Flavour Revolution – Elderflower

Spiritual Safety

The Elder Tree, producer of the elder berry, is surrounded by tales of myths and legends, some good and some bad. Some believe the tree keeps evil spirits at bay, while others think that cutting the tree released a force known as the Elder Mother (who sounds like the sweetest lady you could ever meet) would be unleashed on the cutters, to take revenge. I’d like to believe in the former, so let’s look at some other items believed to ward off baddies!

Horseshoe

This is why the Sip Advisor always keeps a box of Lucky Charms on hand! If you were to hang a horseshoe above your door, it was believed that witches couldn’t enter your humble abode. It was also said to pass along good luck to all that passed by the symbol. This is why folks working at barns are the happiest people around!

toilet seat horseshoes

Wind Chimes

Along with providing sweet, melodic sounds during storms, wind chimes are thought to scare off evil. They can also scare off humans and animals who are opposed to loud noises. Ma and Pa Sip have a large collection of wind chimes on their back porch, so I guess their home is one of the safest places in my network of hiding possibilities.

Arrowheads

Do you live in a not-so-safe neighbourhood? Compton, I’m looking at you! Well, try this little theory: arrowheads above your doorway. It’s believed by some that burglars won’t be able to enter your home, thanks to these spiked tips. My theory is that a thief would see these arrowheads and assume the person inside the home was just too crazy to mess with!

Wishbone

Okay, this one is a little bizarre (yes, more so than those already listed). If you’re lonely and in search of love, place a wishbone above your door on New Year’s Day and a relationship will soon be yours. Oh, you’ll also have to chant “Lover, come hither!” three times fast. Sounds like a debauchery-filled night for Mrs. Sip and I… she’ll deny that, though!

human wishbone

Door Gods

Given the Sip Advisor’s penchant for holding doors open for people, I thought they were referring to me, but apparently this dates back to China’s Tang Dynasty. The two gods (generals of Tang Taizong) come together and face each other, while also intimidating evildoers. Just don’t put the gods back-to-back, or you’re basically welcoming bad mojo.

Garlic

Let’s wrap things up with the world famous vampire repellent. I mean, garlic is often cited as having a myriad of health benefits, but nothing is better towards a healthy lifestyle than repelling evil spirits, am I right!? While not all cultures love garlic and its pungent odor, I for one will continue eating fries, bread, and everything else made with it!

Flavour Revolution: Le Soirée

Le Soiree Martini

There are many other items meant to repel evil spirits, but I like to keep these articles short, in order to stave off the wrath of Mrs. Sip and her editing skills! Stay safe, my little sippers!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have no idea where I found this recipe, but I did record it on my phone and wanted to use it all along for this project. It was pretty good, with the bitter Hendrick’s Gin getting some balance from the sweet St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. To turn it up a notch in the future, I might sub in Lemon-Lime Soda for Club Soda, just to get an extra citrus burst.

Sip Trips #9 – Home Cooking

With Mrs. Sip out of town again this weekend – I know, I really have to rein that girl in! – the Sip Advisor spent his time out in the ‘burbs with the fam. While this article may not be as wild as a summary of Mrs. Sip’s trip to Las Vegas with the gals, I still made sure to get up to some fun!

It may not be booze related, per se, but I finally got around to trying the new McDonald’s CBO (Chicken, Bacon, Onion) on Friday and I have to say that I was impressed with the sandwich. I’ve really been into crispy onions – whether in ring or straw form – lately, and you can’t go wrong with bacon and chicken. I fully endorse the burger and advise anyone out there interested, to try this item before it’s gone.

McDonald's Classy

Saturday saw the Sip Advisor help Pa Sip with his construction of a new pool shed. My role was mixing the concrete and my experience behind the bar came in handy. We were basically throwing together one part concrete mix, with three parts navijack, topping with water, and garnishing with a trowel!

To reward me for my assistance, Ma Sip picked me up a pack of the Four Winds IPA, which was a nice treat for all my hard work. I also took the opportunity to open up my parent’s bottle of Rhubarb Tea Liqueur, for a future Flavour Revolution post.

On Sunday, we made our way to the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub in Cloverdale for a family event. Given the legend that I am, I decided to take advantage of their Sunday Caesar special (a double, of course!), as well as picking up a pint of their Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager. Dinner is always better with a few new friends!

Sober Decisions

Next up, Ma and Pa Sip decided to visit yours truly during the week, and we took our appetites to Jimmy’s Taphouse, which has long been one of the Sip Advisor’s favourite local watering holes. The poutine here is to die for and with great happy hour specials; it can be had for half price, every day of the week.

Over the course of dinner, I enjoyed both a pint of Phillip’s Blue Buck Ale and Hoyne’s Dark Matter. Talk about some serious great contributions from Victoria! Blue Buck is a solid beer, while the Dark Matter is a great starting point if you’re interested in getting into dark beers.

With Mrs. Sip’s return home, came the return of some duty free alcohol – like Christmas in… what month is it? Anyhoo, Mrs. Sip grabbed me bottles of Hendrick’s Gin and Appleton Rum, both of which are favourites in the Sip Advisor’s bar cabinet and were running low. Isn’t she so awesome!

December 25 – Merry Christmas

Wrapped Records

As with almost everything, Christmas can produce a ton of World Records. From largest this, to smallest that; most expensive, to oldest. Here are some of the notable records I was able to dig up:

O Tannenbaum

Christmas is a time of stuffing your face full of chocolate and other treats, but it would take an entire harem (all I want for Christmas!) to devour this particular world record. Chocolatier, Patrick Roger, created the world’s Tallest Chocolate Christmas Tree in 2010. The structure stood 32-feet high and weighed 8,000 pounds. Roger’s project took an entire month to finish and used $45,000 worth of dark chocolate. Pieces were broken off and sold with proceeds going to charity. Now all we need to find is the world’s largest glass of milk and we’re good to go!

Treats for Breakfast

Family Jewels

It’s really no surprise that the world’s Most Expensively Decorated Christmas Tree can be found in the United Arab Emirates (although I am surprised the country celebrates Christmas at all). There, at the Emirates Palace Hotel, guests can marvel at the 43-foot tall tree that has been decorated with $11 million worth of jewelry. This includes precious gems, diamonds, and pearls. What else would you expect from a joint that houses a gold ATM and serves a cognac that goes for $2,000 per serving.

So Much for Tinsel

Sticking with the theme of “most expensive”, Hallmark Jewellers in the UK created the world’s Most Expensive Christmas Decoration in 2009, with their ball that includes 18-carat white gold, encrusted with 1,578 diamonds. The decoration is circled by two red rings, comprised of 188 rubies. The ball’s estimated value is $130,000 and took an entire year to craft. Creator Mark Hussy, owner of Hallmark Jewellers wants the company to be as famous for Christmas as Faberge for their eggs. I’d probably promptly drop this decoration and have it shatter all over the floor, as I did with the decoration Mrs. Sip gave to me this Christmas.

Red and White Pride

I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone has at one time or another owned a Santa hat. Well, you could have been part of a world record. In 2010, 872 people gathered in Brockton, Massachusetts – all decked out in their Santa’s hat best – to set the record of Most Santa Hat Wearers in One Place. I would have thought the number to be bigger, which shows this record is up for the taking. I don’t like crowds, however, so you can count me out.

Santa Hats

Small Frosty

No, that’s not a drink order at Wendy’s. It’s actually for the world’s Smallest Snowman, created by the National Physics Laboratory in London. Using tools meant for working with nano-particles and welded together by miniscule samples of platinum, two tiny tin beads were fused together to form the snowman’s body. From there, an ion beam was used to give the snowman a face. I don’t think this version of Frosty would melt in the sun, but it might easily be misplaced.

Claus Collection

We venture to Canada for this record, where retired teacher Jean-Guy Laquerre has amassed the Largest Santa Claus Memorabilia Collection, including 20,000 drawings, toys, and figurines. I told you all the French were a little crazy! Laquerre began his collecting ways in 1988 with a few items. Now it takes him a full two weeks to get all his treasures set up on display. If it takes that long to set-up and tear down, one has to wonder why he doesn’t just leave the collection up year round. I guess he’s not as lazy as the Sip Advisor!

Early Writings

In 1992, the world’s Oldest Letter to Santa was discovered (now coming in at over 100 years old). Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is where the message was found: inside a fireplace. The letter, written by two young siblings in 1911, asked for a baby doll, jacket with hood, pair of gloves, toffee treats, and cash money (a gold penny and a silver sixpence). I wonder what my early Christmas lists requested.  Probably peace on earth… I have always been a worldly treasure!

Drink #359: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas, as they read this spectacular post. Now it’s time for me to get back to my presents… oh yeah, and family, too. Have an awesome day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This recipe is very similar to a Cosmopolitan with a few differences. Gin is subbed in for Vodka, Lemon Juice for Lime Juice, and Club Soda added to the recipe. It all makes for a drink as good as the Cosmo, especially when done cocktail style.

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!

April 21 – Gin & Tonic

GIN-Trification

Throughout this 365 drink-per-day challenge, I’ve tried to avoid recipes that are simply [insert alcohol] and [insert mixer]. It pisses me off when liquor companies run ads promoting recipes for their drinks and they’re so basic. I get it; you don’t have time to list a never ending set of ingredients, but at least give me something a little more substantial. That all said, you simply can’t have Gin Week without making a good ol’ fashioned Gin & Tonic!

Now here are some facts about gin that will surely have you salivating for a cocktail:

Gin & Tonic Diet

The libation was actually created in Holland, not England, where it is often associated thanks to all of the London Dry Gin companies (Beefeater, Gordon’s, Plymouth, etc.). In fact, gin’s name comes from the Dutch word for juniper, jenever. Juniper is a key ingredient in gin production and gives it that pine needle taste.

Gin is meant to be mixed with other ingredients, which help the spirit come to life. I remember shooting gin when I was a lot younger and while it would get you drunk, it was not the tastiest of liquors.

The alcohol was once public enemy #1, as in its earlier years it was often a poisonous blend of ingredients made by cheap distillers. Many poor Londoners died from drinking gin and the death rate was higher than the birth rate in the slums of the city. And we all thought Jack the Ripper was evil.

Keeping gin consistently badass, it was a very popular liquor during Prohibition because it could be manufactured anywhere, like in a bathtub, and didn’t have to be stored or aged in barrels. I bet Ernie and his rubber ducky wouldn’t mind having a soak in a Gin-filled tub… at least I wouldn’t mind. I happen to think I would have done well during the Prohibition Era, whether as a gin joint operator, bootlegger, distiller, etc. Just give me one of those wicked tommy guns and let’s rock!

Gin Drinking

The Philippines is the world’s largest consumer of gin. The gin & tonic drink is popular in tropical regions because gin was traditionally used to mask the taste of quinine, which happens to be the cure for malaria and is now also the key ingredient in tonic water (get it? hence the name tonic water). Unfortunately, the amount of quinine in tonic water today is so minimal, you would have to drink about 67 G&Ts per day to get enough of the tonic in order to actually prevent malaria.

Gin used to be the main ingredient in many popular cocktails, such as the martini, but thanks to Smirnoff Vodka’s very successful ad campaign “Vodka leaves you breathless”, vodka has often been substituted for gin. Further cocktails have also seen gin removed in favour of other spirits.

Finally, there is some controversy over the garnishing of gin-based drinks, particularly today’s recipe. While most mixologists insist that a lime be used to accentuate a G&T, in some places, such as the United Kingdom, lemon wedges are sometimes substituted. Some experts have attacked this substitution, calling it an “uncultured alternative”. Poor little lemons… what did they ever do to earn so much ire? (except give people canker sores).

Drink #111: Gin & Tonic

Gin and Tonic

  • Muddle three Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Gin (I used Hendricks)
  • Top with Tonic Water
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

So, even with a very basic recipe, I found a way to spice it up a little with some muddled lime. I always forget how much I dislike Tonic Water until I make a G&T and then it all comes back to me. Once again, I have sacrificed myself for the good of all Sip Nation!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This is a solid drink, but I’ve never been a huge fan of tonic water. What helped make the concoction a little more palatable was muddling the lime wedges and leaving them in the drink to counteract against the beyond bitter tonic.

March 19 – PAMA-Jama

Thunder Shower

We ain’t talking about a weather system… when Mama and Papa Sip were getting hitched, their friends threw them a party where each guest brought a bottle of alcohol for the happy couple to set them up with a nice bar for the start of a new life together (marriage drives a person to alcoholism joke inserted here). Wanting to pass that tradition on, the Parents Sip planned the same party for Mrs. Sip and me, about a month prior to our wedding. This was our Thunder Shower!

Frankly, it was a wonderful break from the daily wedding planning and a chance to gauge where we were at with the guests who would soon be sharing our special day with us.

Wedding Planning

With the party being Mexican Fiesta-themed (the food included a make your own nachos, tacos and burritos bar – what can I say, Mama and Papa Sip know how to throw a good bash) we were given four bottles of tequila, as well as a couple bottles of margarita mix. Some favourites I’m known for knocking back like Fireball Whiskey, Bacardi Rum, and Smirnoff Vodka were also bequeathed to us.

There were also some new tastes to try, which I’m always happy to oblige. Cousin Sip contributed a bottle of cucumber-infused Hendricks Gin, which I have taken a particular liking to. One set of friends passed along a bottle of Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, as well as a bottle of Cointreau. Mama and Papa Sip gifted us a bottle of Chocolate Whipped Vodka, which quickly became a favourite of Mrs. Sip, whose wine and champagne collection was topped up, too.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening with great food and drinks, good fun with friends and family, and the beginning of our wedding celebration summer.

Marriage

Why do I bring this event up? Well, for a number of reasons. My forum provides me with another chance to thank all of our guests for their generosity and truly show them how much we appreciated and enjoyed their gifts. Next, because I think every couple should get to enjoy a similar event and finally, because today’s drink features PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, a bottle we received at our Thunder Shower and although we only recently opened it, the results have been thoroughly enjoyable thus far.

Drink #78: PAMA-Jama

Pama-Jama Cocktail

  • 8 Muddled Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Dash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedge

This has to be one of my favourite drinks of the project to date. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the liqueur, as I don’t have any recollection of having actually ever eaten a real pomegranate, but once again life proves that as long as alcohol is inside something, it will be enjoyed (or at least consumed). How much did I like the drink? Well, given I’m making at least 365 drinks over the next calendar year, I try not to double up too often. I ended up making three of these for myself and just had to share the recipe with Mrs. Sip. Track it down and give it a shot (literally!). You won’t be disappointed.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
A fantastic drink… I can’t say enough good things about this cocktail. It was the first time I busted out my PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur and what a wonderful mix I was treated with to begin my relationship with the spirit!

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.