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 the Sunshine State for some fresh-squeezed orange juice and a slice of Key Lime Pie. Aside from citrus fruits, Florida has a lot else to offer, so let’s start our exploring:
Motto: “In God we trust” – Given Florida is an epicenter of the annual hurricane season, that’s probably a good idea!
Food: The Cuban Sandwich, comprised of ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread, is a Sip Advisor favourite and I have restaurants in Tampa, Key West and Miami to thank for it. The sandwich has sparked a rivalry between Tampa and Miami over who does it best, with the conflict even reaching government levels.
Drink: Gatorade was developed in 1965 at the University of Florida, to help the Florida Gators football team replace bodily fluids lost during games, practices and workouts. Two years later, the Gators won their first Orange Bowl and another two years after that, Gatorade became a commercial product.
Site to See: The obvious choice here is the Disney World Resort, comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, 27 hotels, multiple golf courses, a campsite, and much more. If visiting Mickey Mouse and his pals isn’t your thing, there’s also the Kennedy Space Center or Everglades National Park, as popular tourist options.
Street: Duval Street in Key West is party central. When Mrs. Sip and I had the chance to crawl the street many moons ago, we hit a half dozen bars, drank our faces off and barely spent any money while doing so. While paid pub crawls are available, it’s just as fun to make your own route and meet fellow imbibers along the way.
TV Show: It would be a disservice to all my little sippers, if I didn’t pick The Golden Girls here. Running for seven seasons and 180 episodes, the sitcom starred such legends as Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, as four woman living in a retirement community in Miami. The theme song alone is enough to give viewers goosebumps!
Movie: The 1983 film Scarface documents the rags-to-riches story of Tony Montana, as he goes from Cuban refugee to Miami drug lord. The memorable Al Pacino character can be credited with some of movies greatest lines, including “Say hello to my little friend!”
Book/Author: Since it hasn’t squeezed into a category yet, here I’ll highlight the Dexter series of books, by Florida writer Jeff Lindsay. Made into a TV series later, the Dexter stories involve a vigilante serial killer, who murders serial killers. Eight Dexter novels were released between 2004 and 2015.
Fictional Character: Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, is a wild and zany animal lover. Played by Jim Carrey, Ventura’s most high-profile case, involved the theft of Miami Dolphins animal mascot Snowflake and later the kidnapping of quarterback Dan Marino by a disgruntled ex-teammate.
Fictional City: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City takes place in Miami-based Vice City. The 1980’s-set video game follows ex-con Tommy Vercetti, as he moves up the city’s crime ladder, eventually seizing control of the entire empire. Back when the Sip Advisor has time for video games, this was a favourite.
Actor/Actress: On top of his acting chops, Sidney Poitier also gets the nod here for the barriers he knocked down during his career. This included being the first black actor to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, for The Defiant Ones), and later the first black actor to win the award, for Lilies of the Field. Poitier has been honoured with a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth, as well as awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Song: With the highest percentage of people over 65 years old, it may come as no surprise that Florida’s State Song is Old Folks at Home by Stephen Foster. Written in 1851, the song has seen changes to controversial lyrics over time, especially since it’s often performed during government events.
Band/Musician: Rock star, Tom Petty, was born in Gainesville. Inspired by bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Petty always wanted to be a musician and achieved great fame with his band, The Heartbreakers, as well as other with other projects. A catalogue of successful songs saw Petty inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The Sip Family saw Petty in concert in 2017, mere months before his untimely passing.
People: Comedian Daniel Tosh grew up in Titusville, graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in marketing, before beginning his stand up career. Tosh now hosts the popular Tosh.0 video clip show, which has aired for 11 seasons and counting.
Animal: For the Flipper films and TV series, which spanned 1963-1967, four real-life dolphins were used to portray the titular character. One of those animal actors, also doubled as the live mascot for the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, trained to do jumps in her tank when the team scored a touchdown or field goal.
Invention: Given Florida’s weather, great advancements were made by inventors to keep people cool and protected from the sun and heat. These creations included mechanical refrigeration, air conditioning, and sunscreen. The personal computer was also invented in Florida, so there’s that.
Crime: After a troubled childhood and numerous run-ins with the law as an adult, Aileen Wuornos murdered seven men in Florida within a one-year span (1989-1990). She was convicted of six of the murders and executed by lethal injection in 2002. Wuornos’ story was documented in the 2003 film Monster, for which Charlize Theron won a Best Actress Oscar for her depiction of the serial killer.
Law: In Florida, all doors must open outward in public buildings, taking away that awkward push-or-pull moment when approaching any entrance.
Sports Team: Florida’s Big 4 professional sports landscape is spread among a number of cities. While most clubs are split between Miami – Dolphins (NFL), Marlins (MLB), Panthers (NHL), Heat (NBA) – and Tampa – Buccaneers (NFL), Rays (MLB), Lightning (NHL) – there is also the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL) and Orlando Magic (NBA).
Athlete: A trio of Dallas Cowboys legends and Pro Football Hall of Famers, in Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, each hails from Florida. Add to that, iconic pro wrestler Hulk Hogan grew up in Florida and lives there to this day, and you’ve got quite the collection of athletic stars.
Famous Home: Ernest Hemingway House in Key West has been designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The author lived in the home from 1931-1939, writing some of his most famous titles. Hemingway House is now a tourist attraction, famous for the six- and seven-toed cats that live there, descendants of Hemingway’s original cats.
Urban Legend: The Devil’s Chair, located in Cassadega, is one of many graveyard benches found around the world (including England and other U.S. states), which is said to bring bad luck to any person who sits on the throne. What’s unique about the Florida seat is legend has it, a can of beer placed on it will be empty when checked the next morning… even if it’s unopened.
Museum: Florida is home to the most golf courses in the U.S., so it’s no surprise the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum would be found in the state. Located in St. Augustine, 26 different governing bodies from the golf world participate in the association, including male and female tours.
Firsts: On January 1, 1914, the world’s first scheduled commercial flight transported a single passenger (St. Petersburg mayor Abraham Pheil) from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Over 3,000 people attended the departure. Pilot Antony Jannus was the country’s first federally-licensed pilot.
Company: When Mrs. Sip and I were young travellers, we tried to hit the Hard Rock Café in many of the cities we ventured to. Headquartered in Davie, the music-influenced chain has 185 restaurants, 25 hotels and 12 casinos, spread across 74 countries. For cheaper fare, Burger King is also operated out of the state.
Events: The Cuban Revolution brought more than a million refugees to Florida, over a series of mass exoduses from the communist country. Continued issues between Cuba and the United States has also resulted in high-profile international incidents, such as the Elian Gonzalez custody battle.
Miscellaneous: News headlines containing the term “Florida Man” became popular in 2013 for the outrageous stories that usually followed. Some examples include: ‘Florida Man Tells Police Bag of Cocaine Found in Car Must have Blown in from the Wind’ and ‘Florida Man Arrested After Giving Aggressive Wet Willy’.
- 1 oz Blackberry Liqueur/Chambord
- 1 oz Banana Liqueur
- 1 oz Light Rum
- 1 oz Dark Rum
- Top with Pineapple Juice and Orange Juice
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Dash of Grenadine
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge
There are many recipes for this cocktail, with mine being a bit of an amalgamation of them. I liked the overall blend of this drink, invented at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar, in Islamorada, in reference to the rum-runners (aka bootleggers) who operated on Florida’s islands during prohibition.