Croatia – Naked Lady

Spotty Reputation

Without Croatia, we might have never been introduced to 101 Dalmatians. These spotted dogs come from the Dalmatia region of the country (which has a coat of arms that features leopards, not Dalmatians) and were once used as carriage dogs many years ago. Because of this, they are typically very comfortable around horses and can keep up to them. Let’s learn a little more about the pooches:

One of the first uses of the breed was to guard the borders of Dalmatia. They have also found work as rescue dogs, hunting dogs, circus dogs, and watch dogs. Hey, it’s a living!

Dalmatian Spots

Dalmatians have gone by other names over time, including Carriage Dog, English Coach Dog, Plum Pudding Dog, and the Spotted Dick Dog. The British sure have a funky way of naming their pups and you really have to wonder which bloke came up with that last one, as accurate as it may be.

A fully grown Dalmatian can weigh anywhere between 35 and 70 pounds and their average lifespan is 10-13 years, although some have lived to the ripe old age of 16. Dalmatian litters range from 9-13 pups, although in rare occurrences, larger broods have been born in one go, with a reported 18-puppy birthing in 2009.

When a Dalmatian is born, it has an all-white coat and its trademark spots only appear at about three weeks. By the time they are one month old, they will have most of their spots, but other will appears throughout the dog’s life, just at a slower rate. The spots are usually black or brown, but some rarer colours do occur, such as bluish-grey, orange, yellow, and even tri-coloured.

Dalmatian Shadow

Dalmatians are high energy dogs and one negative effect of the popular book (written by Dodie Smith) and animated and live-action Disney movies was the increase of people adopting Dalmatian dogs for their children, only to realize they weren’t suitable animals for kids. Sadly, this resulted in many of the dogs being given up for adoption by underprepared owners, which was exacerbated by unethical breeders, who were already mass-producing poorly bred puppies to take advantage of the fad. Happily, a number of groups popped up to deal with the overwhelming number of Dalmatians looking for homes.

The dogs are often associated with fire departments, which began when Dalmatians transitioned from carriages to fire engines. Dalmatians today are used as mascots for firehouses and as ambassadors for fire safety education with the young and old alike. It’s not uncommon for a firefighter to own a Dalmatian as their pet, to honour their past heroics.

Dalmatians Coloring Book

According to the Dalmatian Club of America, 12% of the Dalmatian population is deaf, while other dogs of the breed can only hear in one ear. On the positive side, Dalmatians lack the typical “dog smell” and are fairly clean pets, thanks to a lack of oil in their fur.

The Dalmatian is also largely associated with Budweiser beer and the company’s Busch Gardens theme parks. Anytime you see the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses, you can bet their Dalmatian carriage dog is close by. The brewing company has assembled a number of these teams and they tour around promoting the product. Dalmatians were even used to guard beer wagons, as the driver went about his business making deliveries. Let’s salute this proud, noble, beer protector!

Croatia: Naked Lady

Naked Lady Martini

  • 1 oz Rum
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Rakija
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with Lemon Zest

Aside from Dalmatians, the necktie also technically comes from Croatia, as it is a descendent of the cravat. If I had chosen to write about that, though, it would have largely been to take shots at all the schlubs who have to wear one every day to work!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Wow, Rakija is strong, but I can’t say that I don’t like the liqueur. This martini was decent with some complex flavours going on. I’m curious to try Rakija in other recipes and see if I can find a grand slam recipe for the spirit!

Croatia – Belle of the Ball

Mad Scientist

While most have heard of Thomas Edison, the same can’t be said for his rival Nikola Tesla. Tesla was born in what is now Croatia in 1856 and the genius inventor created and theorized significantly over his life, but fell into obscurity after dying. Only in recent years, have his achievements gained more recognition with many coming to the conclusion that his alternate current (AC) electricity was in fact better and safer than Edison’s direct current (DC) electricity. So, let’s tune up some AC/DC and learn about the unsung hero:

Tesla once worked for Edison, designing and improving electrical equipment. As he relocated from France to the United States, he was aboard a ship that faced a mutiny and was nearly tossed overboard. Some of his money, luggage, and even his ticket aboard the vessel were stolen. When he arrived in New York City, he had four cents to his name. He must have hid those pennies real well!

Tesla Electrifying

The beginning of the two men’s rivalry may have occurred when Tesla began redesigning Edison’s motors and generators with the promise of a $50,000 reward. When improvements were made, Edison said he was merely joking, although he did offer a weekly pay raise to Tesla, who quit the job immediately.

The War of Currents between Edison and George Westinghouse (who employed Tesla as a consultant and used his alternate current patents and inventions) drove both men to the brink of bankruptcy. The AC current won the war, despite Edison’s smear campaign against Tesla and Westinghouse, using AC to electrocute animals in an attempt to show it as more dangerous and even inadvertently creating the electric chair method of capital punishment. Suck it, Edison!

Legends persist that Tesla and Edison were to be co-winners of the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics, but one or both of them refused the honour thanks to their bitter hatred of each other. Some even say that Edison, who had grown wealthy thanks to his inventions, balked at the reward just to make sure Tesla didn’t receive any prize money.

Tesla's Bitch

Because of his Eastern European ethnicity and some of his concepts and inventions, Tesla gained a reputation as a mad scientist and a number of conspiracy theories center on the inventor, such as UFO and occult related notions. Some of Tesla’s papers are still classified by the U.S. government and when asked for through Freedom of Information requests, are heavily censored.

A hero of super villains everywhere, Tesla claimed to have invented a death ray, dubbed ‘Teleforce.’ Known as a “directed-energy weapon” or even a “peace ray,” Tesla insisted he had built and tested the device. When he grew suspicious of spies and other officials trying to steal the plans from him, he revealed that the entire blueprint was in his mind and had never been drawn out on paper.

Despite all the rumours, Tesla had over 700 patents to his name and can be credited with work in robotics, radar, wireless communication, lighting, and so much more. Tesla was also a showman and often invited the press to his birthday party, where he would unveil new creations and discuss his various theories. Among his greatest inventions was the Tesla Coil, which allowed the transmission of electrical energy without wires.

Tesla Coils

As it is with most brilliant people, Tesla had some quirks. He claimed to only need two hours sleep each night (although he napped, as well) and had some issues with obsessive compulsive disorder, including the cleaning of cutlery and a fascination with the number three, going so far as to wash his hands three times in a row and walk around a building thrice before entering.

Sounding like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, Tesla denounced marriage and sex, stating “I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.” At least he didn’t use Sheldon’s term of coitus when he believed that getting down with his bad self would take away from his scientific achievements. Hey, the guy did create remote control, radio, and even lasers, so perhaps he was onto something.

One thing I can certainly fault Tesla for (I mean, aside from his anti-sex agenda) was his affection for pigeons. I’ve written numerous times about my disdain for the winged rats, but Tesla would go so far as to rescue injured pigeons and bring them home. He even fell in love with one, writing “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.” Now, that, my little sippers, is a prime example of eccentricity!

Tesla Kitten

Tesla passed away in 1943, with little to no fortune, unlike his contemporaries, Edison and Westinghouse. After dying, Tesla was cremated with his ashes being placed in a golden sphere urn, as the sphere was his favourite shape (despite reportedly hating round jewelry like pearls and even going so far as to not speak to women who wore them). The urn is on display at the Nikola Tesla museum in Belgrade, Serbia.

Posthumous honours for the scientist include the unit of measure for magnetic field strength being known as a “tesla” and an electric car company, Tesla Motors, being named in memory of the inventor. Best of all, he now has a Sip Advisor article dedicated to his work!

Croatia: Belle of the Ball

Belle of the Ball Cocktail

  • 0.75 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Rakija
  • 0.25 oz Campari
  • 0.25 oz Jagermeister
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

I’ve become interested in Tesla in recent years and it seems I’m not alone, as others become recognizant of the fact that his contributions to the world went largely uncelebrated compared to some of his partners and adversaries. This drink is made in his honour!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail is pretty good… until that damn Campari bitter aftertaste kicks in and dominates the whole experience. The Rakija is pretty strong too, but not in a necessarily bad way. The cocktail measurements don’t provide a big drink, so it’s not like you’re dedicating a lot of time to it. Give it a shot if you’re curious, but it might be one recipe to avoid.