Florida – Rum Runner

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.

Gatorade

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!”

Golden Girls

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.

Ace Ventura

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.

Tom Petty

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).

Air Conditioning

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.

Gold Instructions

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’.

Rum Runner

Rum Runner

  • 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.

Sip Trips #138: Exploring Europe (Part 3)

Our arrival in Porto, Portugal, unfortunately occurred on a Sunday afternoon, meaning all stores and most restaurants were closed. We didn’t let that deter us though, finding Bao’s Taiwanese Burger. I had the Pulled Pork Bao, while splitting an order of Fries 101 with Mrs. Sip. To drink, I had a bottle of Opo Gyroscope IPA and we both finished our meal with a Happy Ending Shot, made with Licor 43.

As we ate, our laundry was going through a wash cycle at a nearby laundromat. So, as we waited for the load to dry, we popped into Café Candelabro for a beverage. There, I had a bottle of Cristal Preta, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed a glass of wine and Baby Sip gnawed on a drink coaster!

Laundry.jpg

The next day, we went on an excellent Food & Wine Tour. The trek began with traditional egg tarts at Manteigaria, before cod cakes and veal pockets with a generous serving of wine at Imperio. Next, we were off to O Pretinho Do Japao for a charcuterie platter and more wine, followed by Port tasting (white, red and tawny) at Pouriga. The main event was a fantastic bifana em pao sandwich, paired with a Super Bock Lager at Conga. This sandwich, with meat marinated in a mix of beer and peri-peri sauce, was the highlight of the tour, as far as Mrs. Sip and I were concerned. McDonald’s actually has their own version, which I also tried, but obviously it was just not the same.

Following the tour, we made our way to the city’s riverside area, where we joined an English tour of the Calem Port Museum. The tour and five tastings cost us 27€ for me and Mrs. Sip. Unfortunately, Baby Sip was being really fussy during this tour, so we didn’t get to fully enjoy it, but the tastings kind of made the difficult experience a little more tolerable.

Looking to get back on track, we continued along the riverside, ending up at Sandeman Cellars outdoor patio area for some Port cocktails. Mrs. Sip had their Vau Nilla (Sandeman Branco Port, apple, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, bitters), while I went with the Club Ruby (Sandeman Ruby Port, red fruit puree, pepper, lemon juice, mint). The drinks were delicious and the setting spectacular.

Wine Flu

Sadly, our short stay in Porto was over and we were onto the capital city of Lisbon via train. Upon arriving, we ventured to LisBeer, home to a variety of Portuguese craft beers. En route, we passed a Napoleao wine and spirits shop, so decided to have a looksee. There, we found a bottle of Sharish Blue Magic Gin to bring home. While I have yet to use the liquor, it apparently turns pink when you add ice, tonic water or another mix to it. When we finally made it to LisBeer, we selected a pair of 8a Colina Brewing products in the Urraca Vendaval IPA and Ze’ Arnaldo Porter. This bar had a very relaxed atmosphere and we enjoyed our brief visit.

For dinner, we made our way to Lisbon’s Hard Rock Café. The busy restaurant provides priority seating for guests with babies and young children, which was a nice bonus. I ordered the Original Legendary Burger, with a pint of Sagres Bohemia Beer, while Mrs. Sip had the Tupelo Chicken Tenders and a bottle of Sagres Bohemia Wheat Beer. Our food was very good and the staff at the eatery were top notch in our books.

We wrapped the long day with some cherry liqueur tasting at Ginginha do Carmo. While I enjoyed the booze straight up, Mrs. Sip had hers out of a chocolate cup, adding a whole new element to the experience. While these venues are very small, patrons are able to enjoy their drink outside the establishment. Our next morning also began with cherry liqueur, this time from A Ginjinha Registada, the oldest of these hole-in-the-wall shops.

Pace Yourself

Our main tourist activity on this day was a two-hour walking tour of the city. Afterwards, we joined the guide and a few fellow tourists for a drink at Noobai Café. Upon entering the place, I spotted what looked like a beer tasting opportunity, so promptly ordered that menu item. My flight was comprised of four Super Bock Seleccao 1927 varieties, including a Munich Dunkel, Bavaria Weiss, Bengal Amber IPA, and Thames Porter.

We wrapped our second day by visiting a marketplace in the center of the town, sitting down to a plate of various sausages and glasses of red and white sangria. We also picked up a bottle of Rose Wine, which the vendor opened up for us right there, allowing us to walk the stalls of the market with glasses of vino.

Before travelling to Belgium, the final stop of our expedition, we visited Sintra, Portugal, a beautiful little town, highlighted by Pena Palace and a Moorish Castle. Given all the pushing of Baby Sip’s stroller I was doing up and down cobble stone streets, I enjoyed a couple Super Bock cans to reward my efforts.

Dominican Republic – Brash Monk

Amazing Americas

Did you know that breaking out into a round of applause when a plane lands in the Dominican Republic is an enforceable law? If your answer is no, then you’re probably also unaware that Santo Domingo, the capital of the D.R., is the first city of the Americas and where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 to create the first European settlement and Spain’s first capital across the pond. Here is that story:

Christopher Columbus

As some of us will remember, Columbus left Spain in search of new lands with three ships: the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Santa Clara (aka the Niña). After weeks of sailing, Columbus and company finally landed on the island of Hispaniola (what is now split between the Dominican and Haiti) on Dec. 5, 1492.

Things started off friendly between both sides. In classic European style, though, the voyagers first took over using force (once their conquest was resisted by the natives) and later through disease, as smallpox and measles wiped out a great chunk of the Taino population.

As part of the settlement, the Dominican is home to the first cathedral, monastery, castle, and fortress in the Americas. These are all located in Santa Domingo’s Colonial Zone, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heck, there’s even a Hard Rock Café there!

Once Spain conquered the Aztecs and Incas, they forgot about their holdings in the Caribbean and French pirates (think buccaneers searching for wine and cheese, rather than gold and rum) swooped in to take the neglected land. A series of peace treaties between Spain and France first gave what is now Haiti to the French and later what is now the Dominican Republic.

pirate-cat

As for Columbus, he continued to make voyages between the “New World” and “Old World,” which sounds like some sort of science fiction plot. In 1504, Columbus returned to Spain for good. He died on May 20, 1506, as a result of reactive arthritis, which could have been brought on by anything from food poisoning to sexually transmitted diseases (which one would you rather contract!?). Estimates state he was 54 years old.

And here’s where the explorer’s story takes an interesting twist that has helped his legend endure throughout the Dominican Republic, as well as around the world: both the D.R. and Spain claim to be in possession of Christopher Columbus’ remains. And both have legitimate claims to the relic.

Columbus was first buried in Valladolid, Spain, where he passed away, before being moved to the La Cartuja monastery in Seville, Spain, by request of his son Diego. Columbus had stated that he would like his final resting place to be in the New World, but no monument was grand enough yet for this request. Finally, in 1537, Christopher and Diego’s bones were shipped to Santa Domingo and placed in the cathedral there.

Later, came the aforementioned period of French rule. The Spaniards, fearing what the French would do with Columbus’ remains, moved them to Havana, Cuba. The Spanish-American War of 1898 forced the bones to be moved back to Spain, once again. This time, they were housed at the Cathedral of Seville, amongst an elaborate setting, featuring a tomb and statues.

Celebrating Columbus

In 1877, however, a box inscribed “Don Christopher Columbus” was discovered in the Santa Domingo cathedral, which contained human remains showing signs of advanced arthritis. This led the Dominicans to conclude that either Spain took the wrong remains away all those years ago, or that a bait and switch was pulled and the Spanish were in possession of bones not belonging to Columbus.

For their part, Spain had their Columbus artifacts DNA tested with experts finding that the remains in Seville are likely that of the legendary explorer. The movements of Columbus’ bones are also well-documented through their remarkable journey.

The Dominican Republic has never exhumed their version of Columbus’ remains for DNA testing, perhaps for fear that tourism, which the Caribbean nation heavily relies upon, could take a hit without the Columbus connection.

DNA Test

In the Dominican, Columbus is entombed in the Columbus Lighthouse. While recently visiting the country, Mrs. Sip and I went to this landmark with a tour group, but our guide didn’t allow us enough time to actually go into the site… he was more concerned with yapping on his phone all day and pigging out on the lunch buffet.

The truth on the subject probably lies somewhere in the middle and both countries may be in possession of Columbus remains. I suppose it’s kind of fitting that he may be resting in both worlds.

Dominican Republic: Brash Monk

Brash Monk Cocktail

  • 1 oz Mamajuana
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Espresso Vodka
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Chocolate Slice

Columbus’ journey to the New World was made into the feature film 1492, which was released 500 years after his voyage across the Atlantic. I’ve never seen the flick and given its 39% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I just can’t see it rocketing to the top of my ‘to view’ list!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Although a strong cocktail, I enjoyed this martini. Frangelico always burns a little harsher than other liquors, but the flavours were all really nice. The drink is supposed to be garnish with a coffee bean, but given I’m anti-coffee, there was none lying around to use. Mrs. Sip didn’t leave me much milk for the recipe, but I made due with what I had… at least she left me any at all!

April 23 – Highland Berry

London Calling

London is easily one of my favourite cities in the world. As we celebrate St. George’s Day (England’s National Day), let’s take a look at some of my favourite attractions in the kingdom’s capital.

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour

I’ve been on a few of these tours and London has, by far, the most intricate and expansive map. You can hop on/off anywhere across the city, including Buckingham Palace, the famous Harrod’s department store, or Piccadilly Square. There’s only so much you can fit into one day of running around London, so plan ahead and be sure to use their transfer system and get full use out of your bus pass.

London Eye/Thames River Cruise

Going for a circuit in the London Eye, which is located along the banks of the Thames River allows you to see the entire city in all of its glory. When your ride is over, why not hop aboard a boat and sail down river on the world famous Thames. You get to pass by London Bridge, which thankfully is no longer falling down.

West End Theatre

I’ve been privileged to see a number of productions during my stops in London, including the legendary Mouse Trap, Wicked, Avenue Q and The Hounds of Baskerville. On our upcoming visit to the city, Mrs. Sip and I will be seeing The Book of Mormon and Rock of Ages. Surely these shows will measure up to the high standards the theatre district is known for.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Residing at 221B Baker Street, this is where the fictional Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson lived together, solving the various sundry tales that came to their attention. Today, a museum dedicated to the detective and his partner stands at the address. One of the newest incarnations (the BBC series) of Sherlock Holmes mysteries are a must-watch selection from this Sip Advisor.

Rock N’ Roll Tour

London is crammed full of Rock N’ Roll history. Just the number of musicians that died in the city reads like a who’s who of the industry. I’ll never forget being driven through London’s suburbs as our driver jammed out to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. You can complete your tour with a meal at either the Hard Rock Café or Rolling Stones-inspired Sticky Fingers.

Jack the Ripper Tour

The case of Jack the Ripper is a fascinating one. He murdered at least five prostitutes and intrigue into the identity of the killer remains to this day. I have personally accused a number of individuals, with varying results. The tour The Family Sip took a few years back finished at the Sherlock Holmes Pub, where a round of pints were the next mystery to be solved.

Tower of London

Speaking of Jack the Ripper, had he ever been caught, this is likely where he would have been hanged. The Tower is now home to the crown jewels of the royal family. If I could just get my hands on a trinket or two on display here, I’d be set for life. Perhaps Kate Middleton would come hang out with me, too!

Drink #113: Highland Berry

April 23

  • 1.5 oz Hendricks Gin
  • 0.5 oz Raspberry Liqueur
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Top with Tonic Water
  • Garnish with Raspberries

Mrs. Sip insists I also mention the numerous free museums around London. These are wondrous places, but I’m just not a massive museum fan, myself. That said, here’s a drink to merry old England. Thanks for the memories. Cheers!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Not a bad cocktail to salute England with, but the Tonic Water was once again a bit detestable. Thankfully the Hendrick’s Gin and Raspberry Liqueur were both delicious in their own right and the Cranberry Juice made its usual contribution of not hurting a recipe. I loved putting this drink in a goblet… it just felt right!