Slovakia – Royal Tatrateani

Roll Call

Admittedly, I don’t know much about our next stop, Slovakia. I know a few hockey players from the European country: Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, and the late Pavol Demitra, among others. Aside from that, there’s not much space in me ol’ noggin’ dedicated to Slovakian culture. That said, there are a number of Slovaks who are known the world over for varying achievements. Here is a small sample of those fine folks:

The Stastny Brothers

When Peter Stastny defected from Slovakia to Canada in 1980, he became the first red curtain star player to do so and ushered in an exodus of players leaving Soviet Europe for a better life in North America. Peter and his brother Anton joined the Quebec Nordiques and were later united with eldest brother Marian, becoming only the third trio of brothers to play for the same squad. All three enjoyed successful career, particularly Peter who was a scoring phenom, notching 1239 points in 977 games. He retired in 1995 and was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998. The brother’s legacy continues with Peter’s sons Yan and Paul suiting up for the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche (ironically, the relocated Quebec franchise his father starred for), respectively. The Stastny’s are the first hockey family to represent four different countries – Czechoslovakia, Canada, Slovakia, USA – in international play.

Stastny Brothers

Juraj Jánošík

Slovakia has its own version of the legendary Robin Hood and that is this man. Jánošík is said to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor… sound familiar? Jánošík even had his own collection of “Merry Men,” although I’m sure they were called something more badass than that. The vigilante met his end after being sentenced to death. Scholars have debated how he was executed with most believing he was impaled on a hook and left to die, while others theorize he could have been hanged. As it often is with legends, stories persist that he went out in grand style, ever thumbing his nose at the authorities, by jumping onto the hook, rather than accept the grace offered to him in exchange for enlisting soldiers from his able ranks. Jánošík’s fable can be found in numerous films, books and even the odd song or two.

Adriana Karembeu (nee Sklenaríková)

This one is for all my little sippers out there who love gorgeous women! “Miss Wonderbra” as the beautiful and busty blonde has been dubbed has also appeared for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Peroni Beer. The gal is smart, too. Karembeu won her first modelling contest while she was studying medicine in Prague. If the “Miss Wonderbra” moniker isn’t enough to sway you or you’re more of a legs man, it should be noted that Karembeu once held the Guinness world record for longest legs among female models at close to 50 inches. I made sure to arrange my article so that squeezing in a picture of Karembeu didn’t seem out of place!

Adriana-Karembeu

I’m not sure which structure is more impressive!

Martina Hingis

The former world top-ranked women’s tennis player entered her first tournament at the age of four. Along with her mother, the two defected to Switzerland when she was just six years old and a decade later, Hingis became the youngest Grand Slam champion of all-time, winning the 1996 Wimbledon women’s doubles tournament with Helena Sukova. Following that victory, Hingis won Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the Australian and U.S. Opens. The only major championship missing from her resume is the French Open, although she did win in doubles at the tournament in 1998 and 2000. Hingis retired from tennis in 2003, at the young age of 22. She returned to the sport in 2005 and left in 2007, being handed a two-year ban after testing positive for a minimal amount of an element in cocaine. She returned again in 2010 and still plays in the occasional doubles tournament to this day.

Štefan Banič

After immigrating to the United States and witnessing a plane crash, Banič invented the first military parachute every deployed in action. The man had so much faith in his product (an umbrella like device attached to the jumpers body) that he tested it himself, first from the top of a 15-storey building and later from an actual airplane. Once successful (you know, meaning he didn’t plummet to the earth and burst into a million pieces), Banič then did something extraordinary… he donated his patent to the United States military. His invention saved the lives of countless soldiers during World War I, but the coal miner never received much money or fame for his creation.

Slovakia: Royal Tatrateani

Royal Tatrateani Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Tatratea Citrus
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Agave Nectar
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

So, now you know a heck of a lot more about Slovakia than you did before… and really, that’s my only mission in life: to educate while getting people so blitzed they forget half the shit they knew. Full circle, my little sippers, full circle!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Mrs. Sip was kind enough to pick these liqueurs up for me for Christmas, adding a country to my 52-week tour that I did not have on my radar. We have the Forest Fruit, Citrus, and Coconut flavours, but the company also sells Peach & White Tea, Original, Bohemian, and Outlaw varieties. This martini was really strong, but grew on me with each sip. To enhance the use of the Tatratea Citrus, I selected Tanqueray Rangpur as my Gin of choice.

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Estonia – Hammer & Sickle

Free as a Bird

Freedom… it’s something most of us take for granted. We wouldn’t do that, however, if we had been occupied by one empire after another for hundreds of years. Estonia (our next stop as we tour the liquor universe) has been listed as one of the freest countries in the world, following centuries of control by other countries. It’s a long and winding road, so buckle up and enjoy the ride to liberty.

meanwhile-in-estonia

If this doesn’t say freedom, I don’t know what does!

While Estonia was a long holdout in converting to Christianity during the Middle Ages, Pope Celestine III made sure that came to an end, calling for a crusade against the pagans of Northern Europe. In 1208, present-day Estonia was raided and despite resistance and fighting for many years, the country was finally conquered by Denmark in the north and Germany in the south. Around the same time, some Swedish people – including descendants of the legendary Swedish Chef – also settled into Estonian coastal land. The Germans became the ruling elite of Estonia by the end of the Middle Ages.

Fighting over Estonian land persisted for hundreds of years with Northern Estonia falling under Swedish control, while Southern Estonia briefly found itself under rule by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (ah, the PLC… not a group to meddle with). In 1625 the Swedes captured much of mainland Estonia and absorbed it into their growing empire. Estonia accepted this occupation, in exchange for protection against Russia and Poland. Kind of like a smart, but small kid recruiting a tougher, cool kid (although Sweden’s cool factor can be debated for hours on end) for protection against bullies.

When Russia defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War of the early 1700’s, they gained control of Estonia, although the legal system, governments, and education was mostly German up until the late 1800’s and in some cases, the first World War. The Russian Revolution of 1905 changed the landscape of Estonian life, but also opened the door for the country to gain autonomy.

Bread Freedom

Following World War I and the fall of the Russian Empire, Estonia declared its independence on February 23, 1918. It wasn’t long before they were back fighting, however, as the Red Army invaded just days after a provisional Estonian government was in place and the Estonian War of Independence lasted the next couple years. On June 15, 1920, Estonia adopted their first constitution and even joined the League of Nations in 1921, but we all know how that ended!

There was more trouble brewing for Estonia, however, as en route to a presidential election in 1934, Konstantin Päts, the head of state, became the country’s authoritarian ruler. The next period of life in Estonia was known as the Era of Silence. I’m praying this term also one day describes the death of reality TV. Political parties were banned and the parliament did not hold session from 1934 to 1938. Instead, Päts ruled by decree, much like the Sip Advisor does around the company headquarters!

As if things couldn’t get any worse, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939. The deal saw the two countries split up the nations the lay between them (Estonia, Finland, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia). Estonia went to the Soviet Union in the fantasy draft and it wasn’t long before the regime moved into its new territory.

Estonia Girls

The USSR occupied Estonia from 1940 to 1941 and during that time arrested over 8,000 citizens, executing more than a quarter of them. Next up, the German Nazi regime invaded. While originally welcomed, with hopes that Estonia could return to being an independent state, those wishes were quickly dashed by goose-stepping and swastikas.

World War II was not kind to Estonia and its people. The population decreased by about 200,000 people, with 80,000 fleeing West and 30,000 soldiers killed in action. Much of the land was destroyed, including ports, railways, and industrial and residential areas. As the Germans withdrew from the country, the USSR swooped in and put Soviet rule in place, arresting and executing those who opposed the takeover. Poor Estonia couldn’t buy a break.

Hidden behind the ‘red curtain,’ a movement known as the ‘Forest Brothers’ grew – similar to Robin Hood and his Merry Men, but minus the awesome songs of the Disney and Men in Tights offerings. They opposed the Soviet occupation and grew to approximately 30,000 members. Their resistance was ultimately unsuccessful and it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the tide began to change and Estonia reached for sovereignty again. The 1990’s brought free elections, a new congress, and a referendum on independence.

Free Turtle

Estonia’s confirmation of independence occurred on August 20, 1991. The day has become a national holiday as a result and features Will Smith battling aliens to save the world. On June 28, 1992, Estonians approved a draft constitution and on September 20, 1992, Lennart Meri was elected president, choosing Mart Laar as prime minister.

Things continued to roll along for Estonia as the new millennium approached. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro currency in 2011. In recent years, Estonia has found itself ranked first in Internet Freedom (so much porn!) and World Liberty. Congrats to everyone who made it all happen!

Estonia: Hammer & Sickle

Hammer & Sickle Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Mint and Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Vana Tallinn
  • Dash of Brown Sugar
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint Sprig

What’s next for the Baltic nation is unknown, but I sincerely hope things continue on an upswing. It’s a beautiful country and one I consider to be a hidden gem when touring Northern Europe.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Being the King of Mojitos comes with great responsibility… it means that you always have to be on the lookout for new variations to master. I wanted to try this recipe because the Vana Tallinn and Brown Sugar change things up from your usual Mojito Recipe and this cocktail is a keeper. The Vana Tallinn, which carries a vanilla flavour, makes for a delicious Mojito ingredient, getting along very well with the Brown Sugar and even the Mint and Lime Wedges. I took the drink name from Vana Tallinn’s Wikipedia page and although it was meant for another concoction, because citation was needed, I decided to steal the moniker for myself!