New Jersey – Garden State Cocktail

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 venture to New Jersey. Although some call it the “Armpit of America,” we’ll reserve judgment. After all, it’s been nicknamed the Garden State for a reason. Let’s find out why:

Motto: “Liberty and Prosperity” – I particularly like that second one and the first one ain’t so bad either.

Food: The Pork Roll (aka Taylor Ham) is usually eaten in slices as part of a sandwich, but can also be used in a hash, called a Jersey Breakfast. John Taylor, from Hamilton Square, popularized the meat product in 1856. There are competing festivals celebrating the Pork Roll, both in Trenton. Add a side of Disco Fries (topped with cheese and gravy) and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Drink: Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy) was first produced in New Jersey, all the way back in 1698. It was originally known as Jersey Lightning, which is a name I think they should have kept. Laird & Company is based in Scobeyville, calling themselves America’s Oldest Distiller.

Pork Roll

Site to See: Two sites that highlight American freedom can be found in New Jersey, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island is the spot were countless immigrants first touched American soil, as the busiest inspection station in the country. Meanwhile, Lady Liberty is situated on land shared by New Jersey and New York and surrounded by New Jersey waters.

Street: The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a major tourist attraction in New Jersey. It is the first American boardwalk, opened on June 26, 1870, and the longest boardwalk in the world. There’s a lot going on along the boardwalk, including casinos, hotels, museums, shopping, restaurants, and much more. A number of movies and TV series have used the boardwalk for filming.

TV Show: The Sopranos, starring James Gandolfini, was one of the most popular TV shows of all-time, documenting the activities of the DiMeo crime family. The crime drama, which ran for six seasons and 86 episodes, was largely filmed in New Jersey, using real shops, restaurants and even a strip club to double for locations in the series.

Movie: Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse movies are all set in New Jersey. That includes films such as Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. That all makes sense, given Smith is New Jersey native, himself. Top actors like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have appeared in multiple films, as a variety of characters, throughout the series.

Sopranos

Book/Author: George R.R. Martin, writer of the epic fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones when adapted for TV) was born in Bayonne. At 71 years old, many fans wonder if the series will ever be finished on page, but at least we got – for better or worse – some closure with the TV series. Either way, Martin has made his money.

Fictional Character: The general consensus is that animated adult comedy, Bob’s Burgers, is set in New Jersey. Therefore, I will put the Belcher Family here. The clan includes parents and restauranteurs Bob and Linda, along with mischief-making kids Tina, Gene and Louise. Their antics have led to the show winning two Outstanding Animated Program Emmys.

Fictional City: Gotham City is said to be located in New Jersey, meaning the Batman universe takes place there. While it’s certainly not a place many would want to live, given its extremely high crime rate, corruption at all levels and the threat of death at every turn, Gotham City has remained a popular locale for fans of the franchise.

Actor/Actress: One of the world’s most celebrated actresses, Meryl Streep, was born in Summit. Streep has won three Oscars, based on 21 nominations, with her career as a whole recognized with an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. Other famous New Jerseyans, include Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, and Bruce Willis.

George R.R. Martin

Song: New Jersey doesn’t have a State Song, but that was not because of a lack of effort from one musician. In fact, his campaigning may have worked against him. I’m From New Jersey by Red Mascara was almost made the State Song in 1972, passed by the Legislature, but vetoed by the Governor. Mascara continued the push for his song up until his death.

Band/Musician: New Jersey is the home of so many music legends. Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Frankie Valli, Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra all hail from the state. I saw something that said Springsteen had at least 25 songs with references about New Jersey, which sounds about right, given his extensive music catalogue.

People: Domestic goddess, Martha Stewart, was born in Jersey City. Her media empire has included TV shows, books, magazines, and other projects, making her a household name as a household saviour. Also, travel and food writer, Anthony Bourdain, was raised in Leonia. He came to prominence thanks to the shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown.

Animal: Kids and adults alike love dinosaurs. These beasts from long ago have fascinated many and the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur was discovered in Haddonfield, in 1858. The Hadrosaurus (New Jersey’s State Fossil) find launched the field of paleontology and is memorialized with a eight-foot dinosaur statue in downtown Haddonfield.

Martha Stewart

Invention: Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park is the site where he developed light bulbs, phonographs, motion pictures, and other items. Edison was called the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park’ and he held 1,093 patents in the US alone. Edison State Park now encompasses the site of his lab and a memorial tower and museum dedicated to the inventor.

Crime: There are some alarming crimes from New Jersey history, but when one is called the “Crime of the Century,” you have to profile it. In 1932, aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was abducted, with a ransom note left behind. Despite an exchange of money, the baby’s remains were found two months after the kidnapping. Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the crime and executed by electric chair in 1936.

Law: I’m not sure how this one is going over nowadays, but in New Jersey, it is illegal to frown at a cop. That must make recent protests a little awkward. Even worse, in Bernards Township, it is completely illegal to frown. This will turn your frown upside down, though. It is illegal for birds to poop on statues… finally, people who hate birds as much as I do.

Sports Team: The New Jersey Devils (NHL) are the only professional team to carry the ‘New Jersey’ name, following the New Jersey Nets (NBA) leaving for Brooklyn in 2012, after 35 seasons. New York-named teams the Jets and Giants (NFL), as well as Red Bulls (MLS), play out of the state, commonly referred to as the New York Metropolitan Area.

Thomas Edison

Athlete: Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal had a career filled with championships, including four NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal. O’Neal transcended the sport, starring in movies and video games. Likewise, shortstop Derek Jeter was a five-time World Series champion and 14-time all-star. In 2020, Jeter was one vote shy of being unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Famous Home: The Grover Cleveland Birthplace, in Caldwell, is a museum and National Historic Place dedicated to the only person from New Jersey to become U.S. President. Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th Commander-in-Chief (the only politician to ever serve non-consecutive terms), although he won the popular vote for all three elections which he ran.

Urban Legend: The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature with a horse head, bat wings, horns, clawed hands, and cloven hooves, said to be found in the Pine Barrens area of the state. The being was the 13th child of a witch (with the father being the devil), who cursed it after learning she was pregnant. It is now the moniker of the current NHL franchise.

Museum: The United States Golf Association (USGA) Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History is located in Far Hills. The USGA began collecting items in the late 1930’s, finally opening a facility in New York, in 1951. The collection was moved to New Jersey in 1972 and now offers the Pynes Putting Course, a nine-hole course where visitors can use classic replica putters.

Jersey Devil

Firsts: New Jersey has hosted a number of firsts in the sporting world. This included the first officially recorded organized baseball game (June 19, 1846 in Hoboken), the first college football game (November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick) and the first professional basketball game (November 7, 1896 in Trenton). The first American brewery was also established in Hoboken, in 1642.

Company: The Campbell Soup Company is headquartered in Camden. Along with its soup, Campbell’s is also responsible for brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Prego and Swanson. Another well-known New Jersey-based company is retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond, which was founded in Springfield and is now based in Union.

Events: More battles during the American Revolutionary War took place in New Jersey than any other colony, earning the state the nickname the ‘Crossroads of the Revolution’. The Battle of Trenton and Battle of Princeton were major victories for General George Washington and his troops, turning the tide against British forces.

Miscellaneous: Two infamous incidents, the Burr-Hamilton Duel and Hindenburg Disaster, occurred in New Jersey. First, on July 11, 1804, Vice-President Aaron Burr wounded former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, capping their long feud. This rivalry was turned into the hit musical Hamilton. Later, on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship caught fire and crashed, while docking at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst.

Garden State Cocktail

Garden State Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cucumber Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cucumber Slice

This cocktail honours New Jersey’s nickname of Garden State by using ingredients such as cucumber. The term Garden State is often attributed to Abraham Browning, who noted that New Jersey is a barrel with good things to eat and open at both ends, helping to feed Pennsylvania on one side and New York on the other.

Nebraska – The Nebraskan

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 journey to Nebraska, where the farming is as good as it gets. This had bred nicknames such as Cornhusker State and Beef State, which sounds like the makings of a good meal. Let’s start exploring:

Motto: “Equality before the law” – How’s that working out for you?

Food: The Reuben Sandwich was invented at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha. Comprised of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian/Thousand Island dressing, between slices of rye bread, the meal has become a favourite of the Sip Advisor. Some origin stories have the sandwich being created in New York, but I’ll give this one to Nebraska.

Drink: Bringing smiles to children everywhere for nearly 100 years, Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska by Edwin Perkins in 1927. Originally available in six flavours (cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry), it has become the State Soft Drink. The Hastings Museum has a permanent exhibit called Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream.

Kool-Aid

Site to See: One of Nebraska’s most notable attractions is Carhenge, a duplication of England’s Stonehenge, but using American vehicles to replicate the infamous stones. Other car-based art installments are also viewable at the site. Created by Jim Reinders, the work is highlighted in the documentary, Carhenge: Genius or Junk?

Street: The Old Market Historic District, in Omaha, is notable for its brick-paved streets, which are still used by horse-drawn carriages. Restaurants, art galleries and shopping options make up the tenancy of the area. In 2016, a ruptured gas line caused an explosion in the Old Market, destroying a 100-year-old building and injuring numerous people.

TV Show: Most TV shows set in Nebraska haven’t faired well. One, Bless This Mess, did last two seasons, before being cancelled this past May. The series starred Dax Shepard and Lake Bell in a modern take on Green Acres, with a couple moving from New York to a farm in fictional Bucksnort, after inheriting the property and deciding to stay.

Movie: Films have done better when set in Nebraska, including one of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourites. Caddyshack, the goofy golf classic, starring legends like Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase, has the Bushwood Country Club based in the state. While the sequel was a flop, the original has so many quotable lines and memorable scenes.

Caddyshack

Book/Author: Writer Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha. His works, of the romantic drama genre, include The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Dear John. A total of 11 of his books have been adapted into films, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Sparks has had 15 novels top the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Fictional Character: Penny Hofstadter, the across-the-hall hottie from The Big Bang Theory, is originally from Nebraska. Giving hope to nerds everywhere, she eventually dates and marries uber nerd Leonard. Played by Kaley Cuoco, Penny moves to California with dreams of becoming an actress. She may not have found the career she wanted, but she did find love.

Fictional City: Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (short story and film series) takes place in the town of Gatlin, a place you wouldn’t really want to find yourself, particularly if you’re an adult. Under the guidance of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” the children begin ritualistically sacrificing adults, hoping for a bountiful corn harvest.

Actor/Actress: Movie legends Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda were born in Omaha and Grand Island, respectively. Connecting the two, Brando’s mother gave Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Other notable stars from the state include Fred Astaire, Nick Nolte and Hilary Swank.

Nicholas Sparks

Song: Bruce Springsteen has a song and album called Nebraska, but the song is about a spree killer sentenced to death, while the album is full of tracks about characters with not much to live for. Therefore, we’ll go with State Song, Beautiful Nebraska, for this category. Lyrics include, “We are so proud of this state where we live, There is no place that has so much to give.”

Band/Musician: The consensus seems to be that the best band from Nebraska is Bright Eyes, although I’ve never heard of the indie rock group. Formed in Omaha, 2004 was a big year for the band, touring with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., and filling the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart, with songs Lua and Take It Easy (Love Nothing).

People: Nebraska was the birthplace for a future president and vice-president, as well as the founder of a religion. President Gerald Ford and VP Dick Cheney were born in Omaha and Lincoln, respectively, while Church of Scientology forefather L. Ron Hubbard hailed from Tilden.

Animal: While mammoth fossils have been found all across Nebraska, the largest and most famous was uncovered in Lincoln, in 1922. Nicknamed Archie, the skeleton can be seen at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Mammoths are the State Fossil of Nebraska and a bronze statue of Archie is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Hubbard

Invention: Two of Nebraska’s greatest creations allow users to cut corners. TV Dinners, first made commercially successful by Nebraskan company, Swanson, helps folks avoid having to cook full meals for themselves and others. Meanwhile, CliffsNotes, developed by Clifton Hillegass of the Nebraska Book Company, allows students to prepare for tests without completing the source material.

Crime: Charlie Starkweather was only 19 when he went on a murder spree, killing 10 people in Nebraska and Wyoming. He was accompanied by his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Fugate. Starkweather was sentenced to death for his crimes and was executed by electric chair. Fugate served a 17-year sentence, despite claiming she was a hostage. The spree inspired movies such as Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers.

Law: In Omaha, sneezing in church is illegal, while across the state, if a child burps during a service, their parent(s) could be arrested. A rebellious teenager could cause a lot of trouble with a simple bodily function.

Sports Team: With no professional teams to support, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers are the top game in the state. In fact, home football games make the stadium the third largest population in Nebraska. Omaha has also been home to the College World Series for NCAA baseball since 1950.

TV Dinners

Athlete: Professional wrestler, Gorgeous George (real name George Wagner), is my pick here, not for his athletic abilities, but for his influence on sports and athletes to come after him. Wagner was born in Butte and revolutionized the wrestling industry as the first villainous character. George would be influential to many athletes and entertainers, Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan and James Brown among them.

Famous Home: Scout’s Rest Ranch is the former home of William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, who first promoted his Wild West Shows in Nebraska, beginning in 1883. These shows would later feature such celebrities as Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. The ranch can be found at the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte, which functions as a living history museum.

Urban Legend: Hatchet House (formerly Portal School) can be found in Papillion. The story goes that a teacher one day snapped and decapitated her entire class, leaving their heads on their desks. She then took their hearts to what is now known as Heartbeat Bridge, throwing them into the water below. Driving over the bridgeboards makes sounds that resemble beating hearts.

Museum: The National Museum of Roller Skating, in Lincoln, has a massive collection of skates, wheels and other items, dating back to 1819. Exhibits include Inline Skating, Artistic Skating, Roller Hockey, Speed Skating, and Roller Derby. Admission is free, but memberships with special perks are also available.

roller-skating

Firsts: Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska City, on April 10, 1872. The brainchild of J. Sterling Morton, it’s estimated that one million trees were planted across Nebraska that day. This earned the state the nickname Tree Planter’s State for some time. The holiday was later spread to other parts of the world by Birdsey Northrop of the American Forestry Association.

Company: Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, founded by Nebraskan Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world and among the most savvy investors. The conglomerate owns brands such as GEICO, Duracell, and Dairy Queen, while also investing heavily in Kraft Heinz, American Express, Coca-Cola, and Apple, among other businesses.

Events: Also headquartered in Omaha is the Union Pacific Railroad, which was founded in 1862. From this home base, the railroad connected the country through miles and miles of tracks, becoming the first transcontinental line in America. Today, grain, corn, sand, fertilizer, and coal are among the top items shipped into and out of the state.

Miscellaneous: Despite being a landlocked state, Nebraska has its own navy. The state has had some fun with the concept, appointing admirals such as Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Gates, Big Bird, Bill Murray, and many others to the position for promoting the “good life of the state of Nebraska.”

The Nebraskan

The Nebraskan

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Sweet Corn Milk
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper

Given its association with the state, I wanted to go with a Kool-Aid-based cocktail, but the most notable one has already appeared on this site. So, I went with The Nebraskan, which is quite the interesting blend of ingredients, highlighted by corn, perfect for the Cornhusker State.