Kentucky – Kentucky Mule

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we stop in Kentucky for some bourbon and bluegrass music. The Bluegrass State, named for the blue flowers from the species of grass found in the area, is known for so much more, so let’s get to it:

Motto: “United we stand, divided we fall” – Sounds like something you’d see on a movie poster.

Food: Kentucky Fried Chicken, with its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices was first introduced in the state, but that seems too easy for this category. Instead, let’s go with the Hot Brown Sandwich, invented at Louisville’s Brown Hotel. The sandwich features chicken or turkey breast, with bacon and Mornay sauce, which is baked or broiled until the bread is crispy. It is very popular throughout Kentucky.

Drink: 95 per cent of all Bourbon is produced in Kentucky, with more barrels aging across the state than its population. Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World and hosts an annual Bourbon Festival. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail includes distilleries such as Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, and Maker’s Mark.

Bourbon

Site to See: Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the longest cave system in the world and it’s still being explored today. It is the second oldest tourist attraction in the U.S., after Niagara Falls. Mammoth Cave was named a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Street: Along Main Street in Louisville, a number of attractions can be found, including the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Kentucky Science Center and Frazier History Museum. Restaurants and bars also line this entertainment district.

TV Show: Daniel Boone aired for six season and 165 episodes, following the adventures of the real-life frontiersman. Set in Boonesborough (founded by Boone), the series starred Fess Parker, who was previously known for playing Davy Crockett. When Disney refused to sell the rights to Davy Crockett to NBC, Daniel Boone became the subject matter.

Movie: Coal Miner’s Daughter is a biographical film about Kentucky singer, Loretta Lynn. Starring Sissy Spacek, the movie documents Lynn’s rise from humble beginnings to being a top country music star. Spacek won an Oscar for her role, including singing all of Lynn’s most popular songs.

Loretta Lynn

Book/Author: The father of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, was born in Louisville. His most famous works include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary, both of which starred Johnny Depp, when adapted into films. Thompson and Depp were friends and the actor made sure to carry out the writer’s last wishes to have his ashes shot out of a cannon.

Fictional Character: Rick Grimes, leader of the focal group of survivors in The Walking Dead, is Kentucky born and bred. A police officer, prior to the zombie apocalypse, Rick is highly-skilled in fighting the “walkers” and also with survival tactics.

Fictional City: There wasn’t much to choose from for this category, but I did find that the movie In Country was set in Hopewell. The box office flop stars Bruce Willis, just after he became Die Hard famous, but is about a high school graduate (played by Emily Lloyd) trying to learn about her father who she never met after he died in the Vietnam War.

Actor/Actress: Three Hollywood A-listers hail from Kentucky: Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence. They were born in Owensboro, Lexington and Indian Hills, respectively. The trio have been responsible for some of the most memorable movies and characters of recent times, but have never worked together in any combination.

Hunter S. Thompson

Song: Bluegrass music is the State Music of Kentucky and a fine example of the style (which the Sip Advisor is a fan of) is Blue Moon of Kentucky, by Bill Monroe. The song has also been recorded by Elvis Presley, rearranged to be a rock and roll tune, and released as the B-side of The King’s first single in 1954.

Band/Musician: More on Monroe, who was born in Rosine, and has been called the father of the Bluegrass genre. After all, his band The Blue Grass Boys, inspired the name of the style. Monroe was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1966 and inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

People: The fact opposing leaders of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were born in the same state, one year and less than 100 miles apart, is fascinating. Both were said to be politically moderate, so maybe that can be traced back to their Kentucky roots.

Animal: Of course, a state filled with so much horse racing history, would also be home to a couple iconic thoroughbreds. Man o’War had an almost unblemished record, losing only one race over his career. He sired War Admiral, who won the Triple Crown in 1937, and grandfathered Seabiscuit, who continued the family tradition of winning.

Invention: Nathan Stubblefield, from Murray, invented wireless telephones, which some debate were radio transmissions, making Stubblefield’s exhibitions the first ever radio broadcasts. Either way, his work led to further developments of the medium.

Crime: The infamous Hatfield vs. McCoy feud took place between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky. The murder of Asa Harmon McCoy, in January 1865, is said to have ignited the feud, which would go on to claim the lives of 13 members of the two families. In 1979, descendants from each family waged a different kind of war on the TV game show, Family Feud.

Law: In Kentucky, it is illegal to hunt game from the window of a moving vehicle. This applies to all animals, except whales. Whales after all, are the most dangerous game on land, so the use of vehicles are a necessity.

Sports Team: The Kentucky Derby is a highlight of the annual sporting calendar. The first leg of the American Triple Crown, it is the oldest continuously run horse race in the U.S. and although the sprint lasts only two minutes, the duration is called ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’. The University of Kentucky Wildcats vs. University of Louisville Cardinals NCAA basketball rivalry is also huge across the state.

Kentucky Derby

Athlete: The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, was born Cassius Clay, in Louisville. Ali was a three-time Heavyweight Champion and also won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. However, Ali’s fame extended outside the boxing world, as an activist and philanthropist, following his in-ring career. Ali was picked to light the torch at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, but that appearance highlighted the Parkinson’s disease he was suffering from. Ali passed away in June 2016, at the age of 74.

Famous Home: The Muhammad Ali Childhood Home, can be found in Louisville. Here, the future sports icon grew up and first began to box. Today, the unmistakeable pink home is filled with memorabilia from Ali’s life and career and guided tours are available.

Urban Legend: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Some of the legends surrounding the former hospital for tuberculosis patients, include the ghost of a nurse haunting the first floor, room 502 being the site of a suicide/murder and the tunnel used to discretely remove bodies from the facility being rife with paranormal activity. Today, the facility hosts ghost tours and can be stayed in overnight.

Museum: Louisville Slugger baseball bats are synonymous with the sport, having been used by professionals since the late 1800’s. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is home to the storied history of the company. Visitors can’t miss the place, as the world’s largest baseball bat is found at its entrance. You can even enter a batting cage and try bat models from the past and present.

muhammad-ali

Firsts: The first commercial winery in the U.S., was opened in Nicholasville, in 1799. Over 200 years later, the winery still stands, restored to depict what it would have looked like in its earliest years. The site seems like a perfect place to celebrate Mother’s Day, which was first observed in Kentucky on April 20, 1887, as a project started by teacher Mary Towles Sasseen, to honour her mother.

Company: A trio of popular restaurant chains are headquartered in Kentucky. This includes KFC, A&W and Papa John’s Pizza. It should be noted, KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders may not have been a Kentucky native, but his famous creation led to him being recommissioned a Kentucky Colonel, an image he maintained for the rest of his life.

Events: The War of 1812 was catastrophic for Kentucky, as half of the American soldiers killed were from the state, despite battles not taking place there. Kentucky also greatly supplied the war effort, including mining of the Mammoth Cave.

Miscellaneous: Kentucky’s Fort Knox, is home to the United States Bullion Depository, which stores a majority of the country’s gold reserves (estimated in July 2019 to be worth $210.8 billion). In the past, it has also safely held the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Kentucky Mule

Kentucky Mule

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Although the obvious choice for Kentucky is the Mint Julep, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, I’ve already made that drink for this site and I never do repeats. I had to choose something using Bourbon, given its association with the state, so I went with the delicious Kentucky Mule, to sort of keep with the horse theme.

Flavour Revolution – Root Beer

Safe Suds

The Sip Advisor began his wicked ways, many moons ago, with the enjoyment of root beer. It could be described as the gateway libation that led to this endeavor and made me the booze jockey I am today. Let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at some of the companies that brought this beautiful drink to our lips:

Hires

Created in 1876 by Charles Hires, a pharmacist from Philadelphia, Hires Root Beer has the longest history of all American soft drinks. That includes Coca-Cola! Hires’ root beer business began with selling 25-cent packets of powder that would produce five gallons of the drink. I wish that deal was still available to the Sip Advisor! Hires ran into some issues early on thanks to calling his soda “beer” (in order to entice blue collar folks). The Temperance Movement looked to eliminate the pop, but Hires proved there was little to no alcohol content and even went so far as to mock the movement, calling his root beer “The Temperance Drink”.

I`m a Dr. Pepper fan, but I would certainly never argue with the Caped Crusader!

I`m a Dr. Pepper fan, but I would certainly never argue with the Caped Crusader!

A&W

When Roy Allen joined forces with Frank Wright to open the A&W restaurant chain (one of the first dining chains in the U.S.) in 1922, they had no clue how successful their endeavour would prove to be. A feature of the fast food outlet was their root beer, which originally sold for 5-cents per serving. Allen had previously operated roadside root beer stands in parts of California. The Great Root Bear has been the company’s mascot since 1974 and was first used in Canada. Nicknamed Rooty, the bear has largely been replaced by the A&W Burger Family, but he still pops up from time to time, usually with a fresh mug of root beer close by.

Barq’s

Officially known as Barq’s Famous Olde Tyme Root Beer, up until 2012, Barq’s has existed since 1898. I remember the brand becoming quite famous in the 1990’s upon the release of their “Barq’s has bite!” ad campaign (featuring comedian Nick Swardson). Anything was better than the company’s original slogan of “Drink Barq’s. It’s Good.” The soda was created by the Barq’s brothers, Edward and Gaston, who began experimenting with beverages in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Barq’s is rare in the root beer world, in that it contains caffeine, while most similar products don’t. That means that it certainly does pack a bite.

Hold My Root Beer

Mug

Beginning as Belfast Root Beer, brewed out of San Francisco in the 1940s, the company eventually changed the product’s name to Mug Old Fashioned Root Beer. As is common with most root beer ventures, a Cream Soda variation was also released, but is less common to find. Mug was acquired by PepsiCo in 1986, joining their long lineup of beverage options. Mug’s mascot is a bulldog named Dog (how very creative!), whose adventures are featured in an online comic on the brand’s website. I don’t know about all you little sippers, but I don’t mind sharing my drinking experiences with a cute pooch!

Dad’s

The Dad’s brand name is derived in honour of all the fathers out there that used to brew their own root beer for their families, back in the day. Dad’s was an innovative line, being the first beverage to take advantage of the six pack format and half-gallon bottle options. Like A&W burgers, Dad’s Root Beer also follows a family-style orientation with ‘Papa’, ‘Mama’, and ‘Junior’ products. A popular marketing tactic used by the company in the 1940’s was to sell the quart-sized Mama for only 1-cent, with the purchase of a half-gallon Papa. Dad’s ads appeared in the 1946 movie The Stranger, directed by and starring Orson Welles.

Flavour Revolution: Root Canal

Jan 26

  • 2 oz Root Beer Schnapps
  • 0.25 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Top with Dr. Pepper
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

If I had to pick a favourite root beer, amongst the fine choices above, I think I’d have to go with A&W. They get the nod because I can easily combine their soda with delicious burgers and scrumptious fries. Plus, you can never take anything away from a frosted mug, which the restaurant is happy to fill for you!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I knew from the moment I found this recipe, that it would be a good one. Sure, Peppermint Schnapps is an odd addition to the mix of Root Beer Schnapps and Dr. Pepper, but it all came out okay in the wash. There was a brief hint of peppermint flavour, but it’s very light and doesn’t ruin the other soda tastes.

Canada – Unsuspecting Victim

Legend of Poutine

As we continue our trek across Canada’s often frozen tundra, we discover another of the country’s greatest products: poutine. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it basically means fries with gravy and cheese curds, but it can also be so much more. Let’s take a look at Canada’s cultural cuisine.

Poutine Heart Attacks

As with most things that earn a cult status and become famous, there are many that claim to have created the dish. A number of French Canadian cities also assert that they are the home of poutine’s invention. Drummondville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Victoriaville, and Warwick each have ponies in this race.

It is commonly believed that poutine earned its name (which is French slang for “a mess”) when a trucker asked cook Fernand Lachance to add cheese curds to his fries in the 1950’s.

You can really make anything with the poutine base of fries and curds. Butter chicken, ribs, ground beef, pulled pork, and most other meats can be used in recipes. There are also Greek and Italian poutines which include Greek salad and gyro meat and Bolognese sauce and Italian sausage, respectively.

Chef Chuck Hughes even won an episode of Iron Chef America with an offering of lobster poutine, which sounds so amazingly fantastic. Not so fantastic (to the Sip Advisor, at least) are recipes which include foie gras, caviar, and truffles. I’d still give them a shot, though and probably end up eating crow.

Despite its wonderful taste, one major downside of poutine is its high-caloric value. Servings can range from 750-1,500 calories depending on how many ingredients are thrown on top of the base.

calories-poutine

A number of fast food joints have also jumped aboard the literal gravy train. New York Fries, KFC, Burger King, Dairy Queen, A&W, Wendy’s, and even McDonald’s, known for their world famous skinny fries, have got in on the poutine act. A number of poutine specific restaurants have also began popping up across Canada. In a small area of downtown Vancouver, you can find La Belle Patate, Smoke’s Poutinerie, Mean Poutine, and others.

My favourite rendition of the meal is available at my local watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse. It’s not an elaborate serving of the delicacy, but what pushes it over the edge is the chipotle drizzle they put over the fries, giving it a bit of spice. The menu item is also on the bar’s half price happy hour menu, which makes it all the more amazing.

Jones Soda released a poutine-flavoured beverage for a limited time in 2013, which was met with mostly harsh reviews. Still, I wish I could track it down and use it in a drink recipe. If you have a bottle lying around, donations to The Sip Advisor are always accepted and like a church offering plate are strongly encouraged!

Some close family members of poutine include Disco Fries (using mozza cheese and served in New Jersey and New York since the 1970’s), Chili Cheese Fries, and In-N-Out Burger’s Animal Fries (with cheese, onions, and secret sauce).

All this talk of poutine has worked up quite an appetite for me, so we’ll close with a note on perhaps the most famous moment for the popular dish. For Rick Mercer’s satirical ‘Talking to Americans’ segment on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, during the 2000 U.S. election, Mercer told George W. Bush that Prime Minister Jean Poutine had endorsed him. The actual Canadian PM at the time was Jean Chretien, but not a single interviewee picked up on the discrepancy. When President Bush made his first trip to Canada, he joked that he wanted to thank Mr. Poutine for the endorsement, finally clued in to the gag.

Canada: Unsuspecting Victim

Unsuspecting Victim Drink Recipe

  • 0.75 oz Crown Royal Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Chambord
  • 0.75 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Pineapple Juice and Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Lemon and Lime Wheels

This is one of the few things we can thank the French for… that and an endless number of liquor options. Please share your favourite poutine recipe, fact, or story. Then go get yourself some of Canada’s finest gastronomic delight!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Well, my little sippers, it happened again. I ended up with some Pineapple Juice that had gone bad and came out as clumpy as some poutine gravies. Luckily, I had some Pineapple Soda still lying around and it added a very nice touch to the drink. The always reliable (aren’t all Canadian items!) Crown Royal Whiskey tasted really good combined with the Chambord and Amaretto and everything mixed together made for an excellent cocktail.