New Jersey – Garden State Cocktail

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 venture to New Jersey. Although some call it the “Armpit of America,” we’ll reserve judgment. After all, it’s been nicknamed the Garden State for a reason. Let’s find out why:

Motto: “Liberty and Prosperity” – I particularly like that second one and the first one ain’t so bad either.

Food: The Pork Roll (aka Taylor Ham) is usually eaten in slices as part of a sandwich, but can also be used in a hash, called a Jersey Breakfast. John Taylor, from Hamilton Square, popularized the meat product in 1856. There are competing festivals celebrating the Pork Roll, both in Trenton. Add a side of Disco Fries (topped with cheese and gravy) and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Drink: Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy) was first produced in New Jersey, all the way back in 1698. It was originally known as Jersey Lightning, which is a name I think they should have kept. Laird & Company is based in Scobeyville, calling themselves America’s Oldest Distiller.

Pork Roll

Site to See: Two sites that highlight American freedom can be found in New Jersey, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island is the spot were countless immigrants first touched American soil, as the busiest inspection station in the country. Meanwhile, Lady Liberty is situated on land shared by New Jersey and New York and surrounded by New Jersey waters.

Street: The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a major tourist attraction in New Jersey. It is the first American boardwalk, opened on June 26, 1870, and the longest boardwalk in the world. There’s a lot going on along the boardwalk, including casinos, hotels, museums, shopping, restaurants, and much more. A number of movies and TV series have used the boardwalk for filming.

TV Show: The Sopranos, starring James Gandolfini, was one of the most popular TV shows of all-time, documenting the activities of the DiMeo crime family. The crime drama, which ran for six seasons and 86 episodes, was largely filmed in New Jersey, using real shops, restaurants and even a strip club to double for locations in the series.

Movie: Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse movies are all set in New Jersey. That includes films such as Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. That all makes sense, given Smith is New Jersey native, himself. Top actors like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have appeared in multiple films, as a variety of characters, throughout the series.

Sopranos

Book/Author: George R.R. Martin, writer of the epic fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones when adapted for TV) was born in Bayonne. At 71 years old, many fans wonder if the series will ever be finished on page, but at least we got – for better or worse – some closure with the TV series. Either way, Martin has made his money.

Fictional Character: The general consensus is that animated adult comedy, Bob’s Burgers, is set in New Jersey. Therefore, I will put the Belcher Family here. The clan includes parents and restauranteurs Bob and Linda, along with mischief-making kids Tina, Gene and Louise. Their antics have led to the show winning two Outstanding Animated Program Emmys.

Fictional City: Gotham City is said to be located in New Jersey, meaning the Batman universe takes place there. While it’s certainly not a place many would want to live, given its extremely high crime rate, corruption at all levels and the threat of death at every turn, Gotham City has remained a popular locale for fans of the franchise.

Actor/Actress: One of the world’s most celebrated actresses, Meryl Streep, was born in Summit. Streep has won three Oscars, based on 21 nominations, with her career as a whole recognized with an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. Other famous New Jerseyans, include Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, and Bruce Willis.

George R.R. Martin

Song: New Jersey doesn’t have a State Song, but that was not because of a lack of effort from one musician. In fact, his campaigning may have worked against him. I’m From New Jersey by Red Mascara was almost made the State Song in 1972, passed by the Legislature, but vetoed by the Governor. Mascara continued the push for his song up until his death.

Band/Musician: New Jersey is the home of so many music legends. Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Frankie Valli, Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra all hail from the state. I saw something that said Springsteen had at least 25 songs with references about New Jersey, which sounds about right, given his extensive music catalogue.

People: Domestic goddess, Martha Stewart, was born in Jersey City. Her media empire has included TV shows, books, magazines, and other projects, making her a household name as a household saviour. Also, travel and food writer, Anthony Bourdain, was raised in Leonia. He came to prominence thanks to the shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown.

Animal: Kids and adults alike love dinosaurs. These beasts from long ago have fascinated many and the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur was discovered in Haddonfield, in 1858. The Hadrosaurus (New Jersey’s State Fossil) find launched the field of paleontology and is memorialized with a eight-foot dinosaur statue in downtown Haddonfield.

Martha Stewart

Invention: Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park is the site where he developed light bulbs, phonographs, motion pictures, and other items. Edison was called the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park’ and he held 1,093 patents in the US alone. Edison State Park now encompasses the site of his lab and a memorial tower and museum dedicated to the inventor.

Crime: There are some alarming crimes from New Jersey history, but when one is called the “Crime of the Century,” you have to profile it. In 1932, aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was abducted, with a ransom note left behind. Despite an exchange of money, the baby’s remains were found two months after the kidnapping. Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the crime and executed by electric chair in 1936.

Law: I’m not sure how this one is going over nowadays, but in New Jersey, it is illegal to frown at a cop. That must make recent protests a little awkward. Even worse, in Bernards Township, it is completely illegal to frown. This will turn your frown upside down, though. It is illegal for birds to poop on statues… finally, people who hate birds as much as I do.

Sports Team: The New Jersey Devils (NHL) are the only professional team to carry the ‘New Jersey’ name, following the New Jersey Nets (NBA) leaving for Brooklyn in 2012, after 35 seasons. New York-named teams the Jets and Giants (NFL), as well as Red Bulls (MLS), play out of the state, commonly referred to as the New York Metropolitan Area.

Thomas Edison

Athlete: Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal had a career filled with championships, including four NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal. O’Neal transcended the sport, starring in movies and video games. Likewise, shortstop Derek Jeter was a five-time World Series champion and 14-time all-star. In 2020, Jeter was one vote shy of being unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Famous Home: The Grover Cleveland Birthplace, in Caldwell, is a museum and National Historic Place dedicated to the only person from New Jersey to become U.S. President. Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th Commander-in-Chief (the only politician to ever serve non-consecutive terms), although he won the popular vote for all three elections which he ran.

Urban Legend: The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature with a horse head, bat wings, horns, clawed hands, and cloven hooves, said to be found in the Pine Barrens area of the state. The being was the 13th child of a witch (with the father being the devil), who cursed it after learning she was pregnant. It is now the moniker of the current NHL franchise.

Museum: The United States Golf Association (USGA) Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History is located in Far Hills. The USGA began collecting items in the late 1930’s, finally opening a facility in New York, in 1951. The collection was moved to New Jersey in 1972 and now offers the Pynes Putting Course, a nine-hole course where visitors can use classic replica putters.

Jersey Devil

Firsts: New Jersey has hosted a number of firsts in the sporting world. This included the first officially recorded organized baseball game (June 19, 1846 in Hoboken), the first college football game (November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick) and the first professional basketball game (November 7, 1896 in Trenton). The first American brewery was also established in Hoboken, in 1642.

Company: The Campbell Soup Company is headquartered in Camden. Along with its soup, Campbell’s is also responsible for brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Prego and Swanson. Another well-known New Jersey-based company is retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond, which was founded in Springfield and is now based in Union.

Events: More battles during the American Revolutionary War took place in New Jersey than any other colony, earning the state the nickname the ‘Crossroads of the Revolution’. The Battle of Trenton and Battle of Princeton were major victories for General George Washington and his troops, turning the tide against British forces.

Miscellaneous: Two infamous incidents, the Burr-Hamilton Duel and Hindenburg Disaster, occurred in New Jersey. First, on July 11, 1804, Vice-President Aaron Burr wounded former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, capping their long feud. This rivalry was turned into the hit musical Hamilton. Later, on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship caught fire and crashed, while docking at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst.

Garden State Cocktail

Garden State Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cucumber Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cucumber Slice

This cocktail honours New Jersey’s nickname of Garden State by using ingredients such as cucumber. The term Garden State is often attributed to Abraham Browning, who noted that New Jersey is a barrel with good things to eat and open at both ends, helping to feed Pennsylvania on one side and New York on the other.

September 11 – Euthanasia

Nicknamed

I bet you’re wondering how I got from euthanasia to nicknames. There is a method to my madness, or perhaps more aptly called alcoholness. Famous ‘right to die’ activist Dr. Jack Kevorkian earned the moniker of Dr. Death, having assisted in the suicide of numerous terminally ill patients. That’s a pretty wicked nickname, regardless of how he came to have it. Perhaps it worked better for wrestler Steve Williams, whose physical style and impressively dangerous move set earned him the same handle. Here are some other nicknames that rule:

Stu Grimson – The Grim Reaper

This one is almost too perfect to be true. What do you name a hockey enforcer with a last name that has “Grim” in it? Why, The Grim Reaper naturally! Grimson pounded his way to 2,113 penalty minutes in a career that spanned 729 games. Perhaps most impressive is that Grimson went on to earn a law degree and practices in Nashville, Tennessee where he presumably continues to bash his opponents in the courtroom.

Gordie Howe – Mr. Hockey

Doesn’t that say respect! Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, played an unbelievable 32 seasons of the game (split between the NHL and WHA) playing from the age of 18 until he finally retired at 52. When he left the game, the record books were largely dedicated to his successes and he is the epitome of a hockey player: tough, talented, humble, and awesome.

Madonna – Material Girl

I searched far and wide for a female to include in this article and sadly Madonna was the best I could come up with. Madge earned this moniker thanks to her 1984 hit ‘Material Girl’. Interestingly, Madonna has stated this is the song she regrets recording the most because of how the name stuck with her, despite the video being about her character rejecting diamonds and money.

Johnny Cash – The Man in Black

The legendary musician earned his nickname because of the dark clothing he usually wore for his performances (a contrast to other country stars of the time), explaining his dress in the song ‘Man in Black’: “We’re doing mighty fine I do suppose; In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes; But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back; Up front there ought to be a man in black.”

Johnny-Cash-Kitty

Wicked… Johnny Cash was a fan of kitties, just like the Sip Advisor!

Frank Sinatra – Chairman of the Board

Which board he was the Chairman of is up for debate, but one would have to assume it involved boozing, partying, entertaining, and having non-stop fun with your best pals. Sinatra could chair any board that I had a direct association with and I’d be more than happy to have him as a leader. Hopefully Dean and Sammy were members also and we’d get blitzed at every meeting!

Elvis Presley – The King

They didn’t even need to say what he was “The King” of, everybody just knew. Elvis was considered entertainment royalty, with thriving music and movie careers. He was the type of guy men wanted to be and women wanted to be with. Despite passing away in 1977, it could be argued that Elvis is even more popular now than he was as an active performer.

Drink #254: Euthanasia

Euthanasia Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey
  • 1 oz Southern Comfort
  • Top with Beer (I used Corona)
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

What have I missed? Who have I left out that you feel so incensed about; you want to leap through your computer screen and track me down? I am a simple comment away and you’ll never forget my nickname… Sip Advisor out!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I had high hopes for this beer cocktail recipe and was sadly let down. There just wasn’t much going on with the mix other than a lingering taste of the Honey Whiskey. The recipe calls for Southern Comfort Peach Liqueur, which I’ve unfortunately never seen before. To spice things up, however, I did use Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey instead of the regular stuff. The drink also calls for each ingredient to be used equally (4 oz per), but that just seems wasteful to me, so I dropped the increments. I used a lighter beer in Corona, so as to let the liquors come through stronger.

January 8 – Scotch on the Rocks

Potent Quotables

So, I come home from a long day at the office to screaming kids, a messy place and an angry wife… not to mention no dinner on the table. Just kidding, only one of those things was true and that’s only because I do most of the cooking around here at the Sip Advisor offices.

Still, I felt that it was a good day to put away the mixology tools, pour myself a glass of scotch and wax philosophical about some of my favourite alcohol quotes. So, put on your tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and join me for a riveting tour through the human psyche… inebriated edition.

Homer quote

“To alcohol, the cause of… and solution to, all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson

I love this quote. It really sums up the whole life story of booze in 12 words and some ellipses or dashes… whichever you prefer. Alcohol can mend fences as quickly as it can burn those fences to the ground, if you’re not careful. Take one sip if it’s caused you a problem. Take two sips if it’s solved an issue. Chug if it has destroyed and fixed the same problem, or vice versa, in succession.

Frank Sinatra Quote

“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.” – Frank Sinatra

Oh, Frankie… you sure did do it your way! If I’m to take anything from his quote, my enemies also consist of my wife, kitties and blankets.

“Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.” – George Bernard Shaw

Way to be a bit of a killjoy, Mr. Shaw. Although you have given me an idea for any future surgeries I may have to confront. Instead of taking the prescribed anesthesia (when I was 12 and had my kidney removed it looked like apple juice, but brother it sure didn’t taste like apple juice and I still can’t bring myself to drink AJ to this day) I’ll just get loaded to the point of passing out and then the doctors can do their worse to me.

Sammy Davis Jr. quote

“Alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity.” – Sammy Davis, Jr.

Who would have ever thought that The Rat Pack members would be asked their thoughts on alcohol? Hell, you could probably write an entire book on the group’s exploits with and thoughts on liquor. Sammy makes a great point, though… why do you think my wife drinks?!

Oh, Winston, that hand signals means quite a different thing now than it did in your day...

Oh, Winston, that hand signals means quite a different thing now than it did in your day…

“I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” – Winston Churchill

Atta boy Winston… you show them who’s the man. And we should all be enjoying life to the fullest, taking everything we can out of it. You only get one shot at living and I’ll be damned if I’m going to take it easy on myself in order to extend a life that can be snuffed out by things beyond my control.

“Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.” – Raymond Chandler

Sure, you could make an analogy between the start of a relationship and getting drunk for the first times in your life… but have you ever seen a bottle of booze naked… there’s really not much there to enjoy.

Charles Bukowski quote

“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” – Charles Bukowski

Alcohol is many things to many different people. Some don’t like it, some love it and some don’t care either way. To me, booze should only be drunk in times of good… thankfully, I’m a very happy man!

And now, here’s something we hope you’ll really like (ala Rocky the Flying Squirrel)…

Drink #8: Scotch on the Rocks

Scotch on the Rocks

For the occasional scotch drinker, unless you are sipping an 18-year-old scotch, chances are you will feel the need for a bit of ice. Some Scotch connoisseurs may turn their nose up at a bit of ice, but hey it’s your drink and I’m over here getting too drunk to judge (I generally leave that to women and cats… especially cats, those judgmental, but very cute buggers).

I love my bottle of scotch, given to me as a wedding gift. I just find the details of the scotch (part of the new millennium batch and bottled the year I got married) to be so neat and a case of symmetry in my life. It’s almost as if it were fate that all these moving parts came together for me. So, please join me in a toast with whatever you have in your hand:

“To alcohol… because life just isn’t the same without it!” – Daniel Wilson aka The Sip Advisor

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
What can you say about Scotch on the Rocks that hasn’t been said by millions of others over time. It is certainly an acquired taste and one that I’ve been happy to develop in recent years. It will certainly make you feel all warm and fuzzy in little time and the smoky flavour is an enjoyable one for me.

January 3 – Manhattan

The Rat Pack enjoy a drink and a laugh together.

The Rat Pack enjoy a drink and a laugh together. Not a rare sight.

The Manhattan is one of my favourite cocktails. It makes me think about the glory days of The Rat Pack – it was among their preferred drink of choice, after all – and the sort of Golden Age they lived through. Back when you had to have some level of talent to be a star, instead of a boob job, hit YouTube video or trashy reality show. A time of fedora hats, pin-striped suits and crazy, yet mysteriously classy parties. I love the stories of Frank, Dean, Sammy and the gang working long hours filming their movies and partying through the night before heading back to work the next day. These guys oozed swagger and machismo and made it look easy. If these originators of cool loved the Manhattan, that’s good enough for me.

Near the top on my growing bucket list, liquor edition, is have a Manhattan, while in Manhattan. If I happen to be donning a fedora and be decked out in a pin-striped suit, that would be the icing on the cake. Not that I’m saying that I own a fedora and pin-striped suit (but I do). I like to think that I’d be making the boys proud.

The Manhattan recipe is fairly simple, but one of the beauties of it is the interchangeable parts. I like trying different whiskies and bourbons to achieve a different taste. Some of my preferred alcohols to use include Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon (suggested to me by an instructor at Fine Art Bartending), Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey (suggested by me to that very same instructor) and for the Canadian in all of us, Crown Royal. The Sweet Vermouth can also be subbed out for a variety of different results. Dry Vermouth can be used instead, as can other liqueurs like Maraschino Cherry flavoured, Grand Marnier and many other options. Be playful with your own recipe and see what you come up with.

There are two ways that I like to present the Manhattan. The first is in a martini glass (the traditional way) and the second is on ice in a rocks glass. Both drinks use the same proportions, with the only difference being that for the Manhattan martini, you stir (don’t shake) all the ingredients with ice and strain from a mixer. Both drinks I’ve garnished with a Maraschino cherry, although the cherry in the martini glass just sunk to the bottom to make nice bourbon-soaked treat waiting for you at the finish line!

Drink #3: The Manhattan

Manhattan Cocktail

  • 3 oz Whiskey or Bourbon of your choice (I used Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon)
  • 2 oz Sweet Vemouth
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Let me know if you have any whiskey suggestions or any other tweaks to the Manhattan recipe. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I love Manhattans so much that I made two different versions! I’ve always been more of an ‘on the rocks’ type guy, but the Martini version of the cocktail was good, too. I have to give a super thumbs up to my decision to use Black Cherry Bourbon in these recipes and suggest you do, as well.