Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

Israel – Bloodbath

Pilgrimage & Play

Israel has the greatest number of museums per capita in the world. Therefore, it should be no surprise, especially given the country’s religious and historical significance, that many travelers are willing to risk their own security to visit the nation. Let’s take a look at some of those important religious tourism sites:

Western Wall

Also known as the ‘Wailing Wall,’ this location is recognized as one of the most sacred sites to Jewish people and is a favourite pilgrimage spot. It is commonly believed to have been built by Herod the Great, although the project was not finished during his lifetime. Visitors have been known to stuff papers, containing their prayers, into cracks the have developed in the structure. Conflicts between Muslims and Jews occurred frequently at the Western Wall, with both groups laying claim to the fortification. The wall was also the site of a major zombie attack in the film World War Z.

Western Wall

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is located next to the Western Wall, and no, it’s not a temple dedicated to wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson. It is one of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture and has a reputation of being one of the most recognizable sites in Jerusalem and Israel. The shrine’s centerpiece, the Foundation Stone, holds great significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Also known as the Well of Souls, Jews believe it to be the link between Heaven and Earth and typically face it while praying.

Masada

Translated into English, Masada means “fortress” and it was the site of numerous clashes throughout history. It is thought to be the first site that Herod the Great fortified. Masada has become one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions, seen by the citizens of Israel as a symbol of resistance and holding religious significance, as a result. Masada became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and today, visitors can hike up one of two trails (the Snake Trail and the Roman Ramp) or simply ride a cable car to the peak. There’s also an audio-visual lightshow presented each night.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Located within the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, this is the spot where Jesus was said to have been crucified, as well as where he was thought to have been buried. Therefore, it is also where Jesus’ resurrection would have occurred. All of these assumptions make the Church of the Holy Sepulchre a popular pilgrimage site for Christians. Among the church’s treasures are the Stone of Anointing, the Rock of Cavalry, the Aedicule, the Cross of Golgotha, the Prison of Christ, and the Altar of the Crucifiction.

jesus_resurrection

Sea of Galilee

Israel’s largest freshwater lake is said to be the sight of many of Jesus’ miracles, including walking on water, calming the storm, the boatload of fish, and feeding 5,000 people. The Sea of Galilee is also where Jesus recruited at least four of his disciples (Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, John the Apostle, and Saint James the Great) and conducted his Sermon on the Mount. Tourism along the shores today is largely made up of Christian pilgrims, who can walk along the 40-mile ‘Jesus Trail,’ which was opened by the Israeli government in 2011.

The Dead Sea

One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, the Dead Sea gets its name because animals and other life forms can’t thrive in the area. The Dead Sea Scrolls, made up of 981 religious texts were discovered here in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Israelites were said to have lived in caves near the Dead Sea during biblical times and King David used the Dead Sea for sanctuary. Herod the Great turned the Dead Sea into one of the world’s first health resorts and to this day, the sea’s water is used for a number of different therapies, including psoriasis (skin disorder), rhinosinusitis (nasal condition), and osteoarthritis (knee ailment).

Israel: Bloodbath

Bloodbath Wine Cocktail

Other popular attractions include Yad Vashem (Israel’s official memorial for Holocaust victims), The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, along with all those museums located around the country. I’ve never really been too hot on the prospect of travelling to Israel and while writing this article didn’t convert me, it does give me pause to think about the possibility.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail looked like a neat one to try and I suppose the name also goes well with the subject matter of this article given all the blood that has been spilled in the name of religion in and around Israel. This drink was really good… I’m talking great even. That Cranberry-Lemonade mix I’ve been using the last few months is a real gem. Most interesting about the wines from Israel is that many of them are kept kosher and can only be handled by observant Jews, while not including certain ingredients.

December 18 – Holiday Hopper

Christmas Vacation

I prefer to spend Christmas at home with family and friends, but that’s not for everyone. Some like to get out and see the world, leaving the comforts of familiarity far behind. If that sounds like you, here are some of the best places to travel to for Christmas joy!

Leavenworth, Washington

This quaint little Bavarian-themed town is great to visit at all times of the year, but it particularly comes alive at Christmas, beginning with its annual lighting festival. The Family Sip spent a few Christmases in Leavenworth when the Sip Advisor was a wee little sipper. We enjoyed many hours playing in the snow, going cross country skiing, and causing a general ruckus in the hotel halls. It’s hard to not be in the full Christmas spirit when you’re so surrounded by it.

leavenworth-lighting

New York, New York

One would probably start by visiting Rockefeller Center for outdoor ice skating and ogling the giant Christmas tree placed in the center of the plaza, but I for one would try to relive Kevin McCallister’s adventures from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York… especially if I can convince a couple cons to provide me with willing Wet Bandits impersonators! For Pa Sip, there’s also the Holiday Train Show, featuring numerous model trains rumbling through an intricate New York landscape.

Lapland, Finland

Home to Santa Claus Village and Santa Park and located near the Arctic Circle, this area has long been considered Santa Claus’ base of operations, where reindeer and polar bears (of the Coca-Cola swilling variety) can be found inhabiting the region. It’s here that you can get a photo with one of the most legit looking Santa’s I’ve ever seen… perhaps he is the real thing. Whoa, mind blown, I’m off to Lapland!

Disney Theme Parks

You never need a specific reason to go to a Disney park, but seeing the resorts at Christmas is a must at some point in every person’s life. I love how rides like the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World are updated for the holiday season and the park’s Christmas Parade and Christmas Fireworks Extravaganza are spectacles that should be witnessed. Add to that all the Christmas treats, merchandise, lights, costumes, and everything else and it’s a holiday overload… in a good way!

Christmas-at-Disney

Bethlehem, Israel

Birthplace of Jesus Christ and home to the nativity scene, thousands make pilgrimages to Bethlehem each year to celebrate the holiday where its roots stem from. The Church of the Nativity sits upon the spot where Jesus is said to have been born (a silver star within the church marks the exact location of Jesus’ birth) and empties out into Manger Square. Numerous religious events take place around the Christmas holiday and regardless of your denomination, you can celebrate at some point in the area.

Reykjavik, Iceland

With its proximity to the North Pole, this may be the closest you ever come to Santa’s workshop. In fact, just outside the Icelandic capital is The Christmas Village, which offers everything from live musical performances to shopping opportunities to the Yuletide Lads (not one or two, but 13 Santa’s). Apparently their ‘mother’ can also be found nearby, but can you imagine the hardships she’s gone through raising 13 boys who are all unemployed and want to hand around children all day?

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Dubbed ‘The Christmas City‘ this place has taken celebrating the holiday season to new heights. They even have a live advent calendar, where each day, a different shopkeeper comes out the Goundie House door with treats for those attending. Christkindlmarkt is molded after the traditional European winter market and offers visitors the chance to buy arts and crafts and food. It doesn’t say anything about booze, but you hope that’s there too. I mean, you really, really, really hope they have that, as well!

Drink #352: Holiday Hopper

Holiday Hopper Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Menthe
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cacao
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Mint Leaf and Chocolate

After researching for this list, it’s clear that there aren’t many places that would be bad to spend Christmas. Perhaps war-torn areas and such should be avoided, but so many cities have something to offer for those looking to get away for the holidays.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This is one of those drinks that really surprises you. Given my aversion to Crème de Menthe, I can never really trust it, especially when it’s expected to play nice with other more normal ingredients like Melon Liqueur. Here, they all come together for a wonderful and enjoyable taste, perfect for a dessert beverage.