Russia – Estate Cocktail

Pricey Souvenir

Anyone travelling in Russia has to pick up a Fabergé Egg (or at least a suitable knockoff), but what do we really know about these expensive and fragile relics? Luckily, the Sip Advisor is here for all your antiquity needs!

The famous jewel-covered eggs were created by artist Peter Carl Fabergé, starting in 1885. They were originally given by Tsar Alexander III to his wife as an Easter morning treat and continued by Alexander’s son Nicholas II (to his wife and mother), leading up to the Russian Revolution. Of the approximately 50 ‘Imperial’ eggs the House of Fabergé created, 43 still exist. Not that I’m complaining, but all I ever got for Easter was chocolate and candy!

Group Faberge eggs.

Fabergé’s first creation was dubbed the ‘Hen Egg,’ which featured a seemingly ordinary egg, but inside was gold yolk that contained a golden hen (with ruby eyes, no less) on a nest of gold. And the gifts kept coming. Inside the hen was a miniature diamond version of the royal crown, as well as a ruby egg pendant that could be worn as a necklace. While the Hen Egg is among those that have survived, the gifts inside have been lost to time (a sad, but common theme among the eggs).

Other famous eggs include the Diamond Trellis, Rosebud, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Basket of Wild Flowers, Moscow Kremlin, Rose Trellis, Standart Yacht, Colonnade, Napoleonic, Winter, and the unfinished Constellation. Constellation was never completed and presented thanks to the Russian Revolution taking place and the royal family being executed.

Eggs were made each year, except for 1904 and 1905, when Russia was at war with Japan. As the legend of the eggs grew, Fabergé picked up more clients, including industrialist Alexander Kelch, the Duchess of Marlborough, and the Rothschild and Yusupov families. Each egg contained hidden gifts, usually trinkets such as pendants and other jewelry that could be worn by the recipient.

Dos Equis Faberge

Some of the eggs ended up in private collections, while others are on display in museums around the world. Most of the eggs that are missing are thought to still be out there somewhere, while a few have certainly been destroyed, with little reference to them following the Russian Revolution. Next time Easter rolls around, you better be careful about what you discard and what you examine a little closer.

One of the ‘Imperial’ eggs was almost sold as scrap metal. Although the unidentified owner was looking to take home $500 from melting down the piece, the egg was actually worth $33 million US. Thankfully, the owner didn’t get the money he was hoping to score and kept the item. Thought to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of the antique world, it was last listed in an auction book in 1964 before it was located earlier this year.

Cracked Faberge

Fabergé Eggs were Russia’s featured showcase for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. This earned Fabergé, his two sons, and his head workmaster awards from the French government, as well as boosted the company’s profile and client list. The main Fabergé outlet still exists in St. Petersburg. Although it has been renamed, it is still known as the Fabergé store.

As for the artist, Fabergé was forced to flee Russia during the October Revolution of 1917. His company was seized by the new Bolshevik government and broken up. Fabergé died in 1920 at the age of 74, after taking refuge in Switzerland (following stops in Latvia, Germany, and Finland). The Fabergé brand has never disappeared, first being operated by Fabergé’s children before being purchased by larger corporations, which use the name for colognes and perfumes.

Russia: Estate Cocktail

Estate Cocktail

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • Top with Grapefruit Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Mint Leaf

Another Russian treasure is the Matryoshka Dolls (or Nesting Dolls) which feature progressively smaller figures as you open each doll. There are sets for Russian presidents, various holidays, and other famous figures. While in Russia, I picked up a Christmas set for Ma Sip and a Beatles set for Pa Sip. Both were really neat and a perfect memento to bring back as souvenirs.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail comes from the Rum Howler, who has a great site reviewing a bunch of different spirits and including a recipe with each post. I used Squirt instead of Grapefruit Juice to add some fizz to the cocktail and it was a nice addition. It basically turned into a Vodka-based Mojito and with that beautiful Beluga Vodka, it was a knockout of a cocktail!

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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.

December 15 – The Mistletoe

All I Want for Christmas

As I researched my post on the worst Christmas albums, I came across a ton of horrible cover art that just has to be shared with all you little sippers. Prepare to be horrified and delighted all at the same time!

Rudy Ray Moore – This Ain’t No White Christmas

This Ain't No White Christmas

Horrible cover, but absolutely amazing idea! I need to get Mrs. Sip on board with Rudy Ray Moore’s idea of holiday attire. Who exactly is Rudy Ray Moore, you might be asking? Well, my little sippers, Mr. Moore is the legendary Dolemite, one of the most famous blaxploitation characters. This Ain’t No White Christmas is one of Moore’s comedy releases and features a two-part ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

Lenny Dee – Happy Holi-dee

happy-holi-dee

He didn’t even bother to put on the friggin’ Santa beard! Or, perhaps, the dogs he’s holding yanked it off and he said, “You know what, fuck it! Take the damn picture and let’s get out of here.” Dee’s Wikipedia page says that he was a virtuoso organist… Mrs. Sip would say the same about me! Happy Holi-dee isn’t Dee’s only release to incorporate his last name. He also had Dee-Lightful, Dee-Lirious, Dee-Licious, Dee-Frosting, and many more.

Thore Skogmans Julskiva – Klappa Pa!

Klappa Pa

Here’s all the meat I’ll be sexually gratifying you with… what’s that? You aren’t into meat loving? Oh, I guess I’m alone in that regard. Perhaps I’m being too hard on Thore here. He just looks like a happy-go-lucky dude who really enjoys meat and Christmas feasts. Klappa Pa sounds like something you’d hear at a German beer hall and that’s all well and good, but it’s certainly not something I’d want to get my stein on to.

William Hung – Hung for the Holidays

Hung for the Holidays

They made William Hung look like the worst South Park character ever… not that that was a really hard task. This whole idea was thrown together so quickly trying to capitalize on Hung’s 15 minutes of fame. The cover art for Hung for the Holidays might actually make the tracks on the album seem better. I hope nobody has to spend Christmas with William Hung because you know he’d be trying to share this drivel with any unfortunate guests.

Slim Whitman – Christmas with Slim Whitman

Christmas with Slim Whitman

His eyes say “you’ll be safe with me”, but his smile says “I will rape you”. And what a freakin’ awesome name! Seriously, this name would mean instant respect in any professional world, from journalism to porn. Whitman reminds me of Dan Aykroyd’s Saturday Night Live character Fred Garvin, male prostitute. To be fair, Christmas with Slim Whitman shows us not to judge a book by it’s cover, as Whitman’s voice doesn’t match the sex offender image he presents.

Drink #349: The Mistletoe

The Mistletoe Drink Recipe

After checking out this list, you’d probably agree with me that it’s a good thing cover art for music releases is largely a thing of the past thanks to the death of the album, tape, and CD.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was pretty refreshing and I’ve always liked how Grey Goose Cherry Noir and Sweet & Sour Mix work together. The Club Soda gave the drink a nice level of fizz, while not distracting from the taste of any of the other ingredients. I also really like my simple but effective garnishing of the cocktail.

November 10 – Movember Rain

‘Stache Central

In honour of all the dudes out there that are growing mustaches that make their partners less attracted to them, all in the name of raising awareness for men’s health, particularly prostate and testicular cancer, here’s a look at some of the greatest whiskers in the media world!

Magnum PI – Tom Selleck is so associated with his trademark facial hair that the network wouldn’t allow him to get rid of it for his role on Blue Bloods. Can you believe Selleck turned down the role of Mitch Buchannon (later went to David Hasselhoff) on Baywatch because he didn’t want to be a sex symbol… uh, hey Tom, too late, buddy!

magnum-pi-moustache

Hulk Hogan – Hogan’s Fu-Manchu plays a vital role in his image as a do-gooder and leader of Hulkamaniacs everywhere. So much so, that when he finally became a bad guy and leader of the reprehensible New World Order, a dirty black beard was added to show he had fully embraced the dark side.

Ned Flanders – Everyone’s favoruite religious zealot has had many storylines center around his nose neighbour. Usually when Ned is forced to shave the facial hair, good things come his way. Surprisingly, when he refused to rid his upper lip of fur, the omnibenevolent one was labeled and rebel and troublemaker.

Yosemite Sam – Sam has such a wicked moustache that it actually encompasses his entire face, including around his eyes. Sam is a mentor of mine, as just like him, I am prone to obscenity-laced tirades when I’ve been outsmarted by a no-good varmint.

Cat Mustache

Captain Hook – Whether the cartoon character or the live action depiction by Dustin Hoffman, Captain Hook’s trademark cookie-duster is comical and to be feared all at the same time. If you were in his position, wouldn’t you also grow a mustache and do anything else to distract from the hooked hand!?

Snidely Whiplash/Boris Badenov/Dick Dastardly – It seems that back in the day, you couldn’t be an animated villain without sporting some sort of soup strainer. These are some of the most despicable dudes to ever exist and they evilness was only accentuated by their lower brow.

Ron Swanson – The man’s man of the Parks and Rec crew just wouldn’t carry the same respect if he was sans mustache. He is such an aficionado that he’s gone on to teach others how to grow a great mustache and NBC even has t-shirts with Swanson’s likeness available in their shop.

Mario, Luigi, Wario & Wailuigi – These four guys have a yearly competition to see who has the best lady tickler. My vote goes to Wario and his lightning bolt-esque flavour saver!

Machete – What would an anarchist assassin be without a badass ‘stache!? For Machete, the facial fur is all part of the look meant to strike fear in the hearts of those he is paid to dispose of.

Cleveland Brown – In flashbacks, it’s revealed that Cleveland has had a rockin’ ‘stache since his teenage years and when his son shaves it off in an act of revenge, we learn why. Apparently Brown’s voice is created thanks to the hairs and without the mustache, it sounds squeaky and pathetic.

Aficionado

Inspector ClouseauClouseau’s mustache was based off of fellow fictional investigator Hercule Poirot, but I’ll take the funny man over the more serious detective any day… providing it’s the Peter Sellers version and not the Steve Martin one.

Borat – I just can’t imagine Borat without his goofy lip foliage. The Kazakhstan journalist has been an inspiration to me and millions around the world, showing us all what lengths we should go to in order to get a story done.

Ron Burgundy – What would a 1970’s newsman be without an epic crumb catcher? In fact, some posters for the upcoming Anchorman sequel prominently focus on the icon’s mustache and that’s all you really need to know before going into the theatre!

ronburgundy

J. Jonah Jameson – The Spiderman hater sports a push broom similar to one Adolf Hitler… could there be a connection there? I’m sure Spiderman and all his employees would think so.

Evil Abed/Evil Cartman/Evil Spock – For some reason, a character can be turned “evil” simply by adding facial hair to their usual look. I’ve experimented with this theory every Movember, by becoming a complete and total dick throughout the month!

Drink #314: Movember Rain

Movember Rain Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Berries and Mint Leaves
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Chambord
  • Top with half Grapefruit Juice and half Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Mint Leaves and a Berry

Who possesses your favourite upper lip caterpillar? Unfortunately, this is one area where you won’t all be shouting my name. I just can’t seem to grow great facial hair. Good, yes… but great… not for the Sip Advisor.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
There’s a lot going on in this cocktail and I think that detracts from the overall enjoyment on the drink. When you get a focused sip of the Chambord, for example, it’s very good. On other sips, however, you get a mix of different juices and so on and it’s hard to pinpoint a taste. I’m not a fan of weird, combined, unidentifiable flavours, so it’s too bad that happens in this recipe. I tried to make the mint leaves look like a moustache… mission accomplished!

August 7 – Undercover Squirrel

Dicks

I often try to match the subject matter of a post to the name of the featured cocktail… but with a drink called the Undercover Squirrel, what is a liquor deviant supposed to do? Therefore, I decided to write about a topic very close to my heart: the greatest detectives. I love me a good mystery and these sleuths are some of the best!

Columbo

I grew up watching Columbo and his inverted mystery adventures where you know who the killer is all along and the fun comes in how the good Lieutenant trips them up with his idiosyncrasies and constant hounding. The disheveled, but always polite homicide detective was known for his catchphrase “Just one more thing,” which usually signaled he had a prime suspect in mind and all he had to do was reel them in.

Columbo murderer

Sherlock Holmes

With Sherlock Holmes, the game is always afoot and the adventures for this crime solver are seemingly endless thanks to all the different incarnations of the character. Currently, there is a movie franchise and two TV series (starring Robert Downey, Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jonny Lee Miller, respectively) focused on Holmes. The legendary detective has provided inspiration to many of the other entries on this list.

Jessica Fletcher

I don’t think anyone has been surrounded by so much death and homicide than the Murder, She Wrote author, Jessie Fletcher. It seems everywhere she goes, from her sleepy hometown of Cabot Cove to travels around the world results in someone losing their life. I think a great finale to the show would have been revealing that Fletcher was in fact a Dexter-esque serial killer or perhaps she was Death itself!

Thomas Magnum

Private investigator Thomas Magnum may be the luckiest man alive. He gets to live in an expansive Hawaiian estate, free of cost; drive hot cars around the island, also free of cost; and meet a bevy of beautiful, tropical women… that might cost a little bit. All he has to do in his spare time is solve the odd theft, kidnapping, or murder and he gets to live in paradise. Plus, he has one of the best theme songs known to man!

Magnum PI Moustache

Inspector Jacques Clouseau

The bumbling imbecile and lead of the Pink Panther movies may have his heart in the right place as he tries valiantly to be a good officer of the law, but his ineptness always shines through. How much of a screw-up is Clouseau? He has even driven his superior into a state of madness, as the former Chief Inspector designed a doomsday device with the core intention to kill Clouseau.

Scooby Doo and the Gang

Travelling the country in the legendary Mystery Machine, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby are often thrust into a mystery and have to solve it while being chased and spooked by any number of scary monsters, usually in rumoured-to-be-haunted settings. The crew always prevail in the end, unmasking some villainous individual who was looking to capitalize on some local urban legend. It should be noted that Scooby and company narrowly edged out the Rescue Rangers for the animated sleuth team entry.

scooby-doo

Adrian Monk

Adrian Monk is an ex-homicide detective, who was forced to leave the police after the murder of his wife, which triggered an extreme obsessive compulsive disorder and various phobias. He now works closely with the San Francisco Police Department as a consultant and usually outshines his fellow cops by solving every murder that the team is investigating.

Ace Ventura

The pet detective, Ace Ventura doesn’t play by the rules… in fact, he probably doesn’t even know what they are. Ventura is more than just a pet detective; he’s a lover of animals and is able to form a special bond with many of the creatures he is trying to rescue. This character launched the career of Jim Carrey and the first movie was a childhood favourite of mine. Never forget, friends: laces out…

Drink #219: Undercover Squirrel

Aug 7

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.25 oz Pear Vodka (I used Absolut)
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • Garnish with Mint Leaf

Damn, there were a lot of private detective type shows in the 80’s. Along with Magnum P.I., which I included above, I was forced to leave out such classics as Jim Rockford, A.J. and Rick Simon, and Remington Steele (with partner Laura Holt). A great movie to look out for if you can find it is Murder by Death, which spoofs many classic detectives including Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Charlie Chan.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
What a fantastic drink with a number or rarely used ingredients. I have to say that Mint may be my favourite item to use in cocktails, as it always provides a unique and wonderful taste. The Cinnamon worked really well with the Galliano to add a beautiful note of vanilla and spice.

June 14 – Countdown Cocktail

3…2…1…

Life is full of countdowns of varying importance. Whether you’re waiting for your next vacation or the end of the world is rapidly approaching, we’re all watching time tick away to something. Here are some of the most infamous countdowns:

Y2K

Heading into the new millennium, concerns were raised over computer clocks rolling over to the new date, thus causing internal malfunctions. Some people feared that this would cause computer systems across the world to fail, with results being as catastrophic as nuclear missiles being launched and the planet destroying itself. In fact, in Onagawa, Japan, an alarm at a nuclear power plant sounded two minutes after midnight, but luckily it was a false alarm. Worst yet, 150 slot machines in Delaware stopped working, causing hardcore gamblers to declare martial law.

y2k

Year 10,000 Problem

If we even make it there, there are already fears that an issue similar to Y2K will haunt us again in the year 10,000. I’m not too concerned, as clearly they haven’t taken the time to come up with a clever name for the event like they did for Y2K, which shows they’re not all that worried about something that may occur 8,000 years from now. Besides, I don’t even know if my lineage will continue past myself, let alone eight millennia from now.

Popular Culture

Lists are used by everyone nowadays. Hell, it’s largely what I do here at The Sip Advisor, on a daily basis… but I’m one of the few who does it with class and dignity! While some lists are awesome (again, like the ones featured on this site), others are utterly useless. Don’t even get me started on music video countdowns. Those are so horrible it makes me want to throw a record player through my TV screen and eliminate all possible audible nightmares.

New Year’s Eve

Every year, people are given the chance to reboot, start fresh, and kiss some random stranger in the name of celebration! As the Times Square ball and other imitators drop on the beginning of a new year, we are all given a chance to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going. For some this can be a good experience and for others it can disappoint. Remember though, New Year’s brought about The Sip Advisor, so we should all be thankful!

new-years

Olympics

It has become tradition that the next city to host the Olympics constructs a big clock in one of its popular centres and then ticks away the days, hours, minutes and seconds until its time to shine and host the world arrives. Legend has it, that if these clocks pause at any time prior to the Games, the Olympics will be cancelled by the International Olympic Committee… that’s only a Sip Legend though.

2012 Apocalypse

According to Mayan predictions, the world was supposed to end on Dec. 21, 2012. Well, it didn’t. All it provided was a chance for zealous nutcases to form cults and for comedy shows to spoof the so-called “end of days”. The best part about living on the west coast (although there are many reasons) is that in all these time-based doomsday theories, we’ll be the last to be hit and can enjoy what’s left of our time while others kick the bucket.

mayan_calendar_funny

Shuttle Launch

Space, the final frontier… The last thing astronauts hear before being launched into the wild abyss of space is the shuttle countdown that precipitates every launch. The rush that must go through these folk’s system would surely measure off the charts, as they experience something very few ever will. I hope affordable space travel eventually exists in my lifetime. I’d go searching for Alf, so we can chase cats together!

Final Countdown

The classic hit from the band Europe should definitely be mentioned in this post. Seriously, I challenge you to go have a listen and try not to get into it. This is a special favourite of all Arrested Development fans, thanks to the character J.O.B., who uses it as part of the magician routine.

Drink #165: Countdown Cocktail

Countdown Wine Cocktail

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 2 oz Disaronno (or other Amaretto)
  • Splash of Red Wine
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • Garnish with Sugar-coated Mint Leaf

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I like recipes that involve Mint, but I wasn’t sure about how that element would work with Red Wine. Mrs. Sip, not being a fan of Amaretto and preferring wine cocktails to heavily feature the Wine itself, was not a fan of this drink, but I thought it wasn’t half bad. It’s true that the Disaronno makes its presence felt in this recipe, but I thought the Wine played a role, as well. The cocktail was more sweet than I would like, hence the point deductions.