Virginia – Lover’s 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. This week, we enter federal government territory with our exploration of Virginia. The Old Dominion is home to the Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies, so we’ll have to keep things to a dull roar:

Motto: “Thus always to tyrants” – Apparently, this was said by John Wilkes Booth after shooting President Abraham Lincoln. You’d think that would necessitate a change in slogan.

Food: Smithfield Ham (aka Virginia Ham) has protected designation status, meaning only hams that come from Smithfield and are processed, treated, smoked and cured a specific way can be called Smithfield Hams. It was among the first exports of the U.S. There’s also Brunswick Stew and Peanut Soup to round out Virginia-based delicacies.

Drink: The State Spirit of Virginia is George Washington’s Rye Whiskey, which is produced at the first president’s reconstructed distillery at his Mount Vernon home (more on that later). The whiskey’s recipe was previously used by Washington in the late 1700’s and production made the distillery the largest in the country. The whiskey now sells in limited edition batches.

Smithfield Ham

Site to See: A somber, but popular attraction in Virginia is the Arlington National Cemetery, containing the remains of soldiers from wars America has been involved with, beginning with the Civil War. It’s here that visitors can find the graves of President John F. Kennedy, astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Street: Skyline Drive, which runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the entire length of Shenandoah National Park, is a 105-mile route offering spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont. It also allows access to hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. The road is a National Scenic Byway and National Historic Landmark.

TV Show: Two Seth McFarlane shows are set in Virginia, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Anyone who truly gets the Sip Advisor knows both these series are among my all-time favourites, thanks to characters such as Roger Smith, Klaus Heisler, Cleveland Brown and his drinking buddies, Rallo Tubbs, and many others. Sadly, The Cleveland Show only lasted four seasons, but American Dad is still going strong with over 300 episodes.

Movie: So many movies have scenes that take place in Virginia, thanks to the federal government agencies located there. Two Disney movies completely set in the state are the animated Pocahontas, led by the voice work of Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson and David Ogden Stiers, and live action Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington.

Pocahontas

Book/Author: Ellen Glasgow was born in Richmond. She published 20 books over her lifetime, five of which ranked on best-seller lists. Her most notable work was In This Our Life, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1942. The same year, the book was adapted into a film, starring Hollywood leads Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as the story’s sisters.

Fictional Character: I’ve always enjoyed Cleveland Brown, dating back to his early days on Family Guy. With his own show, Cleveland was expanded even further and came into his own, with his own zany adventures. Not even the cancellation of The Cleveland Show and a voice actor change can keep the man down, as he and the rest of the Brown-Tubbs family have relocated back to Family Guy.

Fictional City: For this category, we go back to American Dad and The Cleveland Show, which are set in Langley Falls and Stoolbend, respectively. Both places have their pros and cons, making it a tough choice if I had to pick one to live in. Langley Falls combines the communities of Langley and Great Falls, while Stoolbend was inspired by Richmond, where co-creator Mike Henry was raised.

Actor/Actress: ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Sandra Bullock was born in Arlington. She won a Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side and has also starred in movies such as Speed, Gravity and Ocean’s 8. Bullock is one of the most bankable stars in the industry, with films grossing over $5.3 billion worldwide. As a result, she is also one of the most powerful women in entertainment.

Cleveland Brown

Song: Virginia Moon by the Foo Fighters is an ode to the state where frontman Dave Grohl was raised and still lives, his basement converted to a recording studio. Singer and pianist Norah Jones joined the band for the track, thanks to her background in jazz and ability to mesh with Grohl. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

Band/Musician: A tough category to narrow down, with options such as Ella Fitzgerald, Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, June Carter Cash, the Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz, and Wayne Newton. Fitzgerald gets the edge as a result of the walls she had to breakdown during her career, earning her nicknames such as the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz.

People: Political allies and friends George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were born in Popes Creek and Shadwell, respectively. Both were instrumental in separating from the British, with Washington would become the first President of the United States and Jefferson not far behind as the third President. Both men are carved into the Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Animal: Secretariat, one of the most popular and successful thoroughbred racehorses of all-time, was born in Virginia in 1970. Secretariat would go on to win the 1973 Triple Crown, setting speed records in each of the three races. Secretariat’s days as a stud produced daughters who would sire many notable champions. A 2010 Disney live action film about the horse was critically and financially successful.

George Washington

Invention: The Foil Electret Microphone, which is used in 90 percent of products, including telephones, video cameras, baby monitors, hearing aids and other devices, was invented by James Edward Maceo West. West, who was born in Farmville, holds many other patents related to microphones and is still going strong at age 89, developing a gadget to diagnose pneumonia in infants.

Crime: Virginia has been home to a number of mass murders, including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the Virginia Tech massacre and the Virginia Beach shooting. The Pentagon attack killed 184 people (including 59 aboard the plane), while the shootings at Virginia Tech (the deadliest school shooting in the U.S.) and Virginia Beach resulted in 32 and 12 deaths, respectively.

Law: In Virginia, it is illegal to hunt wild animals on a Sunday, except for raccoons. I have no clue why they are so against the beloved trash panda.

Sports Team: Virginia has no professional teams, but the state has made a number of attempts to gain one, including a failed bid for an NHL expansion team and the unsuccessful relocation of MLB squads. For now, they settle for supporting nearby franchises, such as the Washington Football Team (NFL) and Washington Capitals (NHL), who have headquarters and practice facilities in the state, but play elsewhere.

Microphone

Athlete: Tennis player Arthur Ashe won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments over his career, the only black man to win each. Ashe’s career was marred with medical issues, including a heart attack at age 36 and later contracting HIV through blood transfusions. He died in 1993 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as having the US Open stadium named in his honour.

Famous Home: George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello can be found in Virginia and are among the nation’s most famous homes. Both are National Historic Landmarks, while Monticello is a United Nations World Heritage site. I’ve personally been to Monticello and can understand why the estate appeared on a 1956 postage stamp.

Urban Legend: The Bunny Man legend is about a man wearing a bunny costume and attacking people with an axe in Fairfax County. The tale is based on two reports, occurring 10 days apart, in October 1970, regarding a man threatening people for trespassing. Other sightings have occurred since and as the legend has grown, people now flock to the area, particularly near Halloween.

Museum: Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum, transporting visitors back in time to the period of the American Revolution. Williamsburg was once the capital of Virginia and is where much activity in gaining independence from the British took place, involving patriotic icons such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others.

Williamsburg

Firsts: Jamestown Settlement was the first permanent English settlement in North America, founded in 1607. 20 miles from Jamestown, the settlement of Berkeley Hundred is where the first Thanksgiving meal occurred in 1619 (two years before the Pilgrims held their own in Plymouth, Massachusetts). The first U.S. whiskey distillery was also established in Berkeley Hundred in 1621.

Company: Virginia is home to many federal government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It is also the headquarters for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Five Guys, a favourite restaurant of the Sip Family.

Events: The surrenders ending both the American Revolution and Civil War each took place in Virginia. The Civil War, in particular, was largely fought in the state, with more than 2,000 military events and many major battles, as Richmond was the Confederate capital. A number of those battlefields have been preserved, although there have been efforts to remove Confederate monuments.

Miscellaneous: Another nickname for Virginia is Mother of Presidents. This is because eight U.S. Presidents were born in the state, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. Also, six U.S. First Lady’s hail from Virginia.

Lover’s Cocktail

Lover's Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Limoncello
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This drink is a reference to Virginia’s tourism slogan ‘Virginia is for lovers’, which has been in use since 1969. The campaign was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009 and listed by Forbes as one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all-time.

Tennessee – Tennessee Tea

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. I’ve been looking forward to our stop in Tennessee for some time, hoping to enjoy good music, food and beverage, along with taking in the Volunteer State’s rich history. So, let’s eat, drink and be merry:

Motto: “Agriculture and Commerce” – At least Tennessee is telling things like they really are.

Food: An item I’ve fallen for as it’s reached my part of the world is recent years is Nashville Hot Chicken. The traditional serving features cayenne-spiced breaded chicken atop white bread with pickle slices. It was first served at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville and can now be found on the menu of chains such as KFC. Nashville hosts the Music City Hot Chicken Festival annually.

Drink: When discussing drinks in Tennessee, the conversation begins and ends with Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, which operates out of Lynchburg. JD is best selling American whiskey in the world and its distillery is visited by an estimated 250,000 people each year. If liquor isn’t your thing, Mountain Dew was also created in Tennessee in 1940 by brothers Moses and Ally Hartman.

Jack Daniel's

Site to See: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in U.S. with 10 million guests each year. The mountains are named for the blueish natural fog that typically emanates from them, appearing like large plumes of smoke. Within the park, the Appalachian Trail can be found, which extends from Georgia to Maine.

Street: The Beale Street Historic District in Memphis was once voted the most iconic street in the U.S. by USA Today. The street is a major attraction thanks to its many blues clubs, along with outdoor concerts and festivals, such as the Beale Street Music Festival. The street has been mentioned in songs by artists like Joni Mitchell, Cab Calloway and Bette Midler.

TV Show: Nashville is a drama focused on the country music industry, particularly a rivalry between ‘Queen of Country Music’ Rayna James (Connie Britton) and rising young star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). The show ran for six seasons and 124 episodes and expanded into successful CD releases and music tours based on songs performed on the show.

Movie: The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, tells the true story of the Tuohy family of Oslo, adopting high school football player Michael Oher, to provide him with a better life and opportunity to play college football and later be drafted into the NFL. Bullock won a Best Actress Oscar (and Golden Globe) for her role in the film, which was nominated for Best Picture.

Sandra Bullock

Book/Author: While Quentin Tarantino – born in Knoxville – is best known as a director, he has also written each of his films. These include classic movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and The Hateful Eight. My favourite Tarantino credit though, is his appearance as an Elvis Presley impersonator on a 1988 episode of The Golden Girls.

Fictional Character: Lt. Aldo Raine, commander of the Jewish-American unit The Basterds in the Tarantino film Inglorious Basterds, is from Maynardville. The Basterds’ mission is to strike fear in German soldiers during World War II, by executing and scalping the ones they capture. Other Nazis have swastikas carved into their foreheads so they can’t hide their affiliation.

Fictional City: Miley Stewart, otherwise known by her stage persona Hannah Montana, is from the fictional small town Crowley Corners. The setting is largely used for Hannah Montana: The Movie, where the teenager living the double life of normal girl/pop superstar returns home to reconnect with her roots… and save the town from an evil land developer.

Actor/Actress: Two Memphis-born thespians, Kathy Bates and Morgan Freeman, have enjoyed successful careers well into older age. Bates won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in horror film Misery. Meanwhile, Freeman earned critical acclaim for movies such as Driving Miss Daisy, Glory and The Shawshank Redemption. Both are still going strong, aged 72 and 83, respectively.

Tarantino

Song: Tennessee has 10 different State Songs, including My Tennessee, Tennessee Waltz, Rocky Top, The Pride of Tennessee, and Smoky Mountain Rain. Popular artists, such as Johnny Cash, Tim McGraw, Dolly Parton, Billy Ray Cyrus and others have also produced odes to the state, making it very difficult to narrow down a top choice for this category.

Band/Musician: A number of superstar musicians have hailed from Tennessee. This includes the ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of Country’ Dolly Parton, the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Tina Turner and ‘The Prince of Pop’ Justin Timberlake. That’s quite the lineup of music royalty, who have been making hits for decades and dominating the charts.

People: More on Dolly Parton, who was born in Pittman Center. Aside from being a popular musician, Parton is also known in the state for her Dollywood Parks and Resorts, which is the second most visited attraction in Tennessee. The resort includes an amusement park, water park, dinner shows and more. Also, the Dolly Parton Parkway leads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Animal: Doug the Pug is a celebrity dog from Nashville. The pug has millions of followers on the various social media platforms, earning accolades such as a 2019 People’s Choice Award for Animal Star and being listed by Forbes as the #2 most influential pet of 2018. Doug has appeared in music videos and commercials and has his own line of merchandise.

Dolly Parton

Invention: Bristol has been recognized by the U.S. Congress as the Birthplace of Country Music. In 1927, producer Ralph Peer began amassing musical talents in the city and recorded 76 songs in a span of 10 days by artists such as the Carter Family (the First Family of Country Music) and Jimmie Rodgers, in their commercial debuts. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum can be found in Bristol.

Crime: On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, while a fugitive from prison. Ray plead guilty, avoiding a jury trial and possible death sentence, and was given 99 years in jail, where he died in 1998. The motel has since become the National Civil Rights Museum, including room 306, where MLK had been staying.

Law: The Scopes Monkey Trial occurred in 1925, when teacher John Scopes was fined $100 for teaching evolution at his school in Dayton. Scopes lost the staged trial, although the verdict was later overturned. While the trial garnered the national attention desired towards the new state law against teaching evolution, the subject didn’t return to Tennessee curriculums until the 1960’s.

Sports Team: The state is covered in three of the four ‘Big 4’ sports leagues with the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), Nashville Predators (NHL), and Tennessee Titans (NFL), who play out of Nashville. Pro wrestling has also been a major draw in Tennessee, with promotions like the Continental Wrestling Association and Smoky Mountain Wrestling leaving lasting legacies.

Country Music

Athlete: Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White was born in Chattanooga. White played for three NFL teams over a 15-season career. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice, while being selected to 13 Pro Bowl games. White became a Super Bowl champion in 1997 with the Green Bay Packers. Sadly, White died in 2004, at the age of 43, due to cardiac arrhythmia.

Famous Home: Graceland, the Memphis mansion formerly owned by Elvis Presley, is the second most-visited home in the U.S., averaging 500,000 guests annually. It was opened as a museum in 1982, as the Presley family was in need of money to continue the property’s upkeep and pay taxes on it. Each year, Elvis Week celebrates the ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

Urban Legend: In Robertson County, the Bell Witch haunted the family of John Bell beginning in 1817. Incidents included tapping on windows and doors, sheets pulled from beds, strange animals seen on the farm and physical attacks on the children. Bell may have committed suicide to end the witch’s torment. The curse lives on today with some events occurring at the nearby Bell Witch Cave.

Museum: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located along the Music Row district in Nashville. Established in 1961, the museum boasts one of the largest collections of music in the world, with 200,000 sound recordings. The museum also displays photographs, instruments, clothing worn by artists and even iconic vehicles of musicians.

Graceland

Firsts: The first atomic bombs, later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were developed in Oak Ridge, as part of the Manhattan Project. The research and development operation was so secretive, many didn’t know Oak Ridge existed and those who lived there and worked on the project were kept in the dark about what exactly they were creating.

Company: What became Lay’s Potato Chips was founded in Nashville in 1932 by salesman Herman Lay, who sold the snack food across the southern states from the trunk of his car. The company has come a long way since those humble beginnings, merging with the Frito Company in 1961 and is now part of the PepsiCo corporation, holding a large share of the savoury snack market.

Events: Tennessee’s nickname, the Volunteer State, was earned through the participation of fighters from the state in the War of 1812. Tennessee has gone on to play major roles in wars since, being the last state to secede from the Union and first to be readmitted before and after the Civil War, as well as providing soldiers to both sides of the conflict (38 battles were fought on Tennessee land).

Miscellaneous: The Grand Ole Opry is not only a famous music venue in Tennessee, it is also the oldest running live radio program (originally the WSM Barn Dance) in the world, broadcast weekly on Friday and Saturday nights since 1925. The Grand Ole Opry House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as is the Ryman Auditorium, which hosted the shows from 1943-1974.

Tennessee Tea

Tennessee Tea

  • 2 oz Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Cola
  • Splash of Sweet and Sour Mix
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

The obvious cocktail to do for Tennessee is the Lynchburg Lemonade, but since I’ve already profiled that drink before, I went with this beverage instead. I figure, as long as the recipe incorporates Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, you really can’t go wrong.

Connecticut – Yale 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. Connecticut is known by many nicknames – Constitution State, Nutmeg State, Arsenal of the Nation – so let’s dig deep and learn what these Nutmeggers are really all about:

Motto: “He who is transplanted still sustains” – Well, that’s a relief!

Food: Connecticut has laid claim to creating some of the Sip Advisor’s favourite all-time foods, including Lobster Rolls, Hamburgers and Hotdogs. For folks with a sweet tooth, the state is also the birthplace of lollipops and PEZ.

Drink: Foxon Park Beverage Company, based in East Haven, are famous for their White Birch Soda, among other flavours. They are the commonly paired with New Haven-Style Pizza, for a complete, balanced Connecticut meal.

Pez

Site to See: Yale University, one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious schools, is home to museums and picturesque grounds. Visitors can also try to locate the hideaways of Yale’s infamous secret societies, such as Skull and Bones and Scroll and Key.

Street: Described as “the most beautiful street in America” by both Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven is lined with 19th century mansions, including Yale Univeristy’s president’s house.

TV Show: Who’s the Boss, starring Tony Danza, was set in Fairfield. Danza played a widowed former baseball player, who becomes the live-in housekeeper for a divorced ad exec. The series lasted eight seasons and 196 episodes and is best known for introducing the world to Alyssa Milano.

Movie: The Tim Burton classic Beetlejuice, is set in the fictional Connecticut town of Winter River. Here, young couple Adam and Barbara Maitland tragically die and experience life after death, including the zany Beetlejuice. Just don’t say his name three times.

Tony Danza

Book/Author: In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe (from Litchfield) published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which highlighted the suffering of African-American slaves. Later, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln is said to have said to the author: “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war”.

Fictional Character: Professional wrestler Hunter Hearst Helmsley (later shortened to Triple H), was originally billed from Greenwich, using a Connecticut Blueblood gimmick. After some ups and downs to start his WWE career, Helmsley has gone on to be one of the most successful wrestlers of all-time and the real-life Paul Levesque is now an executive with the company that made him famous.

Fictional City: Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls is a small town home to many unique characters. As a teenage mother, Lorelei Gilmore escapes here, leaving behind her parents and the privileged life she’s known in Hartford.

Actors/Actresses: Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, was born in Kent. Aside from providing his voice talents to many projects, McFarlane has also appeared in live action fare, including The Orville and A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Triple H

Song: For whatever reason, Yankee Doodle is the State Song of Connecticut, but Connecticut by Judy Garland and Bing Crosby really should be. The tune is extremely complimentary song about the state, with lines like “No matter where I’d chance to be, Connecticut is the place for me.”

Band/Musician: I have to go with crooner Michael Bolton here, best known for the hits “When A Man Loves a Woman” and “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”, both of which he won a Grammys for. It’s hard to believe Bolton got his start in hard rock and heavy metal bands in the 70’s and 80’s.

People: P.T. Barnum, a founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, was born in Bethel. He would later become the Mayor of Bridgeport and a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, serving Fairfield. Barnum has been featured in a number of film and TV projects, most notably portrayed by Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman.

Animal: Sergeant Stubby became the mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, serving with the unit in World War I. The mixed-breed mutt saved troops from mustard gas attacks and helped medics locate wounded soldiers. His story was documented in the 2018 animated movie, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.

Michael Bolton

Invention: Of the many products created in Connecticut, I have to choose the vacuum cleaner, invented by Ira Hobart Spencer, of Hartford. However, if you want to avoid doing chores, you could get caught up playing outside with another invention from the state, the Frisbee.

Crime: The murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley, in Greenwich, may not have garnered as much attention as it did, if it hadn’t been for one of the potential suspects being Michael Skakel, a relation of the famous Kennedy clan. Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 murder, although the conviction was vacated in 2018.

Law: It is illegal to keep town records where alcohol is sold. There goes my dream of a city hall/liquor store combo!

Sports Team: The only professional team to exist in Connecticut was the now defunct Hartford Whalers of the NHL. The team relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina following the 1996-97 season, renamed the Carolina Hurricanes. The Whalers may be best remembered for their official theme song, Brass Bonanza.

Athlete: Chris Drury (born in Trumbull) and Brian Leetch (raised in Cheshire) have a lot in common. Both were multi-sport athletes growing up – with Drury being the winning pitcher at the 1989 Little League World Series – choosing careers in hockey. Each would win the NHL’s rookie of the year award, as well as a Stanley Cup championship for Leetch in 1994 (also named MVP of the playoffs) and for Drury in 2001.

Famous Home: Legendary author Mark Twain moved his family to Hartford in 1873. There, he wrote his most popular works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The home has been restored, with National Geographic calling it one of the ten best historic homes in the world.

Urban Legends: Lake Compounce, the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the U.S., is said to be haunted and cursed. The land where the park now sits was sold by Chief John Compound to white settlers. Legend has it, Chief Compound died soon after and other deaths have occurred on the grounds since, including drownings and construction accidents. Lake Compounce was also where the band Milli Vanilli were first exposed as lip-synchers.

Museum: Connecticut’s Trash Museum has been permanently closed, so I’ll have to settle on the Lock Museum of America, in Terryville. Here, you can check out a massive collection of locks and keys, as well as try on hand cuffs and leg irons, for kinkier visitors.

Mark Twain

Firsts: Some important American versions of books were first published in Connecticut, including the telephone book (containing only 50 names and numbers) and dictionary. Noah Webster, you know, of Webster’s Dictionary fame, published A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language in 1806. His next edition, An American Dictionary of the English Language, took two decades to complete, containing 70,000 words.

Company: TV production is a big industry in Connecticut, with companies such as ESPN (in Bristol) and WWE (in Stamford) setting up their headquarters in the state. It should also be noted, Subway is based in Milford, with the first restaurant, dubbed Pete’s Super Submarines, opened in 1965, in Bridgeport.

Events: With slavery outlawed in 1848 and the Underground Railroad travelling through the state, Connecticut participated on the Union side of the Civil War. Although no fighting took place in the state, what would become the Yale-New Haven Hospital treated thousands of injured soldiers, while the New Haven Arms Company and Colt’s Manufacturing Company provided fighters with weaponry.

Miscellaneous: Connecticut is unique in having a State Hero (Nathan Hale) and State Heroine (Prudence Crandall). Hale was a soldier and spy during the American Revolutionary War, hanged by the English for treason, at the age of 21. Crandall was a teacher and activist, who taught the first racially integrated class in the U.S.

Yale Cocktail

Yale Cocktail

  • 2 oz of Gin
  • 0.75 oz Crème de Violette
  • 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Dry Vermouth
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Garnish with a Lemon Twist

This cocktail is named after Yale University, thanks to the drink’s bluish hue, which matches the school’s colour. There are many variations to this drink recipe, including using Blue Curacao instead of Crème de Violette. I used the recipe straight from Yale’s Alumni Magazine… go straight to the source, is what I always say!

Alabama – Yellowhammer

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 explore the Heart of Dixie, Alabama, for a dose of southern hospitality:

Motto: “We dare defend our rights” – That’s as intimidating as “Don’t mess with Texas”.

Food: The pecan is the State Nut of Alabama, therefore, pecan pie is a fixture. Other more unique dishes include Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce and Fried Green Tomatoes, although the latter can be found across the southern U.S.

Drink: One of the most famous drinks the world over is the Alabama Slammer, comprised of Amaretto, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin and Orange Juice. The cocktail is thought to have been invented at the University of Alabama in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, first as a shooter, before becoming a full-size beverage.

Pecan Pie

Site to See: If you have a need for speed, the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, celebrates America’s space program. There’s also the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, of course, where many memorable NASCAR moments have occurred.

Street: For a measure of reflection, 16th Street in Birmingham is home to the Civil Rights National Monument and Civil Rights Institute, located across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church. The area is known as the Civil Rights District, the epicenter of so much history for not only the state, but the country as a whole.

TV Show: The only TV show of note to be set in Alabama is ‘Hart of Dixie’, which I’ve never seen. The series lasted four seasons and 76 episodes and was about a doctor named Zoe Hart, who dreams of being a heart surgeon. When that falls through, she takes her talents to the fictional town of Bluebell to be a general practitioner.

Movie: Numerous movies have been set in Alabama, but my favourite of the bunch is Forrest Gump, which sees the titular character born and raised in Greenbow, as well as become a football star at the University of Alabama, before setting off on his adventures around the world.

Forrest Gump

Book/Author: Few folks leave their education days without reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. The story takes place in the fictional location of Maycomb, which was loosely based on Lee’s hometown of Monroeville. The book tackles Alabama’s race issues of the 1930’s, with the main trial plot said to be inspired by an amalgamation of real-life events.

Fictional Character: While the Sip Advisor loves Forrest Gump, I have to choose folk hero John Henry in this category. Henry, a steel-driver, raced against a steam-powered rock drilling machine to create a tunnel for the railroad, dying as he completed his task and beat out his mechanical opponent. Dwayne Johnson has been tabbed to play Henry in an upcoming Netfilx film.

Fictional City: Since we’ve already highlighted Maycomb from To Kill a Mockingbird, let’s give some attention to Whistle Stop from the novel/movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. Whistle Stop was used by Alabaman Fannie Flagg, who based her setting on Irondale and its Irondale Café.

Actor/Actress: Magic Mike himself, Channing Tatum, hails from Cullman. For the ladies, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer was born in Montgomery and graduated from Auburn University.

Channing Tatum

Song: Hands down, the most iconic song associated with the state is ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The rock anthem was written in counter to Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’, which took the state to task for its history of slavery and racism.

Band/Musician: Having seen him in concert, I have to give the nod here to Lionel Richie, from Tuskegee. It should also be noted that FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, is one of the most famous recording studios in the world, used by the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and others.

People: Rosa Parks, also born in Tuskegee, became one of the key faces of the Civil Rights Movement, when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger and was arrested for the act. Parks had sat in a row meant for black passengers, but when the bus filled and some white passengers were forced to stand, the driver moved the sign back and demanded black passengers vacate their spots.

Animal: Miss Baker was a squirrel monkey from Peru, who was one of two animals to be the first sent into space and survive, in 1959. Miss Baker would be moved to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in 1971 and live out the rest of her life there, dying in 1984 at the age of 27. Prior to her death, Miss Baker was recognized as the oldest living squirrel monkey. She was buried on the grounds of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and inducted into the Alabama Animal Hall of Fame in 2005.

sweet-home-alabama.png

Invention: Despite important inventions such as the hearing aid, windshield wipers and air bags, Alabama’s greatest creation offered to the world has to be the Super Soaker. Invented by Lonnie Johnson, an engineer and former NASA employee from Mobile, the product was originally dubbed the Power Drencher, upon debuting in 1990. The Super Soaker is a member of the National Toy Hall of Fame, inducted in 2015, with lifetime sales nearing $1 billion. Johnson had to sue for underpaid royalties in 2013 and was awarded $73 million.

Crime: In 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church was the site of a deadly bombing, killing four African-American girls (aged 11-14) and injuring 22 others. It took more than a decade for one of the four bombers to be convicted. Two others were finally tried and sentenced in the early 2000’s, while another died in 1994, never being charged with the hate crime. The bombing actually backfired against the Ku Klux Klan members who committed the attack, as support for the Civil Rights Movement increased afterwards, leading to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Law: Despite being the first state to celebrate Mardi Gras, it is illegal to use both plastic confetti and silly string. You’d think Alabamans were party people.

Sports Team: In Alabama, it’s all about college football, with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn University Tigers competing for the hearts of fans across the state. Their rivalry, existing since 1893, is known as the Iron Bowl, with games traditionally played during Thanksgiving weekend.

Football

Athlete: Alabama’s greatest sporting influence can be seen in baseball, with a host of legends hailing from the state. Among them, are icons such as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, and Satchel Paige. Track and field star Jesse Owens, famous for his defiant performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in front of Adolf Hitler and other Nazis, also called Alabama home.

Famous Home: The Helen Keller Home (aka Ivy Green), is where the future activist learned to overcome her disabilities of being both deaf and blind. Located in Tuscumbia, the home now houses a museum and presents performances of The Miracle Worker – the play based on Keller’s autobiography – every summer.

Urban Legend: Dead Children’s Playground, located in Huntsville’s Maple Hill Cemetery, is said to be haunted by the spirits of children. In 2007, the original playground was demolished to make room for more graves. Due to public protest, another playground was built on the site. Swings are reported to rock on their own and the voices of children can be heard playing.

Museum: The Drive-Thru Museum in Seale, allows visitors to view works of art, set up in shipping containers with one wall removed, without ever having to leave the comfort of their vehicle. I have to ask: is there a speed limit folks must abide by, or can they peruse the works at their own pace, potentially causing traffic jams?

Helen-Keller

Firsts: On February 16, 1968, small town Haleyville received the very first 911 call made in the U.S. They’re so proud of the accomplishment, they’ve encased the rotary phone that took the call and have it on display at city hall.

Company: While no notable companies (for the Sip Advisor, at least) have their headquarters in Alabama, it should be noted the Unclaimed Baggage Center can be found in the state. On a daily basis, thousands of items are added to the store’s inventory, coming from deserted airline luggage. Each year, one million customers visit Scottsboro to search for deals, with items sold at a discount between 20-80 per cent.

Events: The American Civil War and Civil Rights Movement have largely defined Alabama over its existence. Montgomery was the capital of the Confederate States of America and also the site of Rosa Parks arrest in 1955, as well as being the terminus for civil rights marches originating from Selma.

Miscellaneous: The infamous Confederate Flag was designed and first flown in Alabama.

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Garnish with a Cherry

The Yellowhammer is the State Bird of Alabama (also giving Alabama the nickname Yellowhammer State). The drink is a favourite among Crimson Tide fans, who are known to buy the secret recipe cocktail in droves at Gallettes bar, located near the University of Alabama stadium and where the drink was invented. I enjoyed the beverage, despite generally steering away from concoctions using fruit juices.