Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Arizona is called the ‘Nation’s Valentine’ after joining the union on February 14, 1912. So, let’s give the Grand Canyon State (bet they had to think long and hard before picking that nickname) a little love:
Motto: “God enriches” – I’ll take me some of those enriches over here!
Food: The Chimichanga is an enhanced Burrito, taking an already great food item and deep frying it. As with most invented dishes, there is a dispute over which restaurant served a Chimichanga first, but regardless, it happened in Arizona.
Drink: AriZona Beverages is not from Arizona and is actually based in New York. That said, Eegee’s Frozen Fruit Drinks can actually call Arizona home, growing from a two-man vending truck operation in 1971 to having 24 locations serving up their Slurpee-like concoctions in a variety of different flavours.
Site to See: Arizona has more national monuments (18) than any other state, so there are plenty of places to visit. Of course, the top attraction of the state is the Grand Canyon National Park, with over six million people making the trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site each year, in recent times.
Street: Had the Sip Advisor existed during Arizona’s pre-statehood days, I would have certainly ended up in Bisbee, where the street known as Brewery Gulch once hosted close to 50 saloons. Today, a half-dozen breweries now reside on Brewery Avenue, which Brewery Gulch turns into.
TV Show: Medium, starring Patricia Arquette, ran for seven seasons and 130 episodes. The series was about a medium (imagine that) who works with the Phoenix district attorney’s office, assisting them with solving crimes. The series is based on real-life medium, Allison DuBois (also the name of the show’s main character), earning Arquette an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Movie: While providing the backdrop for many western movies, my favourite Arizona-set film has to be Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton. Sure, the sequel didn’t hold up at all, but the original is a holiday classic. Also, it was John Ritter’s last live-action movie, prior to his premature death, so there’s that.
Book/Author: Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series of books, was raised in Phoenix/Scottsdale. Meyer even gave her main heroine, Bella Swan, the hometown of Phoenix, so you’d have to imagine the entire plot of Twilight, involving vampires and werewolves and the like, is completely autobiographical.
Fictional Character: After finally watching the first two movies from the franchise a couple years back, my vote goes to Bowie’s own John Rambo. Rambo is a former Army Special Forces fighter, who has shot-up his fair share of baddies, over five films. The iconic character has since also appeared in comic books, video games and an animated TV series.
Fictional City: While Radiator Springs, from the movie Cars, is an amalgamation of places and attractions from America’s famous Route 66, a map seen in a flashback in the film pinpoints the town in Arizona. Radiator Springs has even been recreated within Disneyland’s California Adventure park, allowing visitors to experience the place first hand, from Flo’s V8 Café (home to the Sip Advisor’s favourite beer in the park) to Mater’s Junkyard.
Actor/Actress: Oscar-winner Emma Stone was born in Scottsdale. Stone’s film debut came in the 2007 hit Superbad, leading eventually to starring roles in Easy A, The Help and La La Land. I also have to give a shout out to Danielle Fishel, from Mesa, who was a teenage crush of the Sip Advisor, for her role of Topanga on Boy Meets World.
Song: Arizona by Rex Allen Jr. was adopted as the Alternate State Anthem of the Grand Canyon State in 1981. More interestingly, Allen narrated the movie Me, Myself, and Irene, starring Jim Carrey, Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger.
Band/Musician: Alice Cooper moved to Phoenix in his younger years and lives there to this day. The ‘Godfather of Shock Rock’ owned a popular restaurant in Phoenix called Alice Cooper’stown, which closed after 18 years in operation. Cooper even ran for Governor of Arizona in 1988, using the tagline: “Alice Cooper: A Troubled Man for Troubled Times”.
People: Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, was born in Phoenix and educated at the University of Arizona. Without her efforts, my brother from another mother, Cookie Monster, may have never existed.
Animal: From Morristown, Grumpy Cat – real name Tardar Sauce – became a viral sensation after a picture of the kitty was posted to Reddit. Always appearing cranky, due to a form of dwarfism, Grumpy Cat’s likeness was plastered on everything from toys to calendars. The popularity of the feline even allowed her owner to quit her job. Sadly, Tardar Sauce died in May 2019, due to complications from a urinary tract infection.
Invention: Given Arizona’s hot temperatures, being able to cool off by having fun in the water is a big priority or Arizonans. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Jet Skis and Keystone Kool Deck (for swimming pools) were invented in the state. Tasers were also invented there, but that gets folks a different kind of hot and bothered.
Crime: On January 8, 2011, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was the victim of an attempted assassination, as Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head outside a Safeway grocery store, as she hosted a “Congress on Your Corner” public meeting. Giffords survived the attack, but six others were not so lucky. Loughner pled guilty to 19 charges, avoiding the death penalty with his plea bargain.
Law: As a man who loves his water, the Sip Advisor is happy to learn that in Arizona, it is illegal to refuse to give a person a glass of the good stuff. I wonder if an argument could be made that beer and other alcoholic beverages should also fall under this umbrella, given they are all water-based!?
Sports Team: Arizona has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues, with the Diamondbacks (MLB), Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL), and Phoenix Suns (NBA). The state is also host to MLB’s annual Cactus League Spring Training, with games occurring at multiple locations. Lastly, golf course are in abundance in Arizona and PGA events, such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is played there yearly.
Athlete: Gymnast Kerri Strug, from Tucson, helped her American team win gold at the 1996 Olympics, memorably landing a vault attempt, despite a severely injured ankle. Becoming a hero for her bravery, Strug appeared on boxes of Wheaties cereal and even in a segment of Saturday Night Live.
Famous Home: Boyce Luther Gully designed Mystery Castle in Phoenix, with his daughter in mind. As an adult, she inherited the property, constructed from all available materials, including rail tracks, automobile parts and telephone poles. The 18-room dwelling has a chapel, dungeon and cantina and can be toured by the public.
Urban Legend: The Superstition Mountains, near Phoenix, are said to be the location of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, one of the most infamous lost treasures in the world. Immigrant Jacob Waltz “discovered” the mine in the 1800’s and went to his grave revealing the site to only one person, while on his deathbed. While a number of mines have been claimed to be the Lost Dutchman’s, we’ll likely never know the real story.
Museum: Located in Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum features a collection of over 15,000 music makers from close to 200 countries around the world. The MIM, as the cool kids call it, also contains a concert hall for live performances.
Firsts: On January 1, 1960, the first retirement community in the world opened, known as Sun City. The destination proved to be so popular that 100,000 visitors came to the development on its opening weekend. Today, the municipality has eight golf courses, seven rec centers and four lawn bowling courts, among other facilities. There’s also a museum on the site, containing artifacts from the project.
Company: Best Western International is headquartered in Phoenix. The corporation oversees the licensing of its brand to 4,500 hotels worldwide, 2,000 of them within North America. Best Western was founded in 1946, gaining its name from the fact most of the business’s locations existed west of the Mississippi River.
Events: Three decades before Arizona was even an American state, its most infamous happening occurred. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place in Tombstone, between the law and outlaws, making legends out of people like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The shootout lasted only 30 seconds, but resulted in the death of three outlaws. Today, Tombstone is known as “the town too tough to die”, presenting a recreation of the gunfight three times daily for tourists.
Miscellaneous: Flagstaff could have been movie central, as director Cecil B. DeMille wanted to shoot his movie The Squaw Man there, before settling on Hollywood, California for filming. At least Flagstaff can claim a role in the discovery of the planet (I still think it’s one) Pluto, which was first detected by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory.
Original Tequila Sunrise
- 1.25 oz Tequila
- 0.75 oz Crème de Cassis
- Top with Club Soda
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge
This cocktail was invented at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, by bartender Gene Sulit, when challenged to construct a refreshing beverage that could be enjoyed poolside. While the drink is better known for its Californian variation of tequila, orange juice and grenadine, I much prefer the Arizona original. I did sub in Pomegranate Liqueur, in place of the Crème de Cassis, however.