Minnesota – The Bootleg

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, Minnesota welcomes the Sip Advisor. The Land of 10,000 Lakes actually has many more, so at least they’re humble folk. Let’s see what the North Star State has going on:

Motto: “The star of the North” – Canada may have some objections to that…

Food: Hotdish is a Minnesota classic. These casseroles come in a variety of forms, but typically combine a starch, a meat, and vegetables, mixed with canned soup. A popular version uses tater tots, ground beef and cream of mushroom soup. Hotdish can even come served on a stick, with the soup used as a side dipping sauce.

Drink: Craft beer is big in Minnesota, with brewing in general having a long and storied history in the state. Companies such as Surly, Summit, and Schell’s are among the best today, with Schell’s being the second oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S., founded in 1860.

Hotdish

Site to See: For those who love to shop, a mecca of mall madness can be found in Bloomington. The Mall of America is the largest mall in the U.S., home to such attractions as the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience and FlyOver America. Opened in 1992, the mall contains 520 stores and restaurants.

Street: Summit Avenue, in St. Paul, is notable for being the longest street of Victorian homes in America. National Historic Landmarks along the route, include the James J. Hill House, F. Scott Fitzgerald House and Frank B. Kellogg House. However, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald both disliked the area.

TV Show: Coach, starring Craig T. Nelson as Minnesota State University football coach, Hayden Fox, ran for nine seasons and exactly 200 episodes. The final two seasons were set in Florida, with Fox becoming the coach of an expansion NFL team, but it was revealed in the series finale, Fox retired and returned to Minnesota.

Movie: I’m a huge Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon fan, so among some tough competition, I have to go with Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men for this category. Set in Wabasha, feuding neighbours, Max Goldman and John Gustafson Jr., trade insults and pranks, while their respective son and daughter enter into a relationship together. The sequel sees everyone happily ever after, so perhaps the movie titles don’t fit.

Grumpy Old Men

Book/Author: It is generally accepted the Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles M. Schulz, is set in Minnesota. After all, Schulz was born in Minneapolis and some mentions during the comics run place memorable characters, such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy, there. Schulz retired on January 3, 2000, dying a month later of colon cancer.

Fictional Character: Minnesota is a hockey mad state; therefore, hockey legends with fill this category. First, the rough and tumble Hanson Brothers, from the classic film Slap Shot, are Minnesota-bred. Next, we have the Mighty Ducks minor hockey team, led by coach Gordon Bombay. Can you just imagine if these great players all united to form an all-state squad!?

Fictional City: Frostbite Falls is the hometown of Rocky J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. Based on the real-life International Falls (nicknamed the Icebox of the Nation due to its extremely cold temperatures), Frostbite Falls is where antagonists Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are often trying to capture “Moose and Squirrel,” perhaps to make a hotdish.

Actor/Actress: Funnymen Chris Pratt and Vince Vaugh were born in Virginia and Minneapolis, respectively. Coincidentally, both have had roles in Jurassic Park films. Other notable stars from the state, include Judy Garland, Jessica Biel, Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder (born in Winona), and Seann William Scott.

Hanson Brothers

Song: Skyway, by the Replacements, is an ode to the Minneapolis Skyway System, a network of pedestrian footbridges, which allow folks to remain inside and safe from the elements for 11 miles and 80 city blocks (the longest continuous system in the world). The Minnesotan band’s song is about two lovers, one on the street and one within the Skyway System, who are unable to connect.

Band/Musician: Two icons of the music industry were born in Minnesota. Bob Dylan has been recognized as one of the most influential artists of all-time, earning such accolades as a Nobel Prize in Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and induction into various Hall of Fames. Fellow Minnesotan, Prince, also enjoyed a very successful career, sadly passing away of an accidental fentanyl overdose, in 2016.

People: The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, were born in St. Louis Park and are among some of the most successful filmmakers in the industry. Their most notable movies include Fargo (set and filmed in Minnesota), No Country for Old Men and True Grit, all of which were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, with No Country for Old Men taking home the prize.

Animal: Not only was a dog (Duke) elected mayor of small town Cormorant Village, but the canine was re-elected three more times, serving for a total of four years, before retiring. Duke’s human deputy mayor, said the canine “hangs out at the local pub and makes sure everything is running.”

Duke the Mayor

Invention: Frank C. Mars founded Mars Inc., in 1911, in Minneapolis. His famous chocolate bar creations included the Milky Way, Snickers and Three Musketeers. His son, Forrest Mars Sr., later developed the Mars bar and M&M’s candies, while estranged from his father. He returned to the fold, when he inherited Mars Inc. and merged it with his own company.

Crime: I had this article all written up and ready to go… then the murder of George Floyd occurred and a rewrite was needed. Floyd’s death, at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his colleagues, has resulted in Black Lives Matter protests across the country and abroad, seeking reforms on policing and highlighting racial inequalities. Floyd was 46 and is survived by five children.

Law: In Minnesota, nursing homes and senior care facilities may only stage games of bingo twice per week. Yeah, that will keep the residents in line!

Sports Team: Minnesota has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Minneapolis is home to three of those clubs, the Vikings (NFL), Twins (MLB) and Timberwolves (NBA), while the Wild (NHL) play in St. Paul. The defunct North Stars (NHL), had played in Bloomington from 1967 to 1993, but were relocated to Dallas, Texas.

Bingo

Athlete: Minnesota has long been a breeding ground for professional wrestlers. Such notable stars from the past, include Verne Gagne (whose American Wrestling Association was based in Minneapolis), Bob Backlund, Bronko Nagurski, Curt Hennig (aka Mr. Perfect), the Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Barry Darsow, Rick Rude, Jesse Ventura (former governor of Minnesota), and Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac).

Famous Home: The Glensheen Historic Estate, in Duluth, is an expansive property, operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Famous for its architectural design, the mansion was the site of a grizzly double murder of owner Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, at the hands of Congdon’s adopted daughter’s husband. Tours of the estate are available, but questions about the murders can only be asked afterwards.

Urban Legend: Although there’s a drunken prankster, Ola Värmlänning, among Minnesota folklore, I can’t find much info about the character, so we’ll go with the Kensington Runestone in this category. The Runestone, which details the experiences of 14th century Scandinavian explorers, has been the subject of much debate over its authenticity. Most scholars have debunked the artifact as a hoax, but it remains on display at the Runestone Museum, in Alexandria.

Museum: Spam, the canned pork product, was invented in Minnesota. Therefore, the state is home to the Spam Museum, located in Austin. Visitors are offered spamples from spambassadors, with a highlight of the museum documenting Spam’s importance during World War II. Austin also celebrated Spamarama annually, from 1978 to 2007, with the event returning in 2019. The festival featured a Spam cook-off competition.

Spam

Firsts: The University of Minnesota has been responsible for many major medical developments. These include the first open heart surgery, as well as the first bone marrow, kidney and pancreas transplants in the U.S. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic is also a Minnesota institution, known for its treatment of patients and research programs, leading to many medical innovations.

Company: General Mills, makers of popular cereals such as Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Golden Grahams, is headquartered in Golden Valley. Other General Mills brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, and Old El Paso. Two more notable companies based in Minnesota are retailer giants Target and Best Buy.

Events: The Miracle on Ice, which saw the U.S. defeat the powerhouse Soviet Union (and later capture the hockey gold medal) at the 1980 Winter Olympics, was accomplished by a team loaded with University of Minnesota players and led by the program’s coach, Herb Brooks. The victory was iconic during the Cold War era and made all the more memorable by commentator Al Michaels call: “Do you believe in miracles?!”

Miscellaneous: Minnesotans must enjoy their leisure time, having invented a number of objects for fun on your own and with friends. These items include snowmobiles, water skis, rollerblades, the game Twister, Nerf balls, and Tonka Trucks.

The Bootleg

The Bootleg

  • 1.5 oz Vodka, Gin or Rum
  • 3 oz Bootleg Mix (recipe below)
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint

The Bootleg Batch

  • Bootleg Mix (Combined in Blender)
  • 1 Can Frozen Lemonade
  • 1 Can Frozen Limeade
  • 1/2 Cup Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Simple Syrup

The Bootleg is a country club favourite in Minnesota. Some say the recipe first appeared during prohibition, used to mask the taste of alcohol. This drink was very good, which I mixed up for friends and family to enjoy poolside on a warm day. Anything is better than the alternative Minnesota cocktail of choice, the Beertini/Midwest Martini, which combines lager beer with green olives and brine.

May 24 – Crackhouse

There Goes the Neighbourhood

Last week we took a look at some of the best neighbourly relationships ever, which means this week, it’s time to do an about face and examine the worst neighbours you could ever find yourself living next door to. Prepare to see the neighbourhood go down the tubes:

#5: Homer Simpson & Ned Flanders – The Simpsons

Ned is the consummate neighbour (or neighbourino as he would prefer to put it) and has an almost infinite well of patience for Homer. Despite that, Homer can’t stand stupid sexy Flanders and always seems to be at odds with the mustachioed one. With the way the two treat each other, you’d figure Ned would be the one to be short and rude with Homer and not the other way around. For example, half of Ned’s possessions have found their way into the Simpson home, as Homer seems to borrow items with no return date and Homer is jealous of the Flanders superior lifestyle.

homersimpsonzombie

#4: Jerry Seinfeld & Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld

These two may actually be friends, but Kramer’s penchant for using Jerry’s apartment as an offsite location for himself would grate on any person. Kramer’s constant raiding of the fridge, use of the telephone, and occupation of Jerry’s couch would drive me crazy. Worst of all, Kramer is friends with Jerry’s sworn enemy, Newman, and often brings him around to the apartment. Add in Kramer’s string of bizarre adventures, get-rich-quick schemes, and other outlandish behaviour and you’re in for a bumpy ride, whether you like it or not.

#3: Winslow Family & Steve Urkel – Family Matters

Sure, by the end of each episode whoever Steve had upset within the Winslow family had made peace with the uber nerd, but that kid brought some serious tough times to the household. Steve’s clumsiness caused an untold number of repairs to be necessary to the home and because his own parents were so absent in his life, Steve practically lived with the Winslow’s. The threat of a surprise visit from the suspender-clad dork would cause great tension for myself, even though I love the guy. I just don’t think I could take the destruction that follows Steve like a cursed shadow.

Urkel Damage

#2: Bundy Family & D’Arcy Family – Married with Children

While most of them are reasonably amiable with one another, Al and Marcy have been feuding for years and things get even more tense when Marcy’s women’s group clashes with Al’s NO MA’AM organization. Admittedly, it would be tough existing next door to the Bundy clan and their unique way of living. From the always scheming Bud, to dim-witted Kelly, to parents Al and Peg, who are always taking advantage of the more well-off D’Arcy’s, it would be exhausting to come home. Then again, you can’t feel too bad, given they don’t seem to even like each other, let alone their neighbours.

#1: John Gustafson, Jr. & Max Goldman – Grumpy Old Men

The way these two curmudgeons prank each other comes from years of being rivals. John and Max have grown up together and even competed over girls during their younger days. That set off a lifelong animosity between the two neighbours, one that flares up when an attractive woman moves into the town and both grumps end up fawning over the lady. In the end, the joke is all on John and Max, though, as their kids end up married to one another, meaning the two will forever be linked. Something could also be said for the two old men needing each other, whether they realize it or not.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Crackhouse

May 24

  • 1 oz Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Peach Schnapps
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

All that’s left is to decide which one of you has to put up the ‘For Sale’ sign. Either that, or continue to battle forever, passing the torch on to future generations. Sometimes you just have to stand your ground and hope for the best!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I liked this shot. It could have been too sweet, but the Cranberry Juice neutralizes that. For some reason, I really love chewing on Cranberries when the shooter is done. Yeah, I’d probably be one of those neighbours you hate with vehement passion!

April 8 – Grumpy Old Man

Oldies, but Goodies

We’re supposed to honour and respect our elders, but the funniest ones are incoherent, maniacal, and out of touch with today’s world. That’s just the way we like them, though. From animation, to live action, to even puppets, here are the best angry octogenarians:

Grandpa Simpson – The Simpsons

Grandpa “Abe” Simpson is senile and irritable, but always lovable. In flashbacks, we learn that Abe was never really in touch with the world around him. In his senior years and angry that his family never wants to visit him, he has been known to write ranting letters to any business with an address and even yell at a cloud. I can’t really blame him though as I hate clouds with a passion, too.

Grandpa Simpson

Statler & Waldorf – The Muppet Show

These two curmudgeons spend all their time attending shows they intend to pan. When they attack, they rip into their prey with such veteran venom that it’s a modern science miracle that said victim can walk away after the lashing he or she has received. An antidote has yet to be formulated, but using the DNA of one Fozzy Bear, we hope to have a vaccine ready for distribution by 2015.

Frank Costanza/Arthur Spooner – Seinfeld/King of Queens

Jerry Stiller has proven over the years that his old man act is pure comedy gold. From the cantankerous Frank Costanza, to the petulant ever-scheming Arthur Spooner, Stiller has thrived as an old age performer. Perhaps his greatest moments came in the episode of Seinfeld “The Strike”, where Frank Costanza brings back the holiday of Festivus; including the feats of strength, airing of grievances, and let’s not forget those Festivus miracles!

Grumpy Old Men2

Mayor Adam West – Family Guy

Mayor West is the perfect candidate to lead Quahog. He erected a statue of cereal mascot Dig Em’, sent the town’s police force across the world to search for a fictional character, and legalized then quickly illegalized marijuana, as his many works in office. Sounds like your typical politician to me.

Pierce Hawthorne & Leonard Briggs – Community

Pierce Hawthorne is a sexist, racist, homophobic psychopath – all the ingredients for a wonderful character! He spends most of his time disrupting the activities of his study group, who often want him gone from the gang. Leonard Briggs is a reoccurring character on the show, who heads up a crew of other oldies-but-baddies called The Hipsters (because each member has had hip replacement surgery). Briggs also ran for student body president, changing his last name to Rodriguez to capitalize on the Latino voters.

Leonard Rodriguez

Ken Titus – Titus

Ken Titus is as nasty as they come, with his penchant for alcohol, tobacco, women, gambling and mean-spirited fun. He’s the furthest from having a heart of gold – in fact he’s had numerous heart attacks and other health issues, thus making his core as black as his soul – but that doesn’t make him any less funny. In reality, Papa Titus was just trying to raise his kids right and hoping they didn’t turn out to be ‘wussies’, as he often called them when they weren’t living up to his expectations.

Professor Farnsworth – Futurama

Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth is as dementia-ridden as they come. The owner and operator of Planet Express, he sends his crew off on missions that are doomed to fail, while inventing the most insane and useless items known to future-kind. And you can’t really blame him for losing all his marbles. At the age of 29, I feel like I’m slowly starting to lose mine and Farnsworth is somewhere between 150 and 170 years old.

Professor-Farnsworth-Thug-Life

John Gustafson & Max Goldman – Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men

Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau have appeared in numerous movies together, but nothing compares to their two entries as Grumpy Old Men. As they compete with one another and often prank each other, the laughs pile up. Along with Burgess Meredith (playing Grandpa Gustafson), the amount of old man comedy in these flicks is high and hilarious. The gag reel for these movies, shown at the end of the films are hysterical, particularly when Meredith tries a number of different lines to relay various sexual euphemisms.

Mr. Burns – The Simpsons

Monty Burns has done nearly every horrible act listed in the How to be Dastardly Handbook. He’s so evil, he even tried to block out the sun so the town would have to rely solely on his nuclear power. Nearly every person in Springfield has had a run-in with Mr. Burns, whose love of power and money come before any other feelings he may have. I still think there’s a softy buried underneath all that audacity though.

Drink #98: Grumpy Old Man

Grump Old Man Cocktail

The original recipe calls for plain Bourbon, but I used Black Cherry and must admit the result was quite fantastic (if I don’t say so myself). We must learn from those who have come before us. Unfortunately, these folks aren’t the best example of people you’d want to take notes on. Meh, we drink in their honour, anyway!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
A great drink that I wasn’t able to completely enjoy as I battled a bad flu. I ask the rhetorical question: Is there anything Black Cherry Bourbon can’t do? The combo of Ginger Ale and Sour Mix may quickly become a favourite of mine.

January 2 – Cool Collins

Cool Collins to Michael Jackson’s Virginity – 6 Degrees of Separation

Cool Collins (Close)

How can one person connect the Cool Collins cocktail to Michael Jackson’s virginity in six simple steps? Watch and learn!

Sometimes I wake up and think, “Today is a Cool Collins day.” After all, that’s my Grumpy Old Man cure, with its citrus charm (I use 7-Up or Sprite, instead of soda) and pleasant presentation (muddled cucumbers, yo!). I love the Grumpy Old Men movies, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, one of the best comedic duos of all-time. Matthau also played one of my favourite drunks (look out for an upcoming post on this amazing selection of characters) Morris Buttermaker in The Bad News Bears. In that movie, Buttermaker enlists the services of his ex-girlfriends daughter, Amanda Whurlitzer, to pitch for the hapless team. That youngster was played by Tatum O’Neal, who is the youngest person to ever win a competitive Oscar, for her role in the movie Paper Moon. And here’s where things get interesting (as if you’re not enthralled by this connect-the-dots puzzle already): she once dated the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson, who has claimed that O’Neal was his first love.

So, there you have it: Cool Collins—Grumpy Old Men—Walter Matthau—Bad News Bears—Tatum O’Neal—Michael Jackson’s Virginity!

The game is even more fun when you’ve already had a couple of these cocktails! So here’s my adaptation of a Tom Collins:

Drink #2: Cool Collins (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Cool Collins Drink Recipe

  • Muddle 4-5 thinly sliced cucumber wheels
  • 1.5 oz Hendrick’s or other gin
  • Top with lemon-lime soda
  • Garnish with cucumber wheel or lemon/lime wedge

This is an awesome drink in the summer, but can definitely be rocked in the winter months, as well. Let me know what you think and come back tomorrow for another great recipe. Enjoy!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’m a huge Tom Collins fan and today I tried to change the recipe up a little. The muddled cucumbers along with the Hendricks Gin gives a great taste of cucumber throughout the drink, which while a mild flavour, has also been an enjoyable one for me. My choice of Lemon-Lime Soda over Club Soda is also an excellent decision.