California – Cable Car

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. The Golden State is going to be a tough stop, as there’s so much to choose from for each category. California is home to film, TV and music production, as well as a hub for technological developments. Its population rivals the entire country of Canada, so suffice to say, there’s a lot going on:

Motto: “Eureka” (“I have found it”) – Are you sure you don’t want to hide it again!?

Food: You could have an entire buffet – or at least a multi-course meal – stocked only with food items invented in California. For an appetizer, there’s the California Roll or a Cobb Salad, followed by a main course of either a Cheeseburger, French Dip Sandwich, or California-Style Pizza. For dessert, you could enjoy a Popsicle, Hot Fudge Sundae or Rocky Road Ice Cream. And why not finish the meal with a Fortune Cookie.

Drink: California is known for inventing its fair share of popular cocktails, including the Martini. Both San Francisco and nearby Martinez claim to be the birthplace of the drink, which has been called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet” and “the elixir of quietude”.

Martini

Site to See: As someone who has spent quite a bit of time and money travelling to California for the sole purpose of going to Disneyland, I have to pick the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ as my choice here. Of course, the state seems to have something to offer for everyone, ranging from wine regions and beaches to tourist landmarks and other theme parks.

Street: San Francisco hasn’t seen much love in this piece yet, so I will choose Lombard Street for this category. The infamous winding route, featuring eight hairpin turns, has been used for car chases in the movies What’s Up, Doc?, Magnum Force and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Apparently, during peak times, driving the road can be preceded by a 20-minute wait and a reservation system may be used in the future.

TV Show: So many TV shows are set in California, with every genre getting some coverage: family sitcoms The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saved by the Bell and Full House; teen dramas Beverly Hills, 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as well as spinoff Angel); mysteries Perry Mason and Columbo; adult sitcoms Arrested Development, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and Two and a Half Men; adult dramas Sons of Anarchy, Entourage and Weeds; and even horror shows Fear the Walking Dead and a couple seasons of American Horror Story.

Movie: Same goes for movies, with some of my all-time favourites being California-based. This includes Die Hard, Anchorman and Reservoir Dogs, among too many to name and many more I still need to watch.

Disneyland

Book/Author: John Steinbeck, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath, was born in Salinas. Much of the writer’s work was set in California, including popular titles East of Eden and Of Mice and Men.

Fictional Character: I have to go with the eccentric Bluth family from Arrested Development. Teenagers Zack Morris (Saved by the Bell) and Marty McFly (Back to the Future) almost land in the top spot. Mass murderers Chucky (Child’s Play) and Ghostface (Scream) also call California home, so be careful.

Fictional City: Parts of real-life California seem fictional, but if I don’t pick Sunnydale from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, Mrs. Sip may never forgive me. The show’s entire seven season run takes place largely within the community, where Sunnydale High School is located directly above the ‘Hellmouth’. Spoiler alert: to close that dimensional portal, the city of Sunnydale is destroyed and the Sip Advisor doesn’t have to watch the show anymore!

Actor/Actress: Most folks who want to become actors end up in California. Those born in the state comprise a who’s who list of Hollywood royalty. This includes: Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, Dwayne Johnson, Will Ferrell, Nicholas Cage, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Jodie Foster, and Marilyn Monroe, among many others.

Sunnydale

Song: With apologies to runners up Hotel California (The Eagles) and California Dreamin’ (The Mamas and the Papas), every time I’m about to land at LAX, I have to play California Love by 2Pac and Dr. Dre. It just gets me in the right spirit and ready for all the fun at my fingertips.

Band/Musician: Another tough choice, but given this band’s history – and playlist – I have to go with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The group was formed in Los Angeles and so many of their songs are California-based or inspired. Honourable mentions go to NWA, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, The Beach Boys, and The Doors.

People: Between Apple and Pixar, Steve Jobs brought a lot to the world around him. From personal computers to the iPod, iPad and iPhone, many people use the devices Jobs helped to create on a daily basis. Sadly, Jobs died in October 2011, aged 56. What he would have developed in the later years of his life, we’ll never know, but most wish he had the chance.

Animal: California is an animal actor’s haven. Many furry stars were trained in the state, including Mr. Ed, Lassie, Old Yeller, Buck from Married with Children and even the Taco Bell Chihuahua. SeaWorld San Diego was also home to infamous orca Shamu.

Chilli Peppers

Invention: Barbie dolls were invented by Ruth Handler in Los Angeles, and named after her daughter, Barbara. Ken dolls came later, named after her son. Debuting at the American International Toy Fair in 1959 (used as Barbie’s birthday), the dolls have been a hit since, launching the Mattel toy company, and becoming a global phenomenon and feminist icon.

Crime: While there are many crimes California is known for, I have to go with one that captured the attention of the entire nation and much of the world. In 1994, former NFL star O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. O.J.’s surrender to police turned into a two-hour low-speed chase across Southern California, with 95 million people watching on TV. The trial that followed was a media sensation, dubbed the Trial of the Century, resulting in O.J.’s acquittal.

Law: In California, “sunshine is guaranteed to the masses”. So, when that rare day of inclement weather comes, who pays the price for such a disturbance!?

Sports Team: California has five baseball teams, three football teams (with the Raiders leaving to play in Las Vegas for 2020), four basketball teams, and three hockey teams. Most popular among those squads is likely the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the NBA’s most important franchises. The Lakers have won 16 NBA championships in 31 finals appearances.

Barbie Real

Athlete: Amongst some all-time greats, I have to go with athletes who changed their sports. There, you have Billie Jean King, who brought women’s tennis to the forefront with her Battle of the Sexes matches. There’s also skateboarder Tony Hawk and snowboarder Shaun White, who made their extreme sports mainstream viewing. Finally, we have Tiger Woods, who despite his personal problems, made golf more popular than it’s even been.

Famous Home: There are so many notable abodes in California, there’s even tours of these manors and other dwellings. The Playboy Mansion, though, may take the cake for world recognition, as a place of lavish parties and debauchery. Hugh Hefner’s pad is located in Los Angeles, where the 29-room estate has been “permanently protected” by the city, basically deeming it a historical landmark.

Urban Legend: Used as inspiration for American Horror Story: Hotel, the Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles has had a long history of violent incidents and guest suicides. Rumoured guests have included Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia), shortly before her murder; serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka the Night Stalker), perhaps during his spree of terror; and fellow serial killer Jack Unterweger, said to possibly be copying Ramirez while visiting L.A. from Australia.

Museum: Winchester Mystery House, in San Jose, was the former home of Sarah Winchester, widow of gun maker William Winchester. Following the death of her young daughter and William’s passing, Sarah was advised by a psychic to move west and never stop building her home there, or she would be haunted by the spirits of those who died at the hands of the guns her husband had made his wealth from. Until Sarah’s death in 1922, construction continued, resulting in staircases that lead to dead ends, as well as trap doors and secret passages.

Mansion

Firsts: Given my affinity for McDonald’s, I have to salute the fact the first ever restaurant for what would become the chain, was opened in San Bernardino, in 1940. Decades later, McDonald’s became the world’s largest restaurant chain and today serves millions of customer each day, across the globe.

Company: I think here, you have to go with film and broadcasting companies, which provide us all with so much entertainment. The Walt Disney Company, Universal Pictures, MGM, Netflix and Warner Bros., among them. There are also tech companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and Google, who do the same.

Events: California has endured gold rushes, earthquakes and much more. What truly gave the state its identity, though, was the film industry coming to settle in Hollywood. With Thomas Edison owning a number of patents regarding movie development, many filmmakers came to California to dodge the fees that came with that. Studios sprouted up soon after and the rest is movie history.

Miscellaneous: Video games haven’t received much coverage in these posts yet, but it should be noted, California has one of the largest industries for gaming. Activision Blizzard, Atari and Electronic Arts have all set up shop in the state where arcade games were invented. Heck, one of my favourite childhood cartridges, California Games for the NES, was basically an electronic ad for west coast life.

Cable Car

Cable Car

  • Rim glass with Cinnamon and Sugar
  • 1.5 oz Spiced Rum
  • 0.75 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Orange Twist

This drink was created in 1996 by Tony Abou-Ganim to celebrate the Starlight Room in San Francisco’s Drake Hotel. The Sidecar variation intrigued me because of the use of Spiced Rum. My cocktail was a little too heavy on the lemon juice, but I enjoyed the Cinnamon/Sugar rim and would try the concoction again.

Flavour Revolution – Lemon

When Life Gives You Lemons

I find stories of people turning their lives around to be quite fascinating and inspiring. Going through challenges makes for better people on the other end and some of the greatest things we know today were created by those who took risks, defied protocols, and pushed through adversity. Here are some fine examples of folks turning lemons into lemonade!

Walt Disney

Had Walt Disney been one to easily give up, we wouldn’t have an archive of wonderful characters, shows, movies, theme parks, and experiences. Countless times, it was speculated that Disney would destroy his own company with new ventures. This included the making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – dubbed Disney’s Folly by the media – and the construction of Disneyland, which many believed had no chance of success. Disney had so much trouble raising funds for the theme park that he made a deal with the ABC TV network, exchanging programming for help in financing his dream. Everything worked out in the end, thanks to Disney’s risks.

Walt Disney Legacy

Henry Ford

The man who eventually brought the world the automobile went through a number of struggles before finally reaching success. Ford came from a farming family and was expected to take over the homestead, although he hated the work and lifestyle. Ford wanted a better life for himself, but simply leaving the farm didn’t guarantee anything. In fact, Ford was forced to file for bankruptcy twice, but he learned from his mistakes and gained a net worth of $188 billion. Ford was also one to look after his employees, offering them an unheard of $5 per day wage, allowing them to buy the vehicles they were making.

JK Rowling

The Harry Potter author, now raking in cash from her books, movie deals, theme park lands, etc. was once living off welfare and trying to complete her novel by travelling to various coffee houses, while caring for her infant child. Even when interest began swelling for her manuscript, she was advised to seek a day job, as it was unlikely she would make enough money solely on writing children’s books. While speaking for a graduating Harvard class in 2008, Rowling said: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Steve Jobs

Before he became the technological icon that we know him as today – creating devices such as the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone – Jobs went through many hardships. Among them, he was an adopted child, struggled in school, dropped out of college course he could barely afford in the first place, and struggled to find his niche in the working world. Even running his own company would not provide smooth sailing. In fact, at one time, he was forced out of Apple, the company he created and would later bring back to prominence. Even in declining health due to cancer, Jobs never gave up hope or his dreams and kept working hard through it all.

Jobs Taking Over

Terry Fox

Fox was only 18 years old when he was forced to have his leg amputated due to cancer. The young man didn’t let that stop him, though, as he not only won national wheelchair basketball championships, but also embarked on a trip across Canada, running to raise money for cancer research. Fox’s Marathon of Hope lasted 143 days and 5,373 km, garnering $1.7 million in donations. Sadly, the journey had to be halted in Thunder Bay, Ontario, when Fox was too sick to continue, cancer returning to the athlete’s body. In honour of his campaign, the Terry Fox Run is done annually around the world and has raised over $650 million.

Rick Hansen

Sticking with Canadian content, the wheelchair-bound Hansen gave the opening address at one of my college convocations and his message really hit home with Mrs. Sip and myself. The crux of it was: “Failure is not having the courage to try.” Hansen is best known for his Man in Motion World Tour, an attempt to raise funds for spinal cord injury research by circumventing the globe in his wheelchair. Hansen had been crippled in an auto wreck at the age of 15, but that didn’t stop the man from raising $26 million over his 26 month journey. The song St. Elmo’s Fire was written for Hansen and his courageous expedition.

Oprah Winfrey

With a media empire that includes its own magazine, television network, and devoted fan base, one could certainly say that Oprah Winfrey did well for herself. When you learn of the broadcasting mogul’s humble and difficult beginnings, her success is all the more impressive. She had a strained relationship with her teenage mother, who was in and out of her life and was the victim of sexual abuse from family members. After running away from home, Winfrey herself became pregnant at age 14, although the baby died after premature birth. Once Winfrey entered the media world, it was a slow rise to the heights she currently enjoys.

Flavour Revolution: Floradora

Floradora Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Gilbey’s Lemon Gin
  • 0.5 oz Chambord
  • Top with Ginger Ale/Beer
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

The phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” has been credited to two sources. First, Elbert Hubbard, a Christian anarchist writer, used it for the obituary of Marshall P. Wilder, a dwarf actor, who Hubbard wrote of: “He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.” Fellow writer Dale Carnegie has also been said to have invented the term, writing in his book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’: “If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade.”

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is an interesting drink. I used my Dark Ginger Ale, but kind of wished I’d used some Ginger Beer, perhaps Crabbie’s orange or raspberry flavour. There’s a lot of different tastes going on here, but the end result works. And if it hadn’t, I would have made lemonade from the lemon experience!

July 18 – Rasputin Cocktail

Idol Worship

Throughout my life, I have found myself fascinated by certain individuals. People whose life stories intrigue me and make me want to actually “learn” more about them and their history. I wouldn’t say that these people are idols of mine, but they are extremely interesting folks, with tales that tend to captivate the masses.

Steve Jobs

While I’m not the biggest fan of Apple and its products (seriously, how annoying is the iTunes interface and non-compatibility?), I find Steve Jobs, the company’s founder and later saviour, to be a captivating case study. He lived a short life, but made the most of his time on earth. We can credit Jobs with so many innovations, from home computers, virtually every device with an ‘i’ in front of it, and even Pixar movies, the company he grew between his Apple stints.

Steve Jobs

Walt Disney

As a massive fan of Disneyland, I pay much homage to the man who first imagined the concept and then put his dream into work, jeopardizing everything he had built to that point, from reputation to life savings to his studio to his physical well-being. Every time I’m privileged to be in one of his parks (and particularly one that serves alcohol), I’m sure to say a little thanks to the legend and have a drink in his honour.

Ric Flair

For those who read my blog regularly, by now you should know that no Sip Adivsor list would be complete without a wrestling reference. This man styled and profiled his way to wrestling greatness and in the process lived the extravagant lifestyle of his on-screen character. Flair has been married (and divorced) four times and suffered great financial losses from bad investments, legal issues, and a lifetime of partying. Still, the ‘Nature Boy’ keeps ticking, making occasional appearances in the ring and still delighting fans with his over-the-top charisma and energy.

ric_flair

Rasputin

The amazing story of the assassination of Grigori Rasputin is one that first caught my attention in my high school history class. Now that I’ve actually visited Russia and been inside the room where his murder took place, I’m even more enthralled with the legend. For those who don’t know the details, Rasputin was poisoned, shot, stabbed and beaten, before being thrown into the frozen Neva River. Evidence later showed that water was in his lungs when his body was discovered, meaning he was still alive when thrown into his watery grave and likely succumbed to drowning.

Jimmy Stewart

Did you know that the It’s a Wonderful Life star was also a highly-decorated United States military pilot (the only actor to receive a higher ranking was Ronald Reagan, when he became president of the United States and commander-in-chief)? So, not only is Stewart one of my favourite actors, but you have to respect a guy that went to war throughout an acclaimed acting career.

Drink #199: Rasputin Cocktail

July 18

  • 2 oz Russian Vodka (I used Beluga)
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • Garnish with Lemon Twist

One more person who fascinates me, is myself. I often ponder my own existence and I’m blown away with what I’ve accomplished and continue to achieve. I’m a wrecking ball of awesomeness, steamrolling the lame, and making this world a better place, one cocktail at a time!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I didn’t think I’d like this cocktail as much as I did. The Frangelico was nice and not overwhelming. I split half of the Vodka portion of the recipe between Plain Vodka and Raspberry Vodka and that accentuated the entire cocktail.