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!

Russia – Red October

From Russia with Love

The KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti… or Committee for State Security) is one of the most recognizable secret service and intelligence agencies to ever exist. It served throughout the Cold War, from 1954 to 1991, specializing in espionage, surveillance, border patrol, and political control. Here are some of the most infamous spies to work for the organization:

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

This American couple were executed for relaying information regarding atomic bombs to the U.S.S.R. Ethel’s brother David Greenglass was also part of the conspiracy, but only served 10 years of a 15 year prison sentence. There is some doubt as to the extent of Ethel’s involvement in the treason, but that didn’t stop the electric chair switch from being flipped on June 19, 1953.

soviet propaganda kgb

Aldrich Ames

Due to an expensive divorce and living a lifestyle beyond his means, Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer, began selling secrets to the KGB and by the time he was arrested in 1993, had compromised the second most CIA assets ever. For his crimes, which resulted in the deaths of at least 10 operatives and ruined at least 100 operations, Ames received a term of life imprisonment.

Richard Sorge

Working undercover as a journalist in both Germany and Japan, Sorge played a critical role in the outcome of World War II. After informing Russia that Japan did not have plans to attack the country in 1941, Russia was able to reposition their troops to better battle the Germans on the western front, as they tried to take Moscow. Sorge was arrested in Japan shortly after these messages and hung in 1944.

Alexander Litvinenko

Litvinenko is perhaps most remembered for how he died, poisoned by polonium-210, and succumbing to the deadly toxin in November 2006. An investigation in the United Kingdom – where Litvinenko had been living after fleeing Russia and being granted asylum – produced a suspect in Andrei Lugovoy, a member of Russia’s Federal Protective Service, although others have been alleged to have played a part in Litvinenko’s death.

in_soviet_russia

Oleg Lyalin

After being arrested in the United Kingdom for drunk driving, Lyalin decided that he’d had enough of the spy life and defected from the KGB, outing 105 U.S.S.R. spies in the process, the largest action taken against the Soviet Union by a western government. Lyalin was rewarded with a new identity and life (with his secretary mistress!) and remained in hiding for more than 20 years, until his death in February 1995.

Vasily Mitrokhin

Mitrokhin was a former First Chief Directorate of the KGB. When the Soviet Union came to an end in 1991, Mitrokhin defected to Latvia, bringing with him detailed information on operations carried out by the KGB, dating as far back as the 1930’s… he was the senior archivist for the intelligence service, after all. He released a series of works, dubbed the Mitrokhin Archives, which discuss much of what the KGB did during its existence.

Russia: Red October

Red October Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Port
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

Hell, even current Russian president Vladimir Putin served with the KGB during the 1980’s, holding low-level positions in what was East Germany. Now he runs a country and has amassed a massive fortune in the process. Looks like things worked out pretty well for him.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
The Port was supposed to float on top of the rest of the cocktail, but it didn’t really behave as it was meant to. That could have been due to the way I poured it, the ice in the drink or even the type of glassware I used. That said, the drink was quite delicious, with notes of sweet and sour mixing in harmony.

November 5 – International Incident

Drink Nation

I recently stumbled upon a report about the 10 greatest drinking nations in the world. Sadly, Canada did not make that list, but neither did our neighbours to the south… or even their neighbours to the south. Here are my thoughts on those that did crack the top 10 and where I think Canadians need to improve to better our future ranking.

10. Australia

While Australia has wine and beer creations to its credit, I can’t think of any liquors they’ve introduced to the world. The article does point out that former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke made the Guinness Book of World Records for downing 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds. If that’s the effort your politicians are putting forward, I guess you deserve to be on this list.

Kangaroo Drinking

Wow, even the roos are getting in on the act!

9. Germany

The land of Oktoberfest; the event which has largely earned them this spot on the countdown. Germany is known for their beer making, beer serving (wenches impressively carrying eight beer steins at the same time), and beer consumption. Although the Czech citizens drink more beer than the Germans, that’s still not enough to topple this suds nation.

8. Uganda

How does an African nation make this list? Does professional wrestler Kamala (the Ugandan Giant) have something to do with this, forcing the country’s way onto the list through sheer intimidation tactics? Apparently residents will gather and sit around a pot of ajono (beer-like substance) and pass a long straw around. Not sure that earns their way onto this list.

7. South Korea

All this despite South Korea’s strict social guidelines. Apparently, it’s common practice in the country to get plastered on mixes of beer and whiskey and let loose, getting out all of your pent-up anger and frustration. So, basically what every drinker in the world does when they’re a few wobbly pops deep into the night!

Korean drinking

6. Moldova

According to the World Health Organization, Moldova is the most liquored up nation in the world. Stats say that per person, each resident drinks 18 litres of alcohol in a year. Does that include children? The former Soviet nation’s favourite hangover cure is pickle juice and I’m down with that. Perhaps we could share some Moldovian fruit brandies, followed by pickles for breakfast!

5. Ecuador

The local liquor in Ecuador, Zhumir, is affectionately known as “hangover in a bottle”… that’s a challenge the Sip Advisor would like to take, given my invincibility towards the morning after suffering. Etiquette in the country dictates that you cannot start drinking until someone has made a toast, so if you’re all alone, make sure there’s a mirror in your room to cheers yourself.

4. France

Home to the Champagne region and too-many-to-count wineries. Apparently the people of France turn their nose up to selling liquor from other countries. That’s not really surprising, but it means they’re really missing out, especially with Belgian beers, Spanish sangria and English gin offerings so close to their borders.

french-funny-flag

What does this have to do with drinking? Nothing, but I’m posting it anyway! Suck it, France!

3. Russia

Russians drink vodka at all times of the day. It’s just their way of life. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack… no time of day is enjoyed sans vodka. Russia is the all-important buckle of the Vodka Belt. I’m totally down with people that don’t drink in normal conventions. We’d get along real well.

2. China

Sadly, this site has never received a viewer from the massive country of China. Thanks to the nation’s censorship laws, citizens often have to tether on to other countries internet signals to access non-governmental approved sites. I guess the more citizens you have (and China of course has tons) the more liquor you need to keep the population docile and happy and therefore your portfolio in the alcohol world grows.

1. United Kingdom

While I’ve always had a good time drinking in the U.K., I’m not sure I agree with the country taking the top spot on this list. That said, the country is lined with bars that are often packed to the brim with people looking to get boozed up. They can also be credited with much of the world’s gin production and for that, we thank them. Party on Brits!

Drink #309: International Incident

International Incident Drink Recipe

  • 0.5 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Macadamia Nut Liqueur
  • Splash of Milk
  • Garnish with Macadamia Nuts

If the fine folks in Mexico can’t even crack the list, despite their IP on tequila production, then us schlubs in Canada shouldn’t feel so bad. I also question nations like Ireland (although I guess it’s kind of part of the U.K.) and Belgium not cracking the top 10. I want answers, dammit!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This recipe is intended to be a shot, but I increased the ingredient increments and turned it into a nightcap cocktail. The drink gave me my first chance to use our Macadamia Nut Liqueur, which I subbed for the originally scheduled Hazelnut Liqueur and it tasted great. A highlight of the cocktail was the hint of salt you got with each sip, thanks to the Macadamia Nuts garnish!

May 19 – Kamikaze

Voducation

It’s the start of Vodka Week here at The Sip and as we’ve done in the past, day one is all about educating ourselves. I will play the role of teacher and as per usual, you my little sippers will be my eager pupils, taking in the breadth of my knowledge (or at least what I could scour from the internet). There will be a test at the end, so please pay attention. Ah, what do I care, let’s go through the motions of the lesson plan and get drunk!

drinking-vodka-in-commercials-vs-real-life

Northern, Eastern and Central Europe – Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Scandinavian countries, Latvia, Lithuania, etc. – is known as the Vodka Belt because these countries are the historic home of the spirit as well as the area where it is most consumed worldwide.  Sure beats living in America’s Bible Belt! Imagine you could actually have a belt that was filled with vodka and had an extendable straw you could pull out to access the alcohol… I call dibs on the franchising rights. Lucky for me, I’m on my way to many of these countries at the moment during a Scandinavian cruise! (I see lots of vodka in my foreseeable future!)

Vodka gets its name from the Russian word ‘voda’, which translates to mean water. I have it on good authority that Russians actually drink vodka like IT IS water and are practically raised on the stuff. That’s pretty badass, as they’re running around with mickeys as bottles, while us North Americans are deciding how much Nesquik to put in our milk.

vodka_water

Vodka is considered to be the purest alcohol in the world thanks to its distillation process and lack of fusel oils.

While vodka can be blamed for too numerous injuries and deaths to count, the libation can also have many positive medical effects. It is known to keep arteries strong and clear, while also keeping drinkers cholesterol down. It can also be used to heal cold sores and fever and stave off strokes, heart attacks and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Before 1885, vodka was only sold in buckets of12.3 litres at a time. You could bathe in that much booze and apparently in Poland they did, as vodka was originally scented and used as after shave. Could this be why Mrs. Sip’s legs smell so good? She is part Polish, after all!

Super-Size-McVodka

Vodka has a ton of other uses, such as being a disinfectant that is strong enough to clean bathrooms. I find this to be a two-fold problem. First, who has the money to overpay on cleaning products and second, that’s just a lot of wasted liquor. In a pinch, though, if you have company coming over and have used your entire budget on entertainment goods, I guess you could pull off the clean sweep using vodka. As early as the 15th century, the liquor was even used in gunpowder manufacturing by Sweden.

There are actually Vodka museums in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Stockholm, and Amsterdam.

Today, nearly anything you can think of has been turned into a flavoured vodka. There’s bacon, smoked salmon, Froot Loop, cupcake, marshmallow, and the list is endless. Companies like Smirnoff, Absolut, Three Olives, and Pinnacle have the flavoured vodka market cornered, but even top shelf spirits like Grey Goose and Van Gogh have delved into the exotic vodka flavours.

Drink #139: Kamikaze

May 19

So, let’s get into our best Vodka Belt mood and party ‘til the sun comes up! And what if it’s that time of year where the sun never comes up, you ask? Then you better have some longevity when it comes to your boozing!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I like that this is a vodka version of a margarita. I took the shot recipe and turned it into a delicious, refreshing drink, perfect for summer. The Cherry Lemonade Vodka was a nice touch, with Cherry flavour coming through in the aftertaste.

January 7 – Whipped White Russian

Just Pucking Around

I hear ya, boys!

I hear ya, boys!

With the NHL lockout coming to an end early yesterday, hockey has been on my mind. Coincidentally, I had the Whipped White Russian on my schedule for today, although given Russia’s recent victory over Canada at the World Junior Hockey Tournament – stopping Canada’s streak of bringing home a medal at the competition at 14 years in a row – perhaps it should be called a Whipped White Canadian! Wouldn’t that be Howie Mandel, though?

I’m pumped to have hockey coming back, even if I didn’t necessarily miss it while it was gone. There have been many nights where the inclusion of a hockey game (be it Hockey Night in Canada or another broadcast) would have been a stellar addition to my drinking exploits. Best of all, this saves me from having to find another sport to really get into, although I had hopes that roller derby would return to TV. No, really, the best thing about the lockout ending is that all the pundits will have to talk about something else and we can all finally move on from terms like HRR, decertification, disclaimers of interest and Gary Bettman.

I’m just happy to hear it will be returning to a rink near me very soon and now it’s onto the celebration. Cue up Kool and the Gang!

Drink #7: Whipped White Russian

Whipped White Russian Drink

  • Rim glass with chocolate sprinkles
  • 1 oz Chocolate Whipped Vodka or other vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • Top with milk

So, to all my friends out there that have a passion for puck – I said puck… and it wasn’t a typo – enjoy the season ahead and make sure to get cozy on the couch with one of these bad boys! GO CANUCKS GO!!!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I like White Russians, but this is the first time I ever used Chocolate Whipped Vodka in one and that made the experience that much better. A Chocolate Sprinkle rim and this dessert drink just got that much better!