France – Between the Sheets

Sensational Skyline

The Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol, regularly associated with not only Paris, but the entire country of France. The structure can be found in numerous forms of media representing the country and celebrated its 125th anniversary earlier this year. Let’s take a closer look at this mammoth structure:

The Eiffel Tower was opened to the public on March 31, 1889, taking two years, two months and five days to build by 300 workers. It was erected to serve as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair (or Exposition Universelle, since the French always have to put their own twist on titles). While it is an icon of the country today, its construction was protested by French artists and writers, who called it a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal!”

Frances-Thong

Writer Guy de Maupassant was one of the most vocal haters of the Eiffel Tower, yet was discovered eating lunch inside the setting on a daily basis. He claimed that it was because it was the only place in Paris that he didn’t have to look at the building. Other residents of the city initially viewed the construction as an eyesore.

Although the tower is named in honour of engineer Gustave Eiffel, he wasn’t initially interested in the project. Designed by his company’s engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, Eiffel only really came on board when the design was tweaked by his head of architecture, Stephen Sauvestre. Then, Eiffel purchased the patent rights for the structure.

A symbol of modern science, for 41 years, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made object (standing at 1,063 feet) in the world, but that reign came to an end in 1930 with the completion of New York’s Chrysler Building. I bet the French regretted giving New York the Statue of Liberty after they were trumped. The tower is comprised of 18,038 pieces linked by 2.5 million rivets.

Tower or Battleship

Today, the Eiffel isn’t even the tallest structure in France anymore. It has been surpassed by the Millau Viaduct, a cable-stayed bridge that connects parts of Millau-Creissels, France over the River Tarn. While it does provide a nice photo-op (if you’re into bridges and such), the Eiffel Tower is still the place tourists flock for their Parisian moment.

The tower was treated with 60 tons of paint to protect from the weather and has been repainted numerous times (about every seven years) since its original covering. It is painted lighter at the bottom of the structure and becomes gradually darker at the top so it looks like one uniform colour, despite atmospheric pressure. On warms days, the Eiffel tower can grow up to six inches, thanks to thermal expansion… does this mean that Mrs. Sip is also thermal expansion!?

The tower’s elevators weren’t running until almost two months after the building opened. Visitors could still enter the structure, but had to climb 1,710 steps to reach the summit. Still, more than 30,000 people were willing to traverse the many flights to get a view of the city. Mrs. Sip and I have talked about doing the stair thing sometime, but I think my laziness will always prevail.

Eiffel Lightning

The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be taken apart after 20 years, but it was later used as a radio communications tower, transitioning into telecommunications with the change in technology. The city chose to keep the structure after its permit expired in 1909. A post office, theatre, newspaper, science labs, and even an annual ice rink have also set up shop at the structure.

In the 1920s, con man Victor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower twice for scrap metal. With forged government documents, Lustig invited six scrap metal dealers to a meeting where they discussed dismantling the run down and expensive-to-upkeep landmark. When the scam worked once without Lustig ending up in jail, he returned to try it again, but this time authorities were summoned. Lustig did get away this time, but eventually found himself in jail, where he died in 1947. His death certificate listed his occupation as ‘apprentice salesman!’

Eiffel For You

The tower sure is sturdy, surviving wars, fires, and countless visitors. One time when Mrs. Sip and I were visiting the landmark, we even saw some dude relieving himself against the iconic iron! Today, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited pay monument in the world, with over seven millions visitors annually, 75% of which are foreigners.

It may not be the copycat Eiffel Tower located at The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, but Joe King, an engineering professor from California, constructed a toothpick replica of the famous structure in 1988, using 110,000 sticks. The tower stood 23 feet high. Other imitations include: Tokyo Tower in Japan, Torre del Reformador in Guatemala, Petřín Lookout Tower in the Czech Republic, AWA Tower in Australian, and many more.

France: Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Every time Mrs. Sip and I have been at the Eiffel Tower (with the intent of going up), the weather has been inclement. The first time we ever scaled the monument, the weather was near freezing and windy and even snowed a little. Other times, we have passed on going up because we know it isn’t as enjoyable when it’s wet and cold. On one visit, the weather was gorgeous as we were winding our way through the Louvre line-up early in the day. That afternoon was supposed to be Eiffel Tower time, but as we made our way to the attraction, the clouds burst open and we were thwarted once again. C’est la vie is all you can really say!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Despite three ounces of alcohol, this drink was pretty damn good. I was worried about how harsh it might be, so instead of using plain Light Rum, I subbed in Torched Cherry Rum and the flavour went very well with the Triple Sec. Both tasted very nice with Cognac as part of the mix and while still potent, the drink was delicious.

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France – French 75

Champagne Showers

While I’ve chosen cognac as the spirit of choice while visiting France, that doesn’t mean we can’t devote some time to another well-associated libation for the country: champagne. I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, but Mrs. Sip loves her bubbles and therefore, this article is dedicated to her and her taste in finer things… like the Sip Advisor!

Champagne was discovered accidentally and through a process that makers in the region are still trying to correct. When the cold weather hits this northern area, the fermentation procedure is interrupted and only continues when warm temperatures return while the wine is already bottled. This creates the carbonation and pressure that champagne is known for.

champagne-christopher-walken

Dom Perignon is often credited with inventing champagne in 1662, but he had some serious help from a British scientist named Christopher Merret, who broke down the process for creating the libation. Also, British bottles were stronger than the French ones and helped eliminate the likelihood of bottles bursting from the intense pressure of the drink.

In fact, the real Dom Perignon (a Benedictine monk) was one of the many who worked hard to prevent the second fermentation that creates champagne. What Perignon can be recognized for is giving champagne its classic colour. Champagne used to have a pale pink hue before Perignon started the process of blending grapes before pressing them, which caused red grapes to produce a white wine.

In 1813, Madame Clicquot Ponsardin created the riddling machine, which greatly improved champagne production and the quality of the product being released. These machines allowed for bottles to be turned upside down in order to have sediment (dead yeast) removed, refining the second fermentation process. The Veuve Clicquot champagne house still exists today.

Dom Perignon

Only the bottles produced in France’s Champagne region can be classified as champagne. It is known around the world by such other names as bubbly, Prosecco, brut, and sparkling wine. Today there are over 15,000 grape growers in Champagne, working with pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier grapes.

Although Double-O-7, James Bond, is best associated with the shaken, not stirred martini, in the films, he is most often seen downing champagne. In fact, the secret agent seems to like his bubbles so much, he has consumed close to 40 glasses. Perhaps Bond, the perpetual sex machine, was drawn to the classic champagne glass, which was designed from a wax mold of Marie Antoinette’s breast.

There are about 49 million bubbles in a typical bottle of champagne. Those suds can cause immense pressure in the bottle (90 pounds per square inch), which can launch a cork at 40 miles per hour. The world record for cork flight is 177 feet. Those same bubbles can cause a headache for drinkers, if consumed too quickly, as they cause the alcohol to enter your bloodstream quickly. Take your time with champagne and enjoy the taste of the wine and the cascade of the fizz.

Popped a Cap

Need more than a normal sized champagne bottle? How about a lot more? The Melchizedek serving provides 30 liters of the good stuff. That’s equivalent to 40 typical bottles. Despite the massive serving, these bottles pale in comparison to the price attached to some selections. The Shipwrecked 1907 Heidseick will set you back $275,000 per bottle. 200 bottles of the champagne were discovered in 1997, after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for 90 years, presumed to have fallen off the ship carrying it.

Champagne can be used for many other purposes. In the 1800s, English nobles used the drink to polish their boots. Many moons later, Marilyn Monroe is reported to have bathed in a tub filled with 350 bottles of champagne. Had they re-bottled the used bath water, they could have made millions. Instead, today we have a Marilyn Monroe-themed strawberries and cream vodka from Three Olives. I think some companies really missed the boat on this one.

France: French 75

French 75 Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Cognac
  • Top with Champagne
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Although I don’t love champagne, it is perfect in helping celebrate milestones, triumphs, and even the passing of another day where you made it through alive. Drink up, my little sippers!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Much like Italy, there are a number of liquor options available for France. I went with Cognac because it seemed like a nice way to change things up with this project. This is the Cognac version of the popular Gin-based cocktail that I found in my Mixology App. It tasted alright, but I’m still not a huge fan of Champagne in general.

November 25 – Brandy Alexander

Night Moves

Nothing finishes off a good evening of boozing than a perfectly-timed night cap. But what to enjoy as your final drink of the evening is up for debate. Here are some ideas I’ve accumulated and, of course, would love to share with all you little sippers.

Evening Cocktail

Amaretto

A lot of night caps consist of straight alcohol, neat or on the rocks. Amaretto and its almond flavour can be a little sweet for some, but for the Sip Advisor, it’s pure heaven in a glass. I’m usually rounding out my buzz on Disaronno, while Mrs. Sip is rushing around prepping for a late night shower… and I’m pestering her the whole time!

Cognac

I haven’t really delved into the world of cognacs too much, but I do enjoy the Courvoisier offerings I’ve had to this point and Mrs. Sip picked up a bottle of Hennessy for me while she was recently in Europe. I find cognac to be comparable to scotch, but perhaps it doesn’t share the exact same level of manliness as scotch.

Spiked Coffee

This can be achieved with everything from Irish Crème to various liqueurs. Pa Sip likes to use Pinnacle Whipped Vodka in his late night coffee, while sitting around the fire pit and roasting marshmallows (or himself!). Now I know why that bottle is always depleted when I come home for visits!

Cat-spiked-his-coffee

Hot Toddy

The Hot Toddy can be made up of various recipes, depending on your locale. The traditional Scottish version mixes whiskey, hot water, sugar or honey, and lemon slices or cinnamon, depending on the desired flavour. In North America, you might be served a variation using ginger ale subbed in for the water.

Scotch on the Rocks

When Mrs. Sip and I were in Mexico last year, enjoying my first all-inclusive experience, I made sure to finish off every night with some scotch. It’s a wonderful sipping drink that calms the nerves and the powerful alcohol makes you rest peacefully when you decide to hit the hay.

Cat Scotch

Grand Marnier

With its sweet orange flavour, this liqueur is perfect for a little nip before bedtime. I remember when I was just a wee little sipper, enjoying the Grand Marnier liqueur chocolate bottles best, among options that included Kahlua, Irish Crème, and others. I had to get my Sip Advisor start somewhere!

Night Cap

Well, given its prominence in the drinking lexicon, you had to figure there would actually be a cocktail called Night Cap. The drink recipe consists of rum, warm milk, cinnamon, and sugar. It doesn’t sound like something I would particularly enjoy, as I don’t really like warm beverages, but it might be just right for others.

Drink #329: Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Cognac (I used Hennessy)
  • 1 oz Crème de Cacao
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Nutmeg

Now that you’re all cozy and tucked in for a long winter’s nap (wearing your warmest footy pajamas and all), remember to check out this wonderful site for your bedtime reading!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a pretty decent cocktail, but I feel like it’s too similar to other cocktails I’ve made over this project. Given this is a classic cocktail, it probably came well before the others I’ve sampled, but I could help but think of other recipes, like the International Incident when sipping this nightcap.

October 30 – Corpse Reviver

Clever Costumes

There are some really funny costumes out there. Somehow, I’ve narrowed a limitless number of hilarious coverings down to a few favourites. There folks should be so proud of the honour I’m about to bestow upon them!

Facebook Post Costume

Just think about all the action this guy would get in a night, as every girl at the party would want to be the one featured in the Facebook post. Of course, he’d have to hold that sign up most of the time, but the benefits totally outweigh the effort. This is the kind of selfie I can get behind.

Lobster Kids Costume

Mrs. Sip loves lobster… but maybe not this much! When this kid is old enough to realize what happened to them at such a young age, do you think they’ll want justice. Perhaps they’ll be in therapy thanks to flashbacks of being stuffed in a pot and nightmares of being cooked. Good parenting!

breaking bad costumes

You would have to imagine that these two boys don’t even know what Breaking Bad is, but kudos to them for going along with a costume that is clearly the brainchild of their parents. Both boys nail the look of Jesse and Walter and you hope people handing out candy would appreciate the effort.

dog-poop factory-costume

Poor puppy doesn’t know that its owners and everyone it walks by is having a laugh at its expense. The payback will come when the dog chews up its owner stuff, slobbers throughout the house and perhaps even leaves a few ‘presents’ for its people to have to clean up. Sweet revenge!

rollercoaster-costumes

The problem with this costume is that it doesn’t work so well when any member separates from the group. Therefore, you have to choose the group members wisely because you’ll probably be spending the entire night with them or in a nearby proximity to them.

Drink #303: Corpse Reviver

Corpse Reviver Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Cognac (I used Courvoisier)
  • 0.5 oz Apple Rum
  • 0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Garnish with Body Part Gummies

If you think there are better costumes out there, let me know. I’m always looking for my next Halloween outfit and have no qualms about ripping someone else off!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
There is also the more popular Corpse Reviver #2 recipe, but I wanted to give the original some air time. Today’s recipe calls for Apple Brandy, but not having any on hand, I resorted to an Apple Rum, which provided some of the required flavour, but lacked the sweetness the Brandy might have offered. That was left for the Sweet Vermouth to provide and it did so to a reasonable degree.