Virginia – Lover’s Cocktail

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. This week, we enter federal government territory with our exploration of Virginia. The Old Dominion is home to the Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies, so we’ll have to keep things to a dull roar:

Motto: “Thus always to tyrants” – Apparently, this was said by John Wilkes Booth after shooting President Abraham Lincoln. You’d think that would necessitate a change in slogan.

Food: Smithfield Ham (aka Virginia Ham) has protected designation status, meaning only hams that come from Smithfield and are processed, treated, smoked and cured a specific way can be called Smithfield Hams. It was among the first exports of the U.S. There’s also Brunswick Stew and Peanut Soup to round out Virginia-based delicacies.

Drink: The State Spirit of Virginia is George Washington’s Rye Whiskey, which is produced at the first president’s reconstructed distillery at his Mount Vernon home (more on that later). The whiskey’s recipe was previously used by Washington in the late 1700’s and production made the distillery the largest in the country. The whiskey now sells in limited edition batches.

Smithfield Ham

Site to See: A somber, but popular attraction in Virginia is the Arlington National Cemetery, containing the remains of soldiers from wars America has been involved with, beginning with the Civil War. It’s here that visitors can find the graves of President John F. Kennedy, astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Street: Skyline Drive, which runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the entire length of Shenandoah National Park, is a 105-mile route offering spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont. It also allows access to hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. The road is a National Scenic Byway and National Historic Landmark.

TV Show: Two Seth McFarlane shows are set in Virginia, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Anyone who truly gets the Sip Advisor knows both these series are among my all-time favourites, thanks to characters such as Roger Smith, Klaus Heisler, Cleveland Brown and his drinking buddies, Rallo Tubbs, and many others. Sadly, The Cleveland Show only lasted four seasons, but American Dad is still going strong with over 300 episodes.

Movie: So many movies have scenes that take place in Virginia, thanks to the federal government agencies located there. Two Disney movies completely set in the state are the animated Pocahontas, led by the voice work of Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson and David Ogden Stiers, and live action Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington.

Pocahontas

Book/Author: Ellen Glasgow was born in Richmond. She published 20 books over her lifetime, five of which ranked on best-seller lists. Her most notable work was In This Our Life, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1942. The same year, the book was adapted into a film, starring Hollywood leads Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as the story’s sisters.

Fictional Character: I’ve always enjoyed Cleveland Brown, dating back to his early days on Family Guy. With his own show, Cleveland was expanded even further and came into his own, with his own zany adventures. Not even the cancellation of The Cleveland Show and a voice actor change can keep the man down, as he and the rest of the Brown-Tubbs family have relocated back to Family Guy.

Fictional City: For this category, we go back to American Dad and The Cleveland Show, which are set in Langley Falls and Stoolbend, respectively. Both places have their pros and cons, making it a tough choice if I had to pick one to live in. Langley Falls combines the communities of Langley and Great Falls, while Stoolbend was inspired by Richmond, where co-creator Mike Henry was raised.

Actor/Actress: ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Sandra Bullock was born in Arlington. She won a Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side and has also starred in movies such as Speed, Gravity and Ocean’s 8. Bullock is one of the most bankable stars in the industry, with films grossing over $5.3 billion worldwide. As a result, she is also one of the most powerful women in entertainment.

Cleveland Brown

Song: Virginia Moon by the Foo Fighters is an ode to the state where frontman Dave Grohl was raised and still lives, his basement converted to a recording studio. Singer and pianist Norah Jones joined the band for the track, thanks to her background in jazz and ability to mesh with Grohl. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

Band/Musician: A tough category to narrow down, with options such as Ella Fitzgerald, Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, June Carter Cash, the Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz, and Wayne Newton. Fitzgerald gets the edge as a result of the walls she had to breakdown during her career, earning her nicknames such as the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz.

People: Political allies and friends George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were born in Popes Creek and Shadwell, respectively. Both were instrumental in separating from the British, with Washington would become the first President of the United States and Jefferson not far behind as the third President. Both men are carved into the Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Animal: Secretariat, one of the most popular and successful thoroughbred racehorses of all-time, was born in Virginia in 1970. Secretariat would go on to win the 1973 Triple Crown, setting speed records in each of the three races. Secretariat’s days as a stud produced daughters who would sire many notable champions. A 2010 Disney live action film about the horse was critically and financially successful.

George Washington

Invention: The Foil Electret Microphone, which is used in 90 percent of products, including telephones, video cameras, baby monitors, hearing aids and other devices, was invented by James Edward Maceo West. West, who was born in Farmville, holds many other patents related to microphones and is still going strong at age 89, developing a gadget to diagnose pneumonia in infants.

Crime: Virginia has been home to a number of mass murders, including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the Virginia Tech massacre and the Virginia Beach shooting. The Pentagon attack killed 184 people (including 59 aboard the plane), while the shootings at Virginia Tech (the deadliest school shooting in the U.S.) and Virginia Beach resulted in 32 and 12 deaths, respectively.

Law: In Virginia, it is illegal to hunt wild animals on a Sunday, except for raccoons. I have no clue why they are so against the beloved trash panda.

Sports Team: Virginia has no professional teams, but the state has made a number of attempts to gain one, including a failed bid for an NHL expansion team and the unsuccessful relocation of MLB squads. For now, they settle for supporting nearby franchises, such as the Washington Football Team (NFL) and Washington Capitals (NHL), who have headquarters and practice facilities in the state, but play elsewhere.

Microphone

Athlete: Tennis player Arthur Ashe won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments over his career, the only black man to win each. Ashe’s career was marred with medical issues, including a heart attack at age 36 and later contracting HIV through blood transfusions. He died in 1993 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as having the US Open stadium named in his honour.

Famous Home: George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello can be found in Virginia and are among the nation’s most famous homes. Both are National Historic Landmarks, while Monticello is a United Nations World Heritage site. I’ve personally been to Monticello and can understand why the estate appeared on a 1956 postage stamp.

Urban Legend: The Bunny Man legend is about a man wearing a bunny costume and attacking people with an axe in Fairfax County. The tale is based on two reports, occurring 10 days apart, in October 1970, regarding a man threatening people for trespassing. Other sightings have occurred since and as the legend has grown, people now flock to the area, particularly near Halloween.

Museum: Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum, transporting visitors back in time to the period of the American Revolution. Williamsburg was once the capital of Virginia and is where much activity in gaining independence from the British took place, involving patriotic icons such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others.

Williamsburg

Firsts: Jamestown Settlement was the first permanent English settlement in North America, founded in 1607. 20 miles from Jamestown, the settlement of Berkeley Hundred is where the first Thanksgiving meal occurred in 1619 (two years before the Pilgrims held their own in Plymouth, Massachusetts). The first U.S. whiskey distillery was also established in Berkeley Hundred in 1621.

Company: Virginia is home to many federal government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It is also the headquarters for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Five Guys, a favourite restaurant of the Sip Family.

Events: The surrenders ending both the American Revolution and Civil War each took place in Virginia. The Civil War, in particular, was largely fought in the state, with more than 2,000 military events and many major battles, as Richmond was the Confederate capital. A number of those battlefields have been preserved, although there have been efforts to remove Confederate monuments.

Miscellaneous: Another nickname for Virginia is Mother of Presidents. This is because eight U.S. Presidents were born in the state, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. Also, six U.S. First Lady’s hail from Virginia.

Lover’s Cocktail

Lover's Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Limoncello
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This drink is a reference to Virginia’s tourism slogan ‘Virginia is for lovers’, which has been in use since 1969. The campaign was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009 and listed by Forbes as one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all-time.

Ohio – Boozy Buckeye

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 travel to Ohio, the Buckeye State, to see what trouble we can get into. Given the state gave out the first ever traffic ticket, though, we better tread carefully. Let’s do it:

Motto: “With God, all things are possible” – All things are always possible…

Food: For those with a sweet tooth, Ohio has a number of options. Most notably, Buckeyes (balls of peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate) are popular throughout the state. With a portion of the peanut butter exposed, they resemble the nuts from buckeye trees, the State Tree of Ohio. Life Savers Candy and Chewing Gum were also invented there.

Drink: Gem Beverages has operated in Ohio since 1923. Their most popular brand is Ski, a citrus soda, which comes in regular, diet, cherry and tropical flavours. This category seems like a good place to also mention that the pop-top (pull-tab) drink can was invented in 1959, by Ohioan Ermal Fraze, as he looked for a better way to open beers.

Buckeyes

Site to See: Cedar Point amusement park, in Sandusky, is the second oldest amusement park in the U.S. The park has been called ‘America’s Roller Coaster’ and contains 71 rides. It is the most visited seasonal theme park in the country. Cedar Point was awarded ‘Best Amusement Park in the World’ 16 years in a row (1997-2013) by Amusement Today.

Street: Euclid Avenue in Cleveland gained attention in the late 1800s and early 1900s for the wealthy families living along the route. With residents like John Rockefeller, the area became known as Millionaires’ Row and the beauty of the street earned it another nickname: The Showplace of America. There’s also a really neat three-way bridge in Zanesville, called the Y-Bridge.

TV Show: A number of good sitcoms are set in Ohio, including The Drew Carey Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Family Ties. Hit musical dramedy Glee also took place in the state. Of them all, The Drew Carey Show was probably my favourite, thanks to characters like Lewis and Oswald. Also, John Lithgow did an amazing job on 3rd Rock, while we can thank Family Ties for Michael J. Fox.

Movie: Did you know one of the greatest characters of the horror genre haunts Ohio… even its resident’s dreams? The A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, which sees Freddy Krueger stalk his victims in their sleep, was created by Wes Craven, who was born in Cleveland. There are nine Elm Street films, along with a TV series, novels, comic books and other media.

Freddy Krueger

Book/Author: As someone who grew up on this author’s work, I had to pick R.L. Stine for this category. His Goosebumps series introduced millions of kids to the concept of reading for fun, while his Fear Street series kept those kids, now as teenagers, interested in picking up a book. Stine’s countless novels have sold hundreds of millions of copies.

Fictional Character: The Hulk (real name Bruce Banner) is from Dayton. If I’m being honest, I was never really a fan of the character until Mark Ruffalo took over the role in The Avengers movies. The scene where he obliterates Loki by rag dolling him around is one of the best in any Marvel movie. Hulk SMASH, am I right!?

Fictional City: Coolsville is the hometown of Scooby-Doo and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang. Sure, a lot of weird happenings occur in the town, but as long as the Mystery Machine is nearby, you know the case is about to be solved by some meddling kids and their dog. Interestingly, there is a real town in Ohio, named Coolville, after founder Simeon W. Cooley.

Actor/Actress: Paul Newman, star of movies such as The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, and a Sip Advisor personal favourite Slap Shot, was born in Shaker Heights. Newman was nominated a number of times for the Best Actor Oscar, finally winning one for The Color of Money. His Newman’s Own food company donates all after-tax profits to charity.

Paul Newman

Song: Ohio by The Black Keys is an ode to the state, with the group being formed in Akron. It was a bonus track on their album Brothers and contains lyrics such as “Get me home; Before, before I lose my mind. I need some space to let my; My tape rewind.” It should also be noted, Ohio has a State Rock Song, Hang On, Sloopy by The McCoys.

Band/Musician: Dave Grohl, frontman of the Foo Fighters and drummer for Nirvana before that, was born in Warren. While many famous people have a street named after them in their hometown, Grohl has an alley. Visitors to the landmark can find paintings and a sculpture of Grohl, as well as the world’s largest drumsticks. Grohl is said to visit the site on occasion.

People: Ohio is a capital of aviation. The Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) were from Dayton, before moving to North Carolina and making the first successful motor-operated airplane flight. Also, Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and John Glenn, the first American to orbit earth, were born in Wapakoneta and Cambridge, respectively.

Animal: Smoky the Dog was a war dog, accompanying Corporal William A. Wynne, during World War II. Smoky’s efforts, running wires to help build an air base, saved about 250 soldiers from being exposed. After the war, Wynne and Smoky returned to Cleveland, where the dog became a national sensation, with her popularity reviving the Yorkshire Terrier breed.

Smoky the Dog

Invention: High school friends from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, co-created comic book superhero Superman, with the character debuting in the first issue of Action Comics, in 1938. The rights to the character were sold for a mere $130, which was standard business in the industry at that time. While they were paid well by DC Comics afterwards, the duo regretted selling the copyright.

Crime: Ohio has had two sets of serial killer brothers terrorize the state. First, Anthony and Nathaniel Cook were incarcerated for raping and murdering at least nine white victims in Toledo, in racially-motivated crimes. Next, Gary and Thaddeus Lewingdon both received life sentences after committing 10 murders around the state, with robbery being their motive.

Law: It is illegal to get a fish drunk… but they make the best drinking buddies!

Sports Team: Ohio has many sports options spread across the state. Cleveland has three teams in the Indians (MLB), Browns (NFL) and Cavaliers (NBA), while Cincinnati has the Reds (MLB) and Bengals (NFL). Finally, there’s the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) and the Ohio State University Buckeyes football program, which also plays out of Columbus.

Superman

Athlete: Ohio has a trio of GOATs (greatest of all-time). This includes golfer Jack Nicklaus, who won 117 tournaments, including a record 18 majors; MLB all-time hits leader Pete Rose, winner of three World Series; and basketball superstar LeBron James, with three NBA championships, each of which he was the Finals MVP for. Rose and James played most of their careers in their home state.

Famous Home: A Christmas Story House can be found in Cleveland. In 2004, entrepreneur Brian Jones purchased the home on eBay for $150,000 and restored it to how it looks in the film. Jones also bought the house across the street, turning it into a museum, featuring props from the movie, such as the family’s car and a Red Ryder BB gun. You can even book an overnight stay in the home.

Urban Legend: What was once known as Boston Township, is now dubbed Helltown, an area of Ohio rife with stories of paranormal activity, Satan worshippers, the supposed “end of the world” road and the mutant ‘Peninsula Python’. The legends resulted from Boston becoming a ghost town in the mid 1970’s, as government began creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Museum: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame can be found in Cleveland and Canton, respectively. How did they end up in Ohio? Well, Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed was the first to use the term rock and roll, while in 1920, Canton hosted a meeting between four Ohio-based football teams, founding what today is the NFL.

Pete Rose

Firsts: Ohio has a lot of interesting firsts, including the original professional fire department and ambulance service, as well as the first police force to use a vehicle. The state also had the first concrete street and is where the first automobile was created. Cleveland was the first city lit by electricity and later had the first traffic signal system. Lastly, the first pro baseball team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Company: Fast food restaurant Wendy’s was founded by Dave Thomas, in Columbus, in 1969. The chain, named after one of Thomas’ daughters, is now headquartered in Dublin, with their office located on Dave Thomas Boulevard. The restaurant is the third largest hamburger fast food chain in the world. Ohioans claim to have invented dipping fries into Frosty milkshakes.

Events: The Kent State Shootings, where National Guard members opened fire on unarmed student protestors, shocked the country. Four people were killed and nine wounded during the anti-Vietnam War rally. Criminal cases resulted in no convictions, while civil cases eventually resulted in a $675,000 settlement paid by the state to plaintiffs.

Miscellaneous: Ohio is known as “The Mother of Presidents”, given seven Commander-in-Chiefs have come from the state. This includes Ulysses S. Grant (18th President), Rutherford B. Hayes (19th President), James A. Garfield (20th President), Benjamin Harrison (23rd President), William McKinley (25th President), William H. Taft (27th President), and Warren G. Harding (29th President).

Boozy Buckeye

Boozy Buckeye

  • 1 oz Irish Cream or Bourbon
  • Top with Hot Chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp of Melted Peanut Butter
  • Garnish with Whipped Cream

This cocktail is meant to best replicate the Buckeyes dessert treats in liquid form. As for the debate between whether to use Irish Cream or Bourbon, I said to hell with it and used Peanut Butter Whiskey for even more of a peanut butter punch. A recipe variation I found uses two ounces of Coconut Rum and an ounce of Kahlua, instead. The beverage might be best enjoyed while tailgating before Ohio State Buckeyes football games.