France – Between the Sheets

Sensational Skyline

The Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol, regularly associated with not only Paris, but the entire country of France. The structure can be found in numerous forms of media representing the country and celebrated its 125th anniversary earlier this year. Let’s take a closer look at this mammoth structure:

The Eiffel Tower was opened to the public on March 31, 1889, taking two years, two months and five days to build by 300 workers. It was erected to serve as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair (or Exposition Universelle, since the French always have to put their own twist on titles). While it is an icon of the country today, its construction was protested by French artists and writers, who called it a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal!”

Frances-Thong

Writer Guy de Maupassant was one of the most vocal haters of the Eiffel Tower, yet was discovered eating lunch inside the setting on a daily basis. He claimed that it was because it was the only place in Paris that he didn’t have to look at the building. Other residents of the city initially viewed the construction as an eyesore.

Although the tower is named in honour of engineer Gustave Eiffel, he wasn’t initially interested in the project. Designed by his company’s engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, Eiffel only really came on board when the design was tweaked by his head of architecture, Stephen Sauvestre. Then, Eiffel purchased the patent rights for the structure.

A symbol of modern science, for 41 years, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made object (standing at 1,063 feet) in the world, but that reign came to an end in 1930 with the completion of New York’s Chrysler Building. I bet the French regretted giving New York the Statue of Liberty after they were trumped. The tower is comprised of 18,038 pieces linked by 2.5 million rivets.

Tower or Battleship

Today, the Eiffel isn’t even the tallest structure in France anymore. It has been surpassed by the Millau Viaduct, a cable-stayed bridge that connects parts of Millau-Creissels, France over the River Tarn. While it does provide a nice photo-op (if you’re into bridges and such), the Eiffel Tower is still the place tourists flock for their Parisian moment.

The tower was treated with 60 tons of paint to protect from the weather and has been repainted numerous times (about every seven years) since its original covering. It is painted lighter at the bottom of the structure and becomes gradually darker at the top so it looks like one uniform colour, despite atmospheric pressure. On warms days, the Eiffel tower can grow up to six inches, thanks to thermal expansion… does this mean that Mrs. Sip is also thermal expansion!?

The tower’s elevators weren’t running until almost two months after the building opened. Visitors could still enter the structure, but had to climb 1,710 steps to reach the summit. Still, more than 30,000 people were willing to traverse the many flights to get a view of the city. Mrs. Sip and I have talked about doing the stair thing sometime, but I think my laziness will always prevail.

Eiffel Lightning

The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be taken apart after 20 years, but it was later used as a radio communications tower, transitioning into telecommunications with the change in technology. The city chose to keep the structure after its permit expired in 1909. A post office, theatre, newspaper, science labs, and even an annual ice rink have also set up shop at the structure.

In the 1920s, con man Victor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower twice for scrap metal. With forged government documents, Lustig invited six scrap metal dealers to a meeting where they discussed dismantling the run down and expensive-to-upkeep landmark. When the scam worked once without Lustig ending up in jail, he returned to try it again, but this time authorities were summoned. Lustig did get away this time, but eventually found himself in jail, where he died in 1947. His death certificate listed his occupation as ‘apprentice salesman!’

Eiffel For You

The tower sure is sturdy, surviving wars, fires, and countless visitors. One time when Mrs. Sip and I were visiting the landmark, we even saw some dude relieving himself against the iconic iron! Today, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited pay monument in the world, with over seven millions visitors annually, 75% of which are foreigners.

It may not be the copycat Eiffel Tower located at The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, but Joe King, an engineering professor from California, constructed a toothpick replica of the famous structure in 1988, using 110,000 sticks. The tower stood 23 feet high. Other imitations include: Tokyo Tower in Japan, Torre del Reformador in Guatemala, Petřín Lookout Tower in the Czech Republic, AWA Tower in Australian, and many more.

France: Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Every time Mrs. Sip and I have been at the Eiffel Tower (with the intent of going up), the weather has been inclement. The first time we ever scaled the monument, the weather was near freezing and windy and even snowed a little. Other times, we have passed on going up because we know it isn’t as enjoyable when it’s wet and cold. On one visit, the weather was gorgeous as we were winding our way through the Louvre line-up early in the day. That afternoon was supposed to be Eiffel Tower time, but as we made our way to the attraction, the clouds burst open and we were thwarted once again. C’est la vie is all you can really say!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Despite three ounces of alcohol, this drink was pretty damn good. I was worried about how harsh it might be, so instead of using plain Light Rum, I subbed in Torched Cherry Rum and the flavour went very well with the Triple Sec. Both tasted very nice with Cognac as part of the mix and while still potent, the drink was delicious.

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China – China Blue

Great Walls of Fire

The Great Wall of China was erected (that word always makes me giggle) over a number of eras and decades and is one of the most impressive engineering feats in history. Since its construction, it has become a world famous monument and used for countless other achievements. Here are some of its notable uses and appearances:

Big Air

There have been a number of attempts by bikers, skateboarders, and the like to jump the Great Wall. Extreme athlete Travis Pistrana even tackled the challenge on a toy bike. Sadly, not every attempt has been successful. Two Chinese BMX riders were looking to fly over the wall to celebrate a national holiday. One landed safely in the area set up to catch the falling stuntmen, but the other flew right over it to his death. So much for home field advantage!

Great-wall-I-can-hold-it

Go Your Own Way

While jumping the Great Wall is a dream for some, that vision wasn’t held by cyclist Kevin Foster. Instead, Foster wanted to travel a fair chunk of the world heritage site. In 50 days, Foster trekked 1,174.8 miles of the wall, through sandstorms, hail, monsoons, high temperatures, and even a crash that sent him through a portion of the structure and caused three broken ribs. The journey was called “the last, greatest, cycling adventure on the face of the earth.”

Running with the Wall

Most little sippers, like the Sip Advisor, probably don’t follow the sport of free running. It’s basically akin to parkour, but involves more theatrics… wait, there can be even more acrobatics thrown in? World renowned free runner (you can be renowned in this field?), Ryan Doyle put the Great Wall in its place as part of his Red Bull World Wonders Tour. Remember, Red Bull: It gives you wings… and hopefully not because you’re dead and on your way to the afterlife.

Super Repairs

In perhaps one of the cheesiest special effects of all-time, Superman used laser vision to repair the Great Wall after it had been damaged by the equally cheesy villain, Nuclear Man (before The Simpsons Radioactive Man). This all came about in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which effectively killed the movie franchise. I’ve never been a Superman fan, but I have to give him credit for fixing a landmark I have yet to see.

Building the Wall

In 2005, a number of acts gathered for a concert using the Great Wall setting as a backdrop. Headlined by Boyz II Men, other performers included Cyndi Lauper and Alicia Keys. The show was recorded for a DVD release, The Great Wall Concert (I’m blown away they couldn’t come up with a more glitzy name than that), and also included interviews with historians, visits to other Chinese landmarks, and comedy performances on the streets of Beijing.

Abracadabra

There has been some amazing feats performed in the world of magic and David Copperfield’s act of walking through the Great Wall has to be among them. What else would you expect from the same man who has levitated above the Grand Canyon, made the Statue of Liberty disappear, and wed Claudia Schiffer!? For this illusion, Copperfield used a sheet and his faithful assistant to appear to go through the legendary wall… his secret is safe with me!

Maid in China

Rope Tricks

Chinese acrobat Adili Wuxor (dubbed the ‘Prince of Tightrope Walking’) and his apprentice Yakup Jang performed a tightrope walk of 1,100 feet from one point of the Great Wall to another in 2013. It’s estimated that the duo was 328-feet above the ground at the highest point. If that wasn’t enough, the stuntmen performed some theatrics during the 40-minute crossing, including sitting on the rope, balancing on one foot, dancing, and even going blindfolded.

The Wall is Not Enough

While it has yet to happen in a Bond film, it has long been rumoured and researched to film a motorcycle chase scene at the Great Wall for the long running franchise. First dreamt up for the 1989 License to Kill, negotiations with the Chinese government hit a snag when the politicians asked for power over the script. The most recent 007 saga, Skyfall, was to include the fabled act, but plans changed and although Bond travels to China, the Great Wall was not used.

China: China Blue

Mar 31

  • 2 oz Chu Yeh Ching Chiew
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • Top with Lychee Juice and Grapefruit Juice
  • Garnish with Lemon and Lime Wheels

I’m proud of all you little sippers for traversing the Great Wall with me and not needing to be carried by bodyguards like that twerp (nee douche bag) Justin Bieber. Now that was an amazing feat… of stupidity!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Some say Chu Yeh Ching Chiew is similar to wine, others to gin, and some classify it as closer to vodka. One site calls it Chinese Bamboo Leaf Vodka and that’s good enough for me! What really matters is that it’s believed to cure hangovers… well, at least for you hangover prone little sippers out there. As for this cocktail, it’s not bad. The flavour is indescribable thanks to the mix of Chu Yeh Ching Chiew and Lychee Juice; two flavours I don’t know very well. It could use some fizz, however.

August 1 – New York Cocktail

New York Minute

Today we continue our hurried travels around New York City. There’s much more to do, so let’s get right down to it: Live from New York, it’s Sip Advisor Live!

Go to the Statue of Liberty

The iconic symbol of freedom and hope with the start of a new life, this statute is what many immigrants were greeted with when arriving from overseas to New York at Ellis Island to be processed into the country. It has remained a national treasure, gracing everything from sports jerseys to American coins. The French should be commended for such a nice gift.

Statue-of-Liberty

Eat at Famous Restaurants

New York is home to a number of world-renowned eateries, in varying ranges of price and style. There’s Katz’s Deli, ‘21’ Club, Café Noir, Lanza’s, Lenny’s Pizza, and Sardi’s (famous for the caricatures of countless celebrities, which adorn the walls of this joint), all of which have appeared in numerous movies and TV shows.

Do a TV Tour of the City

So many popular shows were filmed in New York: Seinfeld, Sex in the City, Friends, How I Met Your Mother. Many of the locations highlighted in these series are incorporated into tours, allowing fans to reminisce about their favourite moments and characters. The Sex and the City tour even includes Cosmopolitan cocktails!

Attend Madison Square Garden

While we enjoyed a baseball game at Yankee Stadium yesterday, today we scout out New York’s other sports options. Whether it’s hockey with the Rangers, basketball with the Knicks or professional wrestling (MSG has long been considered WWE’s ‘home turf’), there’s much to choose from. Notable concerts have also taken place at the site, including six sold out dates for Led Zeppelin on their 1977 tour!

New York Rangers

See a Concert/Comedy Show

With so many famous venues (Carnegie Hall, Apollo Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, etc.) you’re bound to stumble upon a great show and perhaps even see some entertainers before they hit the big time. In the comedy realm, I’ve heard the Upright Citizens Brigade is a popular attraction. The troupe has launched the careers of Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz, among others.

Have Some Fun at Coney Island

If Coney Island is anything similar to the Santa Monica Pier, then I know Mrs. Sip and I will have a good time. Carnivals along the water provide ample opportunity for fun, amazing eats, and booze. You might even get to participate in the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating competition, although I wouldn’t recommend it.

Visit Times Square

Home to one of the biggest New Year’s Eve bashes every year, Times Square is a sight to behold even when it’s not packed with millions of people waiting for the big ball to drop. Personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable amongst a crowd of that size, so I’ll go on a normal day when it’s still infested with travelers gawking at all the cool signs, restaurants, stores, and other entertainment.

chuckys times square

Hmmm… starting to regret going to Times Square!

Ride the Subway System

You’ve not truly visited New York until you’ve hopped aboard its underground trains. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with a Taking of Pelham 123 hostage situation or post-apocalyptic warfare, as depicted in The Warriors. Fingers crossed you only have to encounter some homeless people, a thug or two, and the occasional wafting smell of urine.

Take a Stroll through Central Park

The option of a horse drawn carriage through the park also exists, but a leisurely stroll around the massive grounds would suffice. Dedicating some time to visiting the Central Park Zoo would also be a priority. It’s crazy how much activity is going on in this park. Perhaps you’d even get to experience the “real” Harlem shake and get mugged!

Drink #213: New York Cocktail

Aug 1

  • 2 oz Canadian Whiskey (I used Crown Royal)
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • 1 tsp of Grenadine
  • Garnish with Apple Slice

Sadly, New York is not in our immediate plans, despite my constant insistence on doing an east coast holiday. Feel free to start a letter writing campaign on my behalf to get Mrs. Sip to change her mind!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I find it slightly odd that the New York Cocktail specifically requires a ‘Canadian’ Whiskey, but I guess the American hub isn’t too far away from the Canadian border. I don’t understand why recipes always overvalue Lemon and Lime Juice measurements. It makes these juices stand out too strong and the cocktail becomes too tart. Once the drink diluted a little, it was decent, but not worthy of repeat servings.

April 1 – Pretty Vegas

Souvenir Sipping

Las Vegas is filled with special souvenir glasses. Each resort seems to have their own offering, thanks to the special theming that goes into each place. Here are some we’ve seen while out and about on the strip!

Eiffel Tower/Hot Air Balloon – Paris

Some of the most elaborate souvenir glasses are sold at The Paris hotel, where you can get your favourite iced drink inside either a replica of the Eiffel Tower (or as some jackass cabbie in France insisted, “Tour Eiffel”… seriously, we told the driver we wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower four times and he kept “misunderstanding” us until we said Tour Eiffel… and Parisians wonder why everyone hates them!) or a ceramic hot air balloon that mimics the outside of the resort.

Guitar – Rockhouse

If you ever wanted to play Guitar Hero and get blitzed without having to put your instrument down, here’s your chance. These bad boys hold a fair bit of liquor (80 oz), too, so be prepared to rock all night long!

80ozGuitar

Football – Fremont Experience

Fans and even non-fans of pigskin can’t turn down a beer-filled football. I know I couldn’t. When you’re done the drink, you now have something to play with back in your hotel room…  or you can turn Fremont Street into your own personal playing field. Touchdowns are scored by getting to the Golden Nugget end zone.

Tambourine – Rio

You can get either a Sex on the Beach or a Margarita in one of these glasses that also doubles as an instrument. Mrs. Sip, myself and Broski Sip grabbed a pair of these before hopping into a limo and cruising up and down the strip getting wasted. When our limo tour was finally over, we all had to hit the washroom so bad that taking a photo outside the vehicle shows a three-person pee-pee dance. Add to that, Mrs. Sip suffering food poisoning later that night (not to do with the drink) and now she can’t enjoy Margaritas in the same way.

Bong – Numb at Caesar’s Palace

I haven’t had a chance to see this glass in person, but I’ve seen pictures. Quite frankly, it looks like something Tommy Chong was arrested for selling. The curious cat in me wonders if it can actually be used as a smoking device afterwards. After all, can’t stoners turn absolutely anything into a bong?

Toilet – Rock & Rita’s at Circus Circus

Have you ever wanted to experience the joys of a dog’s life? Here’s your chance to do it in a mostly hygienic manner by drinking out of this toilet souvenir glass. This doesn’t mean you’ll gain the ability to lick yourself in the naughty region (well, give it a shot anyway), but you will suddenly gain an appreciation for having your ear scratched.

Rock & Rita's

Skull – Teasure Island

I used to have a skeleton mug that we’d leave out for Santa Claus every Christmas morning. It seems kind of morbid now, but when I was a kid, I insisted on it. Maybe jolly ol’ Saint Nick would prefer if that mug was filled with beer. I know I would and therefore I plan on tracking down this glass as a sacrifice for the ghost of Christmas future.

Big Kahuna Fish Bowl – Kahunaville at Treasure Island

Granted fish bowls aren’t really anything new to the drinking world, but combine the massive goblet you’re given here with the beakers of liquor that you can choose to add to the mix whenever you feel and you have quite the winning combo. You can even buy extra beakers and make the drink look like a test subject.

Boot – Coyote Ugly at New York, New York

We’ve all heard stories of the infamous German boot glass. Well, the Coyote Ugly Saloon has taken that success and created the cowboy boot glass. There’s actually a normal glass shape inside the boot, so drinkers won’t have to deal with the air pocket that sometimes accumulates when chugging from the German boot, although that’s all part of the fun. You know, I never understood the name of this bar… I think Wile E. Coyote is quite fetching!

Drink #91: Pretty Vegas

Pretty Vegas Drink Recipe

  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Peach Schnapps
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Cocktail Umbrella

Layer each of the ingredients in their order about on top of each other in an ice-filled glass. There are many other specialty glasses out there in Sin City (Pineapples at Cheeseburger in Paradise, Statue of Liberty at New York, New York, etc.)… if only you had the time, liver and the money to collect them all!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Layering the ingredients of this drink actually worked out reasonably well. The only issue was the clear Peach Schnapps melding together with the light-coloured Lemon Juice. Other than that, all the ingredients behaved themselves and kept their distance. The overall taste was good, as well.