South Carolina – Charleston Mule

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. South Carolina’s southern hospitality welcomes the Sip Advisor this week. The Palmetto State claims to be the birthplace of barbecue so let’s get the smoker fired up, pour a pitcher of sweet tea and find a nice spot of the porch to enjoy:

Motto: “While I breathe, I hope” and “Prepared in mind and resources” – The definition of preparedness means having two different mottos.

Food: South Carolina has their own variation of some fruits, including the Bradford Watermelon and Carolina Reaper Chili Pepper. The Bradford Watermelon was once thought to be extinct, but the sweet, flavourful melon is making a comeback in Sumter. The Carolina Reaper, the world’s hottest pepper on the Scoville scale, is grown in Rock Hill.

Drink: South Carolina is said to be the birthplace of Sweet Tea and that claim makes sense given the first tea plants in the country were cultivated in the state. Today, the Charleston Tea Plantation is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Summerville has a Sweet Tea Trail, featuring the World’s Largest Sweet Tea and a number of outlets serving the beverage.

Carolina Reaper

Site to See: Myrtle Beach has become a popular vacation destination with an estimated 14 million visitors coming to the area each year. Its Boardwalk and Promenade opened in 2010 and has since been ranked as one of the top boardwalks in the country. Attractions along the boardwalk include the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, beaches, golf courses and restaurants and clubs.

Street: Rainbow Row on East Bay Street in Charleston is known for the 13 historic houses painted in pastel colours. It is said to be one of Charleston’s most photographed areas. The rainbow began when one owner painted her home pink and neighbours joined in, but legends persist it was done to help drunk sailors find their accommodations.

TV Show: Vice Principals, starring Danny McBride, follows Vice Principal Neal Gamby and his efforts to become principal of North Jackson High School. The series aired for two seasons and 18 episodes and was filmed around the Park Circle neighbourhood of Charleston, with West Ashley High School doubling as the school setting.

Movie: The Notebook, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, takes place on Seabrook Island, as well as in Charleston. The film tells the story of a young couple who fall in love, despite being from different social classes. Other notable movies with South Carolina ties, include The Patriot, The Big Chill, The Birth of a Nation, Glory, Full Metal Jacket, and Radio.

The Notebook

Book/Author: Peggy Parish, best known for children’s book series Amelia Bedelia, was born in Manning. She attended the University of South Carolina, leading to a career as a teacher, prior to becoming an author. There is a statue of Amelia Bedelia outside the Manning public library, a tribute to the city’s most famous resident.

Fictional Character: Among Parks and Recreation’s many memorable characters was the entrepreneurial Tom Haverford, portrayed by Aziz Ansari, who was born in Columbia. Over the course of the series, Haverford goes from underachieving government employee to successful restauranteur, with a number of failed businesses along the way helping him finally get things right.

Fictional City: East Peck was the setting for TV show Trial & Error, which was a mockumentary style sitcom, following lawyer Josh Segal, as he represented clients accused of odd murders. Causing further complications is Segal’s on-and-off romantic relationship with the prosecutor. The series ended after two seasons and 23 episodes.

Actor/Actress: Actor and stand-up comedian Chris Rock was born in Andrews. The Saturday Night Live alum has starred in movies such as the Madagascar and Grown Ups franchises, as well as created the TV series Everybody Hates Chris, based on his childhood. Rock ranks among the top 10 on many greatest comedians of all-time lists.

tom-haverford

Song: South Carolina has two State Songs, Carolina and South Carolina on My Mind. Carolina, based on a Henry Timrod poem, was made the State Song in 1911. It was joined by South Carolina on My Mind, by Hank Martin and Buzz Arledge (both from South Carolina), in 1984. Both tunes will make you pine for the Palmetto State.

Band/Musician: The ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown was born in Barnwell. Known for his energetic performances and hits such as I Got You (I Feel Good) and Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Brown was made a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Brown had 17 singles top the Billboard R&B charts.

People: TV personality Stephen Colbert was raised on James Island. Colbert parleyed his role on The Daily Show into his own spinoff The Colbert Report. The success of that show led to Colbert replacing David Letterman as host of The Late Show, a positioning he still holds today. Colbert has won Emmy, Grammy and Peabody Awards, along with being a bestselling author.

Animal: At the Myrtle Beach Alligator Adventure, visitors can view the largest crocodile in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. Utan, King of the Crocs, was brought to South Carolina in 2002. The croc was born in 1964 and measures 18 feet long, weighing 2,000 pounds. Utan is jokingly referred to as an ambassador of Thailand.

James Brown

Invention: Based out of Greenville, inventor Gerald Barber has created a number of objects to better the world… or at least entertain them. His most well-known invention is the free fall amusement ride, a version of which can be found in nearly every amusement park. He has also developed wind turbines and designer coral reef, among other patents.

Crime: On October 25, 1994, Susan Smith claimed to police a black man had carjacked her vehicle with her two young sons still inside. A nationwide search for the kids and suspect commenced, only to be halted a week later when Smith confessed she had allowed her car to roll into a lake, drowning her children. Smith was sentenced to life, with parole possible after 30 years.

Law: South Carolina looks like the fun police with a couple acts of legislation. First, a person must be 18 years old to play a pinball machine. Second, dance halls are prohibited from operating on Sundays. I’d hate to be a 17-year-old professional pinballer and dance enthusiast in the state on the Lord’s Day.

Sports Team: There are no professional teams in South Carolina, although the NFL’s Carolina Panthers (who play in Charlotte, North Carolina) have training facilities in the state. The Clemson University Tigers versus University of South Carolina Gamecocks football rivalry is known as the Battle of the Palmetto State. Also, actor Bill Murray owns and is the ‘Director of Fun’ for a minor league Charleston baseball team.

Bill Murray

Athlete: Baseball star ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson may or may not be the greatest athlete South Carolina has ever produced. His career was halted because of the 1919 Black Sox betting scandal, which saw participants banned from the sport, although many claim he was not involved. Jackson, born in Pickens County, would later play in other leagues, using aliases.

Famous Home: A major tourist attraction for South Carolina are the many plantations that are spread across the state. Two particularly notable estates are the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, one of the oldest plantations in all the south, and Drayton Hall, the only manor along the Ashley River to survive both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Urban Legend: Julia Legare, of the wealthy Legare family, was thought to have died of an illness and was buried in the family mausoleum. When another family member died years later, they found that Julia was not in her coffin. They theorized Julia had just been in a deep coma and perished trying to escape the crypt. Every door put on the mausoleum since won’t stay shut, as Julia won’t let it. Today, there is no door at all.

Museum: In Beaufort, you can find The Kazoo Museum, located in the Kazoobie Kazoos Factory. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of the instrument, as well as offers kazoo recordings and the history of kazoos, dating to the 1840s. The exhibition moved to South Carolina in 2010, following stops in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.

Kazoo

Firsts: South Carolinians must have valued a good performance, as the state had the first symphony orchestra in the country and was the site of the first opera performed in America. Further appreciating entertainment and leisure, the state was home to the first public library, museum, theatre and golf club in the U.S.

Company: Restaurant chain Denny’s is headquartered in Spartanburg. The diner-style eatery is best known for being open 24/7 and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner items at all times of the day. Originally founded in 1953, as a coffee shop called Danny’s Donuts in Lakewood, California, there are now more than 1,700 Denny’s locations around the world.

Events: South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, so it’s no surprise the first battle of the Civil War occurred there, at Fort Sumter. Days after seceding in December 1860, Confederacy forces took Fort Sumter from U.S. troops. The fort wasn’t restored to U.S. order until February 21, 1865, when the American flag was raised again.

Miscellaneous: Tap Dancer Clayton ‘Peg Leg’ Bates was born in Fountain Inn. Bates gained fame for the finale of his act, the Jet Plane, which saw him leap across the stage, landing on his wooden leg (Bates lost a leg in a cotton gin accident at the age of 12), then do a series of backwards hops. Bates appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 22 times, the most of any guest.

Charleston Mule

Charleston Mule

  • 1.5 oz Sweet Tea Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Ale/Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

This cocktail comes from South Carolina’s Firefly Distillery and takes advantage of tea being the State Hospitality Beverage. I went with Ginger Ale over Ginger Beer, for a slightly different taste than you normally get with a Mule drink, as well as my nod to Blenheim Ginger Ale being a South Carolina institution.

Louisiana – New Orleans Fizz

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. You’d think Louisiana would have a nickname like Party Central or something like that, but it’s actually the Pelican State, with the birds found in droves along the state’s coastline. As the locals say, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll):

Motto: “Union, justice, confidence” – Sometimes, any three words will do.

Food: Louisianans love food and have introduced the world to a number of dishes. At the top of that list are items such as Jambalaya, Gumbo, Po’boys (a Sip Advisor favourite), Tabasco Sauce, and even the legendary Turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey).

Drink: Given the state’s party reputation, it should come as no surprise a number of cocktails have been created in Louisiana. The Sazerac, for example, is thought to be among the first cocktails ever made. Also, Southern Comfort was invented by a bartender in New Orleans.

Po'boy

Site to See: Nobody travels to Louisiana without stopping in New Orleans for some French Quarter action. If you happen to visit during Mardi Gras, you’re in for one of the world’s greatest parties. Other attractions worth visiting include various plantations (Oak Alley, Myrtles, Whitney), or taking in a swamp/airboat tour.

Street: Bourbon Street is the most famous of the lanes that make up the French Quarter. The route is lined with bars and strip clubs and fuels the nightly party in the district. Open container laws in the French Quarter allow patrons to drink in public and travel the streets to their heart’s content.

TV Show: True Blood ran for seven seasons and 80 episodes of mythical creature adventures. Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries books by Charlaine Harris, viewers are transported to a world where almost anything is possible and thanks to being broadcasted on HBO, nothing was really off limits in terms of content.

Movie: There’s some great movies set in Louisiana. Chief among them, The Waterboy, starring Adam Sandler as Bobby Boucher, an amateur hydration expert, who has hidden talents on the football field. Disney fans have also been taken to the state through films such as The Rescuers and The Princess and the Frog.

Bourbon Street

Book/Author: Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles series, was born in New Orleans. Two of Rice’s novels from The Vampire Chronicles, Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned, have been adapted into films, while a TV series has been announced as being in development.

Fictional Character: The Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit, is a member of the X-Men, known for his ability to control energy and turn everyday items into weapons. I’m waiting for the day we finally get a Gambit feature film, but it seems to be stuck in development hell, despite the willingness of A-lister Ryan Reynolds to play the character.

Fictional City: Bon Temps, the setting for True Blood, and home to its many memorable characters, is a place one might want to live… at least until crazy stuff starts happening. Despite being inhabited by vampires, werewolves, witches and all other types of predators, you could say the humans of Bon Temps aren’t much better and are actually worse.

Actor/Actress: Reese Witherspoon was born in New Orleans and became an actress as a teenager. Witherspoon’s career has grown to see her be one of the highest paid women in the industry, thanks to starring roles in Legally Blonde and Walk the Line, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar.

Bon Temps

Song: Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz music, so I had to pick a tune from that genre for this category. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? originally appeared in the film New Orleans, performed by jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. The track has been covered countless times, including by artists such as Harry Connick Jr. and Jimmy Buffett.

Band/Musician: More on Louis Armstrong, who was born in New Orleans. Satchmo, as he was nicknamed, greatly influenced the style of music that he would become synonymous with, over a 50-year career. New Orleans’ primary airport was renamed in his honour, in 2001. Other accolades included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, posthumously presented.

People: Popular talk show host and activist for the LGBT community, Ellen DeGeneres, was born in Metairie. DeGeneres has her own lifestyle brand (who doesn’t nowadays) and is one of the highest paid entertainers in the world. Her daytime talk show has been in production since 2003. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Animal: My top options for this category were a cat, a peacock and an alligator… all the eclectic variety one would expect from Louisiana. I’m going with the cat because he took up residence at New Orleans bar, Molly’s at the Market, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Wu would even join patrons for a drink, served shot glasses of cream.

Mr. Wu

Invention: Two of the most popular casino games, Poker and Craps, were invented in Louisiana. While versions of the games had previously existed, they were adapted and became popular once being introduced in the state.

Crime: The Axeman of New Orleans operated between May 1918 and October 1919, killing six people and injuring another six. Never identified, one theory was the slayings were Mafia motivated, as most victims were Italian. The Axeman also wrote a letter at one point, stating they would not attack any home playing jazz music on a particular night. Jazz music filled the city and no murders occurred.

Law: A couple Mardi Gras based laws should be highlighted. It is illegal to throw beads from a third-story window and snakes are not allowed within 200 yards of the parade route. Alligators may be allowed, but they are not to be tethered to a fire hydrant.

Sports Team: New Orleans is home to two Big 4 sports franchises, with the Saints (NFL) and Pelicans (NBA). The Saints won the 2009 Super Bowl, uniting the city after the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina. The Pelicans (formerly Hornets) were relocated from Charlotte, North Carolina for the 2002-03 season.

Dog Poker

Athlete: Brothers Peyton and Eli Manning were born in New Orleans, while their father Archie (also a quarterback) played for the NFL’s Saints. Both Peyton and Eli were drafted first overall before going on to win two Super Bowls each. Other notable hall of famers from Louisiana, in their respective sports, include Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler and Marshall Faulk.

Famous Home: LaLaurie Mansion, in New Orleans, is where Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a member of high society, tortured and murdered slaves. Her crimes were discovered following a fire at the home, which was then destroyed by an angry mob. LaLaurie escaped to France, while the mansion was rebuilt and owned by actor Nicholas Cage for a brief time. Today, tours will take you to the home, but visitors are not allowed inside.

Urban Legend: Voodoo is so prominent in the state, the practice of it is commonly known as Louisiana Voodoo. Acts include the use of potions and Voodoo dolls, among other techniques. Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, is still quite popular among followers, despite dying in 1881. Ghostly sightings of Laveau have been reported and according to lore, marking her grave with an ‘x’ and doing a few other actions, may end up with a wish being granted.

Museum: The Cabildo, in New Orleans, is now home to the Louisiana State Museum, but it played quite the role in the history of the state and country. It was the site of the Louisiana Purchase pact, which doubled the size of the U.S. For $15 million, or $18 per square mile, France sold America land which now comprises parts of 15 states and even two Canadian provinces.

Voodoo Doll

Firsts: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. was Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove, in Delta), whose wealth was earned through her line of cosmetics and hair care products. When Walker died in 1919, she was considered the richest African-American woman in the country.

Company: Two popular fast food chicken restaurants can trace their origins back to Louisiana. Popeyes was founded in the state in New Orleans, in 1972, although it’s now headquartered in Miami, Florida. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers first operated in Baton Rouge, in 1996, where it is still based.

Events: Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, with its epicenter being New Orleans. It was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, causing an estimated $161 billion in damages. The human toll was worse, with 1,833 recorded deaths from the hurricane and ensuing floods.

Miscellaneous: The Sip Advisor’s favourite area at Disneyland is New Orleans Square. Rides like The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean form the basis for this affection, while restaurants serving up southern fare and bands playing jazz numbers complete the departure to another world.

New Orleans Fizz

New Orleans Fizz

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Cream
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 Drops of Vanilla Extract
  • Top with Club Soda

Also known as the Ramos Gin Fizz, this drink was invented by Henry C. Ramos at his bar, the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, in New Orleans. Despite the cocktail’s long preparation time, its popularity grew when Louisiana Governor, Huey Long, acquired a taste for it and had a bartender travel from New Orleans to New York, to teach bartenders there how to make it.