West Virginia – Copperhead

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 visit West Virginia to see which of the Virginias is best. Will the Mountain State take the title? There’s only one way to find out:

Motto: “Mountaineers are always free” – Great, a prisoner once again…

Food: Pepperoni Rolls are a popular snack in West Virginia, sold at convenience and grocery stores. It is a white bread roll, with pepperoni baked inside. It should also be noted, Golden Delicious Apples (West Virginia’s State Fruit) were cultivated in the state in 1905. It is among the most popular apple types in the country, featured on a 2013 commemorative stamp.

Drink: Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine, named for the famous family feud, is made in Gilbert. The small batch liquor is made from a recipe concocted by Hatfield patriarch Devil Anse Hatfield, on land that belonged to the Hatfield family. Aptly nicknamed the ‘Drink of the Devil’, the booze can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a collection of cocktails.

Pepperoni Roll

Site to See: The Greenbrier Hotel and Resort in White Sulphur Springs, calls itself ‘America’s Resort’. People have visited the areas springs since 1778, hoping to cure what ails them. The resort was built in 1913 and boasts that 26 presidents have stayed there. An expansive bunker exists under the hotel, which was meant to host the U.S. Congress in the event of a Cold War emergency.

Street: When the New River Gorge Bridge was completed in 1977, it was the highest bridge to support a regular road in the world. Each October, Bridge Day is celebrated, with the road being closed so thrill seekers can climb the structure and even jump off it, by rappelling or base jumping. Bungee jumping used to also occur, but was banned from 1993 onwards.

TV Show: Outcast, a horror drama, ran for two seasons and 20 episodes. The series is based on a comic book and is about a man who has been surrounded by demonic possession throughout his life – particular with his mother – in the fictional town of Rome. One of the comic’s authors, Robert Kirkham, co-created The Walking Dead franchise.

Movie: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a very funny movie about misunderstandings. Set in West Virginia, the plot involves a group of campers mistaking two men for being backwoods killers. The film starred Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as Tucker and Dale. Potential sequels have been proposed, with one described as “Good Will Hunting meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

Book/Author: Pearl Buck was born in Hillsboro. Her book The Good Earth, won the Nobel Prize for Fiction in 1932 and contributed to her being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. Buck was the first American female to win the latter. The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace is a museum dedicated to the writer and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fictional Character: Clarice Starling is as tough as they come. The FBI agent has had to deal with psychopaths such as Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill, all while remaining composed and focused on her assignments. The character originated in Thomas Harris’ novels and was played by Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs and Julianne Moore in Hannibal.

Fictional City: Silent Hill is the setting of a long-running popular survival horror video games series, which was also adapted into a 2006 movie, starring Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean, and 2012 sequel. I never played the games myself, but remember friends giving them glowing reviews, getting the crap scared out of them. There’s also a series of novels for the franchise.

Actor/Actress: Don Knotts enjoyed long TV and film career. After winning five Emmy Awards as Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffiths Show, Knotts transitioned into movies. He returned to TV as landlord Ralph Furley on Three’s Company. He later rejoined Andy Griffiths with a recurring role on Matlock. A statue of Knotts is outside the Metropolitan Theatre in his hometown of Morgantown.

Barney Fife

Song: Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver is among four State Songs for West Virginia. The song is about taking a drive through the state and includes Denver calling it “Almost Heaven”, which became a slogan for the state, appearing on license plates and in tourism marketing. The Mountain State Brewing Company has an amber ale called Almost Heaven.

Band/Musician: R&B musician Bill Withers was born in Slab Fork. He is best known for the hits Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean on Me, Lovely Day and Just the Two of Use. Withers won three Grammy Awards during his brief career, choosing to leave the music industry, unhappy with his treatment by record label executives. He was inducted into the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames.

People: Mathematician John Nash Jr. was born in Bluefield. He won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994, for his work with chance and decision-making within complex systems. Nash’s battle with mental illness throughout his career was documented in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated biography of the same name.

Animal: A new species was discovered in West Virginia in 1796, when soldiers came across the bones of what they thought were of a lion. Thomas Jefferson examined the skeleton, determining it belonged to a giant sloth, which he dubbed Megalonyx (aka Large Claw). Scientists named the species Megalonyx Jeffersonii and the remains became the State Fossil of West Virginia.

Bill Withers

Invention: While in West Virginia in the late 1870’s, dentist and inventor Mahlon Loomis developed theories that would eventually lead to wireless communication, including radio and telegraphs. His experiments involved using kites as antennas from high hills and mountains, further stretching how far communication could occur without physical connections.

Crime: In July 2012, teenager Skylar Neese went missing from her home in Star City. Her friends Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy were later convicted of killing Neese, who had been stabbed more than 50 times and her body disposed of. Shoaf confessed to the crime, resulting in Neese’s body being found in January 2013. Both girls are now serving jail sentences in West Virginia.

Law: In West Virginia, fines can be doled out for public swearing and drunkenness. Looks like the Sip Advisor will be short some singles if I’m ever able to get to the state!

Sports Team: The West Virginia University Mountaineers and Marshall University Thundering Herd sports programs play in Division I of the NCAA. Marshall University may best be known for the 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of 37 football team members, which was documented in the 2006 film We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey.

Wireless

Athlete: Fairmont’s Mary Lou Retton became one of the most popular U.S. Olympians of all-time, when she won the all-around gymnastics competition at the 1984 Summer Olympics, making her the first American woman to do so. She was only 16 at the time and performing just weeks after knee surgery. Retton was the first female athlete to be featured on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes.

Famous Home: Blennerhassett Mansion was used by a group led by former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, as they planned an unknown military mission, for which Burr, owner Harman Blennerhassett and others were arrested on suspicion of treason. The estate, resembling George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, burned down in 1811 and was reconstructed in the 1980’s.

Urban Legend: A major figure in West Virginia folklore is the Mothman, a half-man, half-moth creature. It was first seen in Point Pleasant, which now hosts an annual Mothman Festival, as well as having a Mothman Museum, marked outside by a statue of the being. The Mothman gained notoriety from the book The Mothman Prophecies, which was adapted into a 2002 movie, starring Richard Gere.

Museum: Two West Virginia museums that also offer haunted tours are the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and West Virginia Penitentiary. The Asylum operated from 1864 to 1994, often overrun with patients, who were receiving experimental treatments such as labotomies. The Penitentiary was the site of 94 executions, from 1899 to 1959 and also experienced notable jail breaks and riots.

Moth

Firsts: The first modern Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1908 in West Virginia. It was achieved through the efforts of Anne Jarvis, whose mother desired such a holiday. Jarvis later took offence to the commercialization of Mother’s Day and tried to have it ended. The greeting card and flower industries paid for her care in her final years. The International Mother’s Day Shrine can be found in Grafton.

Company: I didn’t find much to go on for this category, but there is the Gesundheit! Institute in Pocahontas County. The Institute was created by Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams, the doctor who inspired the Robin Williams movie Patch Adams, and blends traditional hospital protocols with alternative medicine treatments. Gesundheit! offers free care to patients.

Events: Leading up to the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union, choosing to be a Confederate state. Those who opposed this decision, namely those in northwest corner of the state, separated from the rest of Virginia, forming what would become West Virginia (although the name Kanawha was considered). West Virginia was granted Union statehood in 1863.

Miscellaneous: The largest family reunion in the world, as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009, takes place annually (except for 2020) in West Virginia. Members of the Lilly family have been gathering in Flat Top since 1929. The now three-day event includes live entertainment, loads of food and other activities, with tens of thousands guests attending.

Copperhead

Copperhead

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Copperheads, also known as Peace Democrats, were people who opposed the Civil War and wanted a quick settlement with the Confederates. The Copperheadism movement was strongest in the Ohio River area, which includes West Virginia. The drink, similar to a Moscow Mule, may be simple, but it’s delicious.

Kentucky – Kentucky Mule

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 stop in Kentucky for some bourbon and bluegrass music. The Bluegrass State, named for the blue flowers from the species of grass found in the area, is known for so much more, so let’s get to it:

Motto: “United we stand, divided we fall” – Sounds like something you’d see on a movie poster.

Food: Kentucky Fried Chicken, with its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices was first introduced in the state, but that seems too easy for this category. Instead, let’s go with the Hot Brown Sandwich, invented at Louisville’s Brown Hotel. The sandwich features chicken or turkey breast, with bacon and Mornay sauce, which is baked or broiled until the bread is crispy. It is very popular throughout Kentucky.

Drink: 95 per cent of all Bourbon is produced in Kentucky, with more barrels aging across the state than its population. Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World and hosts an annual Bourbon Festival. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail includes distilleries such as Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, and Maker’s Mark.

Bourbon

Site to See: Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the longest cave system in the world and it’s still being explored today. It is the second oldest tourist attraction in the U.S., after Niagara Falls. Mammoth Cave was named a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Street: Along Main Street in Louisville, a number of attractions can be found, including the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Kentucky Science Center and Frazier History Museum. Restaurants and bars also line this entertainment district.

TV Show: Daniel Boone aired for six season and 165 episodes, following the adventures of the real-life frontiersman. Set in Boonesborough (founded by Boone), the series starred Fess Parker, who was previously known for playing Davy Crockett. When Disney refused to sell the rights to Davy Crockett to NBC, Daniel Boone became the subject matter.

Movie: Coal Miner’s Daughter is a biographical film about Kentucky singer, Loretta Lynn. Starring Sissy Spacek, the movie documents Lynn’s rise from humble beginnings to being a top country music star. Spacek won an Oscar for her role, including singing all of Lynn’s most popular songs.

Loretta Lynn

Book/Author: The father of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, was born in Louisville. His most famous works include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary, both of which starred Johnny Depp, when adapted into films. Thompson and Depp were friends and the actor made sure to carry out the writer’s last wishes to have his ashes shot out of a cannon.

Fictional Character: Rick Grimes, leader of the focal group of survivors in The Walking Dead, is Kentucky born and bred. A police officer, prior to the zombie apocalypse, Rick is highly-skilled in fighting the “walkers” and also with survival tactics.

Fictional City: There wasn’t much to choose from for this category, but I did find that the movie In Country was set in Hopewell. The box office flop stars Bruce Willis, just after he became Die Hard famous, but is about a high school graduate (played by Emily Lloyd) trying to learn about her father who she never met after he died in the Vietnam War.

Actor/Actress: Three Hollywood A-listers hail from Kentucky: Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence. They were born in Owensboro, Lexington and Indian Hills, respectively. The trio have been responsible for some of the most memorable movies and characters of recent times, but have never worked together in any combination.

Hunter S. Thompson

Song: Bluegrass music is the State Music of Kentucky and a fine example of the style (which the Sip Advisor is a fan of) is Blue Moon of Kentucky, by Bill Monroe. The song has also been recorded by Elvis Presley, rearranged to be a rock and roll tune, and released as the B-side of The King’s first single in 1954.

Band/Musician: More on Monroe, who was born in Rosine, and has been called the father of the Bluegrass genre. After all, his band The Blue Grass Boys, inspired the name of the style. Monroe was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1966 and inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

People: The fact opposing leaders of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were born in the same state, one year and less than 100 miles apart, is fascinating. Both were said to be politically moderate, so maybe that can be traced back to their Kentucky roots.

Animal: Of course, a state filled with so much horse racing history, would also be home to a couple iconic thoroughbreds. Man o’War had an almost unblemished record, losing only one race over his career. He sired War Admiral, who won the Triple Crown in 1937, and grandfathered Seabiscuit, who continued the family tradition of winning.

Invention: Nathan Stubblefield, from Murray, invented wireless telephones, which some debate were radio transmissions, making Stubblefield’s exhibitions the first ever radio broadcasts. Either way, his work led to further developments of the medium.

Crime: The infamous Hatfield vs. McCoy feud took place between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky. The murder of Asa Harmon McCoy, in January 1865, is said to have ignited the feud, which would go on to claim the lives of 13 members of the two families. In 1979, descendants from each family waged a different kind of war on the TV game show, Family Feud.

Law: In Kentucky, it is illegal to hunt game from the window of a moving vehicle. This applies to all animals, except whales. Whales after all, are the most dangerous game on land, so the use of vehicles are a necessity.

Sports Team: The Kentucky Derby is a highlight of the annual sporting calendar. The first leg of the American Triple Crown, it is the oldest continuously run horse race in the U.S. and although the sprint lasts only two minutes, the duration is called ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’. The University of Kentucky Wildcats vs. University of Louisville Cardinals NCAA basketball rivalry is also huge across the state.

Kentucky Derby

Athlete: The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, was born Cassius Clay, in Louisville. Ali was a three-time Heavyweight Champion and also won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. However, Ali’s fame extended outside the boxing world, as an activist and philanthropist, following his in-ring career. Ali was picked to light the torch at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, but that appearance highlighted the Parkinson’s disease he was suffering from. Ali passed away in June 2016, at the age of 74.

Famous Home: The Muhammad Ali Childhood Home, can be found in Louisville. Here, the future sports icon grew up and first began to box. Today, the unmistakeable pink home is filled with memorabilia from Ali’s life and career and guided tours are available.

Urban Legend: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Some of the legends surrounding the former hospital for tuberculosis patients, include the ghost of a nurse haunting the first floor, room 502 being the site of a suicide/murder and the tunnel used to discretely remove bodies from the facility being rife with paranormal activity. Today, the facility hosts ghost tours and can be stayed in overnight.

Museum: Louisville Slugger baseball bats are synonymous with the sport, having been used by professionals since the late 1800’s. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is home to the storied history of the company. Visitors can’t miss the place, as the world’s largest baseball bat is found at its entrance. You can even enter a batting cage and try bat models from the past and present.

muhammad-ali

Firsts: The first commercial winery in the U.S., was opened in Nicholasville, in 1799. Over 200 years later, the winery still stands, restored to depict what it would have looked like in its earliest years. The site seems like a perfect place to celebrate Mother’s Day, which was first observed in Kentucky on April 20, 1887, as a project started by teacher Mary Towles Sasseen, to honour her mother.

Company: A trio of popular restaurant chains are headquartered in Kentucky. This includes KFC, A&W and Papa John’s Pizza. It should be noted, KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders may not have been a Kentucky native, but his famous creation led to him being recommissioned a Kentucky Colonel, an image he maintained for the rest of his life.

Events: The War of 1812 was catastrophic for Kentucky, as half of the American soldiers killed were from the state, despite battles not taking place there. Kentucky also greatly supplied the war effort, including mining of the Mammoth Cave.

Miscellaneous: Kentucky’s Fort Knox, is home to the United States Bullion Depository, which stores a majority of the country’s gold reserves (estimated in July 2019 to be worth $210.8 billion). In the past, it has also safely held the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Kentucky Mule

Kentucky Mule

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Although the obvious choice for Kentucky is the Mint Julep, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, I’ve already made that drink for this site and I never do repeats. I had to choose something using Bourbon, given its association with the state, so I went with the delicious Kentucky Mule, to sort of keep with the horse theme.