Illinois – Chicago Fizz

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Being nicknamed the Prairie State may make Illinois sound quiet, tame even. In fact, it is a bustling hub of activity for the country. Let’s dive right in and get our hands dirty:

Motto: “State sovereignty, national union” – If that doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies, nothing will!

Food: Chicago Deep Dish is a very popular pizza style, which has spread to other locales. Known for its higher crust, which allows for ample toppings, the pizza is often compared to a pie. Two Chicago pizzerias – and three chefs – have been credited with the invention of deep dish, but it’s hard to discern which claim is legit.

Drink: Malört is a bask liquor – a wormwood-flavoured Swedish spiced spirit – that has been available since the 1930’s. Hard to find outside Chicago, the bitter-tasting libation was once described in the movie Drinking Buddies as: “like swallowing a burnt condom filled with gasoline”. Sounds delicious!

Deep Dish Pizza

Site to See: A top attraction in the state is the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), in Chicago. Once the tallest building in the world, today, the site features the Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor, with views as far as Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, on clear days. The skyscraper has appeared in countless films and TV series.

Street: Michigan Avenue, in Chicago, is home to the Magnificent Mile shopping district, among other attractions. In 1924, the street was the first in the city to have traffic lights installed.

TV Show: Some of the greatest comedies ever created have been set in Illinois. These sitcoms include Married with Children, Roseanne, The Bob Newhart Show, Good Times, Family Matters, and many more.

Movie: A favourite of the Sip Advisor to this day, Wayne’s World, starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, is about the rise of public access TV hosts in Aurora, to becoming nationally syndicated. Of course, the man responsible for Wayne and Garth’s rise to stardom is exploiting them for his own gains and our heroes need to realize that before it’s too late.

Wayne's World

Book/Author: Some of America’s most notable writers were born in Illinois, including Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea), Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan).

Fictional Character: This was a tough one to narrow down, but I had to go with Al Bundy. The controversial patriarch of the Bundy clan is stuck in a personal rut he will never dig himself out of, married to an unemployable wife and with two delinquent kids, who spend the family savings before they are even earned from Al’s lowly job as a women’s shoe salesman.

Fictional City: Shermer has been used as the setting for all of filmmaker John Hughes’ movies. This list of classics includes The Breakfast Club; Planes, Trains & Automobiles; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Home Alone; and the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise.

Actor/Actress: Some of the funniest people in movies and TV come to our screens from Illinois. This includes Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Richard Pryor, Bob Newhart, John Belushi, Melissa McCarthy, Nick Offerman, John C. Reilly, and Betty White. That’s one impressive troupe of performers.

Al Bundy

Song: Illinois by The Everly Brothers, sounds like a jingle composed by the state tourism department. It was actually written by Randy Newman, famous for his Disney-Pixar animated film scores.

Band/Musician: The Smashing Pumpkins, fronted by Billy Corgan, were formed in Chicago, in 1988. The band went on to become one of the most popular of the 1990’s with hits such as 1979; Bullet with Butterfly Wings; Zero; and Tonight, Tonight; all from the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, in October 1995.

People: Walt Disney, father of the vast Disney empire, was born in Chicago. After growing up in Missouri, Disney would return to Chicago as a teenager, where he would become a cartoonist for his high school newspaper and take courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

Animal: Terry, a Cairn Terrier from Chicago, remains one of the most famous animal actors of all-time, after playing the role of Toto, in The Wizard of Oz. Despite other appearances, this was Terry’s only credited role, for which she was paid more than most of the human actors. Judy Garland, star of the film, wanted to adopt Terry after the movie finished, but trainer Carl Spitz turned down the offer.

Walt Disney

Invention: Permanently attached to most people’s hands, if not their hips, the cell phone is integral to life. Chicago’s own Martin Cooper, called the ‘father of the handheld cell phone’, developed the first of its type, in 1973, while working for Motorola. When brought to market a decade later, the phone – dubbed The Brick – weighed 2.5 pounds, measured 10 inches long and cost $3,995.

Crime: John Wayne Gacy, the Killer Clown, terrorized Chicago in the 1970’s, murdering at least 30 people. Nearly a century before, also in the Windy City, H.H. Holmes used his Murder Castle to end the lives of an unknown number of people, with some estimates going into the hundreds. Both serial killers were executed for their crimes, Gacy by lethal injection and Holmes by hanging.

Law: In Illinois, it is illegal to hang things from your rear-view mirror. So long, air fresheners, fuzzy dice, rosaries, good luck charms, etc.

Sports Team: Chicago represents the state in each of the Big 4 sports leagues, including two teams in MLB, the Cubs and White Sox. Their other franchises, include the Bears (NFL), Bulls (NBA) and Blackhawks (NHL). Each team has existed for close to a century or more, winning multiple championships along the way. It should also be noted, the Harlem Globetrotters were actually formed in Chicago, in 1926, and didn’t play in Harlem until 42 years later.

Cell Phones

Athlete: Dick Butkus was born in Chicago, playing linebacker for his hometown Chicago Bears (NFL) over a nine-year career. During that time, he was selected to eight Pro Bowls, while winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. Also, track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee, from East St. Louis, was named the greatest female athlete of all-time by Sports Illustrated for Women.

Famous Home: Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln, in reference to Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Home National Historic Site, located in Springfield, is where Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861, before becoming president. The four-block area around the home has been turned into a historic district, with all homes returned to how they would have appeared during Lincoln’s time living there.

Urban Legend: Resurrection Mary is one of Illinois’ most famous ghosts. She is of the ‘vanishing hitchhiker’ variety, with numerous reports of people encountering the specter on Archer Avenue between the Oh Henry/Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery. The victim of a hit-and-run after leaving a dance, Mary often appears looking for a ride, only to disappear.

Museum: McDonald’s is headquartered in Illinois, so it’s no surprise the McDonald’s #1 Store Museum could also be found in the state. Opened in 1955, by Illinoisan Ray Kroc, known as the founder of McDonald’s as we know it today, the restaurant was demolished in 1984, with a replica built on the site. The museum was demolished in 2018 after repeated flooding, with exhibits moved across the street to a newer McDonald’s restaurant.

Dick Butkus

Firsts: If you like city skylines, you can thank Illinois for that. Chicago was home to the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, which opened in 1885. A mere 10 stories high, it was demolished in 1931, replaced by another building reaching 45 floors.

Company: Kraft Heinz has headquarters in Chicago (as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and is one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world. Popular products include Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Heinz Ketchup, Oscar Mayer meats, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, and many others. Kraft Dinner and Heinz Ketchup alone is a beautiful marriage.

Events: Prohibition across the U.S. led to the rise of gang activity, with crews battling for territory and control. One major incident was the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, which occurred on February 14, 1929, in Chicago. The attack resulted in the deaths of seven North Side Gang members and associates and was never conclusively solved. Many suspects were considered, including members of Al Capone’s South Side Gang and even those within the Chicago Police Department, as two of the four shooters were in police uniforms.

Miscellaneous: The State Snack Food of Illinois is popcorn and why not, Chicago-Style Popcorn – the mix of cheese and caramel flavours – is a very popular offering. The movement to have popcorn given this designation was started by second and third grade students, as part of a class project.

Chicago Fizz

Chicago Fizz

  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 1 oz Ruby Port
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Sugar​
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wheel

This beverage intrigued me, thanks to its blend of ingredients. The drink’s background has been lost to history, with not much known about its origins. This won’t be the last time, though, the Fizz family of cocktails appears as part of this project.

August 29 – After Work Special

Lame Labour

Admittedly, the Sip Advisor isn’t content with his current career. Apparently, I’m not alone, as there is a lot of literature out there about why people hate their occupation and what they should do about it. With Labour Day rapidly approaching, here are some other folks that really hated their job:

#5: Walter White – Breaking Bad

Before moving to a life of crime and meth production, Walter was a high school chemistry teacher. And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he had previously been on the cutting edge of the science world, before selling his share in an idea that would eventually become quite profitable. Walt is so underpaid as a teacher that he has to take a side job as a carwash cashier and when he’s diagnosed with cancer, he has to enter into the seedy world of drug manufacturing, in order to make enough cash to keep up his treatment.

making meth

#4: Peter Gibbons – Office Space

Out of all the entries on this list, I probably identify most with Peter, who is frustrated with his place in life and the lack of pleasure his mundane, dead end career brings him. His dealings with his boss are excruciating and he has no other option but to take all the crap. Flanked by his colleagues Michael and Samir, the trio try to take a small cut from each transaction coming through the company, only to have their program give them a much larger slice than they intended. At least they got to destroy the printer that was always breaking down.

#3: Jim Halpert – The Office

In a similar fashion to Peter from Office Space, Jim is young and talented, but stuck in a job that pays the bills, while not providing the satisfaction he’s really searching for. If it wasn’t for his attraction to receptionist Pam Beasley, he probably would have bolted years earlier. I gotta say, though, working closely with your girlfriend/wife and getting to see her at all hours is something I would love to do. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s cool with the Sip Advisor. In time, Jim figures things out and begins to pursue an interest in a start-up sports marketing company.

Jim Halpert Try

#2: Homer Simpson – The Simpsons

While Homer has tackled numerous jobs (boxer, sports mascot, snow plow driver, voice actor, etc.) during the show’s long run, the one he has to attend day in, day out, is one he does not enjoy. Homer was able to break free once from the Nuclear Power Plant, but with another baby on the way, was forced to return and grovel for his job back. A sign now sits in his sector, which states: “Don’t Forget: You’re Here Forever.” Homer changed the sign with photos to read “Do It For Her” in reference to daughter Maggie, the reason he had to return.

#1: Al Bundy – Married with Children

Nearly every episode of this iconic show featured woman’s shoe salesman, Al Bundy, returning from a day of work in which he didn’t get paid very well, but was verbally and sometimes physically abused by the clientele. “So a fat woman walks into the store today,” is usually how the tale began and ended with an epic struggle to fit a woman’s foot (or hoof as Al often called it) into a shoe that was too many sizes smaller than needed. So much for a guy who once had dreams of playing pro football… all until he was married with children!

Super Saturday Shot Day: After Work Special

  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with Coconut Shavings

For those out there that are working in what they love to do (or at least what they went to school for), I am absolutely jelly of you. Sadly, the Sip Advisor has to save his passions for outside of work… and I don’t even get paid for my efforts. One day, my rainbow will come though. I just have to keep my head held high and reach for the sky!

May 24 – Crackhouse

There Goes the Neighbourhood

Last week we took a look at some of the best neighbourly relationships ever, which means this week, it’s time to do an about face and examine the worst neighbours you could ever find yourself living next door to. Prepare to see the neighbourhood go down the tubes:

#5: Homer Simpson & Ned Flanders – The Simpsons

Ned is the consummate neighbour (or neighbourino as he would prefer to put it) and has an almost infinite well of patience for Homer. Despite that, Homer can’t stand stupid sexy Flanders and always seems to be at odds with the mustachioed one. With the way the two treat each other, you’d figure Ned would be the one to be short and rude with Homer and not the other way around. For example, half of Ned’s possessions have found their way into the Simpson home, as Homer seems to borrow items with no return date and Homer is jealous of the Flanders superior lifestyle.

homersimpsonzombie

#4: Jerry Seinfeld & Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld

These two may actually be friends, but Kramer’s penchant for using Jerry’s apartment as an offsite location for himself would grate on any person. Kramer’s constant raiding of the fridge, use of the telephone, and occupation of Jerry’s couch would drive me crazy. Worst of all, Kramer is friends with Jerry’s sworn enemy, Newman, and often brings him around to the apartment. Add in Kramer’s string of bizarre adventures, get-rich-quick schemes, and other outlandish behaviour and you’re in for a bumpy ride, whether you like it or not.

#3: Winslow Family & Steve Urkel – Family Matters

Sure, by the end of each episode whoever Steve had upset within the Winslow family had made peace with the uber nerd, but that kid brought some serious tough times to the household. Steve’s clumsiness caused an untold number of repairs to be necessary to the home and because his own parents were so absent in his life, Steve practically lived with the Winslow’s. The threat of a surprise visit from the suspender-clad dork would cause great tension for myself, even though I love the guy. I just don’t think I could take the destruction that follows Steve like a cursed shadow.

Urkel Damage

#2: Bundy Family & D’Arcy Family – Married with Children

While most of them are reasonably amiable with one another, Al and Marcy have been feuding for years and things get even more tense when Marcy’s women’s group clashes with Al’s NO MA’AM organization. Admittedly, it would be tough existing next door to the Bundy clan and their unique way of living. From the always scheming Bud, to dim-witted Kelly, to parents Al and Peg, who are always taking advantage of the more well-off D’Arcy’s, it would be exhausting to come home. Then again, you can’t feel too bad, given they don’t seem to even like each other, let alone their neighbours.

#1: John Gustafson, Jr. & Max Goldman – Grumpy Old Men

The way these two curmudgeons prank each other comes from years of being rivals. John and Max have grown up together and even competed over girls during their younger days. That set off a lifelong animosity between the two neighbours, one that flares up when an attractive woman moves into the town and both grumps end up fawning over the lady. In the end, the joke is all on John and Max, though, as their kids end up married to one another, meaning the two will forever be linked. Something could also be said for the two old men needing each other, whether they realize it or not.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Crackhouse

May 24

  • 1 oz Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Peach Schnapps
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

All that’s left is to decide which one of you has to put up the ‘For Sale’ sign. Either that, or continue to battle forever, passing the torch on to future generations. Sometimes you just have to stand your ground and hope for the best!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I liked this shot. It could have been too sweet, but the Cranberry Juice neutralizes that. For some reason, I really love chewing on Cranberries when the shooter is done. Yeah, I’d probably be one of those neighbours you hate with vehement passion!

December 11 – The Woolly Mitten

Home for the Holidays

One of the best things to do at Christmas is watch cherished holiday episodes of your favourite TV shows, while getting warm and toasty by the fire. Here are some of my favourite shows and episodes for Christmas spirit.

Married… with Children

In ‘It’s a Bundy-ful Life’, the always down on his luck, Al Bundy, is shown what his family’s life would be like if he wasn’t around. In a twist on It’s a Wonderful Life, Al decides that his family is too happy and has such a better life without him that that’s reason enough to continue living. This hour-long episode featured late comedian Sam Kinison in the guardian angel role.

its-a-bundyful-life

South Park

The animated sensation has a bunch holiday episodes under its belt (even having its own DVD release of the collection) and in true South Park style, they use such absurdities as Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo to get their message across. The boys have even travelled to the bizarre world of Canada for Christmas, with Cartman wanting desperately to get home to his presents.

Home Improvement

Tim ‘the Tool Man’ Taylor is a house’s worst nightmare. With all of his renovation schemes – most of which end in disaster – if a home had feelings, they would fear for their existence with Mr. Taylor around. Christmas time is no different, as Tim pulls out all the stops in his attempt to decorate his home and compete with neighbours over who has the best set-up.

Beavis and Butt-head Do Christmas

While their delinquent brand of humour might not be for everyone (it certainly isn’t for Mrs. Sip), this Christmas episode is incredibly funny. In the first segment, Beavis is head honcho at Burger World and is visited by three ghosts to learn the true meaning of Christmas. After a break for some Christmas music videos, the second installment follows Butt-head being shown that everyone’s lives would be better without him existing.

beavis_and_butt_head_do_christmas

The Simpsons

It’s no surprise that The Simpsons would land a spot on this list. While they haven’t offered a Christmas episode in each of their 25 seasons, the ones they have done are quite memorable. In the first Simpson’s Christmas airing (the first full-length episode actually!), the family found its dog, Santa’s Little Helper, a turned away ex-racing mutt. The family has also battled commercialism during the holidays with a war on the Funzo toy release.

Community

Each year, the Community folks have provided an interesting Christmas episode, similar to their efforts at Halloween. In the show’s second season, the holiday episode featured the cast turned into stop-motion animation, similar to the Rankin/Bass specials, as Abeb searches for the meaning of Christmas. I don’t think I’d do very well in a stop-motion animation world!

The Office

The annual office Christmas party provides ample opportunity for laughs. I only thank the heavens above that my company doesn’t really do the Christmas thing. Do you think I want to be around my colleagues any longer than I actually have to be? Anyway, the antics of this rag tag bunch always seem to ramp up around the holidays and each Christmas party has its own issues to be dealt with.

Drink #345: The Woolly Mitten

The Woolly Mitten Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Top with Hot Chocolate
  • Garnish with Whipped Cream

There are far too many Christmas episodes out there in TV Land to get to them all, but if you have any specific suggestions for the Sip Advisor, I’m all ears!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
As I’ve written before, I’m not a huge fan of warm drinks, but I do make the occasional exception for Hot Chocolate. Where this drink was good is that all the liquors tasted good together and amongst the Hot Water and Cocoa Powder. Whip Cream is always fun to use and the Crushed Candy Canes sprinkled on top was one of my better ideas.

June 16 – Big Daddy

Man Models

It’s Father’s Day and here at The Sip we salute all the male role models out there. I’d like to take this opportunity to send a special shout out to Papa Sip for his years of hockey and soccer coaching, allowance providing, driving in difficult weather conditions, pool maintenance, barbecue mastery, household upkeep, road trip navigation, and the list goes on and on and on!

Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

The Alpha Male of the Parks and Recreation crew, Ron Swanson is quick to look after all of his colleagues and is really a big, sweet teddy bear, despite his outward gruffness. In particular, he’s very handy with a set of tools and even hand-crafted Leslie Knope’s wedding ring, prior to an impromptu ceremony. Heck, he’s even not too bad with his recent ladyfriend’s two devilish little girls!

Ron

George Bailey – It’s a Wonderful Life

Minus the whole attempted suicide thing, George Bailey is an upstanding citizen, helping countless friends and family members, while at the same time sacrificing some of his own dreams and desires for his family. In the end, he’s shown that his existence is necessary and has improved so many lives around him. Plus an angel got his wings thanks to ol’ George.

Kermit the Frog – The Muppets

Kermit the Frog is pseudo father to the entire Muppet gang. He keeps them all in line and they have Kermit to thank for their pay check, living accommodations and lifestyle. Without him, as has been shown countless times, they’d be lost. Similar leaders of rag tag groups include Gordon Bombay of the Mighty Ducks teams and Alex Rieger in the Taxi garage.

Al Bundy – Married with Children

While not your typical father figure, Al Bundy would much prefer to spend his time watching TV, drinking beer, and going to the nudie bar, than take care of his offspring. However, Al will defend his kids to a fault and has been involved in countless altercations with the boyfriends of his daughter, Kelly, and people who wish to cause harm to his son, Bud.

Al Bundy

Paul Hennessy – 8 Simple Rules

Poor Paul Hennessy had to look after the stunning Kaley Cuoco during her (very generous) formative years. No wonder John Ritter suffered a legit heart attack on the set of the show. The thought of all the guys lining up to date his teenage daughter must have taken its toll. I love John Ritter for everything he’s done, even forgiving him for the Problem Child movies and his appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cliff Huxtable – The Cosby Show

Raising a household of countless children, coming and going, Cliff Huxtable imparted many lessons on the viewing audience and Bill Cosby still pushes for strong father figures in the African American community to this day. Some accuse The Cosby Show of being “too white” – hell, scholarly essays have even been written on either side of the argument. I still have much respect for the Jell-O man!

cliff-huxtable

Homer Simpson – The Simpsons

Aside from his regular strangling of son Bart, inability to connect with daughters Lisa and Maggie, alcohol dependence, questionable intelligence, and the ever-present likelihood that he will lose his job… Homer Simpson is a wonderful father. Homer learned the tricks of the father trade from one of the best, Abe ‘Grandpa’ Simpson, who largely raised the big lug on his own after Homer’s mother was forced to go into hiding when he was young.

Red Forman – That 70’s Show

Red Forman’s gruff exterior and “dumbass” catchphrase masks a sweet inner core. He definitely has a weakness in wife Kitty, who seems to be able to get whatever she wants from her husband. Red even took in his son Eric’s friend, Steven Hyde, after his parents left him behind. Ah, the 70’s, what a wild and crazy time to be alive!

Drink #167: Big Daddy

Big Daddy Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Rum (I used Appleton)
  • 0.5 oz Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Whiskey
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Please make sure to sit down and have a drink with your dad or the important male role models in your life today. If it’s this particular cocktail, you’ve earned yourself some bonus points! If physical distance doesn’t allow this to happen, do something else nice for the guy. You wouldn’t be here without him!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
When putting together this cocktail, I decided to go the “top shelf” route, using my new Beluga Vodka from Russia, Appleton Rum, El Jimador Tequila and Crown Royal Whiskey. The results were quite enjoyable and you could compare this drink to a Long Island Iced Tea, with a few altered ingredients. I thought it made the perfect salute to fathers everywhere!