Mississippi – Mississippi Punch

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 board a riverboat and sail down Old Man River (aka the Mighty Mississip), to explore the Magnolia State, named for both the State Flower and State Tree. Mississippi holds many treasures, so let’s get to the plundering:

Motto: “By valor and arms” – Someone’s looking for a fight!

Food: The Sip Advisor loves his dips, often wondering how much the item being dipped really matters. One I have yet to try is Comeback Sauce, a Mississippi favourite, mixing mayonnaise and chili sauce, said to put other dips and dressings to shame. It is typically used on fried foods and salads and originated at Greek restaurant, The Rotisserie, in Jackson.

Drink: Barq’s Root Beer was created by Edward Barq, in 1898. The beverage was produced in Biloxi, inside a small home used as the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works. The operation remained in Biloxi, moving to a much larger facility, in 1936. The Barq’s brand is now owned by the Coca-Cola Company, which coincidentally, was first bottled in Vicksburg, in 1894.

root-beer

Site to See: For a state that’s rife with a history of racial tensions, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is probably a good place to start your education. Located in Jackson, the state-sponsored museum opened in 2017 and features eight galleries to be explored. The Museum of Mississippi History can be found next door, so you can double down on the learning.

Street: The Mississippi Blues Trail is a collection of markers throughout the state, which highlight landmarks that greatly contributed to the development of blues music (much more on this subject throughout this article). From recording studios to the birthplaces of blues artists to performance locations, the route has it all and would make for a very interesting road trip.

TV Show: In the Heat of the Night, starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins, ran for seven seasons and 142 episodes, as well as four TV movies. The crime drama dealt with many serious topics, with race relations being examined throughout the show’s run. O’Connor, better known as the bigoted Archie Bunker, won an Emmy for his role and the series was recognized multiple times by the NAACP.

Movie: O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a crime comedy-drama, set in Mississippi during the Great Depression. Starring George Clooney, the story sees a trio of prisoners escape from their chain gang and go on the run, trying to get back a buried robbery score. The film is perhaps best known for its soundtrack, which won Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammys.

Book/Author: Playwright, Tennessee Williams, was born in Columbus. His most famous works include A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, both of which received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and were adapted into successful movies. Williams was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame, in 1979.

Fictional Character: Kermit the Frog rose from the shadows of 2,353 siblings to become one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever known. He can sing, he can dance, he can do it all. Introduced in 1955, Kermit has been making kids (and adults) smile for 65 years. Toddler Sip has become a fan of the frog and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

Fictional City: Although the novel source material for In the Heat of the Night uses the setting of Wells, South Carolina, the movie, its sequels and the subsequent TV series, used the fictional Mississippi locale of Sparta. There’s actually a real Sparta in the state, but the In the Heat of the Night location is unrelated.

Actor/Actress: Jim Henson was seldom seen onscreen, but his acting chops could best be seen performing characters such as Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Ernie, Waldorf, the Swedish Chef, Guy Smiley, and many others on shows such as The Muppets and Sesame Street. Henson was born in Greenville, but raised in Leland, where the Birthplace of Kermit the Frog Museum and Rainbow Connection Bridge can be found.

Kermit Henson

Song: Mississippi is not the easiest state in the union to spell, as I have found while punching it out multiple times for this article. Thankfully, I have the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I song going through my head and keeping me error free. The tune was first performed all the way back in 1916 and wasn’t intended to help people spell the state correctly, but because it was fun to recite.

Band/Musician: The King, Elvis Presley, was born in Tupelo, living there until he was a teenager. The hit maker, known for songs such as Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes, also enjoyed a successful leap into films, including Viva Las Vegas and Blue Hawaii. The Sip Advisor’s teenage self is also demanding I cite pop icon, Britney Spears, born in McComb. While we’re throwing out honourable mentions, island escapist singer, Jimmy Buffett, is from Pascagoula.

People: Born in Kosciusko, media mogul, Oprah Winfrey, has gone on to become one of the most powerful women in the world, establishing the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), in 2008. Her rise to international fame was helped by her long-running talk show, as well as other projects in various media. The Oprah Effect was a term coined to show Winfrey’s ability to make something popular or reviled with a simple endorsement or condemnation.

Animal: Tukota, a rare white bison, was born and lived at the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo. White bisons are born at a rate of only one in every five million births and are considered sacred by many Native American groups. Unfortunately, Tukota had to be euthanized after sustaining life-threatening injuries after a fight with another bison.

Spears

Invention: Mississippi is the birthplace of Blues Music, thanks to notable artists such as Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson. One of the first mentions of the genre, came from an archeologist working in the state, who described the songs of black workers, including themes and technical elements.

Crime: In June 1964, three civil rights activists, working to register black voters, went missing. Three days later, their burnt out car was discovered and their bodies followed two months after that. It took 41 years for anyone to be charged in the case, with Edgar Ray Killen being convicted of three counts of manslaughter, in 2005, and sentenced to 60 years. The case was documented in the film Mississippi Burning.

Law: In Mississippi, it is illegal for a man to pretend to want to marry a woman, in order to woo her. Wouldn’t that put every guy ever behind bars!?

Sports Team: Without any professional teams to support, the sports programs of the University of Mississippi (aka Ole Miss Rebels) and Mississippi State University Bulldogs are the top games around. The two schools are great rivals, competing in many disciplines, most notably the annual Egg Bowl, which closes each football season.

Blues

Athlete: A bevy of NFL greats hail from Mississippi, including Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Brett Favre. The trio hold or held many of the records for each of their positions: Payton at running back, Rice at wide receiver and Favre at quarterback. Combined, the three have won five Super Bowl Championships and been selected to 33 Pro Bowls, among numerous other accolades.

Famous Home: The Elvis Presley Birthplace, in Tupelo, is not only where the legendary musician lived the first few years of his life, he was also born in the two-bedroom home. Today, the site includes the house, a museum, the actual church Presley first attended (which has been moved there), and a chapel. The entire complex is a stop along the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Urban Legend: Stories have long be told that Robert Johnson’s mastery of blues music was thanks to a deal he made with the Devil. The tale goes that Johnson met with a being at a crossroads or in a graveyard, who tuned his guitar and played a few songs before returning the instrument… in exchange for Johnson’s soul. Johnson’s unreported death by poisoning, at the young age of 27, only helped to further such legends.

Museum: There are four Grammy Museums located around the U.S., with one found in Mississippi. Opened in 2016, in Cleveland, the site was chosen thanks to the rich history of music in the state, as has been noted throughout this piece. Exhibits include iconic instruments and clothing worn by musicians on the red carpet, prior to Grammy award ceremonies.

Deal

Firsts: The University of Mississippi Medical Center achieved two major surgical firsts one year apart. In 1963, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first human lung transplant. He followed that up the following year with the world’s first heart transplant, when he put the heart of a chimpanzee into the body of a comatose, near-death man. The man lived for an hour with the new heart, but never regained consciousness.

Company: With no companies recognizable to me residing in Mississippi, I can point out FedEx was founded by Mississippian, Frederick W. Smith. During FedEx’s humble beginnings, Smith took the company’s final $5,000 to Las Vegas, hoping to keep the business afloat. Playing blackjack, Smith walked away with $27,000, good for another week of operating.

Events: Mississippi was the site of numerous Civil War battles, but what happened following the war may be how the state is best remembered. One year after the Civil War ended, four women decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Columbus’ Friendship Cemetery. The act, known as ‘where flowers healed a nation,’ was originally dubbed Decoration Day, eventually turning into the national holiday, Memorial Day.

Miscellaneous: Mississippi is one of many words used as a placeholder to count seconds (one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.). Nobody seems to know the origins of why Mississippi was chosen, but it is a lasting legacy of the state.

Mississippi Punch

Mississippi Punch

  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

This drink was created by the ‘Father of American Mixology,’ Jerry Thomas, also called “the greatest bartender in American history.” A number of variations of the cocktail exist, especially when it comes measurement differences. Thomas’ version called for a wine glass of Cognac and half glasses of both Bourbon and Rum… That would make for an impressive beverage!

Louisiana – New Orleans 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. You’d think Louisiana would have a nickname like Party Central or something like that, but it’s actually the Pelican State, with the birds found in droves along the state’s coastline. As the locals say, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll):

Motto: “Union, justice, confidence” – Sometimes, any three words will do.

Food: Louisianans love food and have introduced the world to a number of dishes. At the top of that list are items such as Jambalaya, Gumbo, Po’boys (a Sip Advisor favourite), Tabasco Sauce, and even the legendary Turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey).

Drink: Given the state’s party reputation, it should come as no surprise a number of cocktails have been created in Louisiana. The Sazerac, for example, is thought to be among the first cocktails ever made. Also, Southern Comfort was invented by a bartender in New Orleans.

Po'boy

Site to See: Nobody travels to Louisiana without stopping in New Orleans for some French Quarter action. If you happen to visit during Mardi Gras, you’re in for one of the world’s greatest parties. Other attractions worth visiting include various plantations (Oak Alley, Myrtles, Whitney), or taking in a swamp/airboat tour.

Street: Bourbon Street is the most famous of the lanes that make up the French Quarter. The route is lined with bars and strip clubs and fuels the nightly party in the district. Open container laws in the French Quarter allow patrons to drink in public and travel the streets to their heart’s content.

TV Show: True Blood ran for seven seasons and 80 episodes of mythical creature adventures. Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries books by Charlaine Harris, viewers are transported to a world where almost anything is possible and thanks to being broadcasted on HBO, nothing was really off limits in terms of content.

Movie: There’s some great movies set in Louisiana. Chief among them, The Waterboy, starring Adam Sandler as Bobby Boucher, an amateur hydration expert, who has hidden talents on the football field. Disney fans have also been taken to the state through films such as The Rescuers and The Princess and the Frog.

Bourbon Street

Book/Author: Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles series, was born in New Orleans. Two of Rice’s novels from The Vampire Chronicles, Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned, have been adapted into films, while a TV series has been announced as being in development.

Fictional Character: The Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit, is a member of the X-Men, known for his ability to control energy and turn everyday items into weapons. I’m waiting for the day we finally get a Gambit feature film, but it seems to be stuck in development hell, despite the willingness of A-lister Ryan Reynolds to play the character.

Fictional City: Bon Temps, the setting for True Blood, and home to its many memorable characters, is a place one might want to live… at least until crazy stuff starts happening. Despite being inhabited by vampires, werewolves, witches and all other types of predators, you could say the humans of Bon Temps aren’t much better and are actually worse.

Actor/Actress: Reese Witherspoon was born in New Orleans and became an actress as a teenager. Witherspoon’s career has grown to see her be one of the highest paid women in the industry, thanks to starring roles in Legally Blonde and Walk the Line, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar.

Bon Temps

Song: Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz music, so I had to pick a tune from that genre for this category. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? originally appeared in the film New Orleans, performed by jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. The track has been covered countless times, including by artists such as Harry Connick Jr. and Jimmy Buffett.

Band/Musician: More on Louis Armstrong, who was born in New Orleans. Satchmo, as he was nicknamed, greatly influenced the style of music that he would become synonymous with, over a 50-year career. New Orleans’ primary airport was renamed in his honour, in 2001. Other accolades included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, posthumously presented.

People: Popular talk show host and activist for the LGBT community, Ellen DeGeneres, was born in Metairie. DeGeneres has her own lifestyle brand (who doesn’t nowadays) and is one of the highest paid entertainers in the world. Her daytime talk show has been in production since 2003. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Animal: My top options for this category were a cat, a peacock and an alligator… all the eclectic variety one would expect from Louisiana. I’m going with the cat because he took up residence at New Orleans bar, Molly’s at the Market, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Wu would even join patrons for a drink, served shot glasses of cream.

Mr. Wu

Invention: Two of the most popular casino games, Poker and Craps, were invented in Louisiana. While versions of the games had previously existed, they were adapted and became popular once being introduced in the state.

Crime: The Axeman of New Orleans operated between May 1918 and October 1919, killing six people and injuring another six. Never identified, one theory was the slayings were Mafia motivated, as most victims were Italian. The Axeman also wrote a letter at one point, stating they would not attack any home playing jazz music on a particular night. Jazz music filled the city and no murders occurred.

Law: A couple Mardi Gras based laws should be highlighted. It is illegal to throw beads from a third-story window and snakes are not allowed within 200 yards of the parade route. Alligators may be allowed, but they are not to be tethered to a fire hydrant.

Sports Team: New Orleans is home to two Big 4 sports franchises, with the Saints (NFL) and Pelicans (NBA). The Saints won the 2009 Super Bowl, uniting the city after the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina. The Pelicans (formerly Hornets) were relocated from Charlotte, North Carolina for the 2002-03 season.

Dog Poker

Athlete: Brothers Peyton and Eli Manning were born in New Orleans, while their father Archie (also a quarterback) played for the NFL’s Saints. Both Peyton and Eli were drafted first overall before going on to win two Super Bowls each. Other notable hall of famers from Louisiana, in their respective sports, include Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler and Marshall Faulk.

Famous Home: LaLaurie Mansion, in New Orleans, is where Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a member of high society, tortured and murdered slaves. Her crimes were discovered following a fire at the home, which was then destroyed by an angry mob. LaLaurie escaped to France, while the mansion was rebuilt and owned by actor Nicholas Cage for a brief time. Today, tours will take you to the home, but visitors are not allowed inside.

Urban Legend: Voodoo is so prominent in the state, the practice of it is commonly known as Louisiana Voodoo. Acts include the use of potions and Voodoo dolls, among other techniques. Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, is still quite popular among followers, despite dying in 1881. Ghostly sightings of Laveau have been reported and according to lore, marking her grave with an ‘x’ and doing a few other actions, may end up with a wish being granted.

Museum: The Cabildo, in New Orleans, is now home to the Louisiana State Museum, but it played quite the role in the history of the state and country. It was the site of the Louisiana Purchase pact, which doubled the size of the U.S. For $15 million, or $18 per square mile, France sold America land which now comprises parts of 15 states and even two Canadian provinces.

Voodoo Doll

Firsts: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. was Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove, in Delta), whose wealth was earned through her line of cosmetics and hair care products. When Walker died in 1919, she was considered the richest African-American woman in the country.

Company: Two popular fast food chicken restaurants can trace their origins back to Louisiana. Popeyes was founded in the state in New Orleans, in 1972, although it’s now headquartered in Miami, Florida. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers first operated in Baton Rouge, in 1996, where it is still based.

Events: Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, with its epicenter being New Orleans. It was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, causing an estimated $161 billion in damages. The human toll was worse, with 1,833 recorded deaths from the hurricane and ensuing floods.

Miscellaneous: The Sip Advisor’s favourite area at Disneyland is New Orleans Square. Rides like The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean form the basis for this affection, while restaurants serving up southern fare and bands playing jazz numbers complete the departure to another world.

New Orleans Fizz

New Orleans Fizz

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Cream
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 Drops of Vanilla Extract
  • Top with Club Soda

Also known as the Ramos Gin Fizz, this drink was invented by Henry C. Ramos at his bar, the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, in New Orleans. Despite the cocktail’s long preparation time, its popularity grew when Louisiana Governor, Huey Long, acquired a taste for it and had a bartender travel from New Orleans to New York, to teach bartenders there how to make it.