Greece – The Odyssey

Mythologically Speaking

There are some great characters found in the annuls of Greek mythology. I love shows like Hercules (the Disney cartoon, of course) and Clash of the Titans, which give you a glimpse of the legends, but in a way where you don’t feel you’re actually learning something! Let’s take a look at the most rockin’ gods and goddesses:

Zeus

The god of gods and a man you would not want to piss off. Some of his punishments are extreme, to put it lightly. To be fair, along with being the god of the sky, weather, thunder, and lightning, Zeus does also cover law, order, and justice. You probably also wouldn’t want to be a woman around Zeus, as the deity had a penchant for banging everything with a pair of legs… although I doubt missing limbs would stop the insatiable one.

Zeus on the Loose

Hercules

Played by acting icons such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Ryan Gosling (Young Hercules) and to a much lesser extent, Kevin Sorbo, numerous performers have taken on the mythical character. Hell, this year alone, there will be two films released on the demi-god, starring The Rock and Kellan Lutz, respectively. An immortal strongman, as a youngster, Hercules even strangled a snake sent to kill him and for that, we thank him.

Hades

Lord of the underworld, Hades is also known as the god of regret and every time I don’t yell at someone who deserves a sound verbal thrashing, I am overcome with remorse. Thanks to the Disney version of Hercules, Hades will forever have James Wood’s voice attached to him in my head, telling me to do bad stuff and end up in the underworld, rather than living the sweet life in the heavens… it’s a tough voice to ignore!

Dionysus

Who can’t love this little scamp; the god of wine, parties and festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, drugs, and ecstasy. Personally, I think that sounds like a wicked weekend. Dionysus is so much cooler than Demeter, goddess of grain, agriculture, the harvest, growth, and nourishment (although grain is needed to make many alcohols and there’s nothing wrong with a good meal). Why build up your body when Dionysus is offering you all these fun ways to ruin it!

Dionysus AA Meeting

Ares

God of war, bloodshed, and violence, without ol’ Ares, we might not have all the awesome sports we enjoy today. Sure, the world would be a safer place, but someone would eventually ruin the peace, so chaos might as well reign. The one thing I can fault Ares with is that his sacred animals includes venomous snakes, which have been noted before as the Sip Advisor’s greatest fear. I am down with Ares moodiness and act first, ask questions later mentality.

Aphrodite

This firecracker is often depicted nude or en route to getting there. The goddess of love, beauty, desire, and pleasure, that sounds about as fun as Dionysus and perhaps a weekend under the spell of each of them would be the wildest thing you’d ever experienced. Aphrodite was said to have many lovers and if you were a god, you probably would as well. She can’t be faulted for wanting to get down with her bad self with anyone willing to tango with a goddess.

Aphrodite-Goddess

Hermes

As a writer, I have to give a shout out to Hermes, god of boundaries, travel, communication, trade, language, and writing. I find it odd that the “messenger of the gods” has a sacred animal like the tortoise. You’d think it would be something faster like a cheetah or something. That said, the tortoise did beat the hare, so perhaps it’s more about an accuracy issue. Hermes also guides souls into the afterlife, so he’s a pretty busy dude.

Poseidon

I’ve always been a water enthusiast and therefore I make yearly sacrifices of cannonballs and belly flops to Poseidon, god of sea, rivers, floods, and droughts. The broski of Zeus and Hades, Poseidon lords over all bodies of water. I wonder if this includes toilets, urinals, puddles, and all manner of liquid pooling devices. Can you imagine the all mighty Poseidon showing up in your bathroom stall and pronouncing: “I am king of the crapper and you must respect my authority!”

Greece: The Odyssey

Aug 28

  • Muddle Dill Sprig and Cucumber Slices
  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Ouzo
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Dill Sprig and Cucumber Slice

While the examples above are my list of cool gods, the following deities are on the naughty list with reason attached: Hestia (goddess of chastity – no explanation needed), Artemis (goddess of childbirth and the plague – covering both ends of the spectrum), Apollo (god of manly beauty – men should be rugged and ugly), and Athena (goddess of wisdom – who needs it).

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This was my first opportunity to put Dill in a cocktail and it made for a very interesting drink. Throw in the rogue Ouzo and you never really know what you’ll get. For any Cucumber lovers out there (of which, I am one), this is a martini you have to try.

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Austria – Green Tear

Not Just a Band

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated on June 28, 1914, he had absolutely no clue what his murder would instigate. Despite being the major catalyst for the first World War, this Austrian ruler is a largely forgotten footnote in history. Thankfully, the Sip Advisor is here to teach and while sipping a glass of the country’s fine schnaps, here is a little information on ol’ ‘Double F’ and the tragedy that would change the world!

First World War Problems

Growing Up

Ferdinand and his family lived by the motto: “Good Habsburgs (his family lineage), Good Catholics, and Good Austrians”… that just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “A Lannister always pays their debts.”

At the age of 11, Ferdinand found himself one of the wealthiest men in Austria, after his cousin Duke Francis V died and named Franz his heir on the condition that he add the name Este to his own. Hell, to become one of the wealthiest men in Austria, I’d tattoo the name Este on my member! Rumour has it Ferdinand also had to spend one night in a haunted house, but many are skeptical of this account.

Ferdinand may have never found himself the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne had it not been for his cousin Prince Rudolf (aged 30) committing suicide with his 17-year-old mistress in 1889. Karl Ludwig, Ferdinand’s father, became second in line behind Franz Josef, but quickly renounced the position and passed the rights down to his son.

Throne of Games

As a youngster, Ferdinand spent very little time in Austria, often travelling the world searching for cures to his never-ending stream of illnesses.

Ferdinand’s relationship with the citizens of Austria was always strained due to his lack of time spent within the country’s borders and the feeling that he was an outsider. And not one of those cool greaser outsiders like Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, or Matt Dillon. He still managed to somehow stay gold, though.

An avid hunter, Ferdinand always made sure to schedule at least one hunting trip as part of any official travel for the Empire. He kept a running tab of his hunting exploits and stories state that he killed 2140 birds in one day. My belief is that he wanted to assemble an army of undead animals to do his bidding.

Ferdinand was passionate about landscaping outdoors and interior design inside and was constantly on the lookout for a property in need of fixing up. He could be considered one of the world’s first home flippers. Ferdinand’s eclectic tastes also helped him build a great antique collection, which included 3750 pieces of St. George and the Dragon. Clearly, he had a thing for slaying mythical beasts.

slain da dragon

Finding Love

Women always have a way of muddling things up and that was no different for Ferdinand. His wife Sophie was from a lower social class and even though Franz Josef stated he would not consent to Franz and Sophie’s marriage, the two wed on June 28, 1900. The catch was that Sophie could never receive an official royal title and their children could not succeed Ferdinand as ruler. As a result, Sophie rarely appeared in public beside her husband.

Franz and Sophie had three children: Sophie (I guess you’d call her junior), Maximilian (a name which I hope to bring back to present day popularity), and Ernst (a name which I have no joke to deploy upon).

Sophie was finally allowed to accompany Franz on official business for the empire for his trip to Bosnia in June 1914. The end of the visit would also mark their 14th wedding anniversary. The couple arrived in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, which is also St. Vitus Day, commemorating the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.

cat-battle

Surprise Attack

The Battle of Kosovo made a martyr out of Milos Obilic, who snuck into the Ottoman Sultan’s tent and killed him before receiving the same fate himself.

Serbians viewed the Austria-Hungary Empire as their new oppressors and there had been other attempted attacks on high-ranking Austria-Hungary members before Ferdinand’s death.

The Black Hand (must have caught a case of gangrene), which carried out the assassination of Franz and Sophie were also responsible for the murders of King Alexander and Queen Draga of Serbia. This act of treachery was committed while the two were together in bed… what a way to go!

Death Sting

First, a grenade was hurled at Ferdinand’s procession by Nedlejko Cabrinovic, but it detonated behind his vehicle and he was not harmed. While any normal person would halt their little parade there, Ferdinand was urged to continue by General Oskar Potiorek who asked, “What, do you think my city is full of assassins?”

Ferdinand insisted that if the trip continued, only major routes should be used and no side streets… unfortunately his own driver was never delivered this message. When the driver took the first schedule turn, there was assassin Gavrilo Princip, waiting for him. Princip had earlier tried to get a shot in at Ferdinand and when he couldn’t retreated to the side street in dejection.

Princip fired only two shots, one into Franz’s neck, the other into Sophie’s stomach. Both proved to be fatal. Ferdinand’s final words to his wife were “’Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!”

Assassination

The Aftermath

Princip and his fellow assassins were rounded up and put on trial. Because he was under the age of 20, Princip did not receive the death penalty and was instead sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. Princip died in his jail cell on April 28, 1918 from tuberculosis. His illness was so bad that his right arm was amputated before his death.

Upon Franz’s assassination, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, etc.) declared war on Serbia, drawing Serbia’s allies (the UK, Russia, France, etc.) into the fray and creating the first World War.

The 1911 Gräf & Stift Double Phaeton automobile, which carried Franz and Sophie during their fateful procession, is now displayed at the Museum of Military History in Vienna. It’s no Batmobile, but it has its own place in history. The pistol used by Princip, as well as the clothing Ferdinand died in are also displayed at the museum.

Future Museums

The bullet that killed Ferdinand, sometimes referred to as “the bullet that started World War I” is part of an exhibit at Konopiště Castle in the Czech Republic.

Franz and Sophie are buried at Arstetten Castle in Austria. In memoriam, Austria-Hungary released a commemorative stamp featuring the couple. One day there will be a Sip Advisor stamp tribute that will taste like schnaps with each lick!

Austria: Green Tear

Green Tear Cocktail

  • 1 oz Mata Hari Absinthe
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Tonic Water
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

Well, that wraps up our stay here in Austria. It should be noted that the country can also claim to be home to famous world citizens like Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. That would be an interesting table to sit at for a dinner party!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Well, as you can see, the drink is certainly not green. On the plus side, this was a really decent Absinthe cocktail. I think the combo of Cranberry Juice and Tonic Water is perfect to go along with the very bitter Absinthe. If you’re weary of the hallucinogenic spirit, give this recipe a try and your mind may be changed for the long run!

April 11 – Coco Bongo

Mind = Blown

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of clubs. Give me a bar or a lounge any day over these glorified, noisy, cesspools.

That is, until I visited Coco Bongo. Before going to Mexico in 2012, someone (I really can’t remember who… perhaps we blame the concussions… perhaps the years of hard liquoring… perhaps I’m just not that intelligent) told me that at Coco Bongo’s a little person sometimes pours shots in people’s mouths. Well, my little sippers, this is something I had to experience for myself.

The day finally came. It was our last day in Cancun and we were dead set on hitting the Hotel Zone that night for some hardcore parkour… followed by some clubbing. Our group had been aiming to do this the entire trip, but various things – swimming in cenotes, climbing Mayan ruins, drinking beers on the beach, celebrating New Years in Playa, and other such annoyances – had stopped that from happening.

Prior to leaving for the evening, we had some pre-party tequila shots from our hosts’ fine bar selection. After all, what else are you supposed to do in Mexico? This is where Mrs. Sip and I fell in love with 1800 Añejo. After pounding back a few, we felt ready to get our freak on.

We were dropped off in the Hotel Zone and scouted out the details for getting into Coco Bongo’s (price, time, etc.). Some guy on the street who worked for the club hooked us up with our arm bands, which were both our ticket in and our open bar pass (Note: do the open bar thing, forget bottle service. You do NOT want to be stuck at a table in this venue!). Then we made our way to a bar across the street to keep our buzz going before we would tear shit down in the club. I don’t like to dance, but this white boy has some moves and a trick or two up his sleeve!

Vanilla Ice

Yeah, that looks about right!

The bar we hit was okay, but I think we were all anticipating the main event on the card. Soon we were lining-up for Coco Bongo’s, which although previously empty outside, now showed a long line of patrons waiting to get into the show.

I am prone to refusing to pay cover charges, especially if I have to wait in line to get into a place that is going to rip me off. I believe our bands were $40 so I had high expectations. I  joined a line that would surely take some time to disappear, but was rewarded as servers began passing out tequila shots to those waiting. This wasn’t wonderful añejo quality, but by this point, who cared!?

Our line moved much quicker than expected and soon we were inside the building, but not in da club. This still did not faze me, as tequila shots and some unidentifiable pink stuff were continually being served like they were going out of style… and I kept drinking them.

Finally we were ushered into the main staging area and this place was crazy! There was a massive stage with ample lighting and decorations. Seating set up all around the building, with people filling the rafters. The floor area was packed, but it was easy to move around and drinks came by frequently.

Top 40, this was not, thank god (… who may have also made an appearance at one point). The show element started up and it was one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen as gorgeous ladies came out dancing to Chicago’s “All that Jazz”, followed by appearances of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Captain America. The lights went out and when they came back on, Spider-Man had dropped down from the ceiling to party with us and fight off the Green Goblin. The Mask was doing his thing as confetti was streaming down all around, which is such an awesome effect – even if my shoes were stained pink by the tickertapes.

Coco Bongo Confetti

I was totally grooving, so much so that as Mrs. Sip and another girl in our group danced on the bar (they were the hot ones picked out of the crowd… I wonder why I wasn’t chosen!?) I decided to reach behind the bar and grab a massive beer for myself. Sure I only got a couple sips in before it was taken back, but it was a wonderful, hazy memory.

That’s when I saw it, Beetlejuice, in miniature, with a bottle of tequila. While the little bastard never got to me, Mrs. Sip was the recipient of the experience of a lifetime, as she got a shot of this dude’s potion (don’t get any wise ideas, my little sippers).

We celebrated her achievement with more passion than any of our graduations. When the rest of the group wanted to leave around 4am I was the one who wasn’t ready to call it a night (yes, I, the one who hates clubs).

It was a wonderful night, finished with a slice of cold pizza (what every great night should be capped with). I hereby dedicate this drink to that awesome place. As Arnold Schwazenegger once said, “It is not a tumour”… wait, that’s not it… ah, here it is, “I’ll be back!”

Drink #101: Coco Bongo

Coco Bongo Drink recipe

  • Rim glass with Coconut Shavings
  • 1.5 oz Malibu Rum
  • Top with half Coconut Water and half Pineapple Juice

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This drink should be on every alcohol fan’s short list menu. The Pineapple Juice was fantastic – not sure I’ve ever been able to say that before – and the Coconut Shavings always add a special something to any cocktail. A great way to start the 100-series beverages.

February 25 – The Party General

Drunken Party Fouls

They happen… but that doesn’t mean we have to like them. I’ve instituted a three strikes and you’re out rule at my shindigs. If you break any three party foul rules, you’re out on the street. I don’t care if you’re Mrs. Sip or Mama Sip… hell, even future Baby Sip will be held to these stringent laws of the land. Don’t mess with The Advisor.

Spilling a Drink

A crushing moment at any soiree occurs when sweet, precious liquor is spilt. Small spills are bad enough, but when a nearly full drink hits the ground, it is perfectly reasonable for mob justice to occur. Punishment: Death… but I will settle for the offender having to drink the contents of their spill with a straw, no matter where it has landed (litter box, public bathroom floor, etc. are all fair game)!

Spilled Drink

Breaking Something

Unless it is done in the name of sweet mazel tov, the breaking of anything should never occur at a function. If the break is the result of drunkery, that’s even worse. (If it’s somehow the result of the cat you brought along on a leash, we’ll let it slide). Punishment: Replacing said item at equal or double the cost as a tax for your indiscretion.

Depressing or Complaining Conversation

We are here to party… not talk about how much your life sucks in comparison to mine (because let’s face it, it probably does), that children are starving in cities near you, or how you lost your fifth cousin, twice removed in a tragic microwave/hair drying incident.  Even at a wake, things should be upbeat as we happily remember all the good times we had with that person. You want to be all depressed or moody? Don’t even bother coming out. This also likely goes for any talk about politics, unless we’re talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Punishment: Immediate banishment to the badlands. Forgiveness can be granted in exchange for a liquor run.

Stealing Booze

Whether you grab someone else’s beers from the fridge or help yourself to a shot from their bottle, if you don’t have the expressed written permission of the NFL to rebroadcast booze that is not yours, you should not do so. Some people carefully allot themselves what they plan on drinking in an evening and when someone else cuts into their stash, this can deny them of achieving the perfect level of zen. Punishment: Having your hand cut off… an extreme measure to be sure, but they won’t steal booze ever again. With only one hand, they won’t have the capability to do so!

Stealing Booze

So that’s where my bottle went…

Passing Out/Getting Sick

There are few examples where a guest passing out is a good thing. If they pass out in your own bed, then the only course of action is to send the two heaviest guests into the room to have a wrestling match, regardless of drunky’s (the eighth dwarf) wishes. A guest going nappy-nap is a better alternative to them getting sick, though. Nothing turns a party down a bad path quicker than someone praying to the porcelain gods or worse, letting loose in front of the entire gathering. Punishment: Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and no more Monopoly for you.

Not Paying Your Tab

Oh, this one makes Mr. Sip angry. You can spill a drink on my floors, break my glassware, talk about your dead uncle Artie, steal the last beer out of my fridge and puke all over my couch after half a sip and I may one day come to forgive you. But if you ever… and I mean EVER skip out on your tab and leave the rest of the group in a lurch, you are DEAD to me. Punishment: Well, you’re already dead to me, but I could also send the Ghostbusters after you and send you to ghostly purgatory.

Drink #56: The Party General

Party General Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with Maraschino Cherry

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’ve always maintained that Ginger Ale is one of the most underappreciated mixers out there. Through it in with Whiskey and Amaretto, two of my favourite alcohols and we must surely be on the right track. Top with a Maraschino Cherry and all is well in the Land of Sip.