Texas – Texas Margarita

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. I’ve been forewarned, don’t mess with Texas and today we explore the Lone Star State. Let’s see if, in fact, everything is bigger in Texas:

Motto: “Friendship” – Short and sweet… so much for everything being bigger!

Food: Texas is responsible for a number of culinary creations, highlighted by items such as Hamburgers, Corn Dogs, Fajitas and Sopapillas. Lesser known dishes, such as King Ranch Casserole (chicken, cream of mushroom and chicken soups, cheese and tortilla chips), Texas Caviar (black-eyed peas, corn, avocado and mango) and Chicken Fried Bacon also originated in the state.

Drink: A favourite mixer of the Sip Advisor, Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885 by pharmacist Charles Alderton. The drink gained national attention when it was exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The recipe for the soda is kept top secret, split in half and stored in two safety deposit boxes across two Dallas banks. Waco is home to the Dr Pepper Museum, inside a former bottling plant.

Dr Pepper

Site to See: Space Center Houston is among the top tourist attractions in Texas. Visitors can learn about the history and future of the NASA space program, through replicas of a space shuttle and space station, among other exhibits. The adjacent Johnson Space Center and Mission Control can also be toured, making for quite a day of space exploration inside earth’s atmosphere.

Street: Sixth Street in Austin is a historic district of the capital city. Formerly named Pecan Street, the Pecan Street Festival occurs every spring and fall, highlighting local food, art and music. The route is affectionately referred to as Dirty Sixth, thanks to its many entertainment options, including music and film festivals, as well as biker rallies.

TV Show: Two shows created by Mike Judge are set in Texas, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head. I’m a fan of both shows, while Mrs. Sip can’t stand either. Of the two, I like King of the Hill better, thanks to its well-rounded cast of characters. King of the Hill aired for 13 seasons and 259 episodes, while Beavis and Butt-Head ran for eight seasons and 222 episodes.

Movie: Office Space (also from Mike Judge), starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston, is a fantastic movie and all the more enjoyable if you’ve ever worked in an office. The cult film sees programmer Peter Gibbons grow tired of his mundane job and life, pushing him into an embezzlement scheme against his employer. The movie made red staplers a must-have supply.

Office Space

Book/Author: The Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry consists of four western novels about a group of Texas Rangers during the formative years of the Republic of Texas. The books have been adapted into five TV miniseries and two TV series. Also, children’s novel Old Yeller by Fred Gipson is set in the fictional town of Salt Licks. It was adapted into a live-action Disney film.

Fictional Character: While I’d like to give this category to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, I have to go with a character that will scare the hell out of most, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Face hidden by a mask made of the stitched together skin of his victims and wielding a constantly-revving chainsaw, is there a more intimidating horror baddie?

Fictional City: Once again, we go to Mike Judge’s two cartoon comedies, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, which are set in Arlen and Highland, respectively. Arlen is based on a combination of Dallas-Fort Worth towns, such as Garland, Arlington and Allen. Highland is thought to be located near the Texas-New Mexico border. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the upcoming series revival.

Actor/Actress: So many Hollywood A-listers are from Texas, making this a tough category to narrow down. These stars include Jamie Foxx, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Tommy Lee Jones, Owen Wilson, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Garner, Jim Parsons, Patrick Swayze, and Steve Martin. Many of them have worked with one another over their careers.

Leatherface

Song: Deep in the Heart of Texas was written by June Hershey and Don Swander has become an anthem for the state. When it was originally released, five recordings by different artists appeared on the Billboard charts. It was also the title song of the 1942 movie of the same name. The tune’s most memorable version may be by Gene Autry (the Singing Cowboy), who was a Texan.

Band/Musician: The Queen Bey, Beyoncé, headlines a list of popular performers, including Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Meat Loaf, Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, and Barry White. Beyoncé began her career in the girl group Destiny’s Child, before going solo. Now married to rapper Jay-Z, the two comprise one of the music industry’s most powerful couples.

People: Eccentric businessman Howard Hughes was born in Humble. Hughes dabbled in many industries, including aviation, Hollywood films, engineering and Las Vegas hotels and casinos. He was also known for his obsessive-compulsive disorder, which led to him being reclusive in his later years. Hughes’ life was documented in the 2004 movie The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Animal: Bevo the Texas Longhorn steer is the University of Texas at Austin live mascot. The team has had a steer as mascot since 1916 and is currently on the fifteenth version of Bevo. The steer’s head and horns has provided the school with a hand symbol and chant, known as Hook’em Horns. Bevo has been called “the toughest-looking animal mascot in sports”.

Beyonce

Invention: The temptation to select Silicone Breast Implants for this category is quite… titillating, but I will go with the Microchip, which has evolved to allow folks to have personal computers, smartphones and other devices. This was possible thanks to Texas Instruments electrical engineer Jack Kilby inventing the integrated circuit in 1958. In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Crime: Among a long list of candidates, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was one of those moments where people remember where they were when they heard the news. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot in the head as his motorcade went through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. His killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was also murdered two days later by Jack Ruby. Conspiracy theories persist to this day on the subject.

Law: In Texas, it’s illegal to graffiti another person’s cow… but with your own, go nuts! Sticking with cattle, if you steal any, it’s a hangable offense.

Sports Team: Texas is well-represented across the state, in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Dallas is home to the Cowboys (NFL), Mavericks (NBA), Stars (NHL) and Texas Rangers (MLB), while Houston has the Texans (NFL), Rockets (NBA) and Astros (MLB). There’s also the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) to round things out. Texas is football mad, so college and even high school programs are well attended.

Football

Athlete: Texas seems to be a hotbed for professional wrestlers, including international superstars The Undertaker, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and Booker T, as well as horde of famous grappling families such as the Guerreros, Von Erichs, Rhodes’ and Funks. Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling was a major promotion, peaking in the mid 1980’s.

Famous Home: Woodland, in Huntsville, was home to Sam Houston, a key figure in the Texas Revolution and first president of the Republic of Texas. The one-room log cabin can be found on the grounds of Sam Houston State University, with free tours available. The city of Houston (once the capital), the largest city in the state, is named after him.

Urban Legend: Given its proximity and history with Mexico, much of Latin culture is intertwined in Texas, including its legends. These include La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), El Muerto (Headless Horseman) and Chupacabra (Goat-Sucker). There’s also the mystery of what happened to Debbie from Debbie Does Dallas, but that’s a story for another day.

Museum: The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Waco. The Texas Rangers, the oldest law enforcement agency in North America, has been involved in thwarting assassination attempts and pursuing notorious outlaws, such as Bonnie and Clyde. Honourary Texas Rangers include John Wayne, Will Rogers, Chuck Norris and George H.W. Bush.

Chuck Norris

Firsts: A number of things that can now be found around the world, originated in Texas. This includes the first drive-in restaurant Kirby’s Pig Stand, serving up sandwiches and sides starting in 1921; shopping center (a group of stores with shared parking lot) Highland Park Village, established in 1930; and domed stadium the Astrodome, opened in 1965.

Company: Entertainment is important to Texans, with companies such as Dave & Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese and Six Flags all headquartered in the state. While not affiliated, Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese share many similarities, while being geared toward adult and child audiences, respectively. Six Flags was named for the six national flags that have flown over Texas.

Events: The Texas Revolution (October 1835-April 1836) against Mexico, led to the infamous Battle of the Alamo, where legendary figures such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie perished in an outnumbered fight. Although a tactical loss, the event inspired many to take up arms for Texas independence. Today, the Alamo is a top tourist attraction in Texas and the country.

Miscellaneous: In 2005, the small town of Clark (population 201, as of the 2010 census) agreed to change its name to DISH, in honour of satellite TV provider Dish Network. Part of the deal saw every home receive 10 years of free basic TV service and a digital video recorder (DVR) from Dish Network. That’s an arrangement the Sip Advisor can get down with.

Texas Margarita

Texas Margarita

  • Rim glass with Salt
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

The addition of Orange Juice is what turns a Margarita into a Texas Margarita. You could do this Margarita in a frozen blend, to salute the Frozen Margarita Machine being invented in Dallas in 1971 by Mariano Martinez. That early machine now sits in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

March 27 – Loopberry Splash

You Will Get Wet

I usually try to theme each day’s post in relation to the featured drink. Today’s subject may be a bit of a stretch, but given the word “loop” and “splash” are there, I wanted to discuss my favourite amusement park rides from around the world. So, let’s secure our personal belongings in the seat front pouch and hold on for dear life!

Crush’s Coaster – Disneyland: Paris

When you combine a kid’s movie with a turbulent rollercoaster, you satisfy all of my needs! This attraction takes guests through the East Australian Current, riding on Crush the surfing turtle’s shell. What starts out as a normal coaster turns (literally) into a very memorable one, when your vehicle begins spinning with the gravity and speed created by the ride track, at one point going into a dark room that gives space mountain a run for its money. Mrs. Sip and I are continually surprised the ride hasn’t been picked up by any of the other Disney parks.

Crush's Coaster

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure

This is one of those classic 3-D movie attractions, but with the twist that you move from scene-to-scene in your ride vehicle. You speed, web sling, and plunge through the streets of New York, watching Spidey battle the Sinister Syndicate. Spider-Man rules, so this attraction gets bonus points on that fact alone.

Riddler’s Revenge – Six Flags

I’m not sure why so many attractions are trying to gain revenge on their riders (Montezuma’s Revenge also comes to mind), but this stand-up coaster is a wonderful salute to the Batman franchise and the insanity of Edward Nigma. Highlights of the actions include the pumping techno soundtrack and the vertical loops that wraps around the launch lift.

Jurassic Park – Universal Studios: Hollywood

I never really got the obsession with Jurassic Park until I rode this water ride. Everything starts off all nice and normal as you take a relaxing trip through pens belonging to many herbivore dinos. That all takes a drastic twist when your boat goes off course and you enter raptor cages, with the looming threat of an accidentally released T-Rex. Before you know it, the only route to safety is a dramatic plunge into the cold waters below.

Jurassic Park The Ride

The Four Mountains – Disney Parks

Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Matterhorn Mountain are some of the original amazing E-ticket attractions to exist and are must hit rides for any visit to the Disney Parks that house them. Without these tracks, so many other advancements in theme park technology would not have been possible.

Ghost Rider – Knott’s Berry Farm

When they warn you not to go on rides if you have back or neck problems, they were probably thinking of this attraction. It’s a classic wooden rollercoaster that spans the parks and even crosses over into the parking lot. The wildest part about it is that you’re constantly ducking your head, thinking that it’s going to get sliced off by the beams above.

Toy Story Mania – Disneyland: California Adventure

The rapid advancements in ride technology are amazing. This attraction brings out the competitive spirit in riders as you compete with your mate and all other guests, in fact, to record the highest score possible. Throw on some 3-D glasses, and shoot at as many targets as possible on the screen in front of you before moving on to the next Midway challenge. Each ride experience is different, providing you don’t mind waiting 40 minutes to an hour in line for this popular attraction!

Toy Story Mania

Valhalla – Blackpool Pleasure Beach

I refuse to buy ponchos for water rides… that totally defeats the purpose. But in this case, as we watched ride attendants vacuum water out of each boat that arrived at the loading zone, we were happy we’d taken the advice to grab a couple. I’ve never been so drenched, in my life… even with the damn poncho. Had it not been a dreary English spring day, we would have rode the ride – which featured a ton of special effects, as well as going backwards in a log flume – again, but as it was, we were already chilled to the bone.

Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit – Universal Studios: Florida

Rides that have their own soundtrack are amazing… but how about a ride where you get to pick the song of your choice, which is perfectly edited for the duration of the track. You can pick from rock, rap, country, dance and just about everything else. There are even hidden songs that you can access. That will keep the guests coming back for more, looking for the perfect jam to their experience.

Drink #86: Loopberry Splash

Loopberry Splash Cocktail

While there are many theme parks we have yet to visit, this is a list of some of our favourites thus far. Sadly, I had to leave so many rides I love with all my being off this list. Hopefully I can squeeze them into a future post.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
The final drink in my trilogy of Loopy Vodka recipes was pretty decent. The mix of half Cranberry Juice and half Ginger Ale was good and worked well with the spirit. I should have done more with the garnish, but I guess I got a little lazy.