December 27 – Ruby Slipper

Dizzying Drops

While most of the world knows of the big ball dropping in New York’s Times Square, every New Year’s Eve, other places have their own tradition… and some of them are quite wacky. Let’s take a look at the oddest items that are used to help ring in the New Year!

#5: Show Low, Arizona – 2 of Clubs

According to legend, the city of Show Low earned its name when two men who hated each other decided to draw cards to see who had to leave the town (not the most riveting loser leaves matches ever devised) with one stating “If you show low, you win!” The winner drew a 2 of Clubs, thus spawning a city’s moniker, as well as the object they drop December 31st at midnight.

marriage-cards

#4: Plymouth, Wisconsin – Cheese Wedge

It’s no surprise that the people of Wisconsin are big into cheese. Hell, they wear wedges on their heads to football games and take no offense in someone calling them “cheeseheads”. On New Year’s Eve, the fine folks of Plymouth take things to a whole new level (literally!) as they drop an 80-pound decorated cheese wedge from 100-feet in a salute to the dairy industry. Mrs. Sip will be there one year, with crackers and carving knife in hand!

#3: Lebanon, Pennsylvania – Bologna

Pennsylvania is home to the most item drops across the United States and this is the oddest item among them, a 12-foot long, 150-pound slab of bologna. It’s all for a good cause, however, as the bologna is given to local food banks and animal shelters, following the event. If you could somehow combine the cheese in Wisconsin with the bologna is Pennsylvania, you’d have a nice charcuterie plate in the making.

Balogna Cat

#2: Brasstown, North Carolina – Live Possum

This one doesn’t sound so crazy until you realize that they use a live possum, put inside a Plexiglas pyramid. Held at the Clay’s Corner convenience store, the possum is carefully lowered before being fed and released. The event has drawn the ire of PETA and other animal rights activists, but locals love it and the store owners get all the proper permits. A similar event takes place in Tallapoosa, Georgia, although using a stuffed possum. Or, perhaps, the possum has just been playing dead all along!

#1: Key West, Florida – Ruby Slipper

I know what you’re probably thinking: What’s so odd about a ruby slipper being dropped? Did I mention that there’s a drag queen named Sushi (played by Gary Marion) in that stiletto? This event takes place at the 801 Bourbon Street Pub, while other Key West bars have their own drops, including a conch shell and a pirate wench, which sounds a little more up the Sip Advisor’s alley!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Ruby Slipper

Ruby Slipper Shot

In addition to the weirder items, all sorts of fruits are dropped across the U.S., including oranges, apples, peaches, watermelon balls, cherries, strawberries, huckleberries, pears, and grapes. What will they think of next!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Given our subject is about things dropping and it’s Super Saturday Shot Day, why not do a drop shot… and no, I’m not talking about the tennis variety! Coincidentally, there’s a drop shot called Ruby Slipper, going perfectly with this article’s chart topper. I’m okay with drop shots, but find them a little messy. This one tastes pretty good and the colours are neat, so it gets my recommendation.

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Czech Republic – Magic Eye

Castlevania

There are more castles per capita in the Czech Republic than any other place in the world. More than 2,000 structures exist in the country, which is fair given the Czechs are surrounded by a number of countries and have been invaded, conquered, divided, and annexed numerous times over their existence. Let’s take a look at some of these fortresses:

Prague Castle

The largest castle in the world is located in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, where the best view of the city can be found atop the main tower of the stronghold. A highlight of Prague Castle grounds is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which features beautiful stained-glass windows, as well as the burial plots of Czech saints and emperors. The whole site combines many different aspects of Czech architecture and design from across the centuries and is a feast for the eyes. A hidden room within the castle walls hides the Bohemian Crown Jewels and even Adolf Hitler spent a night in the structure, after the Nazis invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia.

Cat Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Thought of by many as the second most popular tourist attraction in the Czech Republic, Karlštejn Castle is a Gothic-style castle located 30km southwest of Prague. Built by King Charles IV, the fortress was needed to guard the crown jewels, holy relics, and other treasures belonging to the royal family. Unfortunately, many rooms at the landmark are hidden from tourists due to earlier robberies. Apparently, you can even drink water from a hand-powered well, although the Sip Advisor will take his bottled options (water, beer, etc.) over the natural stuff. If castles aren’t your thing, a golf course is located nearby and shares the same name.

Cesky Krumlov Castle

Not only does this landmark house an impressive main castle, but there are also a number of mini castles, making the town seem almost maze-like. In the castle moat, visitors can see a family of brown bears, the protectors of the site. Special to the Cesky Krumlov grounds is the Baroque Theatre, which is one of the world’s most preserved theatres, including stage, orchestra pit, machinery, costumes, stage curtains, and much more. The area was made a national monument in 1989 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.

Cesky Sternberk Castle

This stronghold is still owned by the same family that built it in the mid-13th century, after it was returned to the Sternberg’s in 1992, following the fall of communism and Velvet Revolution. The name of the castle, Sternberk, translates to Star Mountain, which kind of sounds like a world in a video game, such as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. The complex is one of the best preserved medieval castles and tours are highlighted by a visit to the Knight’s Hall, which holds a number of historic items. There are also 545 copper engravings on display, which detail the entirety of the Thirty Years’ War.

Darth Vader Castle

Cervena Lhota

This picturesque bright red castle was built in the middle of a lake, atop an island and connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. The castle’s gardens are a major attraction and the site is visited by over 120,000 tourists each year. Nearby, is a park that offers attractions such as the Renaissance Chapel of the Holy Trinity and a fish pond where boats can be rented for a trek across its waters. The castle’s name, meaning “Red Lhota” comes from the red tiles that make up its roof.

Zleby Castle

Originally built around 1289, the Zleby Caslte has changed its look many times over the centuries. Beginning as a Gothic style structure, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style, following the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. Later, it was changed again to a Baroque style and it has remained this way since. Tours at the castle take visitors in one of two directions: either to the kitchens or to the high tower and its dungeons. Travelers could ask for a nice meal before being ushered to the dungeon to meet their maker! Also in the area is a population of white deer, as well as various birds and other animals.

Hluboka Castle

One of the first Gothic style castle in the world, Hluboka was built in the mid-13th century and contains many expensive furniture pieces, particularly in the “Morning Guest Room,” which includes woven tapestries from Brussels, hand-painted Chinese vases, and other objects of art. The fortress was even featured in a scene from the Owen Wilson-Jackie Chan film, Shanghai Knights. The castle is close to the city of Budějovice (where the real Budweiser was created and is still made today – the next Czech article du jour), so tourists can always get smashed before or after their castle visit.

Czech Republic: Magic Eye

Magic Eye Beer Cocktail

Some people have it on their bucket list to stay overnight at a castle, but not the Sip Advisor. On my bucket list is “Own a Castle!” Can you imagine the parties I could throw if I had my own palace? The booze would be flowing like blood did during the Middle Ages and we would pour one out for all the homies that perished with the walls!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Originally, I was going to pick up a bottle of Absinthe for our jaunt through the Czech Republic, but then I learned of the country’s long history with beer and decided to go that route, instead. While I can’t call this my favourite beer cocktail, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it could be. To get the whole drink effect to look its best, I put the shot glass already into the empty goblet and used a pourer to get the beer around the shooter, so as to mix it up as little as possible. It all led to a rare success in the Sip Advisor’s Creation Kitchen!

October 18 – Ghostbuster

Specter Spooks

With the haunting season just getting underway (although Halloween candy was already on sale during the summer), the Sip Advisor figured it was as good a time as any to delve into the paranormal world. There are so many great ghosts out there that I decided to split the list between animated and humanoid (aka live action) ghouls. This week, we go cartoon ghost hunting. I hope you join me because I’m already a little scared!

#5: The Boo Brothers – Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers

I love these three broskis, who are like the departed spirits of the Three Stooges. Instead of Larry, Curly, and Moe, you have Meako, Shreako, and Freako, a trio of ghost hunters, who just happen to be spirits themselves. The only thing bringing their rank down a little is the fact they only appear in one Scooby Doo movie, but it is my favourite of all Scooby adventures. This tale sees Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy Doo travel to the estate of Colonel Beauregard, Shaggy’s deceased uncle, who has left everything to his nephew. While there, the gang has to search for the family jewels while solving the mystery of who is haunting the home.

The Boo Brothers

#4: Boo – Super Mario Bros.

I always liked the creativity that went into the Super Mario Bros. ghost house levels. Avoiding the creepy little apparitions that only follow you when your back is turned added a whole new element of gameplay. There is also the massive King Boo, leader of all Boos, who you have to contend with from time to time. Boo became such a popular character that he joined the gang for their go-karting and board game adventures. His laugh when selected or after doing something naughty to another player is one of the best elements to choosing the spirited one.

#3: Slimer – Ghostbusters

This gelatinous blob is pretty disgusting when he makes his very first appearance in the halls of the Sedgewick Hotel, devouring a guest’s leftover room service, before sliming Ray Stantz and covering him with green goop (otherwise known as ectoplasm). Slimer really came into his own during the Ghostbusters cartoon, assisting the team in their escapades. Some quick trivia: Slimer was actually voiced by Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman in the movies, and Dan Aykroyd referred to Slimer as the ghost of his good friend John Belushi, who was slated to star in the film before his death. Slimer was so popular, he even had his own toothpaste product released.

Slimer

#2: Grimm Grinning Ghosts – Haunted Mansion

Delighting and spooking guests since 1969, the Grimm Grinning Ghosts of the Disney theme parks Haunted Mansion attractions are among numerous characters featured on the revolutionary ride. There is rumoured to be 999 happy haunts in each Haunted Mansion and they’re always looking for one more soul to join their party. Sometimes, a hitchhiking ghost may even hop into your doom buggy right before exiting the ride, so beware! Each park’s Haunted Mansion is themed differently and has its own unique storyline, with most characters seeming to have their own backstory. Guests are known to each have their own favourite.

#1: Casper – Casper the Friendly Ghost

He may be the ‘Friendly Ghost,’ but methinks there’s a dark side to the little guy. No one is “that” friendly without wanting something in return… just ask Mrs. Sip about my behaviour. Anyhoo, I love the parallel The Simpsons made comparing Casper to Richie Rich and wondering if the two were the same. That’s the kind of stuff that blows your mind and keeps you awake at night. Casper is sometimes tormented by his three uncles, the Ghostly Trio of Stretch, Stinky, and Fatso (although their names have varied over time), but Casper seems to have a good handle on things… until his much-rumoured inner darkness in unleashed!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Ghostbuster

Ghostbuster Shot

  • 0.5 oz Amarula Cream
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • Dropped into glass of:
  • 1 oz Crown Royal Whiskey
  • Top with Cola

I have to say that I also love the use of ghosts in South Park, including Eric Cartman (thinking he had died from eating KFC and was stuck in limbo), Biggie Smalls, Edgar Allan Poe, and the host of recently deceased (at the time) personalities to appear in the episode Dead Celebrities. South Park… making death fun!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
It’s been a while since I did a drop shot drink and this one sounded pretty interesting. I envisioned an almost root beer float type effect occurring as everything mixed together, but that didn’t necessarily happen. The taste was decent, though and it looked cool watching everything meld.

December 30 – Iron Man Cocktail

We’re Going Streaking

As tomorrow marks the conclusion of the 365-day cocktail project, my efforts will be included with some of the greatest streaks known the world over. In fact, it’s probably the greatest compilation ever put together in human existence… and you little sippers were all a part of history. Here are some other notable runs.

Cal Ripken, Jr. – 2,632 Consecutive MLB games

While baseball lacks so many of the physical demands of other sports (hell, players spend more than half the game simply standing around and do so little that they can sometimes play two contests in one day), Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 2,632 straight games is still an amazing achievement. The streak started on May 30, 1982 and ended on Sept. 20, 1998, as the shortstop wanted to wrap it up on his own terms and avoid any controversy that may follow in the twilight of his career.

Cal-Ripken

Doug Jarvis – 964 Consecutive NHL games

To play that many successive games in one of the most physical sports on the planet is quite the impressive feat. When that streak spans your entire professional career (from 1975 to 1987), while winning four Stanley Cups, as well as the Selke Trophy (NHL’s top defensive forward) and Bill Masterton Trophy (awarded for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey) that makes the record that much sweeter.

Brett Favre – 297 Consecutive NFL Quarterback Starts

Given how rough and tumble professional football can be, it’s astonishing that Brett Favre was able to start 297 games in a row, all while sending pictures of his junk via cell phone to select female members of team staff. Okay, so some of Favre’s shine rubbed off (perhaps bad word choice) near the end of his career, but you can’t take away the guy’s grit and passion.

Joe Dimaggio – 56-Game Hit Streak

It has been written before that the hardest thing to do in professional sports is hit a fastball. While I vehemently disagree with that assertion, I do agree that there are unique skills required to be a pro ball player and Joe Dimaggio’s streak is pretty impressive because of this. Perhaps more notable, the dude married Marilyn Monroe… not too shabby!

Joe Dimaggio

Lance Armstrong – 7-Consecutive Tour de France Victories

While Lance Armstrong’s streak of victories has since been tainted by his steroid scandal, the man competed in a world rife with cheating and he still managed to win seven straight Tour de France titles. Armstrong’s celebrity also boosted funding for cancer treatments, so regardless of his name being sullied, he still did some great things for the world.

Wayne Gretzky – 51 Consecutive Game Point Streak

Wayne Gretzky is the most prolific scorer in NHL history, putting up so many records that will never be touched. Among those, is his 51-game point scoring streak in 1983-84. The Great One averaged 3 points per game during that run and had he sat out the rest of the season after the stretch was ended, he would have still won the scoring title by 27 points!

Byron Nelson – 11 Consecutive PGA Tour Wins

Today, you’re likely to see a different leader atop the PGA Tour each week. To win 11 straight in today’s golfing world is totally unfathomable. Not ever Tiger Woods in his prime came anywhere near touching that mark. Nelson won 18 of 30 tournaments in 1945 and 52 throughout his PGA career. He also added 12 wins on other professional circuits.

A.C. Green – 1,192 Consecutive NBA Games

I think I’m more impressed with the fact the deeply religious man waited until the age of 38 to finally lose his virginity. Now THAT’S an iron man streak! Green’s foundation promotes abstinence before marriage and he was finally wed in 2002, following his playing career, which lasted from 1985-2001, including three NBA Championships.

Drink #364: Iron Man Cocktail

Iron Man Cocktail Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • 1 Shot of Orange Juice
  • Splash of Grenadine

So, what’s next for The Sip Advisor? You’ll have to stay tuned for a big announcement on New Year’s Day. The excitement is palpable, isn’t it!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This recipe comes courtesy of The Drunken Moogle site and while it is meant for the comic and movie character Iron Man, I think it applies here, as well. Simply place the shot of Orange Juice into the Amaretto/Grenadine Mix and slam the whole concoction back. The drink is sweet, so if you have a tooth for that, you’re in luck. Most will want to have a more tart taste mixed in, so this cocktail doesn’t work for all.

August 27 – The Gladiator

No Muss, No Fuss

In some ways, a fussy drinker is justified… but there are other times where you just need to let go and make the best of a boozy situation. Instead of being a fussy #*$!, here are some suggestions for when you’re feeling the fuss but still want to get your drink on.

Must Have Ice

If no ice is available, I will suffer through my drink, but it at all possible, you better believe there will be cubes in my cocktail. I’ve learned well from my parents that having a stock of ice is perhaps the most crucial element to any soiree. Surprisingly, some locations don’t really cater to the ice lovers out there. If you’re in a setting that doesn’t allow the free flow of ice, my recommendation is to stick to beer or wine.

ice cubes

Top Shelf Only

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate drinking a top shelf spirit when the opportunity arises, but I’m not going to go all Frasier Crane when other alcohols are used to make my cocktail. There are people out there that only want the finest and that is their prerogative… unless they make a scene about that. Those folks should be shown the door, whether friend, colleague, lover, or kin. There are some good cheaper brands that can really make a drink. My favourite mid-shelf drinks are Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Disaronno (for Amaretto), and Absolut.

Fresh Ingredients Are a Must

In the interest of simplicity, sometimes it would be easier to use a pre-mixed concoction. However, Mrs. Sip won’t allow this and I do get her point. Bottled mixes are often much sweeter and more sugary than the natural ingredients would be. We’ve made it a rule around the Sip Advisor headquarters that only fresh juices and fruit are used for this site. I hope you’ve noticed our dedication to excellence!

I’m On a Diet

This may be the fussy drinker that pisses me off the most. We all have friends that only drink vodka sodas or other flavourless swill because they are watching their calorie intake. The worst is that person who insists her cocktail be made with diet pop – which is far worse for you than any normal beverage – and gives you attitude when you inform them you don’t carry that crap because of how awful it is. Solution: None, you suck.

diet-soda

It Needs Fizz

Another core concept I generally agree with, but there are a multitude of drinks that neither require nor warrant carbonation to be enjoyable. Most of the classic cocktails would be ruined if fizz was added. That being said, generally if we can work some tang into any beverage, you can bet your ass we will. A positive of using sodas in your mix is that the drink will have an effervescence and energy to it as the bubbles hit your tongue.

Too Soft, Too Hard

Scratch that, this is the fussiest drinker that grinds my gears the most. The type of “friend” who complains about the drink you’ve given them being too weak. Um, alright… and by the way, you’re welcome. Then when you make the next cocktail, you up the liquor quotient and suddenly it’s too strong. Well, you know what, I reserve the right to pick and choose who I serve and you… are… out of here!

Drink #239: The Gladiator

The Gladiator Cocktail

  • 0.75 oz Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • 0.75 oz Peach Schnapps
  • Drop shot into glass of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

What cocktail requirements do you insist on? Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’m not sure how a drink that use two lighter spirits winds up with such a commanding name like The Gladiator, but that’s just how things go sometimes. I found this recipe in an online discussion of cocktails for fussy drinkers, so I decided to give it a try. I liked how the Peach Schnapps and Amaretto would slowly roll out of the shot glass as I slammed the Lemon-Lime Soda and the whole concoction was quite tasty!