Mixer Mania #32 – Site Songs

When working with strawberries, the Beatles tune Strawberry Fields Forever will often pop into my mind, earworm style. With this week’s feature mixer being Strawberry Juice, I thought it would be a perfect time to look at some songs about places (more specific than a city or state) you can actually visit:

Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

The world’s most famous band (my opinion, of course) had a couple of hits about real places around their hometown of Liverpool. These include Penny Lane and the aforementioned Strawberry Fields Forever. When the Sip Family visited Liverpool in 2007, we took a tour that stopped at these locations, as well as the grave of Eleanor Rigby, featured in the song A Day in the Life, and rumoured to be where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met.

Strawberry Fields

Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues made the Folsom State Prison a part of pop culture. Later, Cash would perform twice at the venue, calling the inmates who watched his shows, “the most enthusiastic audience I have ever played to.” Notable prisoners of the 137-year-old jail, include musician Rick James, actor Danny Trejo and notable psychopath Charles Manson. That said, I doubt the prison is any kind of attraction, unless you’re a serious Johnny Cash fan.

Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant

While sounding upbeat, this Eddy Grant song is actually about a riot that took place on the south London street in 1981. The riot started due to recession tensions, which were felt particularly by the area’s African-Caribbean community. When we first moved in together, Mrs. Sip and I almost rented an apartment in a building called Electric Avenue. You better believe this song would have been going through my head every time I walked through the front doors.

Electric Avenue

Portobello Road – Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Portabello Road, located in the Notting Hill area of London, was featured in song in this 1971 Disney musical film. The track highlights the road’s market and those who inhabit it. Mrs. Sip’s love of Disney resulted in us venturing to the area on one of our trips to London. Sadly, there wasn’t much of a market running when we visited, perhaps due to the inclement weather we had to contend with. Despite this, I still allow Mrs. Sip a lot of control over our touring plans.

Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty

This song is most memorable for the amazing saxophone pieces, which apparently increased sales in the instrument, following the track’s release. Baker Street, of course, refers to the London road, whose most famous resident is the fictional Sherlock Holmes. Rafferty’s song, however, was about feelings of alienation and isolation. On most of my visits to London, I’ve ended up in the area, for a quick picture or two outside 221B Baker Street.

Mixer Mania #32: Valentini Martini

Valentini Martini.JPG

  • Rim glass with Strawberry Jam
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • Top with Strawberry Juice

It’s amazing how most of these songs highlight areas of England and finding other such examples was very difficult to do. Oh well, time to rock down to Electric Avenue (you know, after the eight-plus hour flight to the UK and pain getting through immigration and all!).

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I couldn’t find any straight up Strawberry Juices, so I went with Strawberry-Kiwi. To enhance the berry flavour, I used Raspberry Vodka and rimmed the glass with Strawberry Jam. The results were decent, but nothing spectacular.

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Cocktail Corner – Fashionably Late

Here’s Looking At You

For my birthday in September, I took a look at the best of 1983. To celebrate Mrs. Sip’s anniversary today, I decided we should delve into her birth year of 1984. Yes, on top of being more successful and better looking, Mrs. Sip is younger than yours truly. So, what do I bring to the table… sweet posts like this! I’ll be looking at the year in regards to what impacted Mrs. Sip the most, rather than myself. So, while 1984 was amazing for TV show debuts (The Cosby Show, Transformers, Murder She Wrote, Night Court), those series matter more to me, than her. On with the list and again, happy birthday, honey!:

#5: MAC Make-Up Launches

While Mrs. Sip is a natural beauty, the minimal make-up she uses is often from MAC and when she really wants to get gussied up for a special event, she lets the artists at the company do their thing. I am no cosmetics expert, but I can only assume they make fine products if Mrs. Sip and others have committed their time and financial resources to them. Not that she needs the help, but Mrs. Sip certainly looks stunning after applying MAC wares.

makeup lipsticks

#4: Legal Taping Using Betamax

Growing up, Mrs. Sip had a regular routine that consisted of coming home from school, napping, doing her homework, and then staying up late watching TV shows she had taped from earlier, before repeating the process. Well, that would have never been possible had the Betamax not won a 1984 legal battle versus Universal City Studios, which allowed home videotaping to be legalized. Given Mrs. Sip’s profession as a lawyer, a landmark legal decision seems perfect for this article.

#3: Movie Releases

1984 was an amazing year for feature films, with hits like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Revenge of the Nerds, Beverly Hills Cop, Police Academy, and many more all hitting the big screen. Many of these movies are beloved by Mrs. Sip, particularly Indiana Jones and Gremlins. All that’s missing is a Star Wars movie and you might have been able to call this the most important year in 80’s cinema.

Indiana Jones Temple Run

#2: Craft Breweries Open in B.C.

With the opening of both Granville Island Brewing and Vancouver Island Brewing (clearly, the islands knew something long before the rest of the province) craft beer arrived in British Columbia and while Mrs. Sip and I weren’t drinking back then, their hard work established a growing movement which we would finally be able to enjoy much later. While wine is still Mrs. Sip’s beverage of choice, she has become a craft beer junkie just like the Sip Advisor.

#1: Cirque du Soleil is Founded

Mrs. Sip is a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil productions, having seen a number of the Las Vegas-based shows, as well as big top performances here at home. Before hitting the international stage, Cirque du Soleil grew from a small touring operation in Quebec, Canada. Today, their combination of circus, theatrics, costumes, atmosphere, and music is loved the world over. Among Mrs. Sip’s favourite Cirque shows are O, Ka, and Love, proving it doesn’t take a long title to make a great experience.

Cocktail Corner: Fashionably Late

Jan 19

  • 1.5 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Port
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with an Orange Twist

Mrs. Sip shares her birth year with such dignitaries as Scarlett Johansson and LeBron James. Some honourable mentions for 1984, include Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, Michael Jordan being drafted into the NBA, the creation of Tetris, and the birth of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in comic form. At least the actual 1984 didn’t turn out like the classic George Orwell novel, which showed the world in a state of dystopia. That said, 1984 brought the birth of crack cocaine, as well as the discovery of the AIDS virus, so maybe the novel wasn’t that far off.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This drink is, of course, in honour of the habitually late Mrs. Sip. I used Vanilla Spiced Whiskey in favour of Bourbon and that added a whole bonus flavour to the cocktail. My Port choice came from Backyard Vineyards, where Mrs. Sip is a member. Everything came together quite nicely for a refreshing, interesting martini.

Cocktail Corner – Midnight Martini

Let the Good Times Roll

Last week, we looked at the Top 5 people and groups who had the worst 2015. This week, we look at those who enjoyed the year so much, they probably wish the calendar never turned over. Let’s get the party started!

#5: Donald Trump

Despite being a complete ass, Donald Trump is looking like the next Republican candidate for President of the United States. Some have joked that this is a blessing to Hilary Clinton or whoever holds the Democrat nomination, but the fact Trump has gained any hold over the race can be deemed a success for his camp (and all the fellow bigots who swallow his crap). As he leads the polls, I can’t help but hear the thundering hooves of the four horsemen of the apocalypse approach…

Donald Trump Bankrupt

#4: Justin Trudeau

After being elected Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau became a media darling not only within his own country, but in many other parts of the world. He’s been viewed as the most attractive political leader in the universe and many have urged him to strike while the iron is hot. Having ousted former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who many viewed as a tyrant and bringer of doom, helped in his ascent and much is anticipated from the new head of state in 2016.

#3: Chinese Parents

I can’t imagine being limited to a set number of kids, should I choose to have any at all, but for 35 years, couples living in China were limited to having just one child. This had the adverse effect of dwindling the female population in the country, as parent’s preferred to sire a male heir to continue their bloodlines. That will all be no more, as the republic declared that the law would be repealed and that partners would now be able to have up to two children.

One Child Policy

#2: Disney and Star Wars

Notwithstanding a lackluster reception for episodes 1-3, faith was renewed in the Star Wars saga thanks to Episode 7: The Force Awakens. Hype for the film was palpable and as someone who is not a fan of the franchise, even I must admit that the new movie was quite good and I’m looking forward to its sequels. Disney, having bought the rights to the space opera, is now building Star Wars themed lands at many of its resorts and I’ll be the judge of whether that’s a good thing, in the future.

#1: Caitlyn Jenner

While there are mixed opinions on Caitlyn Jenner, one thing that can’t be denied is that she brought the issue of transgendered people to a height of public debate that it had never experienced before. Jenner’s choice to live her life as a female, while existing in the public eye, has led to numerous accolades, including being the recipient of the ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award and being named Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2015 and Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year.

Cocktail Corner: Midnight Martini

Jan 13

Honourable mentions include teams that brought home championships in their respective leagues, the LGBT community, potheads everywhere, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, and the Toronto Blue Jays, who after two decades of futility, finally gave their fans something to cheer about.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I haven’t had the chance to use my Patron XO Café Tequila very often, but looked forward to applying it to this recipe. To accentuate the martini, I used Stoli Salted Karamel Vodka and the two mixed well together. Start with a drizzle of Caramel Sauce around the glass and you have the makings of a great cocktail!

Flavour Revolution – Toffee

Sticky Fingers

Toffee can be quite delicious, but also very sticky, getting caught in your teeth and causing a nuisance as you try to pry it out. Here are some of the world’s other sticky and sometimes annoying items:

Spider Webs

It causes great panic when you walk through a spider web. As you struggle to remove the arachnid goo from your face, you also have to worry that there’s a spider on your person. This doesn’t cause too much panic for the Sip Advisor, but for Mrs. Sip, a vocal anti-spider legislator, this is reason enough to launch into a fit of flailing limbs and verbal expletives.

spider webs sticky

Sauces

Finger food such as ribs, chicken wings, burgers, etc. can get pretty messy, often necessitating numerous napkins and sanitary wipes. Sometimes it’s fun to see just how much of a mess you can make when eating these items, so long as you’re not the one who has to wash the dishes used or clean the meal setting. That job is better left for the professionals.

Tar

While tarring and feathering someone has gone the way of the dodo, the act of public humiliation would really come in handy for unruly celebrities, such as Justin Bieber (just one example that immediately came to mind!). Instead, the only humiliation The Biebs had to go through was being roasted by comedians and other stars on an edition of Comedy Central Roast.

Velcro

Velcro was designed by Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral, who used the words “velours” (“velvet”) and “crochet” (“hook”) to create the portmanteau Velcro…  and the product sticks together just as successfully. While its best use is as an alternative to shoe laces, I think my favourite Velcro deployment is on those pads that people launch themselves into and try to stick to.

velcroshoes

Peanut Butter & Jam

The Sip Advisor is a huge PB&J fan, but I will admit that both ingredients can be a sore spot for those that don’t like getting their hands dirty while eating. I suppose that’s one good thing that could come out of having a peanut allergy: never having to wash off after making or eating a peanut butter-based sandwich. I’ll take the adhesive spread any day, though.

Super Glue

I remember one summer day way back when, when a panicked Pa Sip called out for help. Worried that he’d injured himself while working around the house, I rushed to his aid, only to discover that he’d accidentally super glued his fingers together. Once we both realized the emergency wasn’t so serious, we burst out laughing.

super-glue

Sap

While I loved climbing trees as a wee little sipper, I always hated how sticky the sap would make my hands. The scene in National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold is in bed reading a magazine and can’t turn a page without ripping it from the publication, thanks to unveiling the family Christmas tree, is a priceless example of this.

Gum

It really sucks when you get gum stuck to anything, be it on your shoes, in your hair, or on your face. Recently, I challenged Mrs. Sip to a bubble blowing contest (yes, we are actually adults!), but had to be very careful, given the facial hair I’ve been sporting for the last half year. While I emerged victorious, I wasn’t my usual self, worried about any errant bubble pop.

Flavour Revolution: Mark Twain

Being sticky isn’t all that bad. After all, a quick shower together cleans the slate for the next go round!

Flavour Revolution – Blueberry

Where is my Mind?

Blueberries are said to help greatly in maintaining cognitive functioning and fighting off memory loss – so long as you enjoy a serving of them once per week – as the berries clear toxins that gather in the brain. Clearly, the entertainment industry is unaware of these developments because it is rife with stories of amnesiacs. Here are some of the most notable memory loss cases:

Jason Bourne – The Bourne Franchise

If a case of amnesia resulted in the Sip Advisor being able to instinctively fight secret agent style and have a highly-functioning mind, I’d say it would all be worth it… I know Mrs. Sip would appreciate the change in brain activity! Jason Bourne awakens one day and can’t remember who he is, but he can certainly kick ass and that keeps him alive through three (soon to be four) films.

short term memory loss

Leonard – Memento

Although suffering from short-term memory loss, Leonard is still working to solve the murder of his wife. To remember the clues he’s put together, Leonard uses Polaroid photos and self-inflicted tattoos as reminders. I should do the same on binge nights! This psychological crime thriller is told in reverse order, which only adds to the building mystery.

Wolverine – X-Men Franchise

Following the procedure which gave him his trademark adamantium bone structure, Logan struggles to remember his past (in the origins movie, an adamantium bullet to the noggin also helps) and it takes the mind reading power of Professor X to make any headway into the mutant’s psyche. We all have events we’d like to block from our memory, but I’d rather have a mix of good and bad than none at all.

Lucy Whitmore – 50 First Dates

Can you imagine having to remind your partner each and every day about your shared past together? Thankfully, Mrs. Sip only has to do this for me after a hard drinking night. In this case, perhaps it was working with Adam Sandler again that drove Drew Barrymore to memory loss. Anyhoo, Lucy is helped along by Sandler’s Henry to break the pattern and live a happily ever after, each new day.

memory loss favourite movie

Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This one is a little different, in that main characters Joel and Clementine choose to wipe their minds clear of any memories to do with each other after their relationship goes awry. Regardless of this, they wind up together again, as if their love was always meant to be. Jim Carrey must be the king of playing amnesiacs, having also tackled the role in The Majestic and The Number 23.

Dory – Finding Nemo

Played for comedic effect, Dory is one of the many characters father Marlin comes across in his search for his son Nemo. Dory proved to be such a popular character that the pacific regal blue tang (thanks to Wikipedia for that!) will be getting her own movie, Finding Dory, due out in 2016. Ironically, the movie will be centered on Dory getting her memories back, leading to another adventure.

amnesia joke

The Wolfpack – The Hangover

The one thing worse than one person not being able to remember what happened before, is three friends blanking out on the previous night’s activities. Thanks to being slipped roofies, the Wolfpack can’t figure out what trouble they got up to and worst of all, their buddy Doug is missing and his wedding day is coming up quickly.

Douglas Quaid – Total Recall

Mrs. Sip and I love to travel, but I’m not sure we’d be into futuristic travel methods which include having images placed in your mind, while you sit in a chair. Of course, an innocent visual journey to the planet Mars, helps Quaid realize that he’s actually a secret agent operative, with crazy fighting skills. Quaid (aka Carl Hauser) now has to go to the real Mars, to figure out why his memory was wiped.

Flavour Revolution: Lucifer’s Tears

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Blueberry Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Galliano
  • 0.25 oz Sambuca
  • Garnish with Blueberries

Soap Operas are also a prime breeding ground for cases of amnesia, either occurring after a death, or leading to a murder most foul!

Flavour Revolution – Hazelnut

Nutty Goodness

As we delve into some Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of the nut world, or better put: the ones I love versus the ones I loathe!

Good:

Peanuts – I am a certified peanut fiend. I like most all types, with the exception being peanuts in shells and with their skins still on. I’m just not a fan of the fuss and mess that comes with them. I’m currently in the process of devising a masterful trail mix recipe, set to include honey roasted peanuts, Smarties, chocolate covered raisins, and cashews (more on them later).

elephant peanut

Almonds – These are best smothered in chocolate and not being sold by one of those groups that charges an arm and a leg for a small box. Charity be damned when I want my almond fix. Almonds also work on their own, roasted or salted. I also have massive respect for almonds for the flavouring they lend to Amaretto, one of my preferred nightcaps.

Macadamia Nuts – The Hawaiian treat, which everyone must bring back when vacationing on the islands, is a favourite of mine and Mrs. Sip. We are particularly fond of the Mauna Loa line, which includes varieties such as milk and dark chocolate, honey roasted, Maui onion and garlic, and coffee glaze. A couple companies have also devised Macadamia Nut liqueurs, which are very tasty.

Cashews – I absolutely love cashews, but they are so darn expensive that I only get them on very special occasions (ie. when other people serve them and I’m lucky enough to be on hand to help them with their abundant supply). Figuring everything was cheaper in southern Africa, during our recent travels, I grabbed a pack of cashews, without even looking at the price. When they were scanned at the checkout, my jaw dropped, but I’m not one to leave an item behind. They were delicious and got me through some long bus days.

cashews mixed nuts

Bad:

Pecans – I like pecans in Turtles chocolates, but little else. I think it’s because the other ingredients make up for this lackluster nut. There’s just something about the taste of pecans that I can’t wrap my head around. The texture is also an issue for the Sip Advisor.

Chestnuts – The roasted ones at Christmas smell so good, but it’s like eating warm paste, if you bother to buy a pack. My displeasure with chestnuts has even caused me to question my enjoyment of the yuletide classic The Christmas Song, which opens with the line “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”…

roasted chestnuts

Walnuts – It’s amazing how odd these nuts look, inside their cases. They remind me of a turtle shell and don’t look very appetizing. I think I turned on walnuts when considering the work it takes to get one open, using a nutcracker (which, given its name, brings about many images of horror) and then having to clean up the mess that creates.

Corn Nuts – These are the jawbreakers of the nut world and while they come in many interesting flavours (some of which I’d like to see brought over to other nut and even potato chip options), I just don’t enjoy the munching experience that comes along with corn nuts.

Flavour Revolution: Mister Frangelico

  • Rim glass with Crushed Nuts
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Orgeat Syrup

There are also a few nuts that I just don’t have any opinion on one way or the other. These include hazelnuts (funny enough, given today’s liqueur choice), Pistachios, and Brazil Nuts. Have I missed anything?

Flavour Revolution – Chipotle

Spice Spree

The Sip Advisor is a fan of spice in his beers and cocktails, so picking up a bottle of Rogue’s Chipotle Spirit was a no brainer. In honour of the liquor, I thought it would be good to look at the restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, of which I have visited on one occasion. Should I go back for more? Let’s weigh the evidence!

Today, Chipotle is worth an estimated value of over $22 billion, but its beginnings were much more humble. Founder Steve Ells launched the chain on July 13, 1993, with the first restaurant located in Denver, Colorado, financed thanks to an $80,000 loan from Ells’ father. The minimalist design that is common for Chipotle locations was based on Ells having to establish the original restaurant on a tight budget.

chipotle-burrito

Fast food giant McDonald’s was an early investor in the Chipotle business, joining the venture when it was still a budding brand with only 14 outlets located around Denver. By the time McDonald’s pulled out of Chipotle (wow, that sounds pretty bad… or delicious… I don’t know!?) in 2006, Chipotle had over 500 stores around the country. Sure, the deal netted McDonald’s $1.5 billion, but Chipotle is worth so much more now.

Some Chipotle joints in Chicago have partnered with craft brewery 5 Rabbit Brewing, to serve their specially made 5 Vulture, which is brewed with ancho chili, and 5 Rabbit Golden Ale. Other expansion the company has taken on includes a pizza chain, Pizzeria Locale, as well as ShopHouse, a collection of Southeast Asian eateries.

Sports stars Russell Wilson, Bryce Harper, Abby Wambach, and Tony Hawk (among others) have received “Free Burritos” cards from Chipotle, which allows them free meals for one year. The offer has also been extended to folks outside of athletics, including rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and comedian Gabriel Iglesias.

chipotle salad

They may be rare, but free burrito coins for the franchise do exist. They boast: “In Burritos We Trust,” which is a message many of us can get behind. The coins sell for pretty decent money on eBay, but that seems counterproductive to the whole idea of a free meal.

Chipotle goes through a ton of avocados each day, 480,000 to be exact… or at least estimated. 60 avocados go into each batch of guacamole, which also included red onions, cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, and salt. Musician Jason Mraz is one of the folks that owns an avocado farm which supplies Chipotle.

While not an officially recognized world record, Matt ‘Megatoad’ Stonie can destroy a Chipotle burrito in 35 seconds. He has also been recorded eating four burritos and downing a Diet Coke (gotta save calories somewhere!) in just three minutes.

Chipotle Server

Although first established in Denver, Colorado, Chipotle has become a sponsor of both the Boston Celtics (NBA) and Boston Bruins (NHL). It looks like teams in Colorado missed jumping aboard the burrito train and Boston fans can thank them for that.

Lastly, Chipotle delivery trucks warn that “Drivers Do Not Carry Burritos,” which puts my draft for a food truck heist movie on hold. It would have starred John Cho and Kal Penn and been the fourth installment in the Harold & Kumar franchise, seeing the two stoners in need of satisfying their munchies, with a cameo from Neil Patrick Harris as the truck driver. That actually sounds better than most of the drivel in theatres today!

Flavour Revolution: Berry Caliente

Berry Caliente Martini

  • 1.5 oz Chipotle Spirit
  • Top with Wildberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Chipotle means smoked chili and is derived from the Náhuatl (Aztec) word “chilpoctli”. Rogue also now has a Chipotle Whiskey, which looks pretty darn good and will be added to the Sip Advisor’s ‘I Want to Taste That’ list!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really liked the smokiness of this drink, thanks to the Chipotle Spirit. The Wildberry Juice also played an important part, while the Lemon Juice gave it just enough zest to complete the cocktail.