250 nominees for each category. A person who has died can’t be nominated and will also be removed from contention if they pass away during the consideration process. If a person was selected as a winner before expiring, they are still eligible to win posthumously that year. A maximum of three people can win any one award.

Scarecrow Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma and money. The financial award comes from interest from Nobel’s estate (and varies each year), which is looked after by the Nobel Foundation. Prize winners are called laureates… another title you will never see beside the Sip Advisor’s name… although I’m still working on that Chemistry award with Mrs. Sip! Apparently, the cash awarded in 2013 was $1.2 million US per prize. Damn, Mrs. Sip and I really need to get that chemistry diorama finished!

While most of the prizes are well-deserved, some have been followed by protest, particularly over the Peace Prize. Some of the most controversial prize recipients include Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, who were awarded the Peace Prize in 1973 for negotiating a ceasefire between North Vietnam and the U.S., although both nations were still hostile towards one another. Similarly, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin were handed the 1994 Peace Prize following their efforts towards harmony between Israel and Palestine, but many issues remained unsettled between the two nations. Lastly, Barack Obama’s 2009 Peace Price was controversial in that he had only been in office for 11 days when nominations closed. Obama went on to say that he was undeserving of the award.

Not every Nobel Prize winner has accepted the honour. Jean-Paul Sartre refused the Literature Award in 1964, sticking with his credo to not accept any official honours (but unofficial ones were okay) and the previously mentioned Le Duc Tho declined that controversial 1973 Peace Prize, given the ongoing strife in Vietnam.

Nobel Peace Prize

As of the 2013 ceremonies, there have been 561 Nobel Prizes awarded to 876 recipients. Only 45 of those winners have been women. The youngest recipient ever was Lawrence Bragg (1915) for physics, at the age of 25, although he did win with his father (there’s nothing like riding someone else’s coattails). The oldest was Leonid Hurwicz (2007) for economic sciences, at the ripe age of 90. The Red Cross has won three separate times (1917, 1944 and 1963). Linus Pauling and Marie Curie each won two Nobel Prizes in different categories, while John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger received two prizes in the same discipline.

Inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla never won Nobel Prizes. They were offered a joint prize, but the committee quickly rescinded the offer upon realizing that the two competitors despised one another and refused to be anywhere near each other. The same goes for Mrs. Sip and I, but I’m pretty sure the prize money would be enough of a draw for us to put aside our differences for one night.

Antonio Moniz was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1949 for his work involving prefrontal lobotomies as a treatment for schizophrenia. The practice was abolished in the 1960’s and is now looked upon with much criticism. A similar Medicine Prize debacle (retrospectively) occurred in 1926 when Johannes Fibiger received the award for “finding a cure for cancer.” It’s truly too bad that didn’t work out as well as hoped or expected.

Women Nobel Prize

When Robert E. Lucas won the Economics Prize in 1997 for his theory of rational expectations, his ex-wife was perhaps happier than he was. Her lawyer had actually written a clause into their divorce settlement for such an occasion and Lucas was forced to share his $1 million award with her. He may have been a prize-winning economist, but he clearly wasn’t good with contracts.

We’ll end things off with this little factoid, before retiring to the post-awards gala for nibbles and drinks: Oddly enough, eight different Nobel Prize recipients were born on February 28th. I think the fix is in!

Sweden: Unforgettable Night

Unforgettable Night Martini

  • 2 oz Absolut Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • Top with Coconut Milk
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Hot Sauce
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge and Coconut

Mrs. Sip and I, along with members of the Sip Syndicate visited the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden and had a great time learning about the history of the awards and many of the recipients. I’ll be back one day to accept my long-awaited prize… or, at the very least, to steal one!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
When searching for a drink to combine with this post, I stumbled upon this incredibly interesting recipe (Coconut Milk, Lime Juice and Hot Sauce!) that had the perfect name to suit the article. I was very curious going in about how this would taste and it was pretty decent with a bit of flame at the end. The Lime Juice caused some slight curdling, but not enough to disgust the drinker.

Sweden – Hunky Dory

Home Furnishings

Recent ads for IKEA used the slogan “Home is the most important place in the world.” Mrs. Sip and I, however, maintain that the company’s motto should really be “Ruining relationships since… like, forever!” Yes, if you’ve ever survived building any IKEA item with your loved one, then you are, in fact, a special couple, with the strength to overcome any and all adversity. Around the world, IKEA is one of the most recognized Swedish imports, but what do we really know about this furniture and accessory outlet? Let’s dig a little deeper:

Ikea Slogan

IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, with the name coming from his initials (I.K.), along with the farm in which he grew up on (Elmtaryd) and its nearby village (Agunnaryd). The company was incorporated in 1943 and marketed its first piece of build-it-yourself furniture in 1956, with the LOVET, a leaf-shaped side table. There are now 349 stores located throughout 43 countries.

More copies of the IKEA catalogue are printed each year than the Bible. In fact, 212 million copies of the catalogue, more than double the 100 million Bibles, are manufactured. The register comes in 29 different languages and has gained a cult following of sorts, with people able to pick out interesting hidden items within its pages. Some concealed images include odd books making up the shelving units on display, references to Mickey Mouse, and pictures of cats.

IKEA’s 2013 revenue was disclosed as being $37.9 billion (US) and since the company is actually owned by charities established by Kamprad, much of that money isn’t lost to the greedy government via taxes. The INGKA Foundation, which oversees the IKEA brand, is thought to be the world’s largest charitable organization, promoting “innovations in architecture and interior design”. While some decry that this is all a tax evasion strategy, it should be pointed out that the INGKA Foundation gives away millions of dollars each year to various causes and efforts. Granted, that pales in comparison to other efforts, particularly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donations measure into the billions.

returning-ikea

The company employs 150,000 people worldwide. While Disney has its ‘Cast Members,’ IKEA has ‘Co-Workers,’ which really doesn’t sound all that special. It would be much more awesome if employees were collectively known as ‘Swedish Meatballs!’

IKEA’s most popular product today is the Billy Bookcase, which it sells hundreds of thousands of each year. It’s estimated that one of these bookcases is sold every 10 seconds.

Products are named under specific guidelines including Swedish places for upholstered furniture; Swedish men’s names for chairs; Swedish women’s names for fabrics and curtains; Swedish islands for garden furniture; Finnish places for dining tables and chairs; Norwegian places for beds, wardrobes and hall furniture; and mammals and birds for children’s items. Approximately 85% of the items you find in your own IKEA could be located at any IKEA around the world, while the IKEA website contains 12,000 products and is the most comprehensive source for available pieces.

stool_samples

The way IKEA names products has resulted in some unintentional humour when the product arrives in other countries and is translated into the native language. There was the ‘Jerker’ computer desk, which went hand in hand (literally!) with the internet’s primary use; the ‘Fukta’ plant spray; the ‘Fartfull’ workbench (frankfully you should be able to do whatever you want in your own workshop!); and the Askholmen outdoor suite.

IKEA is nearly as famous for its cheap concession food as it is for furniture. Kamprad opened his first restaurant inside a store in 1960, after realizing people left the store without buying anything because they were hungry. Since then, IKEA has sold an untold number of hotdogs, meatballs, and breakfast meals.

While IKEA seems to be a decent company, they’ve also experienced their fair share of controversies. A teenage Kamprad was once involved with a pro-Nazi movement in Sweden, although the IKEA founder calls it the “greatest mistake of my life”. Three people were trampled to death at a store opening in Saudi Arabia over $150 vouchers being handed out (and I thought the Saudi’s were all wealthy princes). In Atlanta, Georgia, historic building were demolished to make way for a IKEA store and in similar fashion, ancient tombs in Nanjing, China were destroyed for another store opening.

ikea fight

It’s estimated that 10% of all Europeans were conceived on an IKEA bed. I know I’ve slept in one, sans conception (not for my lack of trying, of course), and given their popularity among college and university students, you can bet that number will drastically rise over the years.

IKEA was the first company to feature a homosexual couple in one of their ads (targeting the community much more frequently since) and has also compiled commercial material depicting a transgendered person.

If you’re a fan of The Sims video game series, you can actually purchase IKEA furnishings for your virtual family. Lucky for them, they don’t have to put the furniture together, although it would be hilarious to watch your simulated humans get as frustrated as you’ve been. It’s always better when it’s someone else’s misery!

Sweden: Hunky Dory

Hunky Dory Cocktail

  • 1 oz Absolut Vodka
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • Top with Sprite
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

While IKEA served a purpose for Mrs. Sip and myself as we went through our schooling and settled into our first home together, I’m happy to say that the cursed furniture won’t be making any more appearances around the Sip Advisor offices for the foreseeable future. Perhaps when we have to furnish the place for our own little sippers, then we may go that route, but for now, we’re both happy to not be dealing with the make-your-own products.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink wasn’t bad, but Mrs. Sip had a better version of it at a nearby restaurant, Subeez Cafe, and their recipe didn’t outline exactly all the ingredients needed to make the full cocktail. I did my best, but admittedly, the eatery had me beat.

August 16 – Mexican Bulldog

Freebie Frenzy

On my twice daily trips to the liquor store, I love seeing the little freebies that are often attached to a bottle of alcohol. They can sometimes provide the tipping point in what I choose to spend my allowance on. Here are some of the more unique items I’ve seen:

Glass Clip and Rimming Salt – Corona Beer

In homage of today’s frozen cocktail, Corona released a set that included a case of beers, a Margarita-style glass, rimming salt and a clipping device that would allow you to pop a beer bottle into your drink with little fuss or mess. Sadly, I didn’t pick up the set and am kicking myself over it ever since.

Bulldog Clip

Rimming Salt – Sauza Tequila

Much like the above entry, rimming salt and Tequila go hand-in-hand. Legend has it that they were separated at birth and have been destined to walk the earth searching for one another, reuniting solely in Margaritas, Palomas, and Tequila Shooters. It is a quest worth completing.

Playing Cards – Bacardi Rum

What does every boozehound need to have on their person at all times? A deck of playing cards, of course. When the Rum is flowing and fun is needed to be had, is there a better way to find it then shuffling up some cards? You can play a myriad of games, from Strip Poker to King’s Cup and everything in between.

Coaster – Wiser’s Whiskey

The Wiser’s Whiskey advertising campaign celebrating the Society of Uncompromising Men is one of my favourites. Well, what better way to be a classy drinker than to have a travelling coaster with you at all times. The only thing that sucks about giveaways like this are you’d have to buy four bottles to have a complete set of coasters. I’m up for the challenge, though!

Wiser's Coasters

Phone Case – Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum

I’ve never actually had a phone skin or protective case. It’s called looking after your shit and not damaging it with reckless disregard. That said, if you want to sport the Bacardi Oakheart logo on your phone, all the power to you. It is a pretty wicked logo and at least now, you won’t be cracking your screen the next time you’re plastered!

Speaker – Smirnoff Vodka

I suppose the theory behind this pairing was that you could take your bottle of Vodka and speaker and create a one-man party! With no one else around, playing garbage music and ruining your funk, the good times would keep on rolling all through the night… until you blacked out in a glorious bender, that is.

Socks – Captain Morgan Spiced Rum

You may be thinking that socks are an odd item for a liquor company to be attaching to their product. And you might be right. It wasn’t even Christmas or anything. I do, however, believe there is a method to the madness here. The Captain Morgan company is simply making sure that their customers don’t get cold feet after passing out.

CMsocks1 CMsocks2 CMsocks3

Cocktail Shaker – Dr. McGillicuddy’s Peach Schnapps

The last time I bought a bottle of Peach Schnapps, it came with a miniature cocktail shaker, which allowed you to make one drink at a time. Sure, it’s not a full-sized shaker, but the intent is to get you interested in mixology and playing around with Peach Schnapps, in particular. That is exactly what I did!

Bottle Light – Absolut Vodka

It’s been a dream of mine for some time now to have a full-sized man cave bar, complete with backlit shelves to highlight all the wonderful liquor I’ve purchased over the years. This device allows you to at least light up one of your bottles, letting it gleam a mesmerizing glow throughout your life, surrounding you with liquid sunshine and warmth.

Drink #228: Mexican Bulldog

Mexican Bulldog Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Strawberry Sugar
  • 2 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 2 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Blend with Ice
  • 1 Bottle of Coronita Beer
  • Garnish with Lime Wheel

If you’re interested in checking out my previous post on the subject of liquor freebies, you’ll find that here. Do you have a suggestion for a third post on this topic? As always, I’m waiting with bated breath!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
It’s pretty awesome to combine a delicious Margarita (the PAMA Rita is perhaps one of the best I’ve ever had) with a fresh, crisp beer! Coronita Beers were made especially for building the Mexican Bulldogs and they’re a cute little bottle of beer to have around. You have to be cautious with dunking the beer into your drink. Once we had it nestled into the drink, there was no mess to worry about, but first getting the brew in there caused some issues, particularly overflowing.