Kentucky – Kentucky Mule

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 stop in Kentucky for some bourbon and bluegrass music. The Bluegrass State, named for the blue flowers from the species of grass found in the area, is known for so much more, so let’s get to it:

Motto: “United we stand, divided we fall” – Sounds like something you’d see on a movie poster.

Food: Kentucky Fried Chicken, with its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices was first introduced in the state, but that seems too easy for this category. Instead, let’s go with the Hot Brown Sandwich, invented at Louisville’s Brown Hotel. The sandwich features chicken or turkey breast, with bacon and Mornay sauce, which is baked or broiled until the bread is crispy. It is very popular throughout Kentucky.

Drink: 95 per cent of all Bourbon is produced in Kentucky, with more barrels aging across the state than its population. Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World and hosts an annual Bourbon Festival. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail includes distilleries such as Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, and Maker’s Mark.

Bourbon

Site to See: Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the longest cave system in the world and it’s still being explored today. It is the second oldest tourist attraction in the U.S., after Niagara Falls. Mammoth Cave was named a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Street: Along Main Street in Louisville, a number of attractions can be found, including the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Kentucky Science Center and Frazier History Museum. Restaurants and bars also line this entertainment district.

TV Show: Daniel Boone aired for six season and 165 episodes, following the adventures of the real-life frontiersman. Set in Boonesborough (founded by Boone), the series starred Fess Parker, who was previously known for playing Davy Crockett. When Disney refused to sell the rights to Davy Crockett to NBC, Daniel Boone became the subject matter.

Movie: Coal Miner’s Daughter is a biographical film about Kentucky singer, Loretta Lynn. Starring Sissy Spacek, the movie documents Lynn’s rise from humble beginnings to being a top country music star. Spacek won an Oscar for her role, including singing all of Lynn’s most popular songs.

Loretta Lynn

Book/Author: The father of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, was born in Louisville. His most famous works include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary, both of which starred Johnny Depp, when adapted into films. Thompson and Depp were friends and the actor made sure to carry out the writer’s last wishes to have his ashes shot out of a cannon.

Fictional Character: Rick Grimes, leader of the focal group of survivors in The Walking Dead, is Kentucky born and bred. A police officer, prior to the zombie apocalypse, Rick is highly-skilled in fighting the “walkers” and also with survival tactics.

Fictional City: There wasn’t much to choose from for this category, but I did find that the movie In Country was set in Hopewell. The box office flop stars Bruce Willis, just after he became Die Hard famous, but is about a high school graduate (played by Emily Lloyd) trying to learn about her father who she never met after he died in the Vietnam War.

Actor/Actress: Three Hollywood A-listers hail from Kentucky: Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence. They were born in Owensboro, Lexington and Indian Hills, respectively. The trio have been responsible for some of the most memorable movies and characters of recent times, but have never worked together in any combination.

Hunter S. Thompson

Song: Bluegrass music is the State Music of Kentucky and a fine example of the style (which the Sip Advisor is a fan of) is Blue Moon of Kentucky, by Bill Monroe. The song has also been recorded by Elvis Presley, rearranged to be a rock and roll tune, and released as the B-side of The King’s first single in 1954.

Band/Musician: More on Monroe, who was born in Rosine, and has been called the father of the Bluegrass genre. After all, his band The Blue Grass Boys, inspired the name of the style. Monroe was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1966 and inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

People: The fact opposing leaders of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were born in the same state, one year and less than 100 miles apart, is fascinating. Both were said to be politically moderate, so maybe that can be traced back to their Kentucky roots.

Animal: Of course, a state filled with so much horse racing history, would also be home to a couple iconic thoroughbreds. Man o’War had an almost unblemished record, losing only one race over his career. He sired War Admiral, who won the Triple Crown in 1937, and grandfathered Seabiscuit, who continued the family tradition of winning.

Invention: Nathan Stubblefield, from Murray, invented wireless telephones, which some debate were radio transmissions, making Stubblefield’s exhibitions the first ever radio broadcasts. Either way, his work led to further developments of the medium.

Crime: The infamous Hatfield vs. McCoy feud took place between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky. The murder of Asa Harmon McCoy, in January 1865, is said to have ignited the feud, which would go on to claim the lives of 13 members of the two families. In 1979, descendants from each family waged a different kind of war on the TV game show, Family Feud.

Law: In Kentucky, it is illegal to hunt game from the window of a moving vehicle. This applies to all animals, except whales. Whales after all, are the most dangerous game on land, so the use of vehicles are a necessity.

Sports Team: The Kentucky Derby is a highlight of the annual sporting calendar. The first leg of the American Triple Crown, it is the oldest continuously run horse race in the U.S. and although the sprint lasts only two minutes, the duration is called ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’. The University of Kentucky Wildcats vs. University of Louisville Cardinals NCAA basketball rivalry is also huge across the state.

Kentucky Derby

Athlete: The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, was born Cassius Clay, in Louisville. Ali was a three-time Heavyweight Champion and also won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. However, Ali’s fame extended outside the boxing world, as an activist and philanthropist, following his in-ring career. Ali was picked to light the torch at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, but that appearance highlighted the Parkinson’s disease he was suffering from. Ali passed away in June 2016, at the age of 74.

Famous Home: The Muhammad Ali Childhood Home, can be found in Louisville. Here, the future sports icon grew up and first began to box. Today, the unmistakeable pink home is filled with memorabilia from Ali’s life and career and guided tours are available.

Urban Legend: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Some of the legends surrounding the former hospital for tuberculosis patients, include the ghost of a nurse haunting the first floor, room 502 being the site of a suicide/murder and the tunnel used to discretely remove bodies from the facility being rife with paranormal activity. Today, the facility hosts ghost tours and can be stayed in overnight.

Museum: Louisville Slugger baseball bats are synonymous with the sport, having been used by professionals since the late 1800’s. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is home to the storied history of the company. Visitors can’t miss the place, as the world’s largest baseball bat is found at its entrance. You can even enter a batting cage and try bat models from the past and present.

muhammad-ali

Firsts: The first commercial winery in the U.S., was opened in Nicholasville, in 1799. Over 200 years later, the winery still stands, restored to depict what it would have looked like in its earliest years. The site seems like a perfect place to celebrate Mother’s Day, which was first observed in Kentucky on April 20, 1887, as a project started by teacher Mary Towles Sasseen, to honour her mother.

Company: A trio of popular restaurant chains are headquartered in Kentucky. This includes KFC, A&W and Papa John’s Pizza. It should be noted, KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders may not have been a Kentucky native, but his famous creation led to him being recommissioned a Kentucky Colonel, an image he maintained for the rest of his life.

Events: The War of 1812 was catastrophic for Kentucky, as half of the American soldiers killed were from the state, despite battles not taking place there. Kentucky also greatly supplied the war effort, including mining of the Mammoth Cave.

Miscellaneous: Kentucky’s Fort Knox, is home to the United States Bullion Depository, which stores a majority of the country’s gold reserves (estimated in July 2019 to be worth $210.8 billion). In the past, it has also safely held the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Kentucky Mule

Kentucky Mule

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Although the obvious choice for Kentucky is the Mint Julep, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, I’ve already made that drink for this site and I never do repeats. I had to choose something using Bourbon, given its association with the state, so I went with the delicious Kentucky Mule, to sort of keep with the horse theme.

United States – Suffering Bastard

Sports Supporters

See what I did there… I made a jock joke! Anyhoo, there is some debate over which sport is the most popular in the United States. Is it their national pastime baseball or has it been surpassed by the football juggernaut? Also fighting for market share and expendable income is a host of other competitions. One thing is for certain, the US, compared with other countries, has a greater variety of sports options for its citizens. Why else do you think the country needs all those ESPN channels!? With all that athletic competition, there is sure to be some big time events. Here are some interesting facts on each of the country’s championship crowning spectacles:

Super Bowl – NFL

What can you say about the Super Bowl that hasn’t already been said. The event is so mammoth that it is second only to soccer’s Champions League final as the most viewed annual sporting event. We’ve all heard the astronomical amounts companies pay for commercial time during the Super Bowl, but did you know that non-sponsor advertisers can’t use the word Super Bowl in their spots? Instead, they’re forced to use more generic terms like “the big game”. In 2007, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell suggested a Super Bowl could be played at Wembley Stadium in London. This would mark the big game’s (I want to stay clear of trouble with the NFL… they could send a 400-pound lineman after me) first foray outside the United States, if it were to ever occur. College football also has a strong fan following and Bowl Games, such as the Rose Bowl are hugely successful events. The Army vs. Navy annual meeting is also a display of extreme fanaticism and patriotism.

Super Bowl

World Series – MLB

It’s kind of ironic that the World Series is contested by a league that contains one Canadian team among 29 American squads. Even the Little League World Series (hosted every year in Williamsport, Pennsylvania) is more world-inclusive than the big leagues. The Fall Classic has inspired a fair share of American history, from the fixed championship series of 1919 to the earthquake-interrupted contest in 1989. And then, there’s 1994. Despite playing close to a full regular season, the World Series wasn’t contested in 1994 due to the player’s strike. The Montreal Expos were the top team at the time of the labour dispute and could have continued Canada’s string of World Series wins (the Toronto Blue Jays having won in 1992 and 1993). After the 2004 season, the Expos were relocated to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals. Coincidence or anti-Canadian conspiracy? Let the theories begin…

March Madness – NCAA

I don’t think any other country gets as pumped for collegiate sports than the US. This tournament makes stars out of teenagers and for some, is the only reason they still support their alma mater. The NCAA’s annual event to crown a national basketball champion is bigger than the professional level NBA Championship Finals. Fans pick their brackets and battle for bragging rights (and cash money, yo) as they watch their choices run through the gauntlet. Upsets are perhaps the most interesting aspect of the tournament. In 1985, Villanova went from #8 seed to National Champion, while Florida Gulf Coast was the lowest ranked team ever (#15) to advance to the Sweet 16. In fact, all four #1 seeds making the Final Four has only happened once, in 2008. Since 1947, the winning team has cut down and claimed the court nets as a trophy for their triumphant victory, with the head coach cutting the final strand.

The Masters/US Open/PGA Championship – PGA

Thanks in large part to Tiger Woods, golf has grown in popularity the last couple decades. Three of the four events that make up golf’s Grand Slam are contested in the United States (the other being the British Open, usually played in Scotland). Of them, The Masters is the most prolific of the bunch, played each season at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Winners, along with receiving oodles of prize money, get the privilege of wearing the infamous green jacket that club members wear when on the course, as their win makes them an honourary member. The jacket is meant to remain at Augusta National, but when Gary Player won in 1961, amid all the celebrating, he took it home with him to South Africa. Masters winners earn a lifetime invitation to play in the tournament and an automatic inclusion into the three other majors, Players Championship, and PGA Tour for the next five years.

Point of Golf

US Open – PTA

I bet some reader’s don’t recognize the PTA other than standing for the Parent-Teacher Advisory. Well, in this case, we’re talking about the Professional Tennis Association. Played out of New York’s USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (good lord that’s a mouthful) each summer since 1881, the US Open is one of four grand slams for the PTA (the others including the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon in London). In 1973, the US Open became the first of tennis’s grand slam events to award equal prize money to both the male and female champion. Keeping with the trend of innovation, the US Open was the first to host play at night with the use of floodlights in 1975. While the Serena Williams has enjoyed recent success at the tournament, winning each of the last two years, the last American to win on the men’s side was Andy Roddick in 2003.

Triple Crown – Horse Racing

A common trend that makes these events so epically huge is their gambling potential and that is perhaps most prevalent with the Triple Crown of horse racing. The Kentucky Derby (described as the most exciting two minutes in sports), the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, make up this trio of popular sprints. Coming live from Louisville, Kentucky; Baltimore, Maryland, and Elmont, New York; respectively, the Triple Crown has existed since 1875, but there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed took the photo finish at each historic track. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is the only person to win the Triple Crown with different horses, as Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, but in between, Timber Country won the Preakness Stakes. Many other countries also have their own version of the Triple Crown.

Sprint Cup Series – NASCAR

Racing around an oval for hundreds of laps is so huge in the US right now that some could argue it’s the most popular sport in the country. While some believe fans are simply waiting for a wreck to happen, true pundits point out that there is a beauty in the strategy of auto racing. Either way, this series of races comes with a strong viewing audience, as well as sold out attendance at the tracks. The pinnacle of the NASCAR season is the Daytona 500, which was first run in 1959 and has opened the Cup Series since 1982. Named because of its 500-mile length. The 2.5 mile track needs to be rounded 200 times to complete the race. Sadly, racing legend Dale Earnhardt died at the track on the final lap of the 2001 race. Only three years earlier, Earnhardt finally won the famous competition, after years of mechanical issues, crashes, and being passed for the lead late in races.

United States: Suffering Bastard

Suffering Bastard Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Jim Beam Bourbon
  • 1 oz Gin
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with Lime Wedges

I can’t help but notice the US has a bit of an obsessions with balls (base, foot, basket, etc.). Not to tease, but at least us Canadians are only preoccupied by pucks! A number of other events could have made this list, including the X-Games, WrestleMania, the Indianapolis 500, and even the All-American Soap Box Derby.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I enjoyed every element of this drink, even the Angostura Bitters, which I find often don’t factor in enough to register any opinion of them. I have to ask: Is there anything Ginger Ale can’t do? The answer is a simple no. I was really looking forward to pairing Bourbon with Gin and am ecstatic that it all worked out so well!

November 22 – Churchill

Tennessee Whiskey vs. Kentucky Bourbon

A battle of the ages has long been brewing (literally!) between the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. In one corner, you have the maker of the finest American whiskeys, while in the other, you have the home of bourbon creations. Let’s take a look at each state’s role in the world around us and see which place should get the nod in this never-ending conflict.

Famous Citizens

Tennessee: Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Al Gore, Miley Cyrus – can you imagine Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman and Al Gore twerking!?

twerking

Kentucky: Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, Muhammad Ali, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, The Judds, Colonel Sanders – that’s a murderer’s row of famous folks who call Kentucky home!

Sports

Tennessee: Tennessee Titans (NFL), Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), Nashville Predators – Memphis stole Vancouver’s basketball franchise… you better believe that’s a paddlin’.

Kentucky: Kentucky Derby – I love watching the horsies race and apparently Kentuckians do too, as they don’t have any professional sports franchises within the state.

Food

Tennessee: I love southern barbecue foods (your pulled pork, brisket, chicken) and all the sides those meats come with (I gotta stop writing on an empty stomach!). In particular, we have a chain in western Canada called Memphis Blues that provides all these delicacies and there’s one wonderfully located a block up the street from Mrs. Sip and my chateau!

Kentucky: KFC, yo! Gotta give some points to the Colonel here, even if the company has rebranded itself to drop the Kentucky moniker! The state is also known for a dish called Hot Brown, which involves (layered in order) toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and mornay sauce.

KFC S&M

Arts (TV, Movies, Music, etc.)

Tennessee: Music City, USA; Memphis Wrestling – I’m a fan of one and not so much of the other… which is which!?

Kentucky: Recognizable Stars – Ah, hello, look no further than they provided the world with George Clooney and Johnny Depp, as well as vampire hunter Abraham Lincoln!

Landmarks

Tennessee: Graceland, Dollywood, Country Music Hall of Fame, Opryland USA – Did you know that Dollywood even has a water park!? For some reason, among all these great landmarks, that’s what sticks out to me the most!

Kentucky: Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, KFC Yum! Center, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Creation Museum, Fort Knox – The Creation Museum could, in fact, be the nation’s finest comedy club!

Slogans

Tennessee: “America at its Best” – I like the confidence of that statement!

Tennessee Slogan

This seems like a pretty good slogan, too!

Kentucky: “It’s That Friendly”, “Unbridled Spirit” – Sorry, but I’m not a fan of either of these attempts.

Nickname

Tennessee: Volunteer State – I hate volunteering for things, so Tennessee is going to lose some points in this category.

Kentucky: Bluegrass State – Mmm, mmm, I love me some bluegrass music… not the actual type of grass, of course.

State Symbols (last chance to get in the good graces of the Sip Advisor)

Tennessee: Their state wild animal (seriously, why do they have these things) is the raccoon… total props for that pick!

Kentucky: Their state dance is clogging… I’m not entirely sure what this is (no need for research here), but my mind tells me it’s like crunking, but more dangerous!

Drink #326: Churchill

Churchill Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Scotch Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

So, in the end, who was the big winner between the two states? Tennessee takes Landmarks, Slogan, and State Symbols, while Famous Citizens, Arts, and Nickname go to Kentucky. Sports and Food are a toss-up, so I’m afraid we’re right where we started at the beginning of this whole debacle!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’m not sure whether this cocktail is named for Winston Churchill or Churchill Downs, but I figured it was a fitting recipe either way. And it tastes pretty darn good to boot! It’s not too strong, which is always a risk when the recipe is so booze heavy and mixers are largely absent, but this one works, likely helped along by the Cointreau and Lime Juice, in particular.