Australia – Stormy Weather

Criminal Crunch

Not many countries start off as another nation’s penal colony. Australia is by far the most recognized of these lands and somehow, the British castoffs sent there turned Australia into one of the most wonderful places in the world to visit, live, and love. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable convicts to be shipped down under and how they helped build the great nation of Australia:

Australia Cell Blocks

William Bland

While I believe government to be largely useless, it is a necessary evil when building a new society. Bland was a former naval surgeon who found himself in Australia because he killed a man in a duel… seems like a fair and completely reasonable way to settle an argument. Bland eventually held a seat in Australia’s legislative assembly, an early example of government criminality.

William Henry Groom

Groom followed a path similar to Bland, going from prisoner to member of the inaugural Australian Parliament. I guess you can’t fault a penal colony for having members of its government being former convicts. Sadly, Groom died shortly after his appointment and never got to fully enjoy the perks of being an elected official (money, power, drugs… the Rob Ford special!).

James Squire

Now, here’s a guy who deserves massive recognition for his contributions to early Australia society. Squire was one of the original convicts to come over to Australia and being first was a recurrent theme for him. He later became the country’s first brewer and brands like Tooheys and Victoria Bitter have him to thank their legacy. Showing the importance of alcohol in any society, Squire’s death in 1822 spawned the biggest funeral held in the colony days.

VB Kangaroo

Jørgen Jørgensen

Not many folks can claim to be the ruler of Iceland, but Jørgensen was one of those peeps. He arrested the Danish Governor (almost as bad as The Walking Dead’s Governor), with intentions of giving Iceland their freedom, but that was squashed by Denmark. The eccentric adventurer, as Jørgensen’s been described, was a spy for a spell for the UK, translating documents and working throughout France and Germany. He wound up a convict in Australia and upon his release explored Tasmania.

William Chopin

This fella kind of went full circle, as he flourished working in a prison hospital and went into chemistry after receiving his ticket of leave. Unfotunately, his skills as a chemist landed him back in jail later, as he went into the illegal abortion business. He was the ‘chemist gone bad’ centuries before Breaking Bad ever aired.

John Kelly

Sometimes it takes a generation to make your mark on society, as is the case for John Kelly, whose son Ned gained notoriety as a Robin Hood-type folk hero, battling the establishment with his band of not-so-merry men (colloquially referred to as Kelly’s gang, but that’s such a harsh term) and becoming an outlaw in the process. Ned Kelly was later executed for his crimes, but his legend has grown thanks to movies starring Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger. He’s even featured on an Irish stamp.

Ned Kelly

John Davies

As a writer, I believe information (as well as entertainment) is essential in getting a nation rolling. After his release from prison, Davies co-founded The Mercury newspaper in 1854. The daily publication, servicing Hobart, Tasmania, still exists to this day. The company remained in the Davies family until 1988 when it was taken over by what is now News Corp Australia.

James Ruse

Without food, we’re all screwed… well, except perhaps Ghandi. Anyway, Ruse was responsible for the first successful wheat harvest in New South Wales (where the first convict ships landed to settle). Today, an Agricultural High School (the Aussies really push you to choose your career path early) is named after him and students spend their days riding tractors and shucking corn.

Henry Kable

While the world is always becoming more litigious, to have dropped the first lawsuit on a nation is quite the feat. Kable’s civil suit was over a parcel of goods to be given to he and his wife upon arrival at the Australian penal colony, but it was stolen en route. Kable successfully sued the ship’s captain for £15, even more impressive given prisoners were considered dead by law at the time and had no rights. It’s no surprise then, that Kable later became a wealthy businessman, probably turning his legal windfall into a fortune.

Lawsuit

Robert Sidaway

What is a society without entertainment? Sidaway opened Australia’s first theatre (and we’re not talking about one of those talking pictures types), in Sydney, in 1796. Back then, you could pay for seats using money, flour, meat, or alcohol. If alcohol was a currency nowadays, I’d be filthy rich (instead of just filthy!). The theatre featured performances of Shakespearean and other English works, but was shut down by authorities in 1800, as it was deemed a corrupting influence.

Mary Wade

Wade was the youngest female convict shipped away, leaving the UK for Australia at only 11 years old. By the time she passed away at age 82, she had 21 children and more than 300 descendants, leaving a family tree that now adds up to tens of thousands and includes former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Now that, my little sippers, is a legacy.

Australia: Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Shiraz/Syrah Wine
  • 1.5 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Float Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice and Raspberry

Coming from a lineage of scoundrels and miscreants, that explains the likes of Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe, but not Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee, and others of that ilk. Australia, forever mystifying outside observers with their citizen’s contrasting personality traits… I think I just came up with a new tagline for the country!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Another good Shiraz/Syrah cocktail has me really enjoying the Little Penguin Wine. The Ginger Ale was solid, as usual, and of particular pleasure was the Appleton Rum I used. You could get a hint of it with each sip and it was an absolutely delicious touch to the rest of the recipe.

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Australia – Moonlight Martini

Land Down Under

We’re going “down under” as we leave Estonia for the warmth and beauty of picturesque Australia. Mrs. Sip lived in the country for half a year and I was lucky to join her for six weeks. While together, we toured a fair portion of the country. There were numerous and diverse sites that we both fell in love with during our stay. Here are some of our favourites:

Phillips Island

Home to the World’s Smallest Penguins, hundreds of tourists gather each day and brave the elements to watch the little flightless birds return from the water, like clockwork, to their burrows on Phillips Island. Sadly, but understandably, you’re not allowed to take photos of the tiny travelers, as flashes from cameras can blind them and cause them to become disoriented, get lost, and turn into easy prey for predators.

Penguin Parade

Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is home to the Great Barrier Reef and its impressive collection of coral formations. In some of the clearest, most stunning water I’ve ever been in, I did my first ever scuba dive and saw species of sea creatures I may never see up close again. We also snorkeled the area for a few hours and enjoyed the bathtub temperature of the ocean… plus, it’s always fun to perv on Mrs. Sip in the water!

Daintree Rainforest

Also while in Cairns, Mrs. Sip and I also toured the Daintree Rainforest, including a river cruise where we searched for legendary crocodiles and a hike through the tropical bush. The Daintree is home to an untold number of animal and plant species and you never really know what you’ll come across in your trek. Mrs. Sip was on edge about seeing any spiders, while I was ever-vigilant in avoiding snakes.

Wildlife

There are some animals you will only see in zoos and around Australia during your lifetime. We decided to combine the two by visiting one of the country’s nature reserves: the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. There, we viewed epically large crocodiles, fed kangaroos, and were attacked by parakeets and lorikeets. We even got our photos with a koala and all was well until it peed all over our friend!

Koala Currumbin

Ayers Rock/Uluru

This mystical mass of land is located in the Australian Outback and while I did not journey there for my own personal walkabout, Mrs. Sip made the trip. It takes between two to three hours to walk around Ayers Rock/Uluru and it’s also a wonderful spot to view sunrise and sunset each day. Interestingly, it’s said that if you take any rock from the site you will be cursed, leaving many trying to return “souvenirs” they’ve pick up from the World Heritage Site.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney was such a neat city (surprisingly clean and green) in its entirety, but perhaps its most famous landmark is the Opera House located in Sydney Harbour. Mrs. Sip and I did a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour of the iconic metropolis and spent a fair bit of time hanging out in the harbour. Tourists can even climb the Harbour Bridge for a spectacular viewing opportunity.

Surfer’s Paradise

While I failed miserably at my attempt to learn surfing in Australia, the beaches around the country are a sight to behold. Surfer’s Paradise is where all the youngsters go to hang out and hang ten. If you’re not into the beach and ocean stuff, the area is also home to numerous dining and shopping options. If you choose to stick to the sand and water, be careful of disruptive visits by anything from jellyfish to sharks.

Australia: Moonlight Martini

Moonlight Martini Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Blackberries
  • 1.5 oz Shiraz/Syrah Wine
  • 1.5 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Blackberries

Australian wine is also a big deal and they are most famous for their Shiraz/Syrah grape variety, which was brought to the country from Europe by James Busby in the 1830’s. Speaking of Aussie wine, Mrs. Sip and I also thoroughly enjoyed the Barossa Valley wine tour we joined in Adelaide, specifically our meal of kangaroo cooked in… you guessed it: red wine!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Given the World’s Smallest Penguins was one of my favourite Australian attractions, coming across the Little Penguin Shiraz Wine was almost too perfect to be true. Sadly, I didn’t have the Orange Vodka the recipe asked for, so I subbed in Raspberry Vodka with a splash of Triple Sec to get the orange flavour. The drink was pretty good and had a number of different notes to tease the taste buds!

November 5 – International Incident

Drink Nation

I recently stumbled upon a report about the 10 greatest drinking nations in the world. Sadly, Canada did not make that list, but neither did our neighbours to the south… or even their neighbours to the south. Here are my thoughts on those that did crack the top 10 and where I think Canadians need to improve to better our future ranking.

10. Australia

While Australia has wine and beer creations to its credit, I can’t think of any liquors they’ve introduced to the world. The article does point out that former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke made the Guinness Book of World Records for downing 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds. If that’s the effort your politicians are putting forward, I guess you deserve to be on this list.

Kangaroo Drinking

Wow, even the roos are getting in on the act!

9. Germany

The land of Oktoberfest; the event which has largely earned them this spot on the countdown. Germany is known for their beer making, beer serving (wenches impressively carrying eight beer steins at the same time), and beer consumption. Although the Czech citizens drink more beer than the Germans, that’s still not enough to topple this suds nation.

8. Uganda

How does an African nation make this list? Does professional wrestler Kamala (the Ugandan Giant) have something to do with this, forcing the country’s way onto the list through sheer intimidation tactics? Apparently residents will gather and sit around a pot of ajono (beer-like substance) and pass a long straw around. Not sure that earns their way onto this list.

7. South Korea

All this despite South Korea’s strict social guidelines. Apparently, it’s common practice in the country to get plastered on mixes of beer and whiskey and let loose, getting out all of your pent-up anger and frustration. So, basically what every drinker in the world does when they’re a few wobbly pops deep into the night!

Korean drinking

6. Moldova

According to the World Health Organization, Moldova is the most liquored up nation in the world. Stats say that per person, each resident drinks 18 litres of alcohol in a year. Does that include children? The former Soviet nation’s favourite hangover cure is pickle juice and I’m down with that. Perhaps we could share some Moldovian fruit brandies, followed by pickles for breakfast!

5. Ecuador

The local liquor in Ecuador, Zhumir, is affectionately known as “hangover in a bottle”… that’s a challenge the Sip Advisor would like to take, given my invincibility towards the morning after suffering. Etiquette in the country dictates that you cannot start drinking until someone has made a toast, so if you’re all alone, make sure there’s a mirror in your room to cheers yourself.

4. France

Home to the Champagne region and too-many-to-count wineries. Apparently the people of France turn their nose up to selling liquor from other countries. That’s not really surprising, but it means they’re really missing out, especially with Belgian beers, Spanish sangria and English gin offerings so close to their borders.

french-funny-flag

What does this have to do with drinking? Nothing, but I’m posting it anyway! Suck it, France!

3. Russia

Russians drink vodka at all times of the day. It’s just their way of life. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack… no time of day is enjoyed sans vodka. Russia is the all-important buckle of the Vodka Belt. I’m totally down with people that don’t drink in normal conventions. We’d get along real well.

2. China

Sadly, this site has never received a viewer from the massive country of China. Thanks to the nation’s censorship laws, citizens often have to tether on to other countries internet signals to access non-governmental approved sites. I guess the more citizens you have (and China of course has tons) the more liquor you need to keep the population docile and happy and therefore your portfolio in the alcohol world grows.

1. United Kingdom

While I’ve always had a good time drinking in the U.K., I’m not sure I agree with the country taking the top spot on this list. That said, the country is lined with bars that are often packed to the brim with people looking to get boozed up. They can also be credited with much of the world’s gin production and for that, we thank them. Party on Brits!

Drink #309: International Incident

International Incident Drink Recipe

  • 0.5 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Macadamia Nut Liqueur
  • Splash of Milk
  • Garnish with Macadamia Nuts

If the fine folks in Mexico can’t even crack the list, despite their IP on tequila production, then us schlubs in Canada shouldn’t feel so bad. I also question nations like Ireland (although I guess it’s kind of part of the U.K.) and Belgium not cracking the top 10. I want answers, dammit!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This recipe is intended to be a shot, but I increased the ingredient increments and turned it into a nightcap cocktail. The drink gave me my first chance to use our Macadamia Nut Liqueur, which I subbed for the originally scheduled Hazelnut Liqueur and it tasted great. A highlight of the cocktail was the hint of salt you got with each sip, thanks to the Macadamia Nuts garnish!

April 28 – Matador

Taking the Bull by the Horns

While I never intend to be a matador, I have done my fair share of crazy. Here are my experiences in the realm of extreme activities!

Zorbing

Rolling down a hill inside a giant rubber ball filled with water is something only the Kiwi’s could have invented. Mrs. Sip and I jumped into the ball together and tumbled our way to the bottom of the hill, giggling as we crashed around inside our vessel. As you exit the ball, you feel as if you’re being birthed. We also did solo runs down a zig-zag course, trying to stay upright as long as possible, but always ending up flipping our way down the track.

Zorbing

Commercial Luge

The more you speed, the more you bleed… I found this out the hard way. Again, while in New Zealand, Mrs. Sip and I took to a commercial street luge track. Mrs. Sip played it safe and did two runs on the beginner track before advancing to intermediate. I did one intermediate run before hitting the expert slope twice. On my last run, feeling ballsy, I tried to videotape my journey. This didn’t go well, as holding the camera, while trying to steer was nearly impossible. I crashed into the embankment, rolled a few times and walked away with a gnarly gash on my arm, a grass- and dirt-stained shirt and a camera that struggled to open and close. Eh, you win some, you luge some!

Bungee Jumping

I’ve bungeed a total of five times from three different locations, including one epic jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand. Your mother always told you to never follow your friends and jump off bridges… that’s why I went solo and started the trend. Amazingly, Mrs. Sip has often accompanied me to view these jumps, despite her fear of heights. While I’m a fan of flipping through the air while bungeeing, I didn’t fully enjoy the backwards free-fall I once performed.

Bungee Jump

Ziplining

Despite what the creators of South Park might think about ziplining, I’ve always enjoyed flying through the air from platform to platform. Mrs. Sip and I have ziplined in Mexico, Costa Rica and into a cave in New Zealand (for a round of black water rafting). I like the lines where you can do some more elaborate tricks, like go upside down and pretend you’re a spider, hanging from your own webbing!

Scuba Diving

I know what you’re thinking (especially if you’ve never done it), how is scuba diving a danger sport? Well, just the concept of breathing deep underwater is something that can be difficult to wrap your head around. When Mrs. Sip (a certified diver) signed me up for an introductory scuba session, I was apprehensive to say the least. Once you get in the water, relax, and get used to the breathing and goggle techniques, the views are amazing and you can keep your fears subdued. I was privileged to do my dive at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and I think I even found Nemo!

Drink #118: Matador

The Matador Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Tequila (I used 1800 Añejo)
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

In the future, I hope to do other crazy shit like run with the bulls, skydive, base jump and cliff dive. For those that are afraid to try any of these activities, just remember how dangerous normal everyday things can be like walking the streets of a downtown core and you should have no problem jumping out of a plane, off a cliff, or into a stampede!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I liked this cocktail. It’s fun to put the odd non-bubbly-based drink into a champagne flute and I thought it worked really well for this recipe. All the ingredients mixed well together with many citrus notes shining through… plus you can never go wrong with Añejo Tequila!