Morocco – Black, White & Fig

Fun with Fezzes

While it may not be the most stylish headpiece ever adorned, the fez hat is a symbol of Moroccan nationalism, worn to protest French occupation. Hell, even the royal court of Morocco wears the fez, the only Arab nation to do so. Despite all that, today, the fez is seen by some as politically incorrect and viewed with negative connotations. Let’s take a closer look at this polarizing piece of headgear:

Originally called a ‘tarboosh,’ which roughly translated means head cover, this hat dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. It is typically made using red felt with a tassel attached to the top of the cap. When a number of Arab monarchies were overthrown following World War I, the fez was made illegal by the new rulers and those who dared to wear them had their asses tossed in jail.

Fez Cat

The city of Fes, Morocco was actually quite important to the hat’s existence, as it produced the colouring agent, using crimson berries, to turn the hat red. It was the only place that had access to this hue before artificial dyes were later manufactured. Today, the city is known as the ‘Mecca of the West’ and the ‘Athens of Africa’ and not much is mentioned about the hats any longer.

The decline of the fez put it amongst other headdresses that may only be worn for events such as weddings, funerals, or invitations to the royal palace. Many of the male employees at restaurants and hotels in Morocco don the cap to give tourists a little thrill and a trip back through history. You may even get the chance to wear one and snap a few photos, but it will likely set you back a little in the realm of tip money.

If you’d like to have your very own fez, they can be found online. Most sell for under $20 and come in a variety of colour schemes, but ones involving higher quality materials or with some historical value will set you back a little more, in the $100-$150 range. They can also be imported directly from Morocco, adding some legitimacy to the accessory.

Fez Pot

Today, the fez is most commonly recognized as being worn by members of the Shriners men’s fraternity. Despite wearing the fez, the group is not associated with Arabic or Islamic culture and is more in line with Masonry. The group can often be seen participating in parades, while driving around in miniature cars, and also advocating for their Shriners Hospitals for Children, across North America. Members have included presidents and other high-profile politicians, star athletes, musicians, and other notable celebrities.

Others who have worn the hat include: Aladdin and Abu; Moroccan Mole, sidekick to Secret Squirrel in the 1960’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon; Sallah, from the Indiana Jones films; Magician Tommy Cooper; one of the many Doctor Who incarnations; and a number of Disney Theme Parks characters, particularly at the Tokyo and Hong Kong sites. Steely Dan even recorded a song titled Fez for their 1976 The Royal Scam album.

The term FES has also gone on to stand for Foreign Exchange Student, most famously portrayed by the character of that name on That 70’s Show. We never learn Fez’s real name, as the other characters state it’s too hard to pronounce. All we learn is that the first five K’s are silent and his name is made up solely of vowels (which seems to contradict those silent K’s). We also never learn where exactly the character is from and both that mystery and his real name are running gags throughout the series.

Morocco: Black, White & Fig

Black, White & Fig Martini

  • Rim glass with Pepper and Sugar
  • Muddle Apple Slices and Pepper
  • 1 oz Mahia
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Apple and Lime Slice

I personally believe that I would look quite fetching in a fez hat. While it would be similar to a smoking cap, I’d use it solely for getting blitzed and dancing around , preferably with a monkey assistant. I know that sounds like a hundred bad stereotypes, but that’s just how we roll at the Sip Advisor offices!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Mahia is an interesting spirit in that it’s Fig-based. It has a unique taste that I simply can’t place. Mrs. Sip and I both really enjoyed the Pepper & Sugar Rim and it added an different taste to the cocktail that didn’t overpower. For the citrus portion of the martini, you have the option of Lime Juice or Grapefruit Juice. I went with a splash of both because I like my sweet and sour.

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August 16 – Columbo

Private Dicks

I like a good mystery and these gumshoes have offered some of the greatest examples of sleuthing known to the world. They each employ their own tactics, but the end result is always the same: the bad guy is punished for their crime and the good guy feels some sort of redemption. Here are the Top 5 detectives:

#5: Rescue Rangers

Sometimes, some crimes go slipping through the cracks (did anyone out there sing that opening!?)… and that’s when you need the Rescue Rangers: Chip, Dale, Gadget, and Monterey Jack (plus his little buddy Zipper). This classic Disney Afternoon animation block cartoon sees the legendary Chip and Dale and company solve crimes, such as missing pets and all the other stuff the real police don’t feel like investigating. The gang also regularly battle such villains as Fat Cat and Professor Norton Nimnul. Interestingly, Chip and Dale weren’t even originally planned to be part of the show, but were used to add some established Disney characters to the series.

Chip & Dale

#4: Ace Ventura

Of the Pet Detective variety, Ace is an unconventional investigator and devout animal lover. When hired to solve the case of missing Miami Dolphins mascot and real-life dolphin, Snowflake, he becomes embroiled in a complex mystery involving a disgruntled ex-player and Dolphins superstar quarterback Dan Marino. Can he crack the case before the Dolphins’ next big game and bring Snowflake home safely? This role launched the career of Jim Carrey and the surprise hit even produced a sequel, When Nature Calls, which sadly didn’t live up to the first film.

#3: Magnum P.I.

Thomas Magnum is a fine private detective. He’s willing to work on everything from cases involving cheating spouses to more serious stuff like drug rings and assassination plots. The former Vietnam veteran gets a ton of help from his buddies TC, Rick and even Higgins, all while living the good life in Robin Masters’ Hawaiian home. Played by the dreamy Tom Selleck, the iconic role had to be good, as he even gave up playing Indiana Jones thanks to the series’ shooting schedule. There has been talk of a movie or TV series remake, but I just don’t know if it could ever measure up to the original.

Magnum Man

#2: Sherlock Holmes

Along with his companion (and I don’t mean to make it sound like they are lovers… although I’m sure some have explored this premise), Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes is certainly London’s finest sleuth and is perhaps the world’s greatest. The creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes has appeared in countless forms of media. Some of my favourites include the recent movies with Robert Downey, Jr., the current BBC TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the animated Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. With Holmes, you must always remember that the game is afoot!

#1: Lt. Columbo

I grew up on the disheveled detective and it’s probably because of him that I haven’t become a criminal mastermind… well, that and to be a mastermind, you need to have a fully-functioning brain. Peter Falk is a god damn legend in my books and all Mrs. Sip can do is roll her eyes when I stumble upon a Columbo mini-movie and have a brief celebration. Although she’s often mentioned, we never see Mrs. Columbo throughout the entirety of the series and we also never learn Lt. Columbo’s first name. Many have speculated that it’s Frank, as it appears when his LAPD ID badge is shown close up. Oh, one more thing, Columbo loves chili as much as he loves solving murders!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Columbo

Columbo Shot

  • 0.75 oz Campari
  • 0.25 oz Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cigar

The Sip Advisor would make a horrible detective. Sure, I like solitude and spying on folks can be fun, but you can only get so drunk while on a stakeout and I would find the job cramping my current lifestyle. Plus, there’s the whole critical thinking aspect and all you little sippers know that isn’t in my wheelhouse!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I’m not sure if this shot (or cocktail I’ve shrunken down to shooter form) was actually meant in homage of the greatest detective of all-time, but I’m using it in that way anyway… there is an Italian connection between the character and Campari, so maybe there’s a match there. And how about that garnish!? Columbo was often seen smoking a stogie, so why not include it with the shooter. It all goes down okay and that bitter Campari aftertaste doesn’t kill like it usually does.

Denmark – Cloudberry Dream

Playtime Pleasures

Mrs. Sip and I recently viewed The LEGO Movie, which the Sip Advisor believes is a must-see attraction for young and old alike. It was the final piece, if you will, that cemented LEGO being a topic discussed while we visit Denmark as part of the Around the World liquor showcase. This fascinating product has a rich history and one that should be shared with all you little sippers:

Humble Beginnings

Ole Kirk Christiansen started LEGO when his carpentry business was faltering in 1932. Christiansen chose the name by combining the Danish words LEG and GODT, which means “play well” together. In Latin, LEGO means “I put together”. He used the excess lumber he had to make wooden toys, which he sold locally. The LEGO blocks we know and love today were the result of Christiansen buying the rights to Kiddicraft blocks after the inventor committed suicide. A patent for LEGO’s ‘toy building brick’ came in 1961, which improved on the Kiddicraft design and the rest is history.

Backwards Compatible

Statistically Speaking

560 billion LEGO pieces have been manufactured as of 2013 and only 18 of every million bricks come out defective. Seven LEGO sets are sold every second around the world. LEGO produces more tires than companies like Goodyear and Bridgestone. In fact, they make 381 million each year… sure they’re miniature, but that’s a lot of rubber! If this ever helps a reader with a pub trivia night, you owe me a Coke.

Across the Universe

While you can build just about anything using your imagination (porn theatre, strip club, grow-op, meth lab, etc.), LEGO collections allow kids to travel anywhere from floating through space, to sailing the seas with pirates, to battling dragons and defending castles. 13 LEGO sets have actually been brought to the International Space Station to see how the pieces react in gravity.

Good Company

While today, LEGO has licensing deals with a number of commodities (Batman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc.), it all began in 1999 when the toy company partnered with Star Wars. Along with the previously mentioned sets, the likes of Santa Claus, Spider-Man, and even Steven Spielberg have been immortalized as LEGO mini figures.

lego-piece-missing

Home Sweet Home

A life-size LEGO house was built in 2009 by James May, for his Toy Stories TV series. With the help of 1,200 volunteers, the two-floor, four bedroom abode was constructed using 3.3 million bricks and also had a wooden support structure. May spent one night in the home, and ironically said he slept like a brick. The house was demolished after an agreement to have it sent to LEGOLAND fell through because of costs. The pieces were donated to charity, however.

Theme Party

Sticking with LEGOLAND, there are six LEGO theme parks around the globe, including resorts in Billund, Denmark (home of the first factory); Windsor, United Kingdom; Günzburg, Germany; San Diego, USA; Winter Haven, USA; and Nusajaya, Malaysia. There is also a chain of LEGOLAND Discovery Centres with five in the U.S., two in Germany, and one each in the U.K., Japan, and Canada (stupid Ontario gets all the cool attractions!).

Work of Art

Nathan Sawaya has gained a cult following as a block artist – wouldn’t it be considered an offshoot of cubism!? – using LEGO bricks to make renowned pieces of art. Sawaya quit his job as a lawyer (perhaps this is also in Mrs. Sip’s future!) in 2001 to dedicate his life to LEGO art and it’s worked out pretty well for him. His show ‘The Art of the Brick’ is touring museums across the United States. He’s even made a life-sized Stephen Colbert.

Stepping on Lego

Creation Theory

Speaking of using LEGO for art, starting in 2001 (that seems to be the year men around the world went nuts for the toy), Brendan Powell Smith began creating illustrations from the Bible, using LEGO. His website, The Brick Testament contains nearly 4,000 images telling more than 300 stories. Perhaps this will inspire the Sip Advisor to take up religion… no, I think I’ll pass.

Honourable Mention

LEGO was named Toy of the Century in 2000, narrowly beating out the Teddy Bear, Barbie Doll, and Action Man. The three runners up went on to form an alliance, looking to overthrow LEGO from its lofty perch through propaganda, a smear campaign, and other dirty tactics. Then, Barbie Doll and Action Man had an affair that upset Teddy Bear and caused a irreparable rift within the coalition!

Denmark: Cloudberry Dream

Cloudberry Dream Drink Recipe

  • 2 oz Cloudberry Liqueur
  • 1 oz Akvavit
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

I was huge into LEGO as a youngster and one of the few things I’m looking forward to as a future father is bringing home my kid’s first LEGO set… then ignoring my duties as a dad and husband, playing with children’s toys for hours on end!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
An invention as great as LEGO deserves to be partnered with a drink this delicious! It has me looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Akvavit. The Cloudberry Liqueur was as wonderful as it has been in the past and throw in all the citrus elements and everything’s coming together perfectly!

September 29 – Negroni

Bittersweet

There are some legendary roles that have been passed up by actors and actresses for various reasons. That probably made some of these folks pretty bitter… let’s take a look!:

Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

The Magnum P.I. star and his moustache were slated to play the role of archeologist Indiana Jones, but Selleck wasn’t allowed to vacate his TV role long enough to film the movie. The role went to Harrison Ford instead and three sequels followed. Selleck has done okay since, but lost out on playing such a treasured character. At least Selleck didn’t have to suffer through the backlash The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received.

tom-selleck-indiana-jones

Molly Ringwald – Vivian (Pretty Woman) / Molly (Ghost)

The 1980’s icon missed the boat on a couple big roles in 1990 including Vivian in Pretty Woman and Molly in Ghost, played by Julia Roberts and Demi Moore respectively. Instead, Ringwald was living and acting in France. When she returned stateside, she had parts in TV movies and series but hasn’t done anything of note since her heyday decades ago. Roberts and Moore on the other hand enjoyed strong careers after these movies.

Will Smith – Neo (The Matrix)

I am certainly not a fan of The Matrix trilogy of movies and apparently, neither was Smith. The Fresh Prince turned down the character of Neo, saying he found the script too hard to follow. Instead, Smith would go on to make Wild Wild West, a universally panned film, around the same time. Smith has also admitted that Keanu Reeves was perfect for the role, which I take to mean the character was always intended to be one-dimensional, monotone, and boring.

will smith as neo

Mel Gibson – Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman)

With all the uproar over the selection of Ben Affleck to play Batman, it’s interesting to note actors who previously passed on the iconic role. Gibson turned down the offer for Tim Burton’s 1989 film, believing the movie would be a flop… and this is all before his high-profile meltdown. Michael Keaton, of course, stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park before the franchise took a downswing with Val Kilmer and George Clooney behind the mask.

Sean Connery – Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

The former James Bond legend passed on the role of Gandalf, reasoning that he didn’t “get” fantasy (because, you know, the James Bond plots are super realistic) and instead went on to make The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a movie that involves superheroes and is based on comics. Yup, that seems much more grounded in reality. Connery was paid $17 million for his part in the League, but it also pushed him to retire from acting. Had he accepted the Gandalf role and the offered 15% of the box office, he could have made $400 million through the trilogy!

sean-connery-gandalf

Denzel Washington – Det. David Mills (Se7en)

Denzel reportedly turned down the role later played by Brad Pitt, saying the movie was too dark. Apparently, he later regretted passing on the part, but he did alright for himself eventually, with an Oscar win for Training Day. Se7en launched Pitt into superstardom and also paired him with director David Fincher. Over the years, the two would also combine their efforts for Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Kevin Costner – Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption)

Costner was huge in the early 90’s and his acceptance of the Andy Dufresne role would have helped him avoid the total bomb that became his Waterworld passion project. After Waterworld, it took quite some time for Costner to rid himself of the stench of failure (must have been some stinky water on that set) and some could argue he’s never fully recovered. Tim Robbins took the Andy Dufresne part and went on to enjoy a renaissance of sorts.

Drink #272: Negroni

Negroni Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire East)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Garnish with an Orange Twist

I sincerely hope that every actor and actress whose career was launched by one of these roles originally turned down sends that person some kind of gift basket each year, thanking them for their poor judgment and decision making. Join us tomorrow for part two of this franchise!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
I knew going into this cocktail that I wasn’t going to like it very much. I find Campari’s bitterness to be too harsh and the Sweet Vermouth wasn’t able to bring it back to a tolerable level. I’m unclear as to why this has become such a classic cocktail. I guess there are enough people out there that prefer bitter drinks.

June 17 – Mojave Green Rattlesnake

Fear Factor

I am an ophidiophobe. There, I said it. The first step on the road to recovery is admitting what I am. In layman’s terms: much like Indiana Jones, Conan the Barbarian, Johnny Cash, Andre the Giant, Pee Wee Herman, and Bam Margera (among other legendary characters of my ilk!), The Sip Advisor has a deathly fear of snakes.

It could stem from a cousin chasing me around when we were younger with a Tung Lashor (He-man and the Masters of the Universe) action figure. This toy had a long darting tongue that could be launched by rolling a wheel on the villain’s back. I can still vividly see my pose-able nightmare.

Tung Lashor

Heh, you’re not so tough anymore, are ya… with your fruit roll-up tongue!

I was also a wrestling fan as a wee lad and watching Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts bring his menagerie of serpents with him to the ring (and often use them on a fallen foe). This surely had some psychologically damaging effects on me… well, I guess no more so than the average wrestling maniac.

Over the years, I’ve tried to make peace with the slithering ones and it is on my bucket list to work up the courage to touch a live snake. That may be harder to do than I ever thought, as just going near the snake aquariums at any zoo give me the no-no feeling.

I wrote a psychology paper once, detailing my efforts to get over my fear. It included looking at pictures of snakes and watching snake movie and TV programs, working all the way up to going into a pet store and walking right up to the snake tanks without hurriedly and nervously speeding by. I got a decent grade on that paper, but I never actually went into the store. A good drinker knows that recovery can be faked!

Apparently actress Salma Hayek spent two months with therapists getting over her fear of snakes so she could take the part of Satanico Pandemonium in From Dusk Till Dawn. Director Robert Rodriguez tricked her into thinking that Madonna was about to sign on for the role, prompting Hayek to face her fears.

Satanico Pandemonium

I’m a little surprised the snake is so limp!

All that said, I do have a fascination with the creatures, often watching movies and TV programs involving serpents. Although, I have to admit, when I am watching any of the Anaconda movies or the Austin Stevens: Snakemaster biography series, I’m careful to keep my feet off the ground, for fear that a snake is waiting under the couch, poised to attack me with its toxic venom.

After all, my boy Launchpad McQuack thought he was okay with snakes until one tried to eat him. All we need is for everyone to have an experience like this and we’ll all be on the same page, fighting a common enemy. Talk about world unity y’all.

Drink #168: Mojave Green Rattlesnake

Mojave Green Rattlesnake Drink

  • 1.5 oz 1800 Añejo Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Garnish with Gummy Snakes

I much prefer my snakes shaken and stirred in a beverage, rather than slithering toward this sexy beast we know as The Sip Advisor. I’ve even mustered the courage to have eaten fried rattlesnake before. I know I’ve likely disappointed some of you, to let it be known that I, the ‘Slicker of Liquor’ do indeed fear something. A drink of this and living with yourself will be much easier.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was originally on the schedule all the way back in April. I had this vision of garnishing the cocktail with a gummy snake, which seemed easy enough to achieve. And then it took two months for me to track one down. Ironically, on the same day I finally found one in a candy store in London, Ma Sip located one in Hawaii. As for the martini itself, the best part is the smoky aftertaste that comes from the Añejo Tequila, rounding out the flavours of the Melon Liqueur and Sweet & Sour Mix.