Flavour Revolution – Sriracha

Fierce Flames

Hailing from eastern Thailand, Sriracha has burst onto the world scene over the last few years, even being used by restaurant chains, such as Subway, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, and many others.  Even McDonald’s has jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon. The hot sauce is made from chili pepper paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt, and it will leave a sizzle on your taste buds. Let’s learn some more about the product that is sometimes referred to as “cock sauce”, thanks to the rooster adorned on the bottle:

Sriracha No Sauce

That cock symbolizes Huy Fong Foods and Sriracha founder David Tran, who was born in the year of the rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac. Huy Fong can push out 3000 bottles of Sriracha each hour, from their production plant in Irwindale, California. 100 million pounds of red jalapeno peppers are used each year to make the sauce and are all provided by Underwood Ranches in Amarillo, California.

Si Racha, where the sauce has been originally traced back to, is actually a seaside town in Thailand, with a population of almost 20,000 inhabitants. Sales of the Americanized version have topped 20 million bottles per year and that number just continues to rise.

On the Scoville scale, which measures how spicy different sauces, peppers, and other food items are, Sriracha gets a score of 2200 points, which is actually quite low, in the grand scheme of things. The hottest pepper currently listed on the scale is the Carolina Reaper (great name!) at 2,200,000 heat units. Your face would probably implode if you put that pepper in your mouth!

Sriracha Eye Drops

Sriracha has now been infused into everything from candy canes to potato chips. One of those sounds delicious and the other disgusting and I bet you know which way this potato chip monster is leaning. The spicy dip has also been added as an ingredient to lollipops, beef jerky, lip balm, and even cocktail bitters.

Portland’s Rogue beer and spirits company has produced a Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. I’ve had and enjoyed the company’s Chipotle Ale, so I’m curious to also try the Sriracha offering. Perhaps, the Sip Advisor will get his grubby hands on it during Easter weekend, when the Sip Family is planning a crawl of the Portland scene!

While Sriracha has made its way around the world, it has also left our atmosphere, aboard the international space station, demanded by astronauts, to be used on their dehydrated meals. Some folks are quick to put the sauce on anything and everything, but the most popular items include pizza, burgers, noodle dishes, eggs, and stir fry.

sriracha-food-pyramid

A 34-minute documentary on Sriracha was released in 2013, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, which saw 1315 people donate $21,009 to the cause, in just 31 days. All this success – sales increases by about 20% each year – despite never advertising their product. Sriracha is also not trademarked, so that’s why imitators may be aplenty, including a version made by Tabasco.

The Sriracha story hasn’t been all sunshine and chili peppers, though. The Huy Fong company has been sued and shutdown over the smell omitted by their factory. Complaints from area residents included sore throats, burning eyes, and nosebleeds. That’s a small price to pay for convenient hot sauce!

The factory opened again, once the odor issues were dealt with and fans of the sauce can actually take a tour of the place, getting to see how peppers become paste and how Sriracha makes its way from harvest to bottles to consumer’s mouths. Occasionally, there’s also an ice cream truck on the site, offering Sriracha-infused ice cream!

Flavour Revolution: The Cocky Rooster

The Cocky Rooster Beer Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Salt
  • 1.5 oz UV Sriracha Vodka
  • Top with Beer
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Soy Sauce
  • Garnish with Lemon Wheel

In a not totally surprising note, I first experienced Sriracha in potato chip form and liked it enough that I want to give it more opportunities aboard Sip Advisor delicacies. I’ve heard of a Sriracha-mayonnaise mix, which has me very interested.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink is similar to a Michelada, but altogether different, at the same time. While I’m really getting into this Sriracha Vodka, I did not like this drink. I just felt that things didn’t work well together and the taste was off. The beer I chose to use was Red Truck Ale, as I wanted something that would allow the other flavours to take over and take over they did… just not with good results. Back to the Sriracha Vodka, my only qualm is that it’s not actually red, but clear. The bottle is red and I was hoping the alcohol would be too, adding a new element to my collection.

Flavour Revolution – Lime

The Great Debate

While both Limes and Lemons were used to fight scurvy, I’ve always been partial to the little green guys. Let’s debate the benefits and cultural impact of Limes vs. Lemons and see if the Sip Advisor is justified in his love!

Health Benefits

Limes have more than double the Vitamin A of a lemon, but lemons come in with close to double the Vitamin C of a lime. I guess that makes the whole thing a wash, but that’s okay, I don’t really like getting into the whole nutrient argument too much. Let’s just say that the two zesty fruits are actually both considered incredibly healthy. Winner: Draw

Vitamins

Pie

Frankly, I enjoy my pies in the form of fruits like cherry or blueberry, but we must debate the merits of Key Lime Pie vs. Lemon Meringue Pie, despite their many similarities. Key Lime Pie is the state pie (Seriously!? They have these!) of Florida and there was even legislation introduced in 1965 – although it did not pass – that would have seen a $100 fine levied against anyone that advertised Key Lime Pie, not made with Key limes. Lemon Meringue simply does not have the same backing. Winner: Limes

Non-Alcoholic Drink

This category is pretty easy to decide. While limeade/lime cordial goes good with some cocktails, I don’t think many people drink it on its own. The same can’t be said for lemonade which is universally enjoyed and is part of the way of life in places like the southern United States, where sitting on your back porch with glass of tall, ice cold lemonade on a hot summer’s day just seems so natural. Winner: Lemons

Cocktails

With an array of options that include the Margarita, Gin & Tonic, Gimlet, Rickey, and many others, Limes easily pull out to a quick lead. And you simply can’t drink a Corona without a lime wedge stuffed inside the bottle. Lemons do produce Limoncello, Lemon Drop Schnapps and a lemon wedge goes quite nicely with most wheat beers, but because an orange wedge always trumps that, I will instead deduct points. Winner: Limes

Songs & Groups

My favourite band of all-time, Led Zeppelin, has The Lemon Song and even the enigmatic Meatloaf had the track Life is a Lemon. There’s also a group called The Lemons, as well as Blind Lemon (a play on Blind Melon), which calls itself “the UK’s hardest hitting covers band”. All limes really bring to the table is, of all things, the Coconut song. You need to put the lime in the coconut or else you won’t feel better… what a silly woman! Winner: Lemons

Characters

This is another quick steal for lemons, who offer Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, from 30 Rock, as well as Lemony Snicket and Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. The limes counter with Harry Lime, a character played by Orson Welles, in the film noir The Third Man (which was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1949) and a Dragon Ball Z character simply known as Lime, whose Wikipedia entry even calls him a filler character. Winner: Lemons

Liz Lemon

Spirituality

In India, limes are used to remove evil spirits, as part of the Tantra ritual. They also play a role in repelling the dreaded evil eye and are often worn as charms. Lemons on the other hand, are offered to the goddesses of Hindu temples, to cool them down from their fierce fighting style, so that they may offer blessings. I feel that anything that protects you in India is a good thing, while lemons in this case, are simply a bribe. Winner: Limes

Other

Lime has its own stone, although I’m not sure that has even the slightest bit to do with the fruit and looking up something like that might make me sleepy. There’s also Lyme Disease, which probably has even less to do with the fruit, but just by association, it doesn’t sound very good. Lastly, Limey is a slang term for British folk, likely derived from navy sailors and the whole scurvy thing. The only questionable thing I can think of for lemons, is that ‘squeezing lemons’ is a term for peeing. With all these negative aspects, is there really a winner? Winner: Double Disqualification

Flavour Revolution: Bite My Beer

Bite My Beer Cocktail

I’m sticking with my original pick of limes, but lemons sure made the decision a tough one. One thing is certain, limes and lemons come together quite nicely in Sweet & Sour Mix and perhaps we should just leave it at that!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This drink wasn’t bad, but it turned more into a sweet beer, with a little bite. Given the rum’s name, I guess that’s exactly what they were going for. I wonder if I would have felt any different if the Lemon-Lime Soda wasn’t involved, as I’m not sure mixing pop and beer is ever a good thing.

Czech Republic – Beerly Legal

Brew Handles

Budweiser (made by Anheuser-Busch) is one of the most popular beer brands around the world thanks to corporate sponsorship deal with various sports leagues, heavy advertising, and product placement in movies and TV. What many people don’t know, is how Budweiser came to be, taking their moniker from two breweries based in the city of České Budějovice (Budweis), in the Czech Republic. Let’s take a closer look at this sordid tale:

Beer has been brewed in the city of Budějovice since the 13th century, evening holding the position of imperial brewery for the Holy Roman Empire at one time. The Czech Republic’s largest brewery is the “Pivovar Budějovický Budvar” (Budweiser Budvar Brewery), which was established in 1895. One hundred years earlier, the oldest Czech brewery was founded, under the name “Budweiser Bier Bürgerbräu.” Both companies sold their beer under the name Budweiser.

bud versus

Budweiser Bürgerbräu crossed the pond and hit the United States in 1871. Five years later, in 1876, Anheuser-Busch began using the Budweiser brand and registered it as a trademark two years later, in 1878. The Anheuser-Busch version of Budweiser was originally an imitation of the Czech product, before carving out its own niche in the brewing industry.

The Budweiser trademark dispute has been fought since 1907, with Anheuser-Busch trying to worm its way into European countries, citing their trademark registration. To counter, the Czech breweries state that Budweiser is not just a generic name, but actually refers to beers made in the city of Budweis. The direct translation is ‘beers from Budweis,’ which Anheuser-Busch certainly can’t claim, unless there’s a town in St. Louis nobody has previously heard of, also called Budweis.

Regardless, an agreement between all three breweries was reached in 1938, allowing Anheuser-Busch to label their beers Budweiser in North America only. Anheuser-Busch has made numerous offers to buy out the Budweiser Budvar Brewery, in order to acquire the global rights to the name and beer, but the Czech government has stepped in and declined all bids. The Budweiser name is a matter of national pride and who doesn’t like sticking it to big American corporations every now and again!

i before e bud

With the fall of communism in the early 1990’s, the Czech breweries worked to regain the rights to their names, using international Protected Geographical Indication, to help with their fight. As of January 2013, the Czech companies had won 89 of 124 cases against Anheuser-Busch (eight ending in a draw), but there are many other actions pending, in jurisdictions around the world.

As a result of the litigation between the three companies, beers made by the state-owned Budweiser Budvar Brewery are labelled Czechvar in North America, while Budweiser America is sold as simply Bud across European Union markets. Today, Budweiser Bürgerbräu is known by “Pivovar Samson” or “B. B. Bürgerbräu” in the U.S. and recently regained the Budweiser naming rights for Europe.

i-love-you-too-beer

Anheuser-Busch and the Budweiser Budvar Brewery have even worked in partnership with one another. Starting in 2007, Anheuser-Busch started to import the Czechvar beer into the U.S. Business certainly does make for strange bedfellows, although the agreement was terminated in 2012. The United Kingdom and Ireland are some of the rare places where all brands are able to use the Budweiser name.

As for Anheuser-Busch, they keep plugging along, hocking their water… er, I mean beer to hundreds of millions of people who just don’t know any better. Mrs. Sip and I hate it when a place we go to is featuring Budweiser as their daily deal. We’re not saying you have to be a craft beer snob or anything like that, but if you’re going to put anything in your system, it might as well be a decent brew!

Czech Republic: Beerly Legal

Beerly Legal Beer Cocktail

  • 1 oz Campari
  • Top with Czechvar Beer
  • Splash of Orange Soda
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Sticking with brews, the Pilsner style of beer was also invented in the Czech Republic, this time in the city of Plzeň. Beer brewing is still a thriving industry in the Czech Republic, with countless breweries. Heck, the Czech’s even have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I love the name of this cocktail, but Campari has ruined (yet again) what should have been a great drink. If I make it again, I would completely exclude the Italian herbal liqueur. Thankfully, my bottle is almost empty and I can say without any hesitation that it will not be replaced. On a side note, I used Orange Soda in place of Tangerine Juice.

Czech Republic – Magic Eye

Castlevania

There are more castles per capita in the Czech Republic than any other place in the world. More than 2,000 structures exist in the country, which is fair given the Czechs are surrounded by a number of countries and have been invaded, conquered, divided, and annexed numerous times over their existence. Let’s take a look at some of these fortresses:

Prague Castle

The largest castle in the world is located in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, where the best view of the city can be found atop the main tower of the stronghold. A highlight of Prague Castle grounds is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which features beautiful stained-glass windows, as well as the burial plots of Czech saints and emperors. The whole site combines many different aspects of Czech architecture and design from across the centuries and is a feast for the eyes. A hidden room within the castle walls hides the Bohemian Crown Jewels and even Adolf Hitler spent a night in the structure, after the Nazis invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia.

Cat Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Thought of by many as the second most popular tourist attraction in the Czech Republic, Karlštejn Castle is a Gothic-style castle located 30km southwest of Prague. Built by King Charles IV, the fortress was needed to guard the crown jewels, holy relics, and other treasures belonging to the royal family. Unfortunately, many rooms at the landmark are hidden from tourists due to earlier robberies. Apparently, you can even drink water from a hand-powered well, although the Sip Advisor will take his bottled options (water, beer, etc.) over the natural stuff. If castles aren’t your thing, a golf course is located nearby and shares the same name.

Cesky Krumlov Castle

Not only does this landmark house an impressive main castle, but there are also a number of mini castles, making the town seem almost maze-like. In the castle moat, visitors can see a family of brown bears, the protectors of the site. Special to the Cesky Krumlov grounds is the Baroque Theatre, which is one of the world’s most preserved theatres, including stage, orchestra pit, machinery, costumes, stage curtains, and much more. The area was made a national monument in 1989 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.

Cesky Sternberk Castle

This stronghold is still owned by the same family that built it in the mid-13th century, after it was returned to the Sternberg’s in 1992, following the fall of communism and Velvet Revolution. The name of the castle, Sternberk, translates to Star Mountain, which kind of sounds like a world in a video game, such as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. The complex is one of the best preserved medieval castles and tours are highlighted by a visit to the Knight’s Hall, which holds a number of historic items. There are also 545 copper engravings on display, which detail the entirety of the Thirty Years’ War.

Darth Vader Castle

Cervena Lhota

This picturesque bright red castle was built in the middle of a lake, atop an island and connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. The castle’s gardens are a major attraction and the site is visited by over 120,000 tourists each year. Nearby, is a park that offers attractions such as the Renaissance Chapel of the Holy Trinity and a fish pond where boats can be rented for a trek across its waters. The castle’s name, meaning “Red Lhota” comes from the red tiles that make up its roof.

Zleby Castle

Originally built around 1289, the Zleby Caslte has changed its look many times over the centuries. Beginning as a Gothic style structure, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style, following the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. Later, it was changed again to a Baroque style and it has remained this way since. Tours at the castle take visitors in one of two directions: either to the kitchens or to the high tower and its dungeons. Travelers could ask for a nice meal before being ushered to the dungeon to meet their maker! Also in the area is a population of white deer, as well as various birds and other animals.

Hluboka Castle

One of the first Gothic style castle in the world, Hluboka was built in the mid-13th century and contains many expensive furniture pieces, particularly in the “Morning Guest Room,” which includes woven tapestries from Brussels, hand-painted Chinese vases, and other objects of art. The fortress was even featured in a scene from the Owen Wilson-Jackie Chan film, Shanghai Knights. The castle is close to the city of Budějovice (where the real Budweiser was created and is still made today – the next Czech article du jour), so tourists can always get smashed before or after their castle visit.

Czech Republic: Magic Eye

Magic Eye Beer Cocktail

Some people have it on their bucket list to stay overnight at a castle, but not the Sip Advisor. On my bucket list is “Own a Castle!” Can you imagine the parties I could throw if I had my own palace? The booze would be flowing like blood did during the Middle Ages and we would pour one out for all the homies that perished with the walls!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Originally, I was going to pick up a bottle of Absinthe for our jaunt through the Czech Republic, but then I learned of the country’s long history with beer and decided to go that route, instead. While I can’t call this my favourite beer cocktail, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it could be. To get the whole drink effect to look its best, I put the shot glass already into the empty goblet and used a pourer to get the beer around the shooter, so as to mix it up as little as possible. It all led to a rare success in the Sip Advisor’s Creation Kitchen!

Belgium – Moon Drops

Comic Creations

While Get Fuzzy is the Sip Advisor’s favourite comic and he doesn’t stray too far from that strip (although he loves him the occasional Garfield story), Belgium is known for a few animated legends that have recently been turned into feature film franchises. Let’s take a closer look at these works:

The Adventures of Tintin

First published in 1929, Tintin was created by the artist simply known as Hergé (real name Georges Remi) as part of a newspaper supplement. Tintin books have gone on to become big business, selling more than 350 million copies in over 80 different languages. The character is often described as a native son of Belgium, which is pretty good praise for someone whose best friends are a dog and an oft-drunk sea captain.

Have you ever wondered where the name Tintin came from? The character’s first name is actually Martin and Tintin is a common nickname for people named Martin in French-speaking countries. His dog Snowy is actually called Milou in the French comics, while the detective duo of Thompson and Thomson are named Dupont and Dupond.

Tintin Age

Tintin, a teenage journalist and detective, has travelled the world and even beyond it. He’s had adventures in the Congo, the Soviet Union, China, and even on the moon. If you wish to keep up with his globetrotting, you may be out of luck. Some of the regions he’s visited are completely made up, such as Khemed, Borduria, Syldavia, and Nuevo Rico.

The 2011 film release, involving movie moguls Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, sees Hergé actually appear in the opening scene as the street artist. A Tintin theatrical release had been in the works since the 1980’s, when Spielberg first crafted a script for the Belgian icon. There has also been a Tintin TV cartoon (the Sip Advisor’s first introduction to Tintin adventures), BBC radio show, two French live-action films, stage shows, and publicity stunts.

Belgium Balls

The Smurfs

Created in 1958 by artist Peyo (what’s with all these Belgian comic creators going by a singular name), also known as Pierre Culliford, the Smurfs are branded as Les Schtroumpfs, in French. Peyo came up with the word ‘schtroumpfs’ when he forgot the word for salt at a dinner party and made something up on the spot. Smurf is simply the Dutch translation of the word.

The Smurfs, thanks to their North American TV cartoon, become a pop culture hit in the 1980’s (Smurfmania had already hit the U.K. in the 70’s), spawning their own cereal (including a commercial starring a 13-year-old Jack Black), video games, songs, dance craze, theme park attractions, Ice Capades show, and, of course, lines of toys and other merchandise that kids just had to have.

bring-me-a-smurf

In the beginning, there was only 99 Smurf characters, but that number has risen over the years. Despite the growth in population, there are only three female Smurfs: Smurfette, Sassette, and Nanny Smurf… talk about a sausage party! Some Smurfs from the original comics never made the crossover to TV and film. These characters include Alchemist Smurf, Timid Smurf, Enamored Smurf, Finance Smurf, Lumberjack Smurf, and Navigator Smurf.

The Smurfs helped create modern zombies, thanks to a 1959 comic called ‘The Black Smurfs’ (‘The Purple Smurfs’ in North America). The story was about a Smurf being bitten by an insect, before going around and biting other Smurfs, turning them into aggressive, living-dead beings. This comic was released years before George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and featured the birth of Grouchy Smurf, the patient zero who never regained his full Smurf senses following the outbreak.

Belgium: Moon Drops

Moon Drops Cocktail

Belgium has been dubbed ‘Home of the Comic Strip’ and these panels are considered to be an important part of Belgian life. Next time the Sip Advisor is visiting, he will certainly sit down with a Tintin or Smurfs anthology and give it a read. Some Belgian beer will help with the language barrier!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was simple, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The drops of Sherry floated on top of the drink, gave the brew a unique taste and made it look neat with that hazy red colour. Stella is a clean, crisp and easy to drink beer.

Japan – Sake Bomb

Rolling Along

Japanese culture has actually offered us so many things. Narrowing down what I was going to cover for the country wasn’t easy and I considered writing about everything from manga comics to game shows to freakin’ origami! There is one Japanese export that has grown more popular than Godzilla and frenemies and that’s sushi. So, grab you chopsticks and join the Sip Advisor for a fine dining experience:

Well, let’s drop a bomb from the start: sushi didn’t originate in Japan. Although we all recognize it as coming from the land of the rising sun and that is in fact where the rolls and cones we enjoy today originated, the act of combining fish with rice (meant to preserve the meat) was invented in Southeast Asia and came to Japan in the 8th century. Sushi in Japan began as a fast food, served at stalls on the street before moving into restaurants and bars.

Cat Licks Sushi

Let’s keep the game changers rolling along (get it? A sushi pun!) with this doozy: sushi doesn’t necessarily mean raw fish. It actually describes the rice, mixed with vinegar, sugar and salt, to make sticky rice, although actual sticky rice is a completely different creation. Still with me?

If you have aspirations of becoming a sushi chef, you likely want to do it anywhere else than Japan. There, hopeful cooks spend two years learning the ins and outs of making the rice, followed by three years working with the fish before their apprenticeship is passed and they can go to work behind a sushi bar. The honour and traditions don’t stop there. Sushi knives come from legendary samurai swords and the blades are sharpened and reshaped each day.

While westerners recognize sushi as being made up of rolls, the Japanese more commonly equate it to the nigiri pieces. Sashimi, of course, means sliced meat and can come in varieties such as beef, chicken, and various vegetables, to go along with all the seafood choices.

The preparation of octopus for sushi often includes a full-body massage by chefs, while the animal is still alive. This proves, once again, that food lives better than the Sip Advisor does!

How To Use Chopsticks

Although I dislike any ginger or wasabi with my sushi, I may have to reconsider. The ginger acts as an antibacterial for the raw fish, killing parasite which may exist, while also cleansing the palette between pieces. Wasabi, meanwhile, has anti-microbial assets and can decrease the risk of food poisoning. Researchers have even used wasabi as a smoke alarm for the deaf, spraying its vapors into a test room, where subject awoke promptly, much like the effects of smelling salts has on a person. This discovery was awarded with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In most western sushi restaurants, the wasabi you are served isn’t actually wasabi at all. It is a combination of horseradish, mustard, and food colouring. Real wasabi powder is quite expensive, ranging from $50-$100 per pound, making it likely that you would only find it in an upscale joint, if you’d find it at all. I’m not a fan of the green stuff, so this has no impact on me whatsoever, but it kind of makes me feel bad for always throwing out the booger-looking lump… it may have intrinsic value!

Nyotaimori is the act of eating sushi and sashimi off of a naked female model, while Nantaimori, refers to the same practice involving males. Models have to be trained to lie still for hours at a time and be made accustomed to the cold food that will sit on their torso. The deed is popular with members of organized crime in Japan. I once asked Mrs. Sip to be my sushi tray… poor girl ended up with soy sauce in her eyes!

For most young westerners, their first experience with sushi may have been the episode of The Simpsons, ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish,’ where Homer is introduced to the Japanese fare and falls for it so hard that he even requests the poisonous fugu (or puffer fish), which must be dissected perfectly in order to not poison the eater. Although the staff believe that Homer ate the poison (12 times stronger than cyanide) and has only hours to live, he survives his brush with death.

Fugu Funny

That happy ending was not shared by Bandō Mitsugorō VIII, a Japanese Kabuki actor and ‘National Treasure,’ who died after consuming four servings of fugu liver, believing that he was immune to the toxin. Each year, a handful of deaths occur after fugu servings and by law, only licensed chefs should prepare the potentially poisonous fish. Even the Emperor is banned from eating fugu.

Even when not taking the fugu challenge, folks should be cautious about their sushi consumption. Large doses of tuna can lead to mercury poisoning and should be avoided by women who are pregnant or planning to be and young kids. The warning makes it sounds like an amusement park ride… one that I want to be on! All raw fish portions come with the inherent risk of parasites, but it’s a risk that must be taken.

Speaking of tuna, it was once very unpopular and was looked down upon in Japan for being bad luck to eat and a lower class food item. Once a sushi chef named Hanaya Yohei began marinating the ‘chicken of the sea’ in soy sauce, it became a popular menu option.

Today, many places around the world have contributed a roll to the sushi lexicon, including Alaska, British Columbia (hey, that’s where the Sip Advisor gets his sushi!), California, Philadelphia, Seattle, Michigan, Hawaii, etc. Does it say something about the eater depending on which location they choose to order for and represent!?

Nemo Sushi

The seaweed wraps used to bind sushi rolls were originally formed from algae scraped off docks, but nowadays, the element is mass-produced through farming and sold to restaurants in packaged sheets. The seaweed is edible on its own and is sometimes served as a snack closely resembling potato chips, I guess. I mean, I’d much rather have potato chips, given my affinity for the grub, but who am I to criticize.

I absolutely love soy sauce and probably use way too much of it while eating sushi. Interestingly, there is actually soy sauce etiquette… protocols which I have certainly broken and likely offended sushi chefs. First, eaters should only coat the top of their piece with soy sauce, as the condiment is meant to enhance the topping, not the rice. Also, the rice absorbs the sauce quickly and can crumble as a result of getting wet. Finally, sushi prepared with other sauces should not be dunked into soy sauce.

The most expensive sushi ever served was five pieces of nigiri garnished with diamonds and wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf. It was made but chef Angelito Araneta, Jr. in the Phillipines and came in at a whopping price of nearly $2,000 US. Araneta has gained a reputation as the ‘Karat Chef,’ for his lavish creations.

Beginning your meal with a nice hot bowl of Miso Soup seems common, but the Japanese actually end their feast with this dish, as it aids in digestion. Now, enough of this talk about food. Let’s get to some drinking, while we wait for our order to be served!

Japan: Sake Bomb

May 5

  • 1.5 oz Sake
  • 1 Sapporo Beer
  • Garnish with Lime Wheel

Sushi combos have grown in leaps and bounds as the western world latches onto the fad. I once had a chicken strip roll that was drizzled with honey mustard sauce and was spectacular. There are also known recipes for mac and cheese, hamburger, beef, and chicken rolls. The Sip Advisor’s favourite sushi order includes the California Roll (especially if it’s deep fried), Dynamite Roll, and Beef Teriyaki Roll. I know, how very North American of me! What’s your preferred sushi choice?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
It should be noted that a Japanese beer like Sapporo or Asahi is preferable for a Sake Bomb to truly bring that taste of Japan to your meal. Simply drop the shot of Sake into your brew and slam that sucka! To be honest, I didn’t even notice the Sake while chugging this drink down. I think it would have been pretty light regardless, but all you really get is the beer.

September 25 – Mojo

Aphrodisiastic

I’m the kind of guy that’s ready to go at all hours of the day. I don’t need any food, drink, or other item to ‘put me in the mood’. I’ve come to understand that not everyone is as awesome as the Sip Advisor and therefore, I’m here to help all you little sippers out there that need an extra boost to get your mojo fired up. Here is an examination of some of the many items purported to help with libido!:

Chocolate – Named an aphrodisiac by women just so they can stuff their faces with the stuff and have an excuse to do so. In the end, they just complain they’re too full and not in any mood for making whoopee.

chocolate-aphrodisiac

Oysters – Well, I suppose the whole ‘slimy substance travelling down your throat’ could be practice for fun times later?

Spicy Peppers – These are sure to simulate some part of the body!

Snake Blood – Why not drink the snake’s venom, as well!? I think the only reason snake’s blood is an aphrodisiac is because once you kill one, your heart is pumping so fast you’d be ready to bed a rhino.

Dried Tiger Penis – Oh sure, this will be an easy find. Tiger’s are cuddly and approachable right!? Just like stuffed animals!

No, not that Tiger!

Bull Genitals – Why do all these cultures think that consumption of animal junk will make them more virile?

Spanish Fly – The European Blister Beetle can apparently provide a long-lasting erection that will later require medical attention. Is it worth it?

Fetal Duck Egg – Thanks for this haunting image, Asia. Apparently the fetal duck is most potent after 17 days, begging the question: who tests this stuff?

Stewed Crocodile – Sure crocs are cold-blooded killers, but I really don’t see that translating into sexual prowess, unless you plan on holding your lover underwater until they’re unconscious first.

crocodile toy

Looks like kitty got the message!

Leaf-Cutter Ants – At least they’re supposed to taste like bacon when roasted.

Deep-Fried Tarantula – I’m pretty sure Mrs. Sip would kick me out of our place if I even suggested deep-fried tarantula for snack time. I bet it won’t be long before this delicacy is being served at fairs around the world, right next to those deep-fried Mars bars!

Ambergris – This solid, waxy substance is either regurgitated or defecated by sperm whales… you know what, you already lost me…

Pumpkin Pie – So I guess people are only going to get laid around Thanksgiving… at least they’ll have something to be thankful for!

Pineapple – I always told Mrs. Sip that she should get into Hawaiian pizza. It’s tough when you’re always right!

Drink #268: Mojo

Sept 25

  • 1 oz Rum
  • 1 oz Cherry Liqueur
  • Top with Beer
  • Splash of Cola
  • Splash of Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with Tiger Penis (kidding!)

Why can’t things like hamburgers and hot dogs be aphrodisiacs? Why does it always have to be the weird stuff!? I’m going to go find me some ambergris and pester Mrs. Sip for a little roll in the hay!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Wow, this cocktail was good. I was weary of how it would turn out given how many ingredients it called for and which ingredients you were expected to be mixing together, but I really enjoyed the finished product. Cola and Beer mix together much better than I could have ever imagined!

July 26 – Beer’s Knees

Beerfest

Over my years, I’ve picked up many a drinking game (after all, who doesn’t like to increase their boozing fun with some friendly competition and laughs?). Here are some of my favourites:

Beer Pong

Playing in teams of two, Beer Pong is the art of throwing (or bouncing) ping pong balls across a table into cups on the other end. Depending on which cup you hit, you might be in line for bonus cups to be eliminated, which are then drunk by your foes. Eliminate all of your opponent’s cups and you win. At the Sip Advisor headquarters, I am the host of an annual Beer Pong tournament. This year will mark the fourth edition of the event, which has featured some of the finest pongers among my circle of friends and associates. We’re always trying to adapt our house rules to make the experience flow smoothly and provide guests with a great time. While it’s been three years since I last tasted championship glory in the inaugural tournament, I look to finally return to the winner’s circle this year and be the complete annoying, narcissist, ass I know I can be. Last note, always respect house rules where you’re playing!

Even Jesus played Beer Pong... looks like a shutout is brewing!

Even Jesus played Beer Pong… looks like a shutout is brewing!

Flippy Cup

Another very active drinking game, which features teams of three to five competing to down their beer and flip their cup, situated on the edge of the table, onto its top in a relay-style race. This game inspires great camaraderie amongst your mates and also vicious feuds with your opponents (or that one person on your team who costs you every race because they just can’t get the core concept of the game). It’s best to break up into teams (boys vs. girls, city yuppies vs. country bumpkins, or however you want to split the group) and duel it out in a best-of-seven series. Once the series has been decided, switch the teams up and go again. This game can get a little messy, so you might want to play outside, or on a table you don’t mind trashing a little before it’s cleaned up.

Never Have I Ever

This is the fastest way to get to know your friends more intimately than you ever intended (or possibly wanted). It’s a pretty simple game: sit in a circle of sorts and go around saying something you’ve never done before. Those who have actually done it, have to take a sip of their drink. You can throw anything out there, from feats of daredevilry (wow, that’s actually a word… I thought I was making it up) to actions of a more adult nature. There’s no real ending to this game unless people grow tired of their privacy being invaded or you just don’t have much else left to learn about your peeps. It’s a perfect game for camping and sitting around the fire pit. It can get a little rowdy however, so be careful of noise levels if you’re in a public place at later evening hours.

Never Have I

King’s Cup/Ring of Fire/Sociables

This is a great game when you just want to sit back and chill out, while getting bombed and having a ton of fun. It has multiple names, so use whichever you prefer. You start by laying out a full deck of cards in a ring around the center cup. Each card means something different and house rules can often vary. For example, 2 means you drink, while 3 means me drink, and so on, in other rules, 2 and 3, can mean give out those numbers of drinks.. Some cards have more active rules, like making up a rule that every player has to abide by and proposing a category that people have to name items for. Each time a King is drawn that player pours as much of his or her drink as they want into the centre cup. The game continues until the fourth King is pulled and whoever is unfortunate enough to draw that card has to down the center cup. This game can get interesting fast if everyone is drinking something different as anticipation grows as to who will draw the last king and be forced to drink the mixed brew!

Drink #207: Beer’s Knees

Beer's Knees Beer Drink

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz Honey Syrup
  • Top with Hefeweizen (I used Rickard’s White)
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedge

The names and rules of some of these games may be different in your neck of the woods. I’m simply describing them as I know them. If you have any Beer Pong rule suggestions for my upcoming tournament, feel free to pass them along. We might not use the rule, but I always appreciate having options. Same thing goes for drinking games I’ve neglected to mention in this article.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Lemon Juice tastes really good with Hefeweizen Beer (no surprise there!) and the touch of honey is a nice little bonus, adding a sweet ending to each sip of the beer cocktail.

 

July 25 – Boilermaker

Beer… The Musical!

There are countless songs out there that could have made this beer playlist, but all you little sippers know that I strive to provide you with the pinnacle of entertainment and in doing so, I can’t include everything. Therefore, I present to you, songs you can get blotto to, the beer edition!

The Beer Song – ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic

Might as well get started with a little humour. I’ve always enjoyed Weird Al, having grown up on the parodist’s work. So long as he isn’t performing one of his polka numbers, I’m down with giving his tracks a chance. The best line of the song has to be “Beer is liquid bread it’s good for you, We like to drink till we spew,” which would have been appreciated even more by adolescent Sip Advisor!

Red Solo Cup – Toby Keith

While not solely used for beer consumption, red Solo cups figure heavily into beer pong and the downing of suds during many a barbecue and party. The song is performed by country star and boozehound Toby Keith, who has so many tracks involving alcohol that he should be the patron saint of all country and liquor fans.

Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks

“Where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away”… a Garth Brooks classic that somehow became the anthem of my and Mrs. Sip’s wedding… regardless of the live band that played some amazing classic rock covers. This song is perfect for everything from camping to parties, to apparently even the exchange of nuptials. And trust me, we all have friends in low places… our wedding proved that fact!

One Bourboun, One Scotch, One Beer – George Thorogood

I’m not a fan of story songs and this one runs a little long, but the message is what it’s all about. The dude is having a tough day and all he wants is one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer. What’s wrong with that? He’s even drinking them in the proper order of liquor before beer and you’re in the clear. I personally think any beer drinking occasion should begin with this process, to honour Mr. ‘Bad to the Bone’!

Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers – ZZ Top

Leave it to the wise, beardly ZZ Top boys to slam brews and raise hell. I could see myself totally getting bad ass to this song… which in my realm means slamming a bunch of beers and doing stupid stuff in and around Ma and Pa Sip’s pool. This is a really good tune for anyone that hasn’t heard it before and will probably be my theme music for future beer pong tournaments (I host one every year!).

In Heaven There is No Beer – Soggy Bottom Boys

Well, if this is true, it’s very disheartening. We work our entire lives to be good and virtuous, with the hopes it will get us entry through the pearly gates and into a land of paradise. If we get there and no beer is to be found, well I for one will be one grumpy Sip Advisor. I’m sure much of Sip Nation would feel the same. That’s when we rebel and burn the place down. I bet they serve iced cold ones in hell!

Warm Beer and Cold Women – Tom Waits

Continuing with our downward trend, these could quite possibly be two of the worst things known to humans. Thankfully, for myself, Mrs. Sip is a freakin’ furnace and warm suds have never really been a concern for me, thanks to my great ability to plan and organize beer refrigeration ahead of my arrival. It’s like I’m a god damn celebrity up in here!

99 Bottles of Beer – Everyone Ever

This is probably a good one to end the list with, as it shows just exactly how low we’ve regressed thanks to the pyramid of beer cans we’ve built. Our beer-amid is a gift to the world, more meaningful than the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, and Leaning Tower of Pisa combined. This tune could take us a little while to get through, so why don’t we just say we did it and head off to bed for that wonderful drunk and delirious sleep we all crave!

Drink #206: Boilermaker

Boilermaker Beer Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Tequila (I used Hornitos)
  • Top with Beer
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

Hit repeat on Red Solo Cup, drop that Tequila shot into your mug of beer, and slam that sucka!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
What can you say about a shot of Tequila in a Beer that hasn’t already been said? This cocktail packs a punch, but personally, it’s one I’d line up for to get knocked out!

July 24 – California Root Beer

Brewski Tours

I love going on brewery tours, but as far as I’m concerned, the tour portion of the stopover are all largely the same. Once you’ve seen one vat of fermenting hops, you’ve seen them all. Therefore, I will largely base my brewery experience on the intangibles (tastings, other exhibits, etc.) of our visits. Without further ado then, here are some of my favourite breweries that I’ve been able to get to:

Heineken – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dubbed ‘The Heineken Experience’, this brewery tour is so much more than a quick walk through the brewing and bottling plant. They have everything from a station you can record a video at and send to your family and friends, to instruments made out of Heineken supplies, and, of course, a bar with multiple tastings to enjoy. We even made friends with an Aussie traveling on his own, enjoyed some brews together, and ended up all going to dinner at the nearby Hard Rock Café.

heineken experience

Whistler – Whistler, Canada

I liked the Whistler micro-brewery set up. Once the tour was done, you had all the company’s beer to choose from in a bar like setting, complete with board games, good food, and good company. My only note of advice is that the place is a little outside of Whistler Village, so you’ll either need a designated driver to get your crew there or luck out and have your hotel offer a shuttle to and from the outlet.

Holsten – Hamburg, Germany

What could be more fun than a brewery tour? How about one in a language you don’t understand! Ma Sip knows some German, so she was able to fill in any blanks, if necessary, but we were largely there to see, not hear… and eventually taste. When we were trying to book the tour, we were told that only groups were allowed. Ma Sip replied that we were a ‘group of four’ and our visit was on! I’ll always fondly remember the beer and pretzels we were given in the tasting portion of the attraction.

Granville Island – Vancouver, Canada

One of my favourite local micro-breweries, it’s always fun popping into the Granville Island Brewery, which has a great little area for taste tests, a stocked gift shop, and their tour isn’t too bad either… because it’s relatively short! They know people are mostly there for the samples. Granville Island itself is a funky little place to explore. It’s kind of the artsy area of Vancouver with improve shows, good restaurants, and watersports options.

GIB

Guinness – Dublin, Ireland

This one haunts me a little because we never actually got inside the palace of stout (Guinness PR people, you can thank me for that one later with a lifetime supply of suds). Our group took transit to the brewery on Friday and even got a picture outside one of the gates. When we were told the wait was two hours to get inside – it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend after all – we elected to save our visit for Monday, as we had to check-in to our hostel shortly. Due to unforeseen god-awful, weather, we had to leave Ireland very early that Monday morning and the Guinness Brewery was not to be enjoyed.

Steam Whistle – Toronto, Canada

I did the tour when Ma and Pa Sip visited me while living in ‘The Big Smoke’ and returned later for free beers (sans tour) with Mrs. Sip, prior to a Toronto Blue Jays game. When you’d enter, you’d get a couple tickets for free beer samples and the generous pours were enough to have you walking wobbly by the time you left the facility, en route to the game for really expensive and lacking-in-quality drinks.

steamwhistle

Alexander Keith’s – Halifax, Canada

No visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia would be complete without a stop at the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Here, you are guided through the history of the beer by period-dressed guides, learning about their trademark brewing practices. Finally, you come to the really good part: beer samples and games to play while boozing. Ma and Pa Sip aren’t fans of suds, so Mrs. Sip and I were the lucky recipients of bonus brews and we left the place with a good buzz and a couple “liberated” Keith’s mugs!

Carlsberg – Copenhagen, Denmark

Our most recent brewery visit was a lot of fun, despite being exhausted from travel and sleepless night. That’s what’s awesome about your fabled Sip Advisor, he knows when to man up for the sake of liquor. The Carlsberg Brewery has a stable of Jutland horses, had a neat exhibit on bottles of beer from around the world, and tons of history on the Carlsberg legacy and brewing techniques.

Drink #205: California Root Beer

California Rootbeer Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • Top with half Cola and half Beer (I used GIB Lager)
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedge

Later this summer, Mrs. Sip, myself and members of the Sip Alliance have a tour booked that will stop at a handful of local breweries that we’re all looking very forward to visiting. I better make my post early that day because by the time I get back home, I’ll probably be too blasted to work a computer!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This beer cocktail is simply delicious. You get hints of Galliano and Kahlua to go along with the Cola and Beer flavours. I heavily adapted this recipe to suit my needs and I’m glad I did so!