March 28 – DDT

Going to the Hall

Well, it’s WrestleMania season once again and that means a new induction class into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame. While the figurative “hall” has grown immensely over the last decade, there are some big time names that are shockingly still absent from what has been long-rumoured will someday be a physical structure. Here are the top five superstars that should be in the WWE Hall of Fame:

#5: John Bradshaw Layfield

Layfield worked his way up the roster from glorified jobber to tag team specialist to World Champion. When he first entered the company, he was saddled with the gimmick of a wild mountain man. From there, he became a rough and tumble cowboy, a brainwashed disciple of the Undertaker and a bar room brawler who could be hired for protection. Layfield was launched into the main event scene as JBL, a character similar to oil tycoon J.R. Ewing from the TV show Dallas. Under this persona, Layfield finally won a World Championship, a distinction even he thought was never going to happen in his career. Now a color commentator, Layfield has seamlessly transitioned from the ring to the announcer’s table and his time will certainly come for enshrinement.

JBL

#4: Chyna

The ‘9th Wonder of the World’ was an integral member of the Attitude Era and became a role model for women, as she was able to compete with the men, becoming the first female to hold an top-level championship when she won the Intercontinental Title and competed in numerous intergender bouts. Unfortunately, outside of the ring, Chyna (real name Joanie Laurer) split from her boyfriend Triple H (real name Paul Levesque) as the millennium changed and he went on to marry Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. She wasn’t part of the company much longer after that. Chyna has done some work in the adult industry and with WWE’s return to a PG-13 rating and kid friendly programming, those two worlds don’t gel too well together.

#3: Jim Johnston

Many of you reading this are probably asking: “Who the hell is Jim Johnston?” While he’s not a household name, he should be and anyone who has ever followed professional wrestling knows his work better than they think. Johnston has been creating the music that accompanies superstars to the ring for three decades. His most famous compositions include theme songs for ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Undertaker, The Rock, D-Generation X, the Ultimate Warrior, and so many others. Compilation records released of Johnston’s work have garnered huge sales, some of the 17 albums hitting gold and platinum levels. Johnston now works for WWE’s film division, putting together scores for the company’s movie releases.

#2: Paul Heyman

While his greatest contribution to the wrestling business was as a competitor to WWE, as owner of Extreme Championship Wrestling, he has also enjoyed a noteworthy career with his one-time adversary, in the roles of an on-screen character and off-screen member of the creative team. Heyman is one of the greatest minds in the wrestling business, as proven with the way he changed the landscape of the industry with his revolutionary ECW promotion. The man, once known as Paul E. Dangerously, is also one of the best talkers of all-time and any time he has a microphone in hand, people take notice. While Heyman’s career has not concluded, managers and behind-the-scenes folks are in a different category, compared to active wrestlers and it’s time to see Heyman get his due.

#1: Owen Hart

While professional wrestling is more performance than sport, grapplers still make huge sacrifices to their bodies in the name of entertainment. Hell, Owen Hart literally gave his life for wrestling, tragically dying in an entrance stunt gone wrong. The youngest of the legendary Hart family should be recognized for his stellar career, including multiple championship reigns, but litigation between Owen’s widow Martha and WWE will likely kibosh any chance that he makes it into the Hall of Fame. That’s incredibly sad, as Owen was a gifted entertainer who was able to shed the shadow of his renowned wrestling lineage and create a path for himself as a star technician, devoted family man, and infamous practical jokester.

Super Saturday Shot Day: DDT

DDT Shot

  • Rim glass with Honey and Cinnamon Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Honey Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Cinnamon Whisky
  • Dash of Tabasco Sauce

I left off sure-fire Hall of Famers who are still semi-active with WWE, including the Undertaker, Kane, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and others. I also didn’t give much thought to those without padded WWE resumes. Although the company has inducted some with little association to the company, they just wouldn’t be able to crack the top five presented here. In closing, I have to say that it’s about damn time that ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was enshrined in this year’s class.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
The DDT, of course, is the finishing move made popular by WWE Hall of Fame member, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts… you know, as well as being the infamous insecticide chemical! This shot was kind of neat, with the sweet Honey Whiskey coming through first, followed by the warmth of the Cinnamon Whiskey, and finally the burn of the Tabasco Sauce. It all makes for a cool (or hot) little shooter!

November 11 – Burnt Martini

Hall of Fame 2014

Last year, we opened the doors to the Sip Advisor Hall of Fame, inducting five spirits, one entry into the beer and wine wing, and one mixer, as well. It was a festive evening, although nobody really remembers much about it! Without further ado, here is the class of 2014!

Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

Honey Whiskey was the final cut from last year’s Hall of Fame class (with two other whiskeys going in), making it a surefire entry this year. I love this stuff, going so far as to chip one of my teeth when I couldn’t get my flask open and the container was carrying this elixir… not one of my finer moments, but it did occur. Even Mrs. Sip, who has a love-hate relationship with whiskey, is a fan of cocktails made with JD Honey (which would be my porn name if the industry was lucky enough to have me!).

JD Bees

Tanqueray Gin

Although I’m a big fan of gin, this is the first alcohol of that genre to enter the hallowed halls of the Sip Advisor Hall of Fame and it was a tough choice. After a close race between Tanqueray and a competitor brand, the nod went to Tanqueray thanks in large part to the Rangpur variety that I have enjoyed so much, since picking up earlier this year. It has leap-frogged all other options in the phylum to find its place amongst so many other fine spirits.

Appleton Rum

I’m sad to say that Appleton Rum is currently not part of the Sip Advisor liquor colletion after being a mainstay for years. After using and finishing it for Jamaica week, I have yet to replace it and Appleton has become a casualty of having to pick up other rums for the Around the World project, instead. That doesn’t mean that the fondness has faded, however, and it won’t be long before the shelves are stocked again with this fine rum.

Absolut Vodka

Like gin, vodka was absent from the inaugural Sip Advisor Hall of Fame class, an act that must be remedied. Also like gin, it came down to a very difficult decision between a few companies, but in the end, it was inspirational flavours that won the day. Absolut has all the usual suspects available for consumption, but advancements such as their fine City Series, and mixing of interesting flavours has pushed Absolut ahead of its contemporaries and into the hall.

Absolut Flavors

Hiram Walker Peppermint Schnapps

Rounding out the spirit entrants into the Hall of Fame is Peppermint Schnapps, which is great on its own as a shooter, or combined with hot chocolate and a few other drinks. Around Christmas, there are so many events that are favourable to Peppermint Schnapps-spiked beverages. It’s no wonder that mint is often on the Sip Advisor’s breath and emanating from Sip family mugs and thermoses.

1884 Malbec Wine

Wine gets the nod over beer this year in the category they share. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed many lazy Sundays with a bottle of this Argentinian red. I even used it for this year’s Around the World project, when the Sip Advisor visited Argentina. This wine is perfect great evenings with a loved one, relaxing and boozing (the two things the Sip Advisor does better than perhaps anyone else). I like adding a little ice to my wines (even reds), which I hope you little sippers won’t hold against me.

Dr. Pepper

In the mixer wing, Dr. Pepper joins Pepsi, perfectly depicting the evolution of the Sip Advisor’s drinking habits. When I’m looking for an easy-to-make well drink, I’ll often toss in anything from the aforementioned Honey Whiskey to Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (part of last year’s HoF class) and top whatever spirit I’ve chosen with Dr. Pepper. The flavours are more intense with this soda than others available, making for a crisp, tasty, and effervescent experience.

Hall of Fame 2014: Burnt Martini

Burnt Martini

It’s so nice to see everyone all decked out in their finest threads. We sure make a great looking group. I wonder which spirits will finally hear their names called next year for enshrinement… only time will tell!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
As we did last year, with the Dirty Martini, we’re pulling out a very classic recipe for our annual Hall of Fame article. This edition gets the Burnt Martini, which combines two of my favourite alcohol varieties in Gin and Scotch. It was a nice drink, but certainly strong. The smoky flavour of the Scotch at the end of each sip was quite enjoyable.

Iceland – Katla

Viking Power

I’ve always been fascinated by the World’s Strongest Man competitions. Iceland, is home to two of the sport’s greatest icons, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Magnús Ver Magnússon, who combined won the event eight times (four each), ranking Iceland at the top of the powerlifting game. Let’s take a look at these two hulking men and their contributions to strongman lore:

Jón Páll Sigmarsson

Born in Hafnarfjörður (just don’t ask the Sip Advisor to try and pronounce the word), Sigmarsson was the first to win the World’s Strongest Man event four times, doing so in a seven year span. His lowest finish in the tournament was third place in 1989. From humble beginnings, Sigmarsson’s legend grew as he participated in events around the world, including Scotland’s Highland Games.

Sigmarsson was a showman and loved to put on a performance. His charisma came through the TV screen with roars, shouting, and celebrations. During one event of the 1985 World’s Strongest Man, an audience member made the mistake of calling Sigmarrson an Eskimo, to which the powerlifter replied, “I am not an Eskimo, I am a Viking!” before snatching and seemingly with ease, lifting a 495kg cart.

Sigmarsson

Sadly, Sigmarsson passed away at the young age of 32, from a heart attack. He died doing what he loved, lifting, in his own gym, Jakaból (which means Giant’s Nest). While steroid use played a role in his death, there was also a heart defect that others in his family had suffered from. Sigmarsson was survived by a son, Sigmar, and I wonder if he ever followed in the footsteps of his dear ol’ dad?

A fascinating documentary was made on the life of Sigmarsson, titled Larger than Life. The Sip Advisor actually watched it en route to Iceland and it gave me a different perspective going into the country. Sigmarsson was enshrined in the World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame in 2012, one of only three competitors to be selected thus far into the hallowed halls.

PIPES_grande

Magnús Ver Magnússon

Hailing from Egilsstaðir (again, I don’t even know where to begin with the pronunciation of this place name) and already owning one of the greatest villainous names in entertainment history, Ver Magnússon seemed like the perfect fit to take the torch from Sigmarsson and become the next great Icelandic strongman. Like Sigmarsson, Ver Magnússon travelled the world in his early years of lifting, winning competitions across the globe.

Equaling Sigmarsson’s achievement of four World Strongest Man titles (between 1991 and 1996), it should be noted that Ver Magnússon also ranked as the event’s runner-up in 1992 and 1993. That’s domination if I’ve ever seen it. The two Icelandic warriors are only surpassed by Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland, who has five wins to his name.

magnusson

Ver Magnússon reached mass American audiences, not only with his World’s Strongest Man accolades, but with an appearance in a Coors Light commercial, as well as an appearance on The Daily Show, in 2008, where he showed off his still formidable strongman skills. There are rumours that Ver Magnússon has been trying to raise funds to film a movie about his life, titled ‘My Way.’

In the meantime, Ver Magnússon has gone on to own the Jakaból gym, replacing Sigmarsson, and training the next generation of Icelandic Vikings. One of his protégés is Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, nicknamed ‘Thor.’ Bjornsson recently appeared on Game of Thrones as the fearful Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain. Ver Magnússon also judges strongman and powerlifting competitions internationally and remains a face of the sport.

Iceland: Katla

Katla Cocktail

  • 1 oz Brennivin
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

I can’t even imagine lifting some of the items these two behemoths tossed over their shoulder or hurled through the air. Simarsson even set a Guinness World Records by lifting the largest whiskey bottle… that’s a feat the Sip Advisor can truly appreciate!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Brennivin is also known as Black Death, which I don’t fully understand, given the spirit is clear and doesn’t taste bad at all. Icelanders might disagree with me on the taste experience, but I think I know my liquors. This cocktail is named after an active volcano in Iceland, but it will certainly not cause you to erupt and is actually quite nice.

Dominican Republic – Hot Mama

Batter Up

While baseball may have been invented in the United States and is the country’s national pastime, our next stop, the Dominican Republic, is the reigning World Baseball Classic champions (sweeping the tournament) and home to some of the greatest players to ply their craft in the major leagues. Here are some facts about the baseball greats that come from the D.R.:

Ozzie Virgil, Sr.

Along with being the first Dominican player to ever suit up in Major League Baseball on September 23, 1956, Virgil was also the first non-white man to play for the Detroit Tigers. After a career as a utility player (being able to fill a variety of field positions) spanning 1956-69, Virgil entered the coaching game for 19 seasons. The Osvaldo Virgil National Airport was opened in 2006, serving Virgil’s hometown of Monte Cristi.

1985 Topps Virgil

Anyone else notice that father and son’s first names are spelled differently!?

Juan Marichal

Marichal is currently the only Dominican player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is half of what is known as “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched,” as he compiled a 16-inning complete game shutout. Marichal is also remembered for an incident in which he beat catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with his bat, causing a bench-clearing brawl. Marichal and Roseboro eventually became good friends, jointly autographing photos of the episode.

Robinson Cano

When the D.R. won the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Cano was named MVP of the tournament. His father also had a brief MLB career and he was named after Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour barrier in baseball in 1947. Known for his charity work, Cano has a pediatric rehabilitation ward named after him at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Cano is one of the athletes to enlist rapper Jay-Z as his agent and it paid off with a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle.

Pedro Martinez

Martinez was twice denied perfect games (no hits or walks allowed) because of unusual circumstances. In 1995, he was 7⅓ innings deep when he threw a pitch that hit batter Reggie Sanders. The next season, Martinez took a perfect game into extra innings and was hit off in the bottom of the 10th, nullifying his perfect effort. All this, despite being undersized compared to his power pitcher contemporaries. At one time, Martinez signed the richest contract ever given to a pitcher at $75 million over six years.

Pedro Martinez

Can’t forget the time Martinez threw 72-year-old Yankee base coach Don Zimmer to the ground… ah, he had it coming!

Julian Javier

Javier earned the nickname ‘The Phantom’ for his ability to evade runners trying to steal second base. I once tried to steal second base on Mrs. Sip and the results were similar. Showing a hot temper that seems to run through a number of Dominican stars, Javier was once suspended indefinitely for striking an umpire. The penalty was later cut to three days and a fine of $50 (justice served). Given his suspension occurred while playing in the Dominican League and not MLB, this is not entirely surprising.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano is credited with one of baseball’s rarest feats: striking out four batters in one inning… a marvelous feat given a team need only record three outs to end their defensive half of the inning. How it happens, is that when a batter reaches his third strike, if the ball is not caught by the catcher, the batter can then become a runner and reach base, so long as there is no runner already at first and he is not tagged or forced out. Only 67 pitchers have managed the feat over the long history of MLB.

David Ortiz

Big Papi, as he’s affectionately known, is keen on looking after young kids in need. In 2008, he released a charity wine dubbed Vintage Papi, which raised $150,000 for his David Ortiz Children’s Fund. Playing a majority of his career as a designated hitter (ie. not being relied upon to do any fielding) Ortiz holds the all-time record for homers by a DH. His popularity in Boston is off the charts and in 2013, Ortiz finished third in Boston’s mayoral race with 560 write-in votes.

Big Papi - Esther Rolle

For the Good Times fans out there!

Manny Ramírez

Manny Being Manny” was a term used to describe the power hitter’s erratic behavior, including: missing games while suffering from pharyngitis (which just sounds phony), but being spotted in a bar; getting into altercations with his own teammates; disappearing from the field in the middle of a game for a bathroom break; and pushing a 64-year-old traveling secretary when he was unable to fulfill Ramirez’s request for tickets. On the flip side, Ramirez was a clutch slugger and holds the record for most home runs in the playoffs with 29.

Albert Pujols

Try saying his last name without laughing… go ahead, I dare you! Anyway, Pujols (pronounced Poo-Holes… I know, too easy) became an American citizen in 2007, following a perfect score on his citizenship test. Despite this, he has repeatedly tried to aid the people of the D.R. by bringing medical supplies, as well as doctors and dentists to the country to help its poor. His foundation’s annual golf tournament is played to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican.

Albert-Pujols

In case y’all needed proof!

Jose Bautista

The two-time home run champion holds the dubious distinction of being on five different MLB rosters in one season. In 2004, Bautista made his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was then claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and later purchased by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals traded Bautista to the New York Mets, who sent him back to Pittsburgh in another trade. I hope he never got too cozy.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa is best remembered for his 1998 duel with Mark McGwire, as both men attempted to break the home run record of 61 in a season. Sadly, both Sosa and McGwire have since been tainted by baseball’s steroid era and their achievements that memorable season have been tarnished. Coincidentally, Sosa hit his 600th homerun (one of only five players to do so) off Jason Marquis, who was wearing Sosa’s #21 jersey with the team he had the most success with, the Chicago Cubs.

Dominican Republic: Hot Mama

Hot Mama Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Lemon and Orange Wedges
  • 2 oz Mamajuana
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Chili Chocolate Syrup
  • Pinch of Brown Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

The Dominican Republic is second behind only the U.S. for having the most number of players in Major League Baseball. Perhaps one day, they’ll surpass the States in this regard and the Baseball Hall of Fame will have to be more to Santo Domingo or Punta Cana for easier tourist access.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While this drink was good, the Orange Juice hid most of the ingredients. After the first taste, Mrs. Sip and I agreed to douse the cocktail with some more Mamajuana, as well as Chili Chocolate Syrup. The drink probably gets some bonus points thanks to how beautiful it looks with the orange-red blend of colouring.