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.