Wisconsin – Brandy Old Fashioned

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, Wisconsin is on the agenda, nicknamed the Badger State, not for the animal per se, but because early miner settlers either lived in mines or dug homes in the side of hills, like the animal. Let’s find out more:

Motto: “Forward” – I’m more of a backwards kind of guy!

Food: Another nickname for Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland. Some items one would have to try when visiting the state include Cheese Curds, a Butter Burger and an Ice Cream Sundae, since it was invented there. Another dessert that caught my eye was the Kringle (the State Pastry), which is an oval-shaped flaky dough pastry typically filled with fruit/nuts and iced on top.

Drink: America’s Brewery would be another fitting moniker for Wisconsin, as it has been home to a number of major players in the industry, including Schlitz Brewing, Miller Brewing, Pabst Brewing and Blatz Brewing. Beer production and consumption is so important in the state that the TurboTap was invented there, by University of Wisconsin student Matt Younkle.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Site to See: A top attraction in Wisconsin is Noah’s Ark Water Park, the country’s largest water park. Found in Lake Delton, the park features 51 water slides, along with other highlights, including lazy rivers, wave pools and amusement rides. Noah’s Ark uses two million gallons of water each day and its lifeguards have earned the highest safety rating possible.

Street: Today, Road America is a motorsport race course located near Elkhart Lake. However, when racing first gained popularity in the late 1940’s, a series of public streets were used to create the course. Most of this original route, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, can still be driven. It was copied for the now private course, which is used by a number of racing series.

TV Show: Happy Days and spinoff series Laverne & Shirley were both set in Milwaukee. Happy Days ran for 11 seasons and 255 episodes, while Laverne & Shirley enjoyed a run of eight seasons and 178 episodes. The shows shared a universe, which included various guest appearances from characters on either program. Both series were created by industry legend Garry Marshall.

Movie: Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig, takes place in Milwaukee and tells the tale of a woman who is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, while her life is in financial and romantic unrest. Rounding out the cast is Maya Rudolph as the bride-to-be and Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey as fellow bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids

Book/Author: Satirical publication The Onion was created by University of Wisconsin students Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson in 1988, originating as a weekly print newspaper in Madison. The Onion is now one of the most recognized satirical news websites in the world, offering humorous views on international, national and local issues.

Fictional Character: Originally intended to be a minor character, Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli became so popular as the personification of cool, that Happy Days moved to focusing on him, rather than the Cunningham family. Played by Henry Winkler, Fonzie is also infamous for helping to create the ‘jump the shark’ idiom. The Fonz has been immortalized in statue form in Downtown Milwaukee.

Fictional City: Point Place was the setting for That 70’s Show. The series, which ran for eight seasons and 200 episodes, centered on a group of teenagers from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979, making stars of much of its cast, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. Actor Kurtwood Smith, who played gruff dad Red Forman, was the only cast member actually from Wisconsin.

Actor/Actress: This category was a tough choice, narrowed down to Gene Wilder and Chris Farley. The edge goes to Gene Wilder, star of movies such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as well as his long partnership with Richard Pryor. Maybe things would be different had Chris Farley enjoyed a full career and not tragically died at the age of 33.

Fonz

Song: While the only reference to the state is the screaming of “Hello Wisconsin” at the end of the track, In the Street by Cheap Trick (the theme song for That 70’s Show) has the ideals I believe Wisconsin would like to be associated with. It’s all about hanging out, listening to loud music and staying out late. The tune was originally created by rock band Big Star and is also known as That 70’s Song.

Band/Musician: Steve Miller, frontman of the Steve Miller Band, was born in Milwaukee. The band, formed in San Francisco in 1966, is known for a string of classic/psychedelic rock hits, such as The Joker, Rock’n Me, Fly Like an Eagle, Take the Money and Run, and Jet Airliner. Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

People: Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center. His 70-year career produced more than a thousand structures, including many notable homes across America. Wright built and lived in the Taliesin estate in Spring Green, which is now a museum in his honour, offering tours of the home and grounds. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Animal: Samson the Gorilla was so popular, he was featured on Milwaukee bus passes. Samson was gifted by Pabst Brewing to the Washington Park Zoo in 1950, before being moved to the Milwaukee County Zoo. He was an instant hit with visitors and even had toys made in his likeness. The zoo has a bronze bust of Samson’s head near their gorilla exhibit, as well as a recreated model of the primate.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Invention: Among some other notable inventions, I have to highlight Les Paul and his work in inventing the electric guitar. Known as the ‘Wizard of Waukesha’, Paul enjoyed a career as a jazz, country and blues musician, prior to his guitar building. He also developed a number of recording advancements. For his creations, Paul has a permanent exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Crime: Two of the world’s most notorious serial killers called Wisconsin home, Ed Gein (the Butcher of Plainfield/Plainfield Ghoul) and Jeffrey Dahmer (the Milwaukee Cannibal/Milwaukee Monster). Gein’s crimes inspired characters in films such as Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs, while Dahmer murdered and dismembered 17 males over a 13-year period.

Law: In Wisconsin, margarine was once illegal. This lasted for almost 75 years and was done to protect the butter industry. Apparently, a bootleg operation of sorts began in opposition to the law, with people getting margarine from Illinois, risking a maximum fine of $6,000.

Sports Team: Milwaukee has two professional teams with the Brewers (MLB) and Bucks (NBA). Rounding out Wisconsin franchises is the Green Bay Packers (NFL), who play at the famous Lambeau Field and have some of the most unique fans in the sports world, known as Cheeseheads (a term sometimes used to describe Wisconsinites in general), as they wear cheese-shaped foam hats.

Electric Guitar

Athlete: Speed skater Eric Heiden (born in Madison) owned the 1980 Winter Olympics, winning five gold medals, while setting one world record and four Olympic records. His individual gold medal total would have ranked him third amongst all nations. As a result of his success, Heiden is considered by many to be the greatest speed skater of all-time.

Famous Home: The House on the Rock in Iowa County is quite the attraction, as each room, street, garden and shop is designed differently, all built atop Deer Shelter Rock. Created by architect Alex Jordan Jr., the complex is highlighted by the 3000-window Infinity Room, world’s largest indoor carousel and Japanese Gardens. The site was used in the novel and TV series American Gods.

Urban Legend: The Hodag is a folklore creature inhabiting the city of Rhinelander, where a statue of the beast sits outside the Chamber of Commerce. Reportedly, it can only be killed using chloroform, dynamite and… lemons. The character features in many Paul Bunyan myths and has been used in an episode of Scooby Doo, as well as being listed in J.K. Rowling’s book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Museum: The Hamburger Hall of Fame can be found in Seymour, which claims to be where the first ever hamburger was served and calls itself ‘Home of the Hamburger’. The Hall of Fame celebrates this culinary delight and also hosts the annual Burger Fest, where in 2001, the world’s largest hamburger ever was made, weighing more than four tons.

Burger

Firsts: The first automobile in the U.S. was created by Racine’s Dr. J.W. Carhart. His invention inspired Wisconsin in 1875 to offer a $10,000 reward to any vehicle that could complete a 201-mile course between Green Bay and Madison. Amon seven entries, two vehicles started the race, with one completing the course in 33 hours and 27 minutes. Only half the prize was awarded for the first U.S. auto race.

Company: Harley-Davidson is headquartered in Milwaukee, where it was founded in 1903. The motorcycle manufacturer also has a production plant in the city, as well as the Harley-Davidson Museum, which is a popular tourist destination, with an estimated 300,000 visitors each year. The company has been integral in the establishment of biker culture since its inception.

Events: When the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854, giving the new territories the right to choose whether to adopt slavery or not, a Wisconsin man named Alvan Bovay hosted a meeting in the city of Ripon. It was there that the basis for the Republican Party was formed, with the group’s main goal being to stop the expansion of slavery.

Miscellaneous: A couple other notable athletes from Wisconsin should be mentioned. Danica Patrick (born in Beloit) broke gender barriers in the racing world, becoming the only woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Also, quarterback Colin Kaepernick (born in Milwaukee) is best known for his anthem protests against racial inequality, which may have resulted in an early end to his career.

Brandy Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Brandy
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda/Grapefruit Soda/Club Soda
  • Splash of Cherry Juice
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with an Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry

Thanks to Wisconsin’s drinking culture, there were a number of beverage options available, with the Old Fashioned being an unofficial State Cocktail. It is the drink of choice for a number of fictional characters, including Don Draper (Mad Men) and ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan (M*A*S*H). In Wisconsin, they prefer Brandy in their recipes, so I’m happy to honour that.

Oklahoma – Sooner Spirit

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today we travel to Oklahoma, which received a ton of attention recently, as the place where the Tiger King saga largely took place. Let’s see if the Sooner State has more to offer than Joe Exotic and his cronies:

Motto: “Labor conquers all things” – No, I prefer to be lazy!

Food: Oklahoma has a State Meal, comprised of chicken fried steak, fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, black-eyed peas and pecan pie. While that feast sounds delicious, it has received criticism due to its high calorie count. One senator tried to have the meal repealed, but failed.

Drink: The Lunchbox cocktail (a shot of amaretto topped by orange juice and beer) was created at Edna’s, in Oklahoma City. I’ve featured this drink before and while Edna’s uses Coors Light in their concoction, I refuse to sink to such levels. At Edna’s you can even “Lunchbox up” an order of sweet potato fries, adding an amaretto-marshmallow sauce drizzle to the dish.

oklahoma-state-meal

Site to See: One of Oklahoma’s top tourist destinations is the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. The zoo is home to nearly 2,000 animals, and is among the oldest zoos in the country, opened in 1902. It offers up close experiences with flamingos, camels, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, sea lions, stingrays, and lorikeets, for additional costs.

Street: The much-loved Route 66 ran through Oklahoma, with the stretch known as Will Rogers Highway. Interstate 40 and State Highway 66 now occupy the path, but travellers can still find such highlights as the Coleman Theatre, Rock Café, Milk Bottle Grocery, many landmark gas stations, and the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, in Clinton.

TV Show: Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter, is set in Oklahoma City. The series ran for three seasons and 46 episodes and was about a hardened detective seeking to turn her life around with the help of her guardian angel. The show’s creator, Nancy Miller, was raised in Oklahoma City and many references about the state were incorporated into the series.

Movie: The Outsiders, starring one of the greatest young ensemble casts ever put together – with Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Ralph Macchio making up the Greasers gang) is set in Tulsa. Based on Oklahoman S.E. Hinton’s novel, the movie is about rival teenage gangs in the mid 1960’s and the fallout from their violence.

Outsiders

Book/Author: Speaking of Hinton, who was only a teenager herself when she wrote The Outsiders, each of her other young adult novels are set in Oklahoma. This includes That Was Then, This Is Now; Rumble Fish; Tex; and Taming the Star Runner. Only the last one hasn’t been adapted into a film. Hinton has been recognized as creating the young adult genre.

Fictional Character: Ponyboy, Sodapop, Darry, Dally, Two-Bit, Johnny… take your pick, The Outsiders are awesome. My favourite of the bunch is the wisecracking Two-Bit, played in the film by Emilio Estevez. A close second for me would be Darry, the leader of bunch, as you can’t go wrong with Patrick Swayze. Stays gold, Greasers.

Fictional City: Pyramid Corners is the setting of TV show The Torkelsons (later renamed Almost Home for its second season, which saw the family relocate to Seattle). The sitcom cast some notable actors in early roles, including Brittany Murphy and Alyson Hannigan, as well as guest appearances by Drew Carey, Ben Affleck and Jared Leto all before they were famous.

Actor/Actress: Perennial candidate for Sexiest Man Alive, Brad Pitt was born in Shawnee. His most notable roles include Fight Club, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for). Pitt has also garnered much attention for his personal life, due to relationships with Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.

Brad Pitt

Song: Oklahoma not only has a number of songs about the state, it has its own musical, Oklahoma! The title song from that Rodgers and Hammerstein production (this was their first collaboration) was made the State Song in 1953. It is played regularly at the University of Oklahoma, for Oklahoma Sooners games, as well as other events at the school.

Band/Musician: Country music is big in Oklahoma and no one personifies the genre better than Garth Brooks. Brooks, born in Tulsa, is one of the best-selling artists of all-time, while his concert tours have also broken world records. Brooks has won two Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Not bad for a guy with Friends in Low Places.

People: Will Rogers did it all. He was an actor, cowboy, newspaper columnist and politician. He was also called ‘Oklahoma’s Favourite Son’. In 1935, Rogers died in a plane crash. The Will Rogers Memorial can be found in Claremore and around the state, the Will Rogers World Airport, Will Rogers Turnpike and 13 schools are all named in his honour.

Animal: Boomer and Sooner are white ponies, who serve as the mascots for the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team. When the squad scores a touchdown, the ponies pull a Sooner Schooner wagon across the field in celebration. The current pony pair is the fifth set used by the team, since being introduced in 1964.

Low Places

Invention: The shopping cart (originally called folding basket carriers) was invented by Humpty Dumpty grocery chain owner, Sylvan Goldman, to allow his customers to buy more items per visit. Next, the electric guitar was created and first used by musician Bob Dunn. Finally, voice messaging was developed by Gordon Matthews, earning him the nickname the ‘Father of Voicemail’.

Crime: The Oklahoma City Bombing, perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, on April 19, 1995, caused much devastation, including 168 dead – many of them children – and 680 injured. McVeigh, who committed the act of terrorism as revenge against the federal government, was executed in 2001. Today, the site is home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Law: In Oklahoma, dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property. Finally, someone is cracking down on these dangerous gangs.

Sports Team: The University of Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oklahoma State University Cowboys/Cowgirls rivalry – particularly seen in football, but also basketball and even wrestling – is known as the Bedlam Series. The state finally got a professional team when the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics relocated in 2008, becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Shopping Cart

Athlete: Baseball legend, Mickey Mantle, was born in Spavinaw. He played his entire career for the New York Yankees, recording 536 home runs as a switch-hitter. Mantle excelled in the playoffs, appearing in 12 World Series, winning seven titles. He holds World Series records for home runs, RBIs and runs. Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

Famous Home: The Marland Mansion, dubbed the Palace on the Prairie, can be found in Ponca City. It was originally the home of oil tycoon E.W. Marland and consists of 55 rooms, including 10 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and three kitchens. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and today, features a public museum.

Urban Legend: In Beaver Dunes State Park, there’s said to be a Shaman’s Portal, which has caused a number of disappearances, including Spanish conquistadors. Thus, it has been called Oklahoma’s Bermuda Triangle. The cause of the bizarre activity is thought to have come from a UFO crash or the site also being Native American burial grounds.

Museum: The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, in Oklahoma City, contains more than 28,000 pieces of art and historic items, celebrating the cowboy lifestyle. One exhibit features more than 100 firearms from the old west period. The facility also includes the replica town, Prosperity Junction, which visitors can move throughout and experience.

Cowboys

Firsts: I’m not sure this is one to be proud of, but Oklahoma was home to the first parking meter. Installed in July 1935, the Park-O-Meter No. 1 cost a whopping 5-cents per hour and was met with great outrage by people who considered them un-American. Still, the meters spread like wildfire across the country, as businesses enjoyed the quick vehicle turnover they created.

Company: Sonic Drive-In was founded in Shawnee and is now headquartered in Oklahoma City. The fast food chain is known for its extensive menu, including various burgers and dogs, along with sides like fries and onion rings, and slushes and milkshakes for drinks. The chain was named Sonic, thanks to its original slogan, “service with the speed of sound”.

Events: The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 brought 50,000 people to the territory, looking for their slice of the land pie. People trying to cheat the noon start time, earned the nickname Sooners, which became the State Nickname. Of course, over-farming did lead to the Oklahoma dust bowl of the 1930’s, but that was after many years of successful production.

Miscellaneous: Oklahoma has the most tornados in America, including a record of five in one day. As a result, detection of the destructive natural disasters is vital, with the first tornado forecast/warning taking place in the state in March 1948. All that activity made Oklahoma the perfect setting for the 1996 film Twister.

Sooner Spirit

Sooner Spirit

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Sweet and Sour Mix
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with Strawberry Slices

This cocktail is certainly on the boozy side and kind of resembles a margarita, with vodka subbed in for tequila. The grenadine turns the drink a colour similar to that of the Oklahoma Sooners jersey colour. The drink can be enjoyed while prepping for a Sooners football game, or to simply show pride in the state.