Latvia – Kretchma

Triple Threat

Mikhail Baryshnikov is perhaps the most famous person to call Latvia home. The dancer-turned-choreographer, considered to be one of the greatest performers of his generation, if not all-time, was born in Latvia’s capital city of Riga in 1948. Let’s take a look at the man who has transcended his art and entered other realms of entertainment!

The son of an engineer and a dressmaker, Baryshnikov began his ballet studies at the age of 12. His talent was quickly recognized and in 1964, he was moved to the Vaganova School in what is now St. Petersburg. Early in his career, Baryshnikov was partnered with top Russian ballerina Irina Kolpakova, while they were members of the Kirov Ballet in the former Leningrad.

dance class plie

Baryshnikov defected to Canada in 1974, searching for artistic freedom, instead of being pigeon-holed as a ballet dancer. He quickly joined the American Ballet Theatre and later New York City Ballet, where he also took over the artistic direction of the troupe. Some of Baryshnikov’s best work came while partnered with Twyla Tharp. The two completed projects that include Push Comes to Shove, The Little Ballet, and Sinatra Suite.

The 1977 movie The Turning Point brought Baryshnikov’s talent to the mainstream and introduced a decade-long ballet craze to the United States. Playing Yuri Kopeikine, a Russian dancer and playboy, Baryshnikov was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. The film starred Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine and is about the drama of the dance world… a precursor to the Step Up series, perhaps!?

Baryshnikov’s other film credits include Giselle (also the work in which he made his stage debut in 1967) and White Nights, which is not about cocaine-fuelled parties. White Nights actually teamed Baryshnikov with legendary tap dancer Gregory Hines. The movie featured a number of memorable dance scenes, including one where Baryshnikov pirouettes 14 times while in cowboy boots.

perfect pirouette

On the smaller screen, Baryshnikov appeared in the final season of Sex and the City, as Aleksandr Petrovsky, a successful Russian artist. The character pursues main character Carrie Bradshaw, despite being much older and already having a grown child. Although he convinces Carrie to move to Paris with him, the relationship doesn’t work out and the series ends with Carrie and Mr. Big back together. I never thought I’d write an entire paragraph on a Sex and the City plot.

Baryshnikov’s nickname is Misha, a term which normally might only be used by the man’s close friends and family. After so many people struggled to pronounce his name correctly, he encouraged the use of Misha by friends, family, and fans alike. Baryshnikov used his nickname as the moniker for the perfume he released in 1989. I’ll still never really get why men are able to put out fragrances for women and vice versa, but who am I to question the way the world works.

baryshnikov-quote

Current American Horror Story star, Jessica Lange and Baryshnikov were in a relationship from 1976 to 1982 and have a child, Aleksandra (born 1981) together. The two apparently spoke French when they first met, as Baryshnikov had yet to learn English. A rare heterosexual in the dance world, he also had relationships with ballerinas Gelsey Kirkland and Lisa Rinehart, the latter of which, he has three kids (Peter, Anna, and Sofia) with.

With fellow choreographer Mark Morris, Baryshnikov operated his own modern dance company, The White Oak Dance Project, from 1990-2002. In 2005, he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New York. He was recently seen in an uncredited role, as Interior Minister Sorokin, in 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Baryshnikov has even been honoured with cocktails based on his life and career. The drinks include Dancer, Actor, and World Citizen… now that’s a triple threat!

Latvia: Kretchma

Kretchma Martini

  • 1 oz Stoli Vodka
  • 1 oz Creme de Cacao
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

The only real knock I have against Baryshnikov is that he asked for asylum in the city I hate the most in this beautiful country of Canada. That would be Toronto, the center of the universe according to anyone who lives there. Other than that, the guy’s okay in my books!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This is a very good cocktail, especially when you use Stoli’s Salted Karamel Vodka. The Grenadine gives it a terrific colour and I’m always surprised at how well Lemon Juice and Creme de Cacao work together.

August 17 – Jell-O Shot

Celebrity Endorsement

Much like Bill Cosby has been the face of Jell-O in the past, many celebrities have lent their name and likeness to liquor products. Even 90’s boy band Hanson has been linked to a beer called MmmHop… while that seems totally ridonkulous, here are some legit spirit-celebrity relationships:

Ron Jeremy – Ron de Jeremy Rum

That’s right, the well-hung porn legend has released his own brand of Rum. Sadly, this elixir was temporarily banned from Manitoba, Canada liquor store shelves, despite no objectionable writing or images on the label, just solely based on Jeremy’s former career. I expect better of my country!

Ron de Jeremy Rum

Dan Aykroyd – Crystal Head Vodka

You’d expect the likes of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to support this Vodka, but instead you get funnyman Dan Aykroyd being responsible. My buddy got a bottle of this spirit for his 30th birthday and we have yet to crack it open… shame on us!

Marilyn Manson – Mansinthe

It’s a very interesting choice for a celebrity to lend their talents to an Absinthe creation, but nothing Marilyn Manson does in the world of business and entertainment could be considered normal. This Absinthe blend does in fact contain the hallucinogenic wormwood, which has me very intrigued.

Donald Trump – Trump Vodka

Unfortunately, The Donald’s alcohol endeavor is no more, as “the company failed to meet the threshold requirements”… whatever that means. When the liquor was released, Trump was so sure of its success that he gloated the Trump and Tonic and Trump Martini would be the next big things to hit the mixology world.

Trump Vodka

Danny DeVito – Danny DeVito Limoncello

Why Limoncello? Why not!? It goes along with DeVito’s Italian heritage, I suppose. I kind of wish DeVito had resurrected his Louie De Palma character from Taxi and released some filthy sewer water concoction, just looking to make a quick buck in this scheme.

George Clooney – Casamigos Tequila

As if George Clooney needs another thing that makes him look cool, suave, and sophisticated! This Tequila has a ton of hype built up around it, largely because of Clooney’s association with the brand. It has quickly shot up my list as a must-try. Warning: It will not make you the world’s sexiest man alive!

Justin Timberlake – 901 Tequila

As JT explains, the 901 stands for 9:01pm, when the evening ends and the night begins! The 901 moniker also doubles as the area code for the artist’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Either way, it’s a clever marketing tool.

901 Tequila

Willie Nelson – Old Whiskey River Bourbon

I’m surprised Willie Nelson’s endorsement power hasn’t been completely spent in the marijuana field (or even the tax evasion field), but here we are with a Bourbon product that bears the title of one of Willie’s classic cover tunes, ‘Whiskey River’… a song about getting blitzed on the booze.

Sammy Hagar – Cabo Wabo Tequila & Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum

The Van Halen rocker seriously likes his booze. Enough so that he started the Cabo Wabo bar chain and Tequila, later adding Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum. The Cabo Wabo Tequila is one of the few products on this list that I’ve actually tried (and enjoyed!) in Cabo San Lucas, no less!

Cee Lo Green – Ty Ku Sake

Here’s an interesting pairing. You have singer and songwriter Cee Lo Green dabbling in the Japanese traditional spirit of Sake. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. A few other celebs also have stake in this company, including gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Good company to keep…

TY-KU-Sake

Billy Gibbons – Pura Vida Tequila

The ZZ Top front man joins a long list of musicians who have entered the liquor game. This Premium Tequila (don’t they all advertise themselves to be that!) is surely consumed by sharply dressed men with great legs, on their way to La Grange. I wonder if Gibbons’ famous beard ever gets matted and tangled by the Pura Vida Tequila

Bill Murray and Mikhail Baryshnikov – Slovenia Vodka

Can you imagine the board of director meetings that happen within this Vodka company, led by the odd couple of actor Bill Murray and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov? Between the jokes and choreography, I’m willing to bet that barely any work gets done at all at these offices.

Drink #229: Jell-O Shot

Jell-o Shooter

  • 1/2 Cup of Vodka/Spiced Rum/Tequila
  • Mix Liquors with 1/2 Cup Water and Cool in Fridge
  • 1 Cup Water, Boiled
  • 1 Pack of Jell-O (Watermelon, Berry Blue, Lime)

If I could have a celebrity endorsement for this site, I’d pick some of the finest alcoholics known to fame: I’m talking the Mel Gibson’s or David Hasselhoff’s of the world. As for myself, in the not-too-distant future, I will be a dot.com celeb and will have to be careful when choosing products to attach my name to. Look out for a future article regarding my selective process!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I figured Jell-O Shots had to be done at some point in this project and why not combine them with Frozen Cocktail Week, since there’s really no point in making a frozen shooter (you might as well just go ahead and entitle it Brain Freeze… light bulb!). Making Jell-O shots made me feel like a kid again… except this time I was getting ripped throughout the entire process. I want to thank Ma Sip and Cousin Sip for their help throughout the project. I decided to do three different versions of the shooters (lime with tequila, berry blue with spiced rum, and watermelon with raspberry vodka) with my favourite being the vodka-watermelon combo. I never really liked Jell-O Shots until I made them myself!