Minnesota – The Bootleg

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, Minnesota welcomes the Sip Advisor. The Land of 10,000 Lakes actually has many more, so at least they’re humble folk. Let’s see what the North Star State has going on:

Motto: “The star of the North” – Canada may have some objections to that…

Food: Hotdish is a Minnesota classic. These casseroles come in a variety of forms, but typically combine a starch, a meat, and vegetables, mixed with canned soup. A popular version uses tater tots, ground beef and cream of mushroom soup. Hotdish can even come served on a stick, with the soup used as a side dipping sauce.

Drink: Craft beer is big in Minnesota, with brewing in general having a long and storied history in the state. Companies such as Surly, Summit, and Schell’s are among the best today, with Schell’s being the second oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S., founded in 1860.

Hotdish

Site to See: For those who love to shop, a mecca of mall madness can be found in Bloomington. The Mall of America is the largest mall in the U.S., home to such attractions as the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience and FlyOver America. Opened in 1992, the mall contains 520 stores and restaurants.

Street: Summit Avenue, in St. Paul, is notable for being the longest street of Victorian homes in America. National Historic Landmarks along the route, include the James J. Hill House, F. Scott Fitzgerald House and Frank B. Kellogg House. However, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald both disliked the area.

TV Show: Coach, starring Craig T. Nelson as Minnesota State University football coach, Hayden Fox, ran for nine seasons and exactly 200 episodes. The final two seasons were set in Florida, with Fox becoming the coach of an expansion NFL team, but it was revealed in the series finale, Fox retired and returned to Minnesota.

Movie: I’m a huge Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon fan, so among some tough competition, I have to go with Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men for this category. Set in Wabasha, feuding neighbours, Max Goldman and John Gustafson Jr., trade insults and pranks, while their respective son and daughter enter into a relationship together. The sequel sees everyone happily ever after, so perhaps the movie titles don’t fit.

Grumpy Old Men

Book/Author: It is generally accepted the Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles M. Schulz, is set in Minnesota. After all, Schulz was born in Minneapolis and some mentions during the comics run place memorable characters, such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy, there. Schulz retired on January 3, 2000, dying a month later of colon cancer.

Fictional Character: Minnesota is a hockey mad state; therefore, hockey legends with fill this category. First, the rough and tumble Hanson Brothers, from the classic film Slap Shot, are Minnesota-bred. Next, we have the Mighty Ducks minor hockey team, led by coach Gordon Bombay. Can you just imagine if these great players all united to form an all-state squad!?

Fictional City: Frostbite Falls is the hometown of Rocky J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. Based on the real-life International Falls (nicknamed the Icebox of the Nation due to its extremely cold temperatures), Frostbite Falls is where antagonists Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are often trying to capture “Moose and Squirrel,” perhaps to make a hotdish.

Actor/Actress: Funnymen Chris Pratt and Vince Vaugh were born in Virginia and Minneapolis, respectively. Coincidentally, both have had roles in Jurassic Park films. Other notable stars from the state, include Judy Garland, Jessica Biel, Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder (born in Winona), and Seann William Scott.

Hanson Brothers

Song: Skyway, by the Replacements, is an ode to the Minneapolis Skyway System, a network of pedestrian footbridges, which allow folks to remain inside and safe from the elements for 11 miles and 80 city blocks (the longest continuous system in the world). The Minnesotan band’s song is about two lovers, one on the street and one within the Skyway System, who are unable to connect.

Band/Musician: Two icons of the music industry were born in Minnesota. Bob Dylan has been recognized as one of the most influential artists of all-time, earning such accolades as a Nobel Prize in Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and induction into various Hall of Fames. Fellow Minnesotan, Prince, also enjoyed a very successful career, sadly passing away of an accidental fentanyl overdose, in 2016.

People: The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, were born in St. Louis Park and are among some of the most successful filmmakers in the industry. Their most notable movies include Fargo (set and filmed in Minnesota), No Country for Old Men and True Grit, all of which were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, with No Country for Old Men taking home the prize.

Animal: Not only was a dog (Duke) elected mayor of small town Cormorant Village, but the canine was re-elected three more times, serving for a total of four years, before retiring. Duke’s human deputy mayor, said the canine “hangs out at the local pub and makes sure everything is running.”

Duke the Mayor

Invention: Frank C. Mars founded Mars Inc., in 1911, in Minneapolis. His famous chocolate bar creations included the Milky Way, Snickers and Three Musketeers. His son, Forrest Mars Sr., later developed the Mars bar and M&M’s candies, while estranged from his father. He returned to the fold, when he inherited Mars Inc. and merged it with his own company.

Crime: I had this article all written up and ready to go… then the murder of George Floyd occurred and a rewrite was needed. Floyd’s death, at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his colleagues, has resulted in Black Lives Matter protests across the country and abroad, seeking reforms on policing and highlighting racial inequalities. Floyd was 46 and is survived by five children.

Law: In Minnesota, nursing homes and senior care facilities may only stage games of bingo twice per week. Yeah, that will keep the residents in line!

Sports Team: Minnesota has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Minneapolis is home to three of those clubs, the Vikings (NFL), Twins (MLB) and Timberwolves (NBA), while the Wild (NHL) play in St. Paul. The defunct North Stars (NHL), had played in Bloomington from 1967 to 1993, but were relocated to Dallas, Texas.

Bingo

Athlete: Minnesota has long been a breeding ground for professional wrestlers. Such notable stars from the past, include Verne Gagne (whose American Wrestling Association was based in Minneapolis), Bob Backlund, Bronko Nagurski, Curt Hennig (aka Mr. Perfect), the Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Barry Darsow, Rick Rude, Jesse Ventura (former governor of Minnesota), and Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac).

Famous Home: The Glensheen Historic Estate, in Duluth, is an expansive property, operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Famous for its architectural design, the mansion was the site of a grizzly double murder of owner Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, at the hands of Congdon’s adopted daughter’s husband. Tours of the estate are available, but questions about the murders can only be asked afterwards.

Urban Legend: Although there’s a drunken prankster, Ola Värmlänning, among Minnesota folklore, I can’t find much info about the character, so we’ll go with the Kensington Runestone in this category. The Runestone, which details the experiences of 14th century Scandinavian explorers, has been the subject of much debate over its authenticity. Most scholars have debunked the artifact as a hoax, but it remains on display at the Runestone Museum, in Alexandria.

Museum: Spam, the canned pork product, was invented in Minnesota. Therefore, the state is home to the Spam Museum, located in Austin. Visitors are offered spamples from spambassadors, with a highlight of the museum documenting Spam’s importance during World War II. Austin also celebrated Spamarama annually, from 1978 to 2007, with the event returning in 2019. The festival featured a Spam cook-off competition.

Spam

Firsts: The University of Minnesota has been responsible for many major medical developments. These include the first open heart surgery, as well as the first bone marrow, kidney and pancreas transplants in the U.S. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic is also a Minnesota institution, known for its treatment of patients and research programs, leading to many medical innovations.

Company: General Mills, makers of popular cereals such as Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Golden Grahams, is headquartered in Golden Valley. Other General Mills brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, and Old El Paso. Two more notable companies based in Minnesota are retailer giants Target and Best Buy.

Events: The Miracle on Ice, which saw the U.S. defeat the powerhouse Soviet Union (and later capture the hockey gold medal) at the 1980 Winter Olympics, was accomplished by a team loaded with University of Minnesota players and led by the program’s coach, Herb Brooks. The victory was iconic during the Cold War era and made all the more memorable by commentator Al Michaels call: “Do you believe in miracles?!”

Miscellaneous: Minnesotans must enjoy their leisure time, having invented a number of objects for fun on your own and with friends. These items include snowmobiles, water skis, rollerblades, the game Twister, Nerf balls, and Tonka Trucks.

The Bootleg

The Bootleg

  • 1.5 oz Vodka, Gin or Rum
  • 3 oz Bootleg Mix (recipe below)
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint

The Bootleg Batch

  • Bootleg Mix (Combined in Blender)
  • 1 Can Frozen Lemonade
  • 1 Can Frozen Limeade
  • 1/2 Cup Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Simple Syrup

The Bootleg is a country club favourite in Minnesota. Some say the recipe first appeared during prohibition, used to mask the taste of alcohol. This drink was very good, which I mixed up for friends and family to enjoy poolside on a warm day. Anything is better than the alternative Minnesota cocktail of choice, the Beertini/Midwest Martini, which combines lager beer with green olives and brine.

Mixer Mania #40 – Endorsement Errors

Cherry Cola has been a Sip Advisor favourite since I was wee little sipper. Whether Coke, Pepsi or a no-name version, I just love that little something extra to my cola. In China, billionaire businessman Warren Buffett has been featured on bottles of Cherry Coke. A fan of the drink and shareholder in Coca-Cola, Buffett’s success is very much respected in China, so why not use the man’s likeness to sell soda. Here are some other interesting celebrity endorsement relationships:

Hulk Hogan – Pastamania

If there’s money to be made, you’ll probably find Hulk Hogan sniffing around. Borrowing from his ‘Hulkamania’ aura, the Pastamania restaurant opened in The Mall of America in 1995, closing down in under a year. Some kids meals – for Little Pastamaniacs – did include Hulkaroni & Cheese and Hulkios, which is pretty awesome.

Ozzy Osbourne – I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

The infamous rocker, best known for his excessive lifestyle of drug and alcohol abuse, was for some reason pegged as the face of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for a time. I only wonder if he ever tried the spread on a live bat?

The Olsen Twins – AquaFresh Toothpaste

I suppose the American Dental Association was looking to get kids interested in brushing their teeth, so they pushed for companies to find younger spokespeople. Enter the Olsen Twins and their BubbleCool toothpaste. At least it’s not another video game, movie, or musical release.

Brad Pitt – Chanel No. 5

Keep in mind, this is a women’s fragrance… actually, that makes some sense. What better way to draw the attention of a prospective female customer, than entice them with the two-time People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive. Or, you know, you could try marketing the product with an empowered female figure.

Bob Dylan – Victoria’s Secret

After seeing the music legend perform this past summer and be completely unintelligible, it’s clear Dylan is in it for the money. Such was the case when he appeared in a 2004 Victoria’s Secret commercial. Apparently Dylan once said he would only ever ‘sellout’ to advertise “ladies garments”, so I guess he can be forgiven.

Donald Trump – Anything He Can Hawk

The US president has endorsed everything under the sun, from vodka to steaks, fragrances to teas, bottled water to vitamins, and the list goes on. If only he stuck to making endorsements, rather than running for office himself.

Penelope Cruz – Nintendo DS

Appearing with her sister, the actress loses a video game bet and has to suffer the consequences of dressing like Nintendo’s main mascot. Nothing is sexier than a beautiful woman outfitted as Super Mario, complete with thick mustache.

Mikhail Gorbachev – Pizza Hut

Personally, I think pizza sells itself. Certainly, it shouldn’t take a former Russian politician to get you onboard with the food. Appearing with his own granddaughter, and putting a final nail into the Soviet Union communism coffin, at least Gorbachev put his appearance fee towards his charity.

Mixer Mania #40: Scorpion Queen

Scorpion Queen.JPG

  • 1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 1.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • Top with Cherry Cola
  • Garnish with Maraschino Cherries

Another interesting fact about Cherry Coke is that it was first tested at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, before being introduced in February 1985. Check out the Sip Advisor’s past article about things we have World’s Fairs to thank for their existence.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This drink is pretty good, as one would expect. I didn’t have any Vanilla Vodka in my bar (bad Sip Advisor), so I went with regular Vodka and a splash of Galliano to achieve the right flavour.

Sip Trips #109: Marathon Man

This past week was extremely busy and that’s coming from someone who is booked up nearly every day to begin with. Let’s take a look at what the past seven days brought to the social calendar:

On Thursday, I decided to take my bike out for a ride of Vancouver’s sea wall, but only reached Sunset Beach when issues with my cycle made me have to abandon the ride. Just as I decided to turn around, a Kraken Rum rep approached and offered me a sample mini bottle of their Black Spice Rum. I believe this was a liquor karma reward, as had I not turned around there, the exchange would have never occurred.

Friday saw a more successful journey, as I joined a friend – on foot this time – in the Brewery Creek area of Vancouver, first stopping at Faculty Brewing. There, I had a 500ml serving of their IPA, before we ventured onwards. Looking to enjoy some drinks in the great outdoors, we stopped by R&B Brewing’s growler fill station, picking up a four-pack of Dude Chilling Pale Ale tall cans to be consumed in a nearby park. This was a nice, relaxing way to get the weekend started.

Dog Banned From Park.jpg

Following that, we were off to BierCraft Bistro on Cambie Street for dinner. I hadn’t been to the restaurant for a few years, so it was good to return. While waiting for our wives to show up, we delved into a couple pints of Dageraad De Witte. For my meal, I went with the French Onion Soup, being a big fan of the style and not always being able to find it when out. Our evening concluded with a show at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club. While the show was far from the best thing I’ve seen there, we still had a decent time, helped along by a bucket of Red Truck Golden Ale bottles.

We spent some time on Sunday at Metrotown Mall, finishing our baby registry, doing some clothes shopping and grabbing some groceries. Our time there started with hitting the food court, which is one of the best I’ve ever dined in. There are so many options to choose from and I settled on Chronic Tacos, which I have only seen before as restaurant locations. My Al Pastor Burrito (made with spicy adoba pork) was spectacular and greatly satisfied my huge appetite at the time.

Looking to have a date night together, Mrs. Sip and I had dinner at St. Augustine’s prior to a movie at the Rio Theatre on Monday. I love St. Augustine’s live tap menu, which lets you know which beers are available and how much of each is left, but it can also be a tease, as you learn which brews you narrowly missed out on. Thankfully, I was able to try Storm Brewing’s Chicken Wing IPA (only that crazy crew could dream up such a flavour), with only 3% remaining and the keg being tapped out by the time we left the restaurant. Also among my flight was the Steamworks Killer Cucumber Ale and a pair of Old Yale Brewing options: the Cardamom Mango Wheat and Double Double Amber Ale.

Dinner and a Movie

As for the movie portion of the evening, we watched The Little Hours, which was very funny and I’m surprised it hasn’t received more mainstream attention. The Rio Theatre is licensed for alcohol sales, which means you can get a Big Kid Combo consisting of small popcorn, candy and a draft beer for $9. Not a bad deal, at all.

Tuesday was supposed to be a relaxing night at home, but late in the day, a friend advised he had a block of free tickets to see Bob Dylan and His Band (that’s literally the band’s name) at Roger’s Arena. So, we ended up out again. While the music was good and I’ll be able to say I saw a legendary performer, Mr. Dylan shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a microphone anymore as nearly his entire set was unintelligible.

The week that was wrapped up with a trivia night at Darby’s Gastown. It was my first time at any of the Darby’s locations and I really enjoyed my meal of their Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cajun Chips and their expansive beer menu. Best of all, we came in second place after losing a tie-breaker to the winning team, which meant each member of our crew was comped a free BC beer. This removed both of my servings (the Luppolo Double IPA and Twin Sails Hot Take IPA) from the tab, thanks to using Mrs. Sip’s credit, as well.

Did I mention I also squeezed games of golf and baseball, a Game of Thrones viewing and family dinner into the week. No wonder I’m ready for a little break!

December 4 – Eggnog

Music to Your Ears

It seems that a lot of artist’s take the easy route and compile an album of Christmas covers at some point in their career. Here are some of the worst examples of that trend and offerings I suggest you avoid at all cost!

Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart

He may be one of the greatest song writers of all-time, but this Christmas offering was just weird. Pa Sip will often play it, but only for everyone to make fun of the legendary performer. This is one of those albums that seemed to simply fulfill a record deal. Dylan’s singing is unintelligible at some points, as if the dude had a mouth full of marbles when hitting the studio. At least all proceeds went to various charities, so credit is deserved there.

David Hasselhoff – The Night Before Christmas

While he’s an icon in Germany, domestically, he’s more a laughingstock. I’d much rather see Hasselhoff barreling down the beach or behind the wheel of a speaking car than stepping up to a microphone… and I don’t even like him as an actor… or any of the shows he’s been on. Perhaps Hasselhoff should stick to bathroom floor cheeseburgers and Rob Ford-esque drunken stupors.

Rosanne Barr – Sings the Christmas Classics

If her infamous rendition of the American national anthem tells us anything, it’s that Roseanne Barr can’t sing worth a lick. I refuse to even sample any of the songs from this album. Just looking at the selections featured on the cover have me nervous. ‘Santa Baby’ should only be sung my sex bomb and *gulp* her ‘12 Days of Christmas’ is a freakin’ “extended version”!

Kickin’ Kazoos – Kazoo Christmas

I don’t know why everyone has such harsh critiques for the kazoo. Wrestler’s Edge and Christian use to play a mean kazoo… for humourous effect, at least. Granted, they only played for brief periods of time and never thought of compiling a 30-minute album devoted to Christmas tunes… if you could even call them that. I think kazoos can only be appreciated by the same people that weren’t annoyed by vuvuzelas during the 2010 World Cup.

Brady Bunch – Christmas with the Brady Bunch

The entire Brady Bunch has the accumulative musical talent of absolutely zero! I bet Marsha gets all the good lines in this release. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! I hate all those kid sing-a-long albums. I even saw a commercial recently where youngsters were singing song like Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’… what happens when they get to the “this is fuckin’ awesome lyric”!? Such a sad state this world is in.

Various Artists – Yuletide Disco

Disco and Christmas should always have a minimum of 500 meters between them. Mrs. Sip should work on that court order for me!

William Hung – Hung for the Holidays

While the album title is totally wicked, having a guy who can barely speak English (let alone sing it) perform Christmas classics was probably a bad idea from the start. Add the fact that Hung thinks he’s a legitimate talent, while everyone else views him as a total joke and you have a recipe for disaster. The entire entry is only 18 minutes long and ends with Hung belting out Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’!

RuPaul – Ho Ho Ho

From one train wreck to another… how RuPaul had a career of any sorts, simply by being a drag queen is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps, she (or is it he?) was the beginning of the non-talented celebrity? This chart topper contains such classics as ‘I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus’ and ‘RuPaul the Red-Nosed Drag Queen’. If I find this in my stocking I’ll cancel Christmas for good.

Various Artists – Christmas with Colonel Sanders

Sadly, we’re not just talking about feasting on the Colonel’s original recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Can you believe this is actually a sequel to the album Christmas Day with Colonel Sanders!? I’m not even sure why he gets top billing for both albums, as they seem to be made up of various artist tracks. I guess that’s just the pull the fried chicken magnate had!

Star Wars – Christmas in the Stars

And the songs are sung by the original movie cast? Shut the front door! Yeah, because I want to hear Harrison Ford’s monotone voice belt out the Christmas classics or have R2-D2 beep, bop, and boop his way through my cherished childhood memories. Do they even celebrate Christmas on Tatooine? I seriously doubt it, but don’t care enough about the series to know the answer.

Regis Philbin – The Regis Philbin Christmas Album

I don’t understand the thinking that goes into some of these albums: “Hey, I got a great idea. Let’s take a TV personality who has no musical talent and get them to record a Christmas album.” No matter how famous that person may be, that pile of trash won’t sell. Donald Trump even appears on the album for a rendition of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ *shudder*.

Yoko Ono – An X-Mas Message from Yoko

I hate Yoko Ono with a passion… and I don’t even care that she’s blamed for breaking up The Beatles. I hate her for everything else she’s plagued upon the world. If I was ever sent a Christmas message from this ogre, I’d use it for its only practical application… as toilet paper. I mean, who the hell uses a pitch black background as cover art to market a Christmas album?

Drink #338: Eggnog

Eggnog Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Rum (I used Malibu Sundae)
  • Top with Eggnog
  • Sprinkle with Nutmeg
  • Garnish with Gingerbread M&Ms

Okay, we spewed some serious venom in this post, so now it’s time to sit back and relax with my Eggnog… given I’m not a huge advocate of the ‘Nog, we could be in for a bumpy ride!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’m not the type to make eggnog from scratch, so I mooched some of the pre-made stuff off Ma and Pa Sip and came up with this delicacy. It was pretty tasty, especially with Pa Sip’s idea of using Malibu Sundae for the Rum quotient of the recipe. The M&M’s added a nice sweet flavour to each sip, as they melted in the cocktail and not in my hands!