Norway – Cloud Walker

Munch Mix

Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is famous for his masterpiece, The Scream. Let’s take a look at the man and what drove him to create such a haunting image, which is universally appreciated and an icon of Norway:

Munch was born on Decmber 12, 1863 in Löten, Norway, the second of five children. Tragedy seemed to follow the Munch family. When Edvard was very young, his mother died from tuberculosis, followed by one of his sisters. Another sister was troubled with mental illness issues and committed to an asylum in her teens and a brother died young after a bout of pneumonia. Munch, himself, suffered from mental health issues, which were exacerbated by alcoholism. The artist spent periods of time in a private sanitarium.

the-scream-grumpy-cat

After originally studying to be an engineer, Munch left school to pursue art, which he did at the Royal School of Art and Design, starting in 1881. From there, he rented a studio with six other artists, with the intention of creating an exhibition. Munch specialized in Expressionism and some historians believe he was the father of the movement, before it took off in the early 1900’s.

Munch’s first major work was called The Sick Child and illustrated the death of his sister. It was also based on times he visited ill patients with his father, who was a doctor. When it was first unveiled, the painting drew harsh criticism, with many detractors claiming the piece was unfinished. Munch made six copies of the painting, which reside in galleries around the world.

After moving to France in 1889, Munch got down to business, creating a number of pieces based on feelings for the 1902 Berlin Exhibition. These works included Despair, Melancholy, Anxiety, and Jealousy. Munch’s claim to fame, The Scream, was also created during this period. It is actually based on a real location in Ekeberg, Norway. With Oslo pictured faintly in the background, past the safety railing and down the hill was the sanitarium which housed Munch’s sister. There was also a slaughterhouse nearby and it’s claimed that screams could be heard emanating from both buildings.

The Scream Cat

There are four versions of the famous image. One hangs in the Norwegian National Gallery, one in the Munch Museum, and pastel and lithograph varieties also exist. The National Gallery’s version of The Scream was stolen in 1994 on the opening day of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, with the two male burglars leaving behind a note that read: “Thanks for the poor security.” The National Gallery refused to pay a $1 million ransom for the piece and a police sting operation recovered the painting a few months later, as well as procuring convictions against four men that were later overturned.

The Scream was also one of two pieces stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway in 2004. Masked gunmen nabbed The Scream, as well as Munch’s ‘Madonna’. The work suffered some damage before it was recovered in 2006. The piece was put on display for a short time, with damage and all, before disappearing for restoration work. It finally returned to being on display again in 2008. In all, six men were arrested in connection with the theft.

In 2012, The Scream sold for $120 million U.S., breaking the record previously set by Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” which went for $106.5 million U.S. in 2010. The piece went up in value because the frame is also painted by Munch and includes a poem describing his motivation for creating it. Bidding began at a mere $40 million, with the auction lasting more than 12 minutes.

the-scream movie

The Scream has found its way into numerous avenues of popular culture. It was the inspiration for Ghostface’s mask for the Scream movie franchise, which is known the world over. Pop artist Andy Warhol recreated the piece as a silk print, which became quite famous. It was also chosen by the Norwegian Postal Service as one of four Munch works to be turned into stamps. Imaging getting a letter with that haunting face staring back at you. No wonder so many Scandinavians go crazy!

In 1938, The Nazi’s declared Munch’s catalogue of work “degenerate art” and removed his collections from German galleries, putting them up for auction. Norwegian art dealer Harald Holst Halvorsen (the original Triple H) nabbed as many of the pieces as he could to return them to their homeland. Halvorsen then distributed some of the pieces to other parts of the continent, based on discussions he had with Munch and Munch’s desire for recognition in other parts of Europe.

Munch moved to Ekely, Norway and chose to live mostly in isolation, where he died on January 23, 1944, aged 81. He enjoyed painting the landscape and farm life in his twilight years, but perhaps more importantly, he did a fair bit of work on nude paintings with a slew of female models, some of which he likely had relationships with. Now, that is the mark of a true master!

Norway: Cloud Walker

Cloud Walker Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cloudberry Liqueur
  • 0.75 oz Whiskey or Bourbon
  • Top with Lemonade
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

I must admit, that as I did research for this article, I was able to appreciate The Scream and other works by Munch more. Sadly, when the Sip Syndicate visited Oslo and tried to visit the Munch Museum, the place was closed. We all screamed in agony and then went to drown our sorrows at a nearby bar!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Lemonade goes so well with Whiskeys and Bourbons. Luckily I’ve been around recently when a couple friends have had doubts to that. The Cloudberry Liqueur is the icing on this classic southern recipe cake and this was a wonderful cocktail which I will serve again in the future!

Norway – Kitten Cuddler

Raid and Pillage

The Vikings have a badass reputation and frankly, it’s well deserved. Many of these figures, hailing from Scandinavia and particularly Norway, have rap sheets that would make a writer for Game of Thrones light up, as it opens new doors to wrath and associated violence. Let’s take a look at the exploits of some of the greatest Vikings:

Erik the Red

Erik the Red’s early life was built around repeatedly being exiled after committing murder. Therefore, he created his own Viking colony on what is now Greenland, which he also discovered. There, Erik the Red was free to do whatever he wanted. Although bloodshed is largely associated with Erik, his nickname ‘The Red’ more likely referred to his hair and beard. He was father to other Viking notables, explorer Leif Eriksson and warrior princess (not Xena) Freydis Eriksdottir.

Vikings-Give Up

Ragnar Lodbrok

In order to prove he was a badass to a princess, Lodbrok demolished a horde of invading poisonous snakes. Karma caught up to him eventually, though, as he was executed by being thrown into a pit of serpents. Although Lodbrok’s actual existence has been questioned, he was said to be father to other legendary Vikings, including Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Ivar Ragnarsson.

Ivar Ragnarsson

Speaking of the devil, Ivar was a ruthless warrior who used captured kings as playthings, expending them for target practice and other horrific executions. Ivar’s nickname, ‘The Boneless,’ was thought to refer to anything from an ailment causing his bones to break easily, to being impotent, to being incredibly flexible. Regardless, Ivar ruled parts of what is now Denmark and Sweden, as well as Dublin.

Leif Eriksson

Eriksson is most notable for discovering North America (500 years before Christopher Columbus), although the finding was likely accidental. He had meant to return to Norway, but his ship was blown off course towards modern day Canada. Eriksson was more of an explorer and not a Viking in the classic raid and pillage sense. He was said to be quite intelligent, while also possessing the strong frame of a typical Viking. The U.S. even celebrates Leif Eriksson Day every October 9th!

Vikings Pillaged

Eric Haraldsson

Eric had a thirst for blood and power, even killing his own brothers to become King of Norway. This earned him the moniker, Eric Bloodaxe. His reign over the Norwegian kingdom was short-lived, however, as one remaining broski returned and overthrew Eric, who had angered many of the nobility with his ruling tactics. Eric turned his attention to Northumbria and became king there, before dying in battle.

Sweyn Forkbeard

Forkbeard first came to prominence by going to war with his own father and emerging as the King of Denmark, upon being victorious. Following that, it seemed he held a major grudge against England, attacking them repeatedly over the rest of his life and even ruling the realm for a time. His anger towards England was thought to be based on his sister dying during the kingdom’s massacre of Danish citizens. Forkbeard also invaded Norway and divided up the country with his allies.

Vikings Fight

Harald Hardrada

While exiled from Norway, Hardrada became leader of the Byzantine emperor’s Varangian Guard. When he returned to Norway, he fought to become king. Hardrada means “Hard Ruler,” a name he received for his constant wars and harsh reign. Hardrada believed he had a claim to the throne of England, upon the death of that king, and died in battle, after being shot in the throat with an arrow, trying to make good on his perceived right.

Egil Skallagrimsson

Skallagrimsson was both a warrior and a poet, covering every aspect that makes a lady swoon (not to mention the namesake of an Icelandic brewery!). He is said to have written his first works at the young age of three, but also killed for the first time at seven years old. When the Norwegian king grew tired of Skallagrimsson’s exploits, he was exiled and began his years of terror, amassing a fortune and high kill count. He even murdered the slave who helped him bury his treasure.

Norway: Kitten Cuddler

Kitten Cuddler Cocktail

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Crème de Bananes
  • 0.5 oz Cloudberry Liqueur
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Apple Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

I wonder what my Viking nickname would have been. I’m thinking Word Whisperer sounds alright, but I’d hope my contemporaries would incorporate my legendary boozing into the moniker and call me something like Liquor Leviathan!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
Cloudberry Liqueur is made from berries found in Norway. This is quite the complex recipe, but it is totally worth the intricate construction. I think the cocktail name is quite funny in contrast to the article it’s combined with… kitten cuddlers and raiding and pillaging Vikings don’t really go hand-in-hand. I topped this cocktail with my Bols Banana Liqueur foam and it was a perfect touch to the drink.

Denmark – Cloudberry Dream

Playtime Pleasures

Mrs. Sip and I recently viewed The LEGO Movie, which the Sip Advisor believes is a must-see attraction for young and old alike. It was the final piece, if you will, that cemented LEGO being a topic discussed while we visit Denmark as part of the Around the World liquor showcase. This fascinating product has a rich history and one that should be shared with all you little sippers:

Humble Beginnings

Ole Kirk Christiansen started LEGO when his carpentry business was faltering in 1932. Christiansen chose the name by combining the Danish words LEG and GODT, which means “play well” together. In Latin, LEGO means “I put together”. He used the excess lumber he had to make wooden toys, which he sold locally. The LEGO blocks we know and love today were the result of Christiansen buying the rights to Kiddicraft blocks after the inventor committed suicide. A patent for LEGO’s ‘toy building brick’ came in 1961, which improved on the Kiddicraft design and the rest is history.

Backwards Compatible

Statistically Speaking

560 billion LEGO pieces have been manufactured as of 2013 and only 18 of every million bricks come out defective. Seven LEGO sets are sold every second around the world. LEGO produces more tires than companies like Goodyear and Bridgestone. In fact, they make 381 million each year… sure they’re miniature, but that’s a lot of rubber! If this ever helps a reader with a pub trivia night, you owe me a Coke.

Across the Universe

While you can build just about anything using your imagination (porn theatre, strip club, grow-op, meth lab, etc.), LEGO collections allow kids to travel anywhere from floating through space, to sailing the seas with pirates, to battling dragons and defending castles. 13 LEGO sets have actually been brought to the International Space Station to see how the pieces react in gravity.

Good Company

While today, LEGO has licensing deals with a number of commodities (Batman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc.), it all began in 1999 when the toy company partnered with Star Wars. Along with the previously mentioned sets, the likes of Santa Claus, Spider-Man, and even Steven Spielberg have been immortalized as LEGO mini figures.

lego-piece-missing

Home Sweet Home

A life-size LEGO house was built in 2009 by James May, for his Toy Stories TV series. With the help of 1,200 volunteers, the two-floor, four bedroom abode was constructed using 3.3 million bricks and also had a wooden support structure. May spent one night in the home, and ironically said he slept like a brick. The house was demolished after an agreement to have it sent to LEGOLAND fell through because of costs. The pieces were donated to charity, however.

Theme Party

Sticking with LEGOLAND, there are six LEGO theme parks around the globe, including resorts in Billund, Denmark (home of the first factory); Windsor, United Kingdom; Günzburg, Germany; San Diego, USA; Winter Haven, USA; and Nusajaya, Malaysia. There is also a chain of LEGOLAND Discovery Centres with five in the U.S., two in Germany, and one each in the U.K., Japan, and Canada (stupid Ontario gets all the cool attractions!).

Work of Art

Nathan Sawaya has gained a cult following as a block artist – wouldn’t it be considered an offshoot of cubism!? – using LEGO bricks to make renowned pieces of art. Sawaya quit his job as a lawyer (perhaps this is also in Mrs. Sip’s future!) in 2001 to dedicate his life to LEGO art and it’s worked out pretty well for him. His show ‘The Art of the Brick’ is touring museums across the United States. He’s even made a life-sized Stephen Colbert.

Stepping on Lego

Creation Theory

Speaking of using LEGO for art, starting in 2001 (that seems to be the year men around the world went nuts for the toy), Brendan Powell Smith began creating illustrations from the Bible, using LEGO. His website, The Brick Testament contains nearly 4,000 images telling more than 300 stories. Perhaps this will inspire the Sip Advisor to take up religion… no, I think I’ll pass.

Honourable Mention

LEGO was named Toy of the Century in 2000, narrowly beating out the Teddy Bear, Barbie Doll, and Action Man. The three runners up went on to form an alliance, looking to overthrow LEGO from its lofty perch through propaganda, a smear campaign, and other dirty tactics. Then, Barbie Doll and Action Man had an affair that upset Teddy Bear and caused a irreparable rift within the coalition!

Denmark: Cloudberry Dream

Cloudberry Dream Drink Recipe

  • 2 oz Cloudberry Liqueur
  • 1 oz Akvavit
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

I was huge into LEGO as a youngster and one of the few things I’m looking forward to as a future father is bringing home my kid’s first LEGO set… then ignoring my duties as a dad and husband, playing with children’s toys for hours on end!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
An invention as great as LEGO deserves to be partnered with a drink this delicious! It has me looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Akvavit. The Cloudberry Liqueur was as wonderful as it has been in the past and throw in all the citrus elements and everything’s coming together perfectly!

August 24 – Warm Fuzzies

Warmth Spreading

There are those certain times in your day which bring the greatest of pleasurable feelings, as a sea of warmth spreads over your body and a sensation of true bliss brings a smile to your face. I call this time sex… na, just kidding. You don’t have to be in the throes of passion to feel all warm and fuzzy. Here are my favourite things that bring about the heat for me:

Waking Up with Time before Your Alarm

I prefer to wake up naturally and hate using an alarm clock. Of course, if you want to avoid consistent unemployment, an alarm clock really comes in handy. It has to be one of the greatest feelings in the world when you wake up, check the time and your alarm isn’t set to go off for a while… the longer the better. Even if all you have left is 10 minutes and you may not be able to get back to dream world, it’s nice to know your blankets and bed will keep you comfortable for just a little longer.

alarm clock

The Smell of Barbecue

I don’t really care what type of meat is on the barbie, so long as it’s filling the atmosphere with its sweet meaty smells. The only time this sucks is when you’re extremely hungry and the scent of cooking food is driving you to a non-desirable mental state. It makes you want to hunt down the barbecue, trespass on property, steal said meat, and break another couple criminal codes, as you also pilfer the place’s liquor collection and side dishes.

Kitties Purring

Cats sometimes seem so nonchalant, as if they don’t have a care in the world. So, when one snuggles up to you for a little rest and begins purring their little head off, then you know you have an unbreakable connection. My little buddy, Furious B, even rewards our family with hunted rodents and birds. That’s just his way of saying: “Thanks for the lap, the nap, the blanket, and the kibble!”

Giving Presents

I love giving gifts to my closest friends and family. I put a lot of time and effort into figuring out the right present and then tracking that item down. Sometimes it can be frustrating, especially since I don’t like shopping and all too often I can’t find what I’m looking for easily, but the reaction you get when that present is finally delivered and opened makes the whole process totally worth it!

giving gifts

Making Drinks

I’m really in my element when I’m mixing drinks for friends and family. I love when I can bring some small amount of enjoyment to them with a delicious cocktail. Receiving rave reviews isn’t rare and even if they’re just being nice, I’ll take it! I like being the one that plays bartender and makes the drinks everyone is talking about. It’s nice to be the center of drinking attention and also gets this introvert out of the all-out party assault when he needs a little breather.

Shared Nostalgia

I love that time in the evening of a drink-a-thon when everyone starts thinking about the awesome things from their childhood or teenage years. Mrs. Sip and I will discuss at length the lessons we learned from Saved by the Bell or how Cousin Sip had such a crush of Kit Cloudkicker from Tail Spin (sorry to out you there, but you probably weren’t alone!). I can remember (fuzzy memories still count) countless hours spent reminiscing about favourite candies, toys, shows, movies, etc. and it really doesn’t get much better to share that with the ones you love!

Drink #236: Warm Fuzzies (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Warm Fuzzies Shooter

What are your favourite warm fuzzy moments? If you simply agree with my list and how awesome I am, that will continue the warm fuzzy vibe we got going on here… don’t screw it up!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This delicious shot earned its name thanks to the warm fuzzy feeling it gave my entire body as it worked its way down my throat and into my stomach, providing the same feeling soon after to my head .I created this recipe on a whim when Mrs. Sip suggested we do a shot before going for a walk… she’s such a clever lady! Unfortunately, the liqours were purchased in Germany and Estonia so I realize this shot may be a bit more difficult to re-create if you are on the wrong side of the pond.

June 24 – Cold Lips

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

We continue our vacation exploits with stops in Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden, along with more hijinks aboard the Emerald Princess!

Drinking on the Ship

One of my favoruite parts of a cruise vacation is, of course, the drinking. There are a number of bars around the ship and it’s fun to hit each one for at least one bevvy. Highlights of this voyage included cheaper cocktails in the Skywalker Lounge (with it’s beautiful views out the back of the ship), thanks to our new platinum status as cruise members and a visit to Vines Wine Bar, where tapas and sashimi sushi accompanied glasses of rose and pinot grigio wines.

cruise ship

I was drinking, but I wasn’t driving… I swear!

Liquor Finds & Dannebrog Café

Tallinn, Estonia was an amazing little stop that I hadn’t anticipated enjoying so much. And it came with a number of liquor moments. After touring the old, historic city, we popped into a souvenir store and found the aforementioned Cloudberry Liqueur. Imagine my surprise and excitement when Mrs. Sip pointed it out behind one of the cashiers. We also discovered the town’s most popular spirit Vana Tallinn and later found bottles of liqueur that included sugar crystals at the bottom to keep the libations sweet and delicious. Mrs. Sip selected a peach variety of this technique to bring home.

Our last stop of the port visit was to a little bar situated into the old town wall of the medieval city, called Dannebrog Café. You have to climb up narrow and steep stone stairs to enjoy your food and drink high up on a little wooden platform built from the wall (I think Mrs. Sip needed a drink or two just to get the courage to make the climb back down!). From our high perch, we were offered and amazing view of the city, while enjoying some local beers and wines, before making our way back to the ship and onward.

Vodka Tasting

On our honeymoon cruise, Mrs. Sip and I took part in a rum tasting aboard our ship, as we went through the Panama Canal route. This time, traversing through Northern Europe’s Vodka Belt, we of course had to sample some of the spirit and we were happily provided with a sampling of vodkas. We tried Russian Standard, Absolut and Matrioshka Lux, as we geared up for our two days in Russia. In Russia, we were advised by our guide to pick up a bottle of Beluga Vodka, said to be one of the finest sold in the country. That is precisely what we did and hopefully the old adage is true: Russians really know their vodka!

russian vodka

Beers in Finland

With only a short time in Finland, we had to rush around to get our sightseeing done, including taking a boat out to the famous world heritage site, the Suomenlinna sea fortress. When that was complete, it was time for a little rest and relaxation in a Helsinki pub, trying a couple local beers. Before we returned to the ship, we hit a convenience store and bought seven tall boys, each a different brand, to later have our own beer tasting to experience a greater selection of what the country had to offer on the brew front. My personal favourite was the Karhu selections.

Captain’s Circle

A highlight of our last two extended cruises has been invites to the Captain’s Circle celebration (for returning cruisers only). These are mini drinkfests, where servers bring you one cocktail after another for about half an hour, even if you’re already working on three drinks at once at your table. On our Panama honeymoon cruise, it’s where I discovered an appreciation for Cosmos and this time, I was able to enjoy a couple Gimlets, among other treats.

Finishing Cruise Alcohol

At the end of every cruise comes a brief moment of panic when you realize that you still have a fair bit of alcohol left to consume and so few hours to accomplish the feat. Never fear, however, as our troupe went through a quarter bottle of vodka, a dozen beers, some champagne and even hit a couple of the bars around the ship for afternoon cocktails! Damn, I love days at sea!!!

Drink #175: Cold Lips

Cold Lips Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Powder Candy
  • 1 oz Vana Tallinn
  • 1 oz White Rum
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Strawberry

So, as you can see, our little vacation was anything but, what with all the port stops and other activities. Still, any time away from work is good time!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Like yesterday’s inaugural experiment with Crowberry Frost Liqueur, today’s drink provided us with our first opportunity to make a cocktail with Vana Tallinn, which tastes very nice in this mix. I used a Powder Candy Rim to visually show the ‘cold lips’ effect. The Cranberry Juice actually works well with the liquors and all ingredients come together nicely.