Estonia – Hammer & Sickle

Free as a Bird

Freedom… it’s something most of us take for granted. We wouldn’t do that, however, if we had been occupied by one empire after another for hundreds of years. Estonia (our next stop as we tour the liquor universe) has been listed as one of the freest countries in the world, following centuries of control by other countries. It’s a long and winding road, so buckle up and enjoy the ride to liberty.

meanwhile-in-estonia

If this doesn’t say freedom, I don’t know what does!

While Estonia was a long holdout in converting to Christianity during the Middle Ages, Pope Celestine III made sure that came to an end, calling for a crusade against the pagans of Northern Europe. In 1208, present-day Estonia was raided and despite resistance and fighting for many years, the country was finally conquered by Denmark in the north and Germany in the south. Around the same time, some Swedish people – including descendants of the legendary Swedish Chef – also settled into Estonian coastal land. The Germans became the ruling elite of Estonia by the end of the Middle Ages.

Fighting over Estonian land persisted for hundreds of years with Northern Estonia falling under Swedish control, while Southern Estonia briefly found itself under rule by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (ah, the PLC… not a group to meddle with). In 1625 the Swedes captured much of mainland Estonia and absorbed it into their growing empire. Estonia accepted this occupation, in exchange for protection against Russia and Poland. Kind of like a smart, but small kid recruiting a tougher, cool kid (although Sweden’s cool factor can be debated for hours on end) for protection against bullies.

When Russia defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War of the early 1700’s, they gained control of Estonia, although the legal system, governments, and education was mostly German up until the late 1800’s and in some cases, the first World War. The Russian Revolution of 1905 changed the landscape of Estonian life, but also opened the door for the country to gain autonomy.

Bread Freedom

Following World War I and the fall of the Russian Empire, Estonia declared its independence on February 23, 1918. It wasn’t long before they were back fighting, however, as the Red Army invaded just days after a provisional Estonian government was in place and the Estonian War of Independence lasted the next couple years. On June 15, 1920, Estonia adopted their first constitution and even joined the League of Nations in 1921, but we all know how that ended!

There was more trouble brewing for Estonia, however, as en route to a presidential election in 1934, Konstantin Päts, the head of state, became the country’s authoritarian ruler. The next period of life in Estonia was known as the Era of Silence. I’m praying this term also one day describes the death of reality TV. Political parties were banned and the parliament did not hold session from 1934 to 1938. Instead, Päts ruled by decree, much like the Sip Advisor does around the company headquarters!

As if things couldn’t get any worse, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939. The deal saw the two countries split up the nations the lay between them (Estonia, Finland, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia). Estonia went to the Soviet Union in the fantasy draft and it wasn’t long before the regime moved into its new territory.

Estonia Girls

The USSR occupied Estonia from 1940 to 1941 and during that time arrested over 8,000 citizens, executing more than a quarter of them. Next up, the German Nazi regime invaded. While originally welcomed, with hopes that Estonia could return to being an independent state, those wishes were quickly dashed by goose-stepping and swastikas.

World War II was not kind to Estonia and its people. The population decreased by about 200,000 people, with 80,000 fleeing West and 30,000 soldiers killed in action. Much of the land was destroyed, including ports, railways, and industrial and residential areas. As the Germans withdrew from the country, the USSR swooped in and put Soviet rule in place, arresting and executing those who opposed the takeover. Poor Estonia couldn’t buy a break.

Hidden behind the ‘red curtain,’ a movement known as the ‘Forest Brothers’ grew – similar to Robin Hood and his Merry Men, but minus the awesome songs of the Disney and Men in Tights offerings. They opposed the Soviet occupation and grew to approximately 30,000 members. Their resistance was ultimately unsuccessful and it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the tide began to change and Estonia reached for sovereignty again. The 1990’s brought free elections, a new congress, and a referendum on independence.

Free Turtle

Estonia’s confirmation of independence occurred on August 20, 1991. The day has become a national holiday as a result and features Will Smith battling aliens to save the world. On June 28, 1992, Estonians approved a draft constitution and on September 20, 1992, Lennart Meri was elected president, choosing Mart Laar as prime minister.

Things continued to roll along for Estonia as the new millennium approached. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro currency in 2011. In recent years, Estonia has found itself ranked first in Internet Freedom (so much porn!) and World Liberty. Congrats to everyone who made it all happen!

Estonia: Hammer & Sickle

Hammer & Sickle Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Mint and Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Vana Tallinn
  • Dash of Brown Sugar
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint Sprig

What’s next for the Baltic nation is unknown, but I sincerely hope things continue on an upswing. It’s a beautiful country and one I consider to be a hidden gem when touring Northern Europe.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Being the King of Mojitos comes with great responsibility… it means that you always have to be on the lookout for new variations to master. I wanted to try this recipe because the Vana Tallinn and Brown Sugar change things up from your usual Mojito Recipe and this cocktail is a keeper. The Vana Tallinn, which carries a vanilla flavour, makes for a delicious Mojito ingredient, getting along very well with the Brown Sugar and even the Mint and Lime Wedges. I took the drink name from Vana Tallinn’s Wikipedia page and although it was meant for another concoction, because citation was needed, I decided to steal the moniker for myself!

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October 14 – Green Gobbler

Pilgrim Party

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and while it’s not the tradition that the American version has grown to be, it does provide an extra day off and a chance to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. Here’s my list:

Mrs. Sip

Although we are going through a trial separation (ie. she’s taken off on one of her world travels and left me to look after the house, pets, kids, and savings – if we had any of those things), I have to single her out as my greatest thing to be thankful for. She is my muse, my benefactor, and my raison d’etre. Now get your butt back home so you can sample all the wonderful creations this shambled mind is coming up with!

Muse

Family and Friends (aka The Sip Alliance)

I have some of the greatest family and friends anyone could ever dream up and I challenge anyone to top what I have been blessed with. The Sip Alliance has greatly supported me in my expedition to present a new cocktail every day to the wild, wild web. From shooting me ideas, to providing me with new alcohols to experiment with, I have the best pit crew a liquor jockey could ever ask for.

All My Little Sippers

This website has been a smashing success, in my honest opinion. Our stats continue to improve and I have all you readers to thank for that. I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “How can I support the Sip Advisor more?” Well, unless you’re Scrooge McDuck and want to sponsor my endeavours, you could at least like us on Facebook, sign up to follow the blog, or just continue to check back when you’re in the need of some info-tainment!

so many fans

Freedom

While I may not agree with the choices of many (your vegetarians and what have you), I’m happy to live in a time and place where people have the right to be who they want to be and what they want to be. When I declared to the world (well, perhaps it was more of a small gathering) that I intended to drink 365 cocktails in the calendar year of 2013, nobody told me I wasn’t allowed to do that (although they probably should have!) and all I received was love and support.

Deep Fryers

Can you imagine life without these wonderful machines? I surely can’t. How would I get my fries or chicken strips or even tempura vegetables? Most of you have heard the harrowing tale of my quest to get a deep fryer – despite Mrs. Sip’s opposition – going so far as to petition the internet to support my cause. While we came up short in our pursuit, I still have much love for one of the greatest inventions in history.

cat-wants-a-deep-fryer

Sauces

Do you remember that scene in Fight Club, where Edward Norton’s character describes the contents of his fridge and it’s basically stuffed with condiments? That might as well be me on some occasions. I’m a full ranking member of the sauce nation. I love so many of these concoctions, that I mix and match them like women do with their clothing and I get giddy when I discover a new item I want to purchase.

Comedy

Laughing soothes the soul and therefore I surround myself with as much funny material as I possibly can. From trips to the local comedy club, to sitting back with a few of my old animated friends (The Simpsons, American Dad, Archer, etc.), rarely does a moment go by where I’m not getting in a good chuckle. I often break out into hysterical laughter in the middle of a quiet work day, leaving my colleagues to ponder my mental state!

Drink #287: Green Gobbler

Green Gobbler Drink Recipe

  • 0.75 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Pumpkin Pie Vodka
  • Splash of Blue Curacao
  • Top with Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Garnish with Berries

What are you thankful for on this most glorious of days away from work (aren’t they all wonderful)? Enjoy your feast!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
Perhaps this isn’t the most traditional Thanksgiving recipe I could have used, but the mix of flavours intrigued me and so I went for it. The drink was only okay, as I didn’t taste the Pumpkin Pie Vodka as much as I hoped I would. It was kind of subdued by all the citrus and berry notes.