Snack Time #40 – Goldkenn Liquor Collection Chocolate Bars

Recent gifts for myself and Mrs. Sip included some Goldkenn Chocolate products. Of course, given our reputations, the delicacies came from the Swiss Chocolatier’s Liquor Collection and they were a very good introduction to the line.

Among the Chocolate Bars Mrs. Sip and I received, were the Amarula and Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey varieties. Both were very tasty and not too booze heavy. I particularly liked the honeycomb of the JD bar, while the fruit flavour of the Amarula bar was delicious.

Goldkenn Liquor Collection Chocolate Bars.png

Each bar is comprised of breakable pieces, so the treat can be savoured for some time. The collection also includes Beluga Vodka, Cointreau, Remy Martin Cognac, Grand Marnier, Saint James Rum, Famous Grouse Whiskey, and Morand Williamine Pear Liqueur.

The lineup reminds me of many of the chocolate liqueur bottle collections that are available, especially around Christmas. I’m hoping to try there bars and some of their Goldkenn siblings again very soon.

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Russia – Estate Cocktail

Pricey Souvenir

Anyone travelling in Russia has to pick up a Fabergé Egg (or at least a suitable knockoff), but what do we really know about these expensive and fragile relics? Luckily, the Sip Advisor is here for all your antiquity needs!

The famous jewel-covered eggs were created by artist Peter Carl Fabergé, starting in 1885. They were originally given by Tsar Alexander III to his wife as an Easter morning treat and continued by Alexander’s son Nicholas II (to his wife and mother), leading up to the Russian Revolution. Of the approximately 50 ‘Imperial’ eggs the House of Fabergé created, 43 still exist. Not that I’m complaining, but all I ever got for Easter was chocolate and candy!

Group Faberge eggs.

Fabergé’s first creation was dubbed the ‘Hen Egg,’ which featured a seemingly ordinary egg, but inside was gold yolk that contained a golden hen (with ruby eyes, no less) on a nest of gold. And the gifts kept coming. Inside the hen was a miniature diamond version of the royal crown, as well as a ruby egg pendant that could be worn as a necklace. While the Hen Egg is among those that have survived, the gifts inside have been lost to time (a sad, but common theme among the eggs).

Other famous eggs include the Diamond Trellis, Rosebud, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Basket of Wild Flowers, Moscow Kremlin, Rose Trellis, Standart Yacht, Colonnade, Napoleonic, Winter, and the unfinished Constellation. Constellation was never completed and presented thanks to the Russian Revolution taking place and the royal family being executed.

Eggs were made each year, except for 1904 and 1905, when Russia was at war with Japan. As the legend of the eggs grew, Fabergé picked up more clients, including industrialist Alexander Kelch, the Duchess of Marlborough, and the Rothschild and Yusupov families. Each egg contained hidden gifts, usually trinkets such as pendants and other jewelry that could be worn by the recipient.

Dos Equis Faberge

Some of the eggs ended up in private collections, while others are on display in museums around the world. Most of the eggs that are missing are thought to still be out there somewhere, while a few have certainly been destroyed, with little reference to them following the Russian Revolution. Next time Easter rolls around, you better be careful about what you discard and what you examine a little closer.

One of the ‘Imperial’ eggs was almost sold as scrap metal. Although the unidentified owner was looking to take home $500 from melting down the piece, the egg was actually worth $33 million US. Thankfully, the owner didn’t get the money he was hoping to score and kept the item. Thought to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of the antique world, it was last listed in an auction book in 1964 before it was located earlier this year.

Cracked Faberge

Fabergé Eggs were Russia’s featured showcase for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. This earned Fabergé, his two sons, and his head workmaster awards from the French government, as well as boosted the company’s profile and client list. The main Fabergé outlet still exists in St. Petersburg. Although it has been renamed, it is still known as the Fabergé store.

As for the artist, Fabergé was forced to flee Russia during the October Revolution of 1917. His company was seized by the new Bolshevik government and broken up. Fabergé died in 1920 at the age of 74, after taking refuge in Switzerland (following stops in Latvia, Germany, and Finland). The Fabergé brand has never disappeared, first being operated by Fabergé’s children before being purchased by larger corporations, which use the name for colognes and perfumes.

Russia: Estate Cocktail

Estate Cocktail

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • Top with Grapefruit Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Mint Leaf

Another Russian treasure is the Matryoshka Dolls (or Nesting Dolls) which feature progressively smaller figures as you open each doll. There are sets for Russian presidents, various holidays, and other famous figures. While in Russia, I picked up a Christmas set for Ma Sip and a Beatles set for Pa Sip. Both were really neat and a perfect memento to bring back as souvenirs.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail comes from the Rum Howler, who has a great site reviewing a bunch of different spirits and including a recipe with each post. I used Squirt instead of Grapefruit Juice to add some fizz to the cocktail and it was a nice addition. It basically turned into a Vodka-based Mojito and with that beautiful Beluga Vodka, it was a knockout of a cocktail!

Russia – Red October

From Russia with Love

The KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti… or Committee for State Security) is one of the most recognizable secret service and intelligence agencies to ever exist. It served throughout the Cold War, from 1954 to 1991, specializing in espionage, surveillance, border patrol, and political control. Here are some of the most infamous spies to work for the organization:

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

This American couple were executed for relaying information regarding atomic bombs to the U.S.S.R. Ethel’s brother David Greenglass was also part of the conspiracy, but only served 10 years of a 15 year prison sentence. There is some doubt as to the extent of Ethel’s involvement in the treason, but that didn’t stop the electric chair switch from being flipped on June 19, 1953.

soviet propaganda kgb

Aldrich Ames

Due to an expensive divorce and living a lifestyle beyond his means, Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer, began selling secrets to the KGB and by the time he was arrested in 1993, had compromised the second most CIA assets ever. For his crimes, which resulted in the deaths of at least 10 operatives and ruined at least 100 operations, Ames received a term of life imprisonment.

Richard Sorge

Working undercover as a journalist in both Germany and Japan, Sorge played a critical role in the outcome of World War II. After informing Russia that Japan did not have plans to attack the country in 1941, Russia was able to reposition their troops to better battle the Germans on the western front, as they tried to take Moscow. Sorge was arrested in Japan shortly after these messages and hung in 1944.

Alexander Litvinenko

Litvinenko is perhaps most remembered for how he died, poisoned by polonium-210, and succumbing to the deadly toxin in November 2006. An investigation in the United Kingdom – where Litvinenko had been living after fleeing Russia and being granted asylum – produced a suspect in Andrei Lugovoy, a member of Russia’s Federal Protective Service, although others have been alleged to have played a part in Litvinenko’s death.

in_soviet_russia

Oleg Lyalin

After being arrested in the United Kingdom for drunk driving, Lyalin decided that he’d had enough of the spy life and defected from the KGB, outing 105 U.S.S.R. spies in the process, the largest action taken against the Soviet Union by a western government. Lyalin was rewarded with a new identity and life (with his secretary mistress!) and remained in hiding for more than 20 years, until his death in February 1995.

Vasily Mitrokhin

Mitrokhin was a former First Chief Directorate of the KGB. When the Soviet Union came to an end in 1991, Mitrokhin defected to Latvia, bringing with him detailed information on operations carried out by the KGB, dating as far back as the 1930’s… he was the senior archivist for the intelligence service, after all. He released a series of works, dubbed the Mitrokhin Archives, which discuss much of what the KGB did during its existence.

Russia: Red October

Red October Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Port
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

Hell, even current Russian president Vladimir Putin served with the KGB during the 1980’s, holding low-level positions in what was East Germany. Now he runs a country and has amassed a massive fortune in the process. Looks like things worked out pretty well for him.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
The Port was supposed to float on top of the rest of the cocktail, but it didn’t really behave as it was meant to. That could have been due to the way I poured it, the ice in the drink or even the type of glassware I used. That said, the drink was quite delicious, with notes of sweet and sour mixing in harmony.

August 25 – Wedding Anniversary

Whatcha Get Me?

Today, Mrs. Sip and I celebrate one year of marriage! While doing research for our celebration, I came across the list of traditional and modern anniversary gifts. Some make sense – you know, your typical array of varying jewelry and fine materials – while others take a little more time to wrap your head around. Here are some of those items that brought a smile to my face:

Wedding Anniversary

Traditional (U.S.)

Paper (1st) – Could this be the divorce agreement!?

Cotton (2nd) – So, a collection of ear swabs, cotton balls and panty liners should suffice, right!?

Traditional (U.K.)

Fruit and Flowers (4th) – Here’s an apple and a posy. Let’s see which one goes bad first…

Sugar (6th) – Looks like anniversary #6 will be highlighted by rimmed daiquiris!

Salt (8th) – So, if I grab Mrs. Sip some McDonald’s fries, have I satisfied the tradition?

Wine (85th) – Oh, sure, make things easier on the older folks, who might actually have the money to spend on these items!

Wedding Anniversary 2

Modern

Clock (1st) – I think Mrs. Sip would take this as an insult, given that she’s always late and I’ve been trying for over a decade to correct that behaviour!

Appliances (4th) – Okay, you’ve survived the first few years of marriage… now it’s time to get that girl to start doing some dishes… cooking you meals… washing your clothes… all that other chauvinistic stuff. What says love more than a crock pot or a toaster oven? Ironically, I do all that for our little household. Mrs. Sip works long hours and I’m generally around more, so I take care of details like cleaning up our place and preparing dinner.

Wood Objects (6th) – Oh, this one is too easy… next!

Pen and Pencil Sets (7th) – You’d figure that this gift idea would be a little higher up on the list. I wonder if pen and pencil sets have lost all meaning since everyone just uses computers nowadays. Mrs. Sip, if you’re reading this, just get me a new laptop!

Anniversary Gift

Lace (8th) – Finally things start to get a little interesting. Lace… on Mrs. Sip… yes, please!

Leather Goods (9th) – Almost as good as the lace, but is this because by this point the marriage needs a little something to spice it up?

Musical Instruments (24th) – But what if neither person is good at playing any instrument whatsoever? I guess there’s always Guitar Hero and Rock Band options!

Engraved Marble (90th) – If Mrs. Sip and I actually make it to our 90th anniversary, you can damn well bet that I’ll be getting that shizzle engraved! I guess by that point we would be buying each others…tombstones? (nothing so “forever” like matching headstones, right?

Drink #237: Wedding Anniversary)

Wedding Anniversary Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Vodka (I used Beluga)
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • 0.5 oz Campari
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Garnish with a Raspberry

Happy anniversary, baby! It’s the paper anniversary, but our printer is busted and I’m all into recycling, so I made you this post instead. You can print it at work at a later date!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail tastes pretty good… right up until the Campari-kick comes in at the end and ruins the entire taste you were previously enjoying. My recommendation is to sub out the Campari for any other Bitters you might have.