Pennsylvania – Fish House Punch

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 original capital of the country (Philadelphia) can be found in Pennsylvania, which was situated right in the middle of the new nation – six states below and six states above – earning it the nickname, the Keystone State. Let’s check out this important cog in America:

Motto: “Virtue, liberty, and independence” – That pretty much covers it all.

Food: Philly Cheesesteaks are known the world over. Created by Pat and Henry Olivieri at their hotdog stand, the original recipe called for a sandwich of beef, covered with cheese and onions. The meal proved so popular, the brothers opened Pat’s King of Steaks, which is still in business today. Visitors to Pennsylvania can’t leave the state without trying a cheesesteak.

Drink: Yuengling Brewing, founded in 1829, in Pottsville, is America’s oldest operating brewing company. Based on sales, it is one of the most successful breweries in the world today. It should also be noted that soda originated in Pennsylvania, in 1807, when druggist Townsend Speakman added fruit flavours to carbonated water, making it more drinkable.

Cheesesteak

Site to See: The Liberty Bell, located in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, is one of America’s most iconic symbols. It was originally used to gather legislators and make announcements to the public. Interestingly, the word Pennsylvania is misspelled ‘Pensylvania’ on the bell, as a decision on the official spelling of the state hadn’t been made yet.

Street: Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues intersect to make up the town square of Hershey. It is here, where The Hershey Company is headquartered, as well as the location of the Hersheypark amusement resort. Streetlamps along the routes are shaped like Hershey’s Kisses. Chocolate production in Pennsylvania has earned the state the nickname ‘Sweetest Place on Earth’.

TV Show: A few of my favourite shows take place in Pennsylvania, including The Goldbergs, The Office and Boy Meets World. Each contains numerous references to life in the state. I’ve also had It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on my ‘to watch’ list for some time, so hopefully it appears on a streaming service accessible in Canada one day.

Movie: Many of director M. Night Shyamalan’s films are set in Pennsylvania, including The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Eastrail 177 Trilogy (Unbreakable/Split/Glass). A majority of filming for each movie was done around the state, featuring notable landmarks. Shyamalan, the plot twist king, was born in India, but now resides in Penn Valley.

Liberty Bell

Book/Author: Husband and wife writer-illustrators Stan and Jan Berenstain were born in Philadelphia. Their Berenstain Bears series of children’s books is comprised of more than 300 releases, which have sold over 260 millions copies around the world, since debuting in 1962. Since their passings, the franchise has been continued by Stan and Jan’s son, Mike (also from Philly).

Fictional Character: Scrappy boxer Rocky Balboa (aka the Italian Stallion), is born and bred in Philadelphia. When the relatively unknown fighter is given a title shot against the World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed, he is unable to win, but survives the 15-round battle at the Philadelphia Spectrum, making Balboa a true hometown hero.

Fictional City: One of my all-time favourite films is Slap Shot, about the fictional Charlestown Chiefs hockey team and their move to violence over skill, in order for the struggling franchise to win more games and draw more fans. Charlestown was based off real-life Johnstown, where the movie was filmed, and inspired by the Johnstown Jets hockey team.

Actor/Actress: A-listers of today, such as Will Smith and Bradley Cooper were born in Philadelphia. However, the nod for this category goes to James Stewart, star of such classics as It’s a Wonderful Life, Rear Window and Vertigo, who was born in Indiana. There, each Christmas, the suburb hosts an It’s a Wonderful Life celebration and film festival, in Stewart’s honour.

Berenstain Bears

Song: I’m going to go ahead and pick Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovic, given Pennsylvania’s massive Amish population (largest in the country). In the mid 1700’s, Amish immigrants settled in their new paradise and have remained since. I mean, there has to be a reason why they came to the state in droves… it’s not like they’re stubborn or anything like that!

Band/Musician: America’s Sweetheart, Taylor Swift, was born in West Reading. Starting her career as a country musician, Swift has transitioned successfully into the pop world and is one of the most popular artists in the world today. Some of her most recognized songs include Shake It Off, Blank Space, Bad Blood and Look What You Made Me Do.

People: For 33 years, Fred Rogers welcomed viewers into his home and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. There, the man born in Latrobe, taught children lessons of morality. Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, as well as being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Animal: Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather since 1887. When the famous groundhog emerges from his burrow each February 2nd, if he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter can be expected. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is near. Phil’s accuracy is only about 40 per cent. The film Groundhog Day resulted in annual crowds increasing from 2,000 to a record 40,000 people in 2020.

Invention: As we suffer through the COVID-19 pandemic, I think anytime a vaccine for a disease is invented, that’s a fantastic achievement. In 1952, Jonas Salk and others at the University of Pittsburgh created the first successful polio vaccine. By 1955, children were being vaccinated across America, with reported cases of polio dropping drastically.

Crime: On Septmeber 24, 1982, former prison guard George Banks went on a killing spree, murdering seven children (including five of his own), along with their four mothers, a neighbour and the mother of his ex-girlfriend. The event is known as the 1982 Wilkes-Barre Shootings. Banks was sentenced to death for the slayings, but was found mentally incompetent for execution.

Law: In Pennsylvania, a man may not purchase alcohol without the written permission of his wife. Can you imagine how that would go over in the Sip Family household? I mean, I often discuss liquor purchases with the missus, but ain’t no one stopping me from getting my drink on!

Sports Team: Pennsylvania’s Big 4 sports teams are split between Philadelphia – Eagles (NFL), Flyers (NHL), Phillies (MLB) and 76ers (NBA) – and Pittsburgh – Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL) and Pirates (MLB). Also, the Little League World Series is played annually in South Williamsport, where the event debuted in 1947, as the National Little League Tournament.

Polio Vaccine

Athlete: Two NBA icons were born in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain. Bryant won five NBA championships and is thought of as one of the best players ever. Sadly, Bryant died in a helicopter crash earlier this year. Chamberlain makes this list solely based on bedding 20,000 women. Oh yeah, he also won two NBA titles (including one with the 76ers) and is the only player to score 100 points in a game.

Famous Home: Fallingwater, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, can be found in Mill Run. It was built on top of a waterfall for the Kaufmann family of Kaufmann’s Department Store fame. The estate is a National Historic Landmark and is on the Smithsonian’s Life List of 28 Places to See Before You Die. Tours are available of the site.

Urban Legend: The Congelier House, in Pittsburgh, was considered America’s most haunted house. Tragic events at the home, including Mrs. Congelier killing her husband and their maid upon discovering their affair; a doctor who experimented on murdered women and workers disappearing from the boarding house, led to paranormal activity… although the house’s history has been discredited.

Museum: Two Pennsylvania museums stand out to me. The Big Mac Museum, in North Huntington, celebrates the burger first released in Pittsburgh, before becoming one of McDonald’s most popular menu items. There’s also the Houdini Museum, in Scranton, where illusionist Harry Houdini performed a number of his death-defying stunts.

Big Mac

Firsts: Pennsylvania was home to a number of metropolitan firsts that are now commonplace around the country. This included the first automobile service station, zoo (Philadelphia Zoo), hospital, circulating library, multi-lane highway (Pennsylvania Turnpike), baseball stadium, daily newspaper, movie theatre, and department store (Wanamaker’s).

Company: Crayola, makers of items such as crayons, coloured pencils, markers, paints, and more, is headquartered in Forks Township. It was originally founded in 1885, as Binney and Smith, by cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith. Today, Crayola is owned by Hallmark Cards. Crayola Crayons were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Events: With Philadelphia serving as the nation’s capital on a number of occasions, particularly during the birth of the country, the Declaration of Independence was signed and the U.S. Constitution written there. It’s central location, with regards to the 13 colonies, made it a perfect meeting spot for the revolutionary fighters and minds that shaped the republic.

Miscellaneous: Many notable historic moments have occurred throughout Pennsylvania, including President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (preceded by the Battle of Gettysburg) and the Crossing of the Delaware, by George Washington, during the American Revolutionary War. This event is now re-enacted every year in Pennsylvania on Christmas Day.

Fish House Punch

Fish House Punch

  • 1.5 oz Dark Rum
  • 0.75 oz Cognac
  • 0.5 oz Peach/Apricot brandy
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

The Fish House Punch is quite the concoction, so I found a single serving recipe perfect for my purposes. The drink was invented at Philadelphia’s Fish House fishing club, in 1732. George Washington was a fan of the beverage, once using it to make 13 toasts, one for each of the original states.

Cocktail Corner – Midnight Martini

Let the Good Times Roll

Last week, we looked at the Top 5 people and groups who had the worst 2015. This week, we look at those who enjoyed the year so much, they probably wish the calendar never turned over. Let’s get the party started!

#5: Donald Trump

Despite being a complete ass, Donald Trump is looking like the next Republican candidate for President of the United States. Some have joked that this is a blessing to Hilary Clinton or whoever holds the Democrat nomination, but the fact Trump has gained any hold over the race can be deemed a success for his camp (and all the fellow bigots who swallow his crap). As he leads the polls, I can’t help but hear the thundering hooves of the four horsemen of the apocalypse approach…

Donald Trump Bankrupt

#4: Justin Trudeau

After being elected Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau became a media darling not only within his own country, but in many other parts of the world. He’s been viewed as the most attractive political leader in the universe and many have urged him to strike while the iron is hot. Having ousted former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who many viewed as a tyrant and bringer of doom, helped in his ascent and much is anticipated from the new head of state in 2016.

#3: Chinese Parents

I can’t imagine being limited to a set number of kids, should I choose to have any at all, but for 35 years, couples living in China were limited to having just one child. This had the adverse effect of dwindling the female population in the country, as parent’s preferred to sire a male heir to continue their bloodlines. That will all be no more, as the republic declared that the law would be repealed and that partners would now be able to have up to two children.

One Child Policy

#2: Disney and Star Wars

Notwithstanding a lackluster reception for episodes 1-3, faith was renewed in the Star Wars saga thanks to Episode 7: The Force Awakens. Hype for the film was palpable and as someone who is not a fan of the franchise, even I must admit that the new movie was quite good and I’m looking forward to its sequels. Disney, having bought the rights to the space opera, is now building Star Wars themed lands at many of its resorts and I’ll be the judge of whether that’s a good thing, in the future.

#1: Caitlyn Jenner

While there are mixed opinions on Caitlyn Jenner, one thing that can’t be denied is that she brought the issue of transgendered people to a height of public debate that it had never experienced before. Jenner’s choice to live her life as a female, while existing in the public eye, has led to numerous accolades, including being the recipient of the ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award and being named Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2015 and Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year.

Cocktail Corner: Midnight Martini

Jan 13

Honourable mentions include teams that brought home championships in their respective leagues, the LGBT community, potheads everywhere, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, and the Toronto Blue Jays, who after two decades of futility, finally gave their fans something to cheer about.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I haven’t had the chance to use my Patron XO Café Tequila very often, but looked forward to applying it to this recipe. To accentuate the martini, I used Stoli Salted Karamel Vodka and the two mixed well together. Start with a drizzle of Caramel Sauce around the glass and you have the makings of a great cocktail!

February 18 – Candy Rider

Ride Wit Me

In a recent post, I mentioned rock band Van Halen’s odd tour rider request to have all the brown M&M’s removed from candy dishes backstage at their appearances. Today I look at some other celebrity demands; some humourous, some reasonable and some downright bizarre.

Taylor Swift – Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, chocolate milk, ice cream, Twizzlers

I know Taylor is young – only 23 – but her rider makes it seem like she should still be eating at the kiddy table. Granted it looks like an ideal meal for Mrs. Sip as well. If this is a consistent part of Swift’s diet however, I wouldn’t be surprised if she often hits the stage with an upset tummy.

Kid Table

Eminem – peanut butter, strawberry jelly, Lunchables… oh, and a koi pond

Again, Slim Shady’s rider reminds me of something a young child going on a field trip would ask for. PB&Js and Lunchables sounds like a nice simple meal if you’re a picky kid. However, not really what I envisioned for someone rapping about drugs and sex, but then again I do love me a good PB&J. Both are favourites of Mrs. Sip (the PB&J and Lunchables that is, not the drugs and sex unfortunately)… she’s starting to look like a bit of a diva. The koi pond is completely out of left field, but given his other easy-to-achieve asks, we’ll give him a pass on the pond.

Adele – Marlboro lights, fans who get free tickets must make a donation to charity

Ever wonder how Adele gets that smoky voice of hers. The Marlboro lights she requests on her rider may play a role. I’m not sure how she keeps tabs on who gets free tickets to her concerts though… perhaps she has ESP (enhanced suspicions of people).

Kanye West – shampoo, lip balm, soft-bristle toothbrush

Wouldn’t want to hurt those voice-of-a-generation gums, hey Kanye? These are all items any normal person would travel with and supply themselves with, but hey, why not make someone else buy them for you and save $10 from your millions?

John Kerry – no tomato-based products or sandwiches

This is a very ironic request given his wife’s fortune – which likely helped fund Kerry’s bid for the American presidency – comes from her first marriage to the heir of the Heinz ketchup legacy. Perhaps that fact still bothers him. After all, what guy likes being constantly reminded of the other people who have seen his wife’s naughty bits?

Foo Fighters – colouring and activity books

Sounds like Dave Grohl and the guys have found a sure-fire way to kick-start their creativity prior to a performance. I can totally see Grohl lying on the floor and doing his best to keep within the lines. Then again, he is a drummer and maybe the exercise is all about breaking the rules. The group also provides this great drawing as an example of acceptable catering.

Foo Fighters Entree

Michael Buble – local hockey team puck, bottle of scotch, wine, veggies and dip

A good Canadian kid, all Buble wants is a bottle of scotch, some reasonably-priced wine, veggies and dip, and a hockey puck from the local team. It’s a well-known fact that Buble is a massive hockey fan and perhaps he’s just trying to build a one-of-a-kind collection. Fans of Bubbles have even posted in forums, trying to send him pucks from their area teams.

Mariah Carey – 20 white kittens, 100 doves

I only hope the 20 kittens are allowed to feast on the 100 doves and that is the only reason the two are ordered in unison (reminder: The Sip Advisor does not like birds in any form… except tuxedoed and flightless). Man, what a glorious massacre that would be. I know The Sip Advisor’s little sidekick, Furious B, would have an absolute feast if allowed to join this party.

Marilyn Manson – bald-headed, toothless hooker

We hope that this is a joke request, but with Mr. Manson (who sometimes prefers to go by Mrs.), you can never be too sure. Maybe he’s just using the woman as an example of how to do his own make-up!

Drink #49: Candy Rider

Candy Rider Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Cherry Fun Dip
  • 2 oz Gin (I used Beefeater)
  • Top with Cherry Dr. Pepper
  • Garnish with Twizzler Straw

My demands for today’s drink included a cherry Fun Dip rim and a Twizzler straw. If you were a touring celebrity, what would be on your rider? Write me your own requests and I’ll decide whether or not you’re worth booking. The best replies may be posted in a future Sip Advisor blog!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I would have never thought that Gin and Dr. Pepper went together very well… boy, was I wrong. I’m particularly proud of the Twizzler stir stick/straw I added to go along with the post above.