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!

December 25 – Merry Christmas

Wrapped Records

As with almost everything, Christmas can produce a ton of World Records. From largest this, to smallest that; most expensive, to oldest. Here are some of the notable records I was able to dig up:

O Tannenbaum

Christmas is a time of stuffing your face full of chocolate and other treats, but it would take an entire harem (all I want for Christmas!) to devour this particular world record. Chocolatier, Patrick Roger, created the world’s Tallest Chocolate Christmas Tree in 2010. The structure stood 32-feet high and weighed 8,000 pounds. Roger’s project took an entire month to finish and used $45,000 worth of dark chocolate. Pieces were broken off and sold with proceeds going to charity. Now all we need to find is the world’s largest glass of milk and we’re good to go!

Treats for Breakfast

Family Jewels

It’s really no surprise that the world’s Most Expensively Decorated Christmas Tree can be found in the United Arab Emirates (although I am surprised the country celebrates Christmas at all). There, at the Emirates Palace Hotel, guests can marvel at the 43-foot tall tree that has been decorated with $11 million worth of jewelry. This includes precious gems, diamonds, and pearls. What else would you expect from a joint that houses a gold ATM and serves a cognac that goes for $2,000 per serving.

So Much for Tinsel

Sticking with the theme of “most expensive”, Hallmark Jewellers in the UK created the world’s Most Expensive Christmas Decoration in 2009, with their ball that includes 18-carat white gold, encrusted with 1,578 diamonds. The decoration is circled by two red rings, comprised of 188 rubies. The ball’s estimated value is $130,000 and took an entire year to craft. Creator Mark Hussy, owner of Hallmark Jewellers wants the company to be as famous for Christmas as Faberge for their eggs. I’d probably promptly drop this decoration and have it shatter all over the floor, as I did with the decoration Mrs. Sip gave to me this Christmas.

Red and White Pride

I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone has at one time or another owned a Santa hat. Well, you could have been part of a world record. In 2010, 872 people gathered in Brockton, Massachusetts – all decked out in their Santa’s hat best – to set the record of Most Santa Hat Wearers in One Place. I would have thought the number to be bigger, which shows this record is up for the taking. I don’t like crowds, however, so you can count me out.

Santa Hats

Small Frosty

No, that’s not a drink order at Wendy’s. It’s actually for the world’s Smallest Snowman, created by the National Physics Laboratory in London. Using tools meant for working with nano-particles and welded together by miniscule samples of platinum, two tiny tin beads were fused together to form the snowman’s body. From there, an ion beam was used to give the snowman a face. I don’t think this version of Frosty would melt in the sun, but it might easily be misplaced.

Claus Collection

We venture to Canada for this record, where retired teacher Jean-Guy Laquerre has amassed the Largest Santa Claus Memorabilia Collection, including 20,000 drawings, toys, and figurines. I told you all the French were a little crazy! Laquerre began his collecting ways in 1988 with a few items. Now it takes him a full two weeks to get all his treasures set up on display. If it takes that long to set-up and tear down, one has to wonder why he doesn’t just leave the collection up year round. I guess he’s not as lazy as the Sip Advisor!

Early Writings

In 1992, the world’s Oldest Letter to Santa was discovered (now coming in at over 100 years old). Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is where the message was found: inside a fireplace. The letter, written by two young siblings in 1911, asked for a baby doll, jacket with hood, pair of gloves, toffee treats, and cash money (a gold penny and a silver sixpence). I wonder what my early Christmas lists requested.  Probably peace on earth… I have always been a worldly treasure!

Drink #359: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas, as they read this spectacular post. Now it’s time for me to get back to my presents… oh yeah, and family, too. Have an awesome day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This recipe is very similar to a Cosmopolitan with a few differences. Gin is subbed in for Vodka, Lemon Juice for Lime Juice, and Club Soda added to the recipe. It all makes for a drink as good as the Cosmo, especially when done cocktail style.

December 7 – Winter is Coming

Yuletide Legends

Urban legends can be so fascinating. Movies and websites have been made to cover all of the crazy (yet sometimes true) theories out there. And Christmas is not safe from urban legends. Here are some of the most intriguing:

Suicidal Dream

Christmas is supposed to be one of happiest times of the year. For some, though, that just makes it all the more miserable. But the theory that more people commit suicide during the holidays over any other time of the year is pure myth. So, while the holidays may drive you crazy, as you visit with relatives you don’t particularly care for and battle with fellow shoppers to find the perfect gifts… it at least won’t drive you to kill yourself!

Assisted_Suicide

Candied Cane

While we recognize peppermints and candy canes as often being coloured red and white, a rumour has persisted that there’s more to the iconic image than just flavour. Some have insinuated that the candy cane is a symbol for Jesus Christ; the red representing his blood, and the white his purity, as well as the shape being a ‘J’. It’s simply not true, however, so feel free to eat your Jesus canes at all hours of the day and with complete disregard towards religious persecution.

The Brotherhood of the Travelling Pants

Let’s get a true legend into this piece. Apparently, two brother-in-laws spent 25 years trading a pair of pants back-and-forth as a Christmas gift, each year finding a more inventive way of exchanging the slacks. The tradition began in the 1960’s and involved the pants being stuffed into a thin pipe, baled, and even added to a concrete mix. The pants were finally destroyed when they were to be encased in molten glass, but were burned to ashes, accidentally. Kind of makes me hope I never have a brother-in-law!

Won’t Someone Think of the Children

We’ve all seen those donation boxes at Wal-Mart and other outlets that say toys bought in the store can be donated to needy children… well, it seems this case went awry when the donated toys were returned to store shelves for resale. At the Sterling, Colorado location, managers wanted gifts to be wrapped in a Wal-Mart bag to prove the item had been purchased and not simply taken off the shelf and tossed in the box. Of course, staff made the mistake of putting the box in an unsupervised spot in the first place and should have just taken a loss on any possible donations through mischief.

walmart-gene-pool

Unlikely Allies

We’ve all heard the story that German and Allied troops took a break from their World War I fighting on Christmas Day in 1914 to exchanged gifts, sing carols, and even play some footie (soccer for you North American blokes). Well, all of that is, in fact, true! There’s nothing like partying with your enemy. This is why I’m always celebrating with Mrs. Sip! The 1914 truce eventually ended (as does many of my armistices with Mrs. Sip) and future attempts to come together on Christmas didn’t pan out. The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918.

Only in Canada

Sometimes I love this little country of ours. Okay, so it’s actually a massive country, but that’s not the point. If you’ve ever wondered how to reach ol’ Santy Claus, apparently us Canucks even gave the jolly fat man a postal code. It’s H0H 0H0… that’s right, it reads Ho Ho Ho! Pretty clever stuff, am I right!? Every letter sent to this address is answered, even if it comes in a foreign language or even Braille. The postal code was established in 1982 does not require postage and even return letters are free of charge!

City of Santa Hate

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, but clearly not so much in the sports world, where fans of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles actually booed Santa Claus when he appeared during a game in December 1968. The Eagles had experienced a dreadful season that year, finishing with a 2-12 record and conditions at the game were horrible, with cold temperatures, slushy seats, and falling snow. The half-time Christmas Pageant ended with Santa being pelted with snowballs from much of the Philadelphia faithful. I hope they all received coal for Christmas!

Drink #341: Winter is Coming (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Winter is Coming Shooter

There are, of course, so many other urban legends to do with the Christmas season. So many that I can’t possibly fit them all in. If you’re interested in more, head over to Snopes and browse away to your heart’s content!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Based off of the catchphrase Winter is Coming from Game of Thrones, I decided to combine my alcohols that had the word “frost” in their title. The Crowberry Frost Liqueur is quite ironic because crows play a large role in the Game of Thrones story and there’s even an entire pack that dresses like the filthy bird. As for taste, it was pretty good. The Perma Frost Liqueur is strong, but not unpleasant and the Crowberry Liqueur adds a touch of sweetness to the shooter.

December 1 – Winter Mojito

Christmas Cheer

While most of the world is only capable of rocking around the Christmas tree for 12 days of holiday cheer, the Sip Advisor will be bringing you more than double that with 25 days of wonderful recipes. Today, we start things off with some facts about Christmas. I hope you’re all snuggly by a roaring fire!

Halloween By the Numbers

Drink #335: Winter Mojito

Winter Mojito Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Mint Leaves and Cranberries
  • 1.5 oz White Rum (I used Bacardi)
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Drunken Cranberries

This is among my favourite times of the year and I’m giddy with all the drinks and fun that is sure to come in the lead up to Christmas Day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I put together two different recipes for this cocktail. The one listed above and also a more basic mojito, with the simple addition of Cranberries floated on top for garnish. The version I went with for the article I feel is better because of its colour and that it’s truly a variant of the usual mojito concoction. It’s a wonderfully tasty drink and a great way to bring in the season!