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.

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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.

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Cuba – Frizzante Mojito

Castro Calamity

From the Great White North of Canada, we jet set our way to the Republic of Cuba. We have to leave via Canada because no flights from the U.S. go to the communist country. Speaking of communism, it has been discovered that the government of the United States tried to assassinate Fidel Castro an estimated 638 times, as they opposed the dictator’s rule. Here are some of the craziest plans they drew up!

Cartoon Violence

We’ve all seen the famous exploding cigar cartoon gag and apparently the CIA thought it was a pretty good idea, too. Heck, if Bugs Bunny can make it work, why couldn’t they. Castro was known to have a love of cigars (Cuban, of course), so why not slip an explosive one into his collection and let him light his own ending. The CIA also had a plan for cigars contaminated with botulin to be given to Castro, showing smoking definitely can kill!

Castro Cheating Death

Shaken, Not Stirred

As much as Castro loved his stogies, he also had a penchant for milkshakes, particularly the ones made at the Havana Hilton. Therefore, the CIA tried to poison his frosted treat. Apparently, the plan went awry when the deadly pill froze to the surface of where it was being held and when the would-be assassin tried to pry it loose, the capsule split and the poison was lost. According to longtime Castro bodyguard Fabian Escalante, this was the closest Castro came to meeting his maker.

PADI Certified

The Cuban Prime Minister was also an avid scuba diver and this factored into two attempts on his life. First, plans were hatched to give Castro a scuba suit infected with spores of tubercle bacilli. When that fell through, discussion turned to rigging a conch shell with explosives and placing it in one of the areas Castro frequented and favoured when diving.

Womanizer

In their attempt to oust Castro from power, the CIA even turned to some of his many mistresses, hoping they would be vengeful enough to kill the Latin lover. One, Marita Lorenz, even smuggled poison capsules into Castro’s bedroom, but they dissolved in the jar of cold cream they had been stashed in. According to Lorenz, when Castro learned of the plot, he handed her his gun and challenged her to shoot him… she couldn’t even do that.

cubanmissle

Bond Gadgets

If only things worked as well for the CIA as they always seem to for James Bond, thanks to gadget wizard Q. The CIA brainstormed such spy contraptions as a hypodermic needle inside a pen, with the hopes someone could get close enough to prick Castro and inject him with deadly toxins and get away with it. Speaking of deadly bacteria, there were also plans to give Castro an infected handkerchief, more commonly known as a snot rag.

Discredited

If they couldn’t kill him, the American government figured they could at least take him down a couple pegs and taint his image with Cubans. First, they strategized destroying his trademark beard with thallium salt, hoping this would make him look weak to citizens of the republic. Plans were also concocted to fill a radio station he was appearing on with LSD through an aerosol spray, hoping he would embarrass himself to the audience and lose their trust.

Cuba: Frizzante Mojito

Frizzante Mojito Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 oz Havana Club Rum
  • Top with Champagne
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Castro once joked about the assassination attempts: “If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.” If you have a clever way you would have used to eliminate the former Cuba leader, share it below. It can’t be any worse than some of the stuff the CIA and others actually tried!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have written before about my dislike of Champagne, but this recipe may change my wicked heart. I love Mojitos and it was fun to have the bubbles associated with Champagne as part of the traditional cocktail. The sweetness level can be changed with how much Simple Syrup you choose to add. The group I sampled this drink with preferred little to no sweetness and enjoyed the dryness of the cocktail.