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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.