New Zealand – The Star Gazer

Haka Fear

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

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

All Blacks Training

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

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

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

All Blacks Heart

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

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

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

All Blacks Dance

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

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

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

New Zealand: The Star Gazer

The Star Gazer Cocktail

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

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

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

Argentina – Sommelier Martini

Tango De La Muerte

Argentina is birthplace of the sexy tango dance style… or at least it claims to be and that’s good enough for the Sip Advisor. I’m a horrible dancer. I mean down right god awful. That said, I’m a decent writer and am probably better suited for creating an article about tango than performing it. So, let’s get right to it:

Tango’s long road to legitimacy began in the streets and brothels of Buenos Aires in the 19th century. Many immigrants came to Argentina to better their lives, but this resulted in there being 100,000 more men than women as of 1914. Therefore, to spend time with a lady, you had to either go to a brothel or a dance. The Sip Advisor would have probably taken the easier route, but those who think they can dance would have tried to ply their craft in a more traditional sock-hop style.

Practicing Tango

The tango is rife with notes of passion, sexual tension, and yearning. It has been described as “a vertical expression of a horizontal desire,” which to me sounds like my daily existence and advances towards Mrs. Sip. Because of sexuality exuded in the scandalous dance, upper class folk looked down upon the tango and from the years 1955-1983, while a conservative coup was in power, the sensual dance was forced to hide itself underground. Dancers were jailed and songs were banned until the oppressive power was forced out due to losing its popularity.

In Europe, tango arrived in 1912, first in Paris, of course. The dance that could feature improvisation and broke the trend of dances having fixed movements and everyone doing the same thing quickly spread across the country. When the upper class of Buenos Aires learned of how popular tango had become abroad, they brought it back to Argentina to be enjoyed in its homeland.

While American Tango is an offshoot of Argentinian Tango, the two are quite different. The American version is the one all you little sippers are probably familiar with, involving larger steps and more theatrics, commonly seen in competitions. The Argentinian style is tighter and on a smaller scale, likely used at social dances to woo prospective bed mates.

Tango Lessons

A milonga can either mean a tango variation with no pauses or the term can be applied to a club that hosts Argentinian tango dances. Here, rookies and veterans can share the floor and get their groove on, trying out new maneuvers or learning the art form.

Dubbed the ‘Dance of Love,’ the word tango comes from either the Latin word tango or the Portuguese word tangere, which both mean “to touch.” There are actually a number of different tango adaptations today, including Ballroom, Oriental, Liso, Orillero, Apilado, Canyengue, Salon, Nuevo, Finnish, and Chinese, as well as the aforementioned Argentinian and American.

The basic tango consists of five steps taken to eight beats of music: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. This has made the dance style easier to learn, plus it plays very well when trying to get your lady in the mood (although the Sip Advisor has always preferred a little bumping and grinding).

Two to Tango

For the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina (which the home country won, as opposed to their recent defeat at the hands of my Germany!), Adidas designed a special ball for the tournament and named it Tango. The ball was used again in 1982 for the World Cup in Spain, with the ball receiving the altered title Tango Málaga.

Author and entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss set the Guinness World Record for most tango spins in one minute in 2007. With partner, Alicia Monti, the two took to the Live with Regis and Kelly stage and completed 37 spins, breaking their own record of 27 set in Buenos Aires in 2005.

Tango Potato

Tangolates is an exercise that combines Pilates and tango into one aerobic workout. Developed by Tamara Di Tella in 2004, The activity is said to vastly help those who have suffered nervous system dysfunctions and uses partners and rhythmic music in the process.

A number of hit movies include tango scenes, including Scent of a Woman, True Lies, Evita, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, and even Schindler’s List of all films. Now that I’ve revealed that list, I expect Mrs. Sip to force me to watch each and every one of these entries. Perhaps it will lead to some amore!

Argentina: Sommelier Martini

Aug 11

  • 1 oz Malbec Wine
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Lemon Twist

Perhaps if I can slam back enough of these cocktails, I can be ready for some dirty dancing… and then again, perhaps it’s just better if I drink myself into such a stupor that the idea of shaking my groove thing goes right out the window!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Wow, I never thought it would be so difficult to find Malbec-specific recipes. That said, I found this little gem and it was quite good. Mrs. Sip and I love the 1884 Malbec I used so I at least knew the base would be great. I thought about using different flavoured vodkas with the drink, but in the end went with a straight version, so as not to have too many tastes competing with each other.