New York – Five Boroughs Cocktails

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we hit the bigtime, New York. There’s so much going on in the Empire State that a lot of categories will be filled with options. So, let’s take a bite out of the Big Apple and see how it tastes:

Motto: “Excelsior (Ever upward)” – And spinning… constantly spinning!

Food: As far as the Sip Advisor is concerned, the complete meal of New York-created foods is a Club Sandwich with side Potato Chips, finished with a slice of New York Cheesecake for dessert. Other creations worth mentioning include Buffalo Wings, Eggs Benedict, Chicken and Waffles, Waldorf Salad, Red Velvet Cake, and even Jell-O.

Drink: There is a cocktail for each of the five boroughs that make up New York City. This includes The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island Ferry drinks. New York can also be credited with the Long Island Iced Tea, Penicillin, Cosmopolitan, Martini, Appletini, Bloody Mary, Tom Collins, and New York Sour beverages.

Club Sandwich

Site to See: When Mrs. Sip and I were in New York City for far too short of a visit, we tried to see as much as we could. Our stops included Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden, Central Park, and Grand Central Station. Outside of New York City, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the country.

Street: Three industry hubs (financial, advertising, theatrical) can be found along New York City streets. First, Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the largest in the world. Second, numerous ad agencies call Madison Avenue home, used as the setting for TV show Mad Men. Finally, Broadway is the epicenter of American theatre, with playhouses lining the route.

TV Show: The next time I’m in New York, I plan to take a TV show tour, given all the great shows that have been set in the state. These include Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, All in the Family, The King of Queens, Taxi, Law & Order, Sex and the City, and I Love Lucy.  Shows that can’t be toured, but deserve mention, include Futurama, Saturday Night Live, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sesame Street.

Movie: Another tough category to narrow down, I have to go with one of my all-time favourites, It’s a Wonderful Life. Starring Jimmy Stewart, this story of truly appreciating what you have, has become a Christmas classic, shown every holiday season. Honourable mentions include the Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchises, as well as The Warriors.

Wonderful Life

Book/Author: So many comic books are set in New York, including the likes of Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange. All of these entries share the common thread that each was created or co-created by New Yorker Stan Lee. Lee is also responsible for other popular characters, such as the X-Men, Thor, Hulk, Black Panther, and Ant-Man.

Fictional Character: As a child, the Sip Advisor loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and movies. The heroes in a half shell dwelled in the sewers of the New York City, being trained in martial arts by Splinter, before being required to save the city and world from evildoers. Associates of the Turtles, such as reporter April O’Neil and vigilante Casey Jones are also New Yorkers.

Fictional City: Riverdale, setting of the Archie Comics universe, is generally thought to be located in New York. This means the nearby towns of Greendale (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Midvale (Josie and the Pussycats) are also likely in the state. The earliest Archie Comics reference the real-life Bronx neighbourhood Riverdale, but this changed as the series progressed.

Actor/Actress: A number of today’s A-list stars were born in New York. Among them, are Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Hathaway, Scarlet Johansson, Al Pacino, and Denzel Washington. A couple legends of the big and small screen also called the state home, including Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas and Mickey Rooney.

Stan Lee

Song: This category is down to two choices: New York, New York by Frank Sinatra and Empire State of Mind by Jay Z and Alicia Keys. Both are fitting anthems for New York City, as well as the rest of the state. I guess it all depends on your preferred style of music. If you don’t like either, artists such as Billy Joel and The Beastie Boys also have New York-based tracks.

Band/Musician: Another category filled with great options. I’ll go with The Ramones, as one of the first punk rock groups and revolutionaries for that style. Although not related, band members all adopted the last name Ramone. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

People: Women’s rights icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was born in Brooklyn. After a lengthy legal career, she was appointed to U.S. Supreme Court, in 1993. Nicknamed The Notorious R.B.G., Ginsburg was the subject of the 2018 biographical film, On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones. There’s even been a Sam Adams beer released in her honour.

Animal: After a history of incidents, including killing a circus spectator, Topsy the Elephant was sentenced to death by hanging, as part of a publicity stunt. The ASPCA objected to the public event (with admission to be charged), but eventually allowed for Topsy to be hung, poisoned and electrocuted. Footage of the 1903 execution exists, recorded by the Thomas Edison’s film company.

RBG

Invention: George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, patented the first film roll in 1884, which was eventually used with his Kodak Black camera, developed in 1888. His film also became the standard used for early motion pictures. The George Eastman Museum, in Rochester, is the oldest photography museum in the world, with an extensive film archive.

Crime: A few significant assassinations have taken place in New York, including the murders of U.S. President William McKinley, civil rights activist Malcolm X and musician John Lennon. McKinley was shot as he appeared at the 1901 Pan-American Expo. Malcolm X was swarmed by three members of the Nation of Islam, wounded 21 times. Lennon was killed outside his home by a man he had earlier signed an autograph for.

Law: In New York, it’s illegal to talk to a stranger in an elevator. There goes all that awkward small talk with people. I kind of hope this law has legs and spread outside the state.

Sports Team: New York City is a busy sporting hub with teams such as the Yankees and Mets (MLB), Knicks and Nets (NBA) and Islanders and Rangers (NHL). Buffalo also has a couple teams in the Bills (NFL) and Sabres (NHL). Although named New York, both the Jets and Giants (NFL) play in New Jersey. There’s also a ton of NCAA sports going on across the state.

Film

Athlete: Two of basketballs greatest players of all-time were born in New York City boroughs. Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were dominant athletes, winning six NBA Championships each. There’s also controversial boxer and ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’, Mike Tyson, the youngest fighter to ever win a heavyweight title.

Famous Home: There are a number of New York landmarks related to former U.S. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace and Sagamore Hill estate were homes to Teddy at opposite ends of his life. Meanwhile, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, in Hyde Park, is where FDR hosted his famous fireside chats.

Urban Legend: In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six of his family members, in their Amityville home. A year later, the Lutz family moved into the home and began experiencing paranormal activity. These events inspired The Amity Horror franchise, with much debate over the authenticity of the Lutz’s accounts. The home still stands, although the address was changed to discourage visitors.

Museum: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown, is a mecca for baseball lovers. Built in 1939, by the heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, exhibits today include Baseball at the Movies, One for the Books (about records set by players and teams), a walkthrough history of the sport, the Hall of Fame plaque gallery, and many others.

Mike Tyson

Firsts: The first pizzeria in the U.S. opened in New York City, in 1905. Lombardi’s Pizza still operates today, but was closed at one point for 10 years, before moving a block away from the original location. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the pizzeria first opening, pizzas were sold for only 5 cents, the price of a pie (they don’t sell slices) in 1905.

Company: All the major TV networks are headquartered in New York City, including ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. Top cable channels, such as HBO and Comedy Central also call NYC home. This, along with the city having some of the top newspapers, publishing houses and record companies, has led to it being called the media capital of the world.

Events: When two planes were flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the world stood still. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for what was later dubbed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which also included a plane crashing into the Pentagon and another into a field in Pennsylvania. All tolled, 2,977 people were killed, with a further 25,000 injured.

Miscellaneous: The ‘I Love New York’ (I ❤ NY) campaign, was launched in 1977, to bring attention to the state’s tourism industry. It included the famous slogan, logo and a song. ‘I Love New York’ has become the State Slogan and the logo – created by graphic designed, Milton Glaser, using a red crayon, while riding in a taxi – can be seen on all matters of souvenirs.

Five Boroughs 2

The Bronx

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 0.25 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Dry Vermouth
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Twist

Brooklyn

  • 1 oz Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Manhattan

  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Queens

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

Staten Island Ferry

  • 2 oz Coconut Rum
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with a Pineapple Wedge/Coconut Shavings

There are so many cocktail options from the state of New York and I felt doing all five New York City boroughs cocktails was the best solution. For those keeping track, that meant 12 ounces of booze needed to be consumed, so you can bet the Sip Advisor enjoyed the experiment.

Flavour Revolution – Banana

Fave Foods

Bananas are making a huge comeback – in fact, they may have never been so popular – thanks to the Minions and their fondness for the tropical fruit… heck, “banana” is one of the few words that can be understood from the Minionese language. Despite all the wonderful food out there, some characters have favourites, preferring one item over anything else. Here are some of the finest examples:

Cookies – Cookie Monster

Thank the lord above that this character wasn’t created nowadays or he might have been Fruit-in-Yogurt Monster or something ridiculous like that. As a proud and certified member of the Cookie Monster club, I fully endorse the high pursuit of cookie happiness. While the Sip Advisor has his favourite cookie options, Cookie Monster is not picky in the slightest. Every treat is perfect for the occasion.

Lasagna – Garfield

While this kitty isn’t adverse to any food, lasagna is by far his favourite. This is based on the fact that creator Jim Davis is also a lasagna lover, saying fans come up to him often saying their cats eat the Italian dish. The thought of any cat I’ve ever had enjoying pasta noodles just doesn’t jive, but Garfield is in it for the meat and cheese (kind of sounds like Mrs. Sip!).

Pizza – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Mostly all teens love pizza and that’s no different with these heroes in a half shell, who manage to get their hands on the meal, despite living in the sewers beneath New York City. What took the Turtles enjoyment of pizza to a whole other level was the wacky combinations they ordered, such as granola and licorice, peanut butter and clams, and coconut and sweet pickle.

Donuts – Homer Simpson

If there’s one thing Homer Simpson loves more than beer and even pork chops, it’s donuts. So much so, that one element of currency in the game The Simpsons: Tapped Out, is the dessert treat. Donuts have played a role in many of Homer’s adventures, most notably, the selling of his soul for a tasty pastry… to a devil Ned Flanders, of all people!

Homer Donut

Honey – Winnie the Pooh

The lengths, to which Winnie the Pooh will go, in the pursuit of honey (or ‘hunny’ as it’s known in the Hundred Acre Wood), are pretty remarkable. This loveable, seemingly always hungry bear has a habit of getting his head caught in a honey pot, but it’s totally worth it for a smackeral of the good stuff. There’s even a song, penned by Pooh, which is basically all about honey love!

Tater Tots – Napoleon Dynamite

The only thing that gets Napoleon Dynamite through a tough day of school (or at his dysfunctional home, for that matter) is the promise of tater tots from the school cafeteria. The teen always seems to have the side dish on him, often stuffed in his pockets for later enjoyment. He also doesn’t hesitate to snatch his friend’s tater tots, if the opportunity arises.

Marmalade – Paddington Bear

Much like his carnivorous counterpart, Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear has a weakness for a toast accompaniment. In Paddington’s case, it is a fondness for marmalade. In 2007, Paddington tried “something different” with Marmite sandwiches, but he will always be a marmalade bear. If we’re talking preserves, the Sip Advisor is more of a raspberry jam fan, but whateves!

Flavour Revolution: Monkey Business

  • Muddle Cardamom Pods
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Bols Banana Liqueur
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Cardamom Pods

Some honourable mentions include Monterrey Jack (Rescue Rangers) and his crazed obsession with cheese; Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes) and his penchant for chomping on a carrot every time he’s foiled an antagonist; and Popeye, who without spinach, would have absolutely no chance against the dastardly Bluto, in his pursuit of Olive Oil. I can’t help but notice that many of my favourite characters ever comprise this list. When you add the Sip Advisor as a bona fide potato chip connoisseur, the article is complete!

March 21 – The Punisher

Power to the People

Vigilantes fascinate me to a degree. People who are willing to take justice into their own hands and set the wrongs of the legal system right, taking up a cause and fighting for the people who have no voice. This list will not include super heroes who have special powers, but just ordinary folks, trying to make a difference:

#5: Casey Jones

While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are vigilantes in their own right, it’s Casey Jones who goes out night after night with no special powers to protect him and takes care of business with an array of sports-themed weapons, highlighted by his protective mask and hockey stick armament. Jones is best remembered for his appearance in the original TMNT movie, where Michelangelo calls his “Wayne Gretzky on steroids!” and he joins the team and helps take down Shredder and the Foot Clan.

Casey Jones

#4: Dexter

The serial killer of serial killers, Dexter is there to pick up the scraps whenever the justice system fails. Operating under a code passed down to him by his father, police officer Harry Morgan, Dexter stalks his prey and once he has confirmed that they are indeed guilty as charged, he puts them in his kill room and under the knife… quite literally. It’s funny how much you can like someone that would normally be so reviled. Does the end justify his means? After all, Dexter is still a murderer.

#3: Machete

The former Mexican Federale (played by real-life ex-inmate Danny Trejo) is one badass you don’t want to mess with. Still, some idiot – drug kingpin Rogelio Torrez – decided to murder Machete’s wife and daughter, which sends Machete over the edge and seeking revenge. Machete’s kill count soars to astronomical numbers and the bloodshed is immense while his vengeance is being sought. Amusingly, Trejo’s own mother has likened calling her son by his killer character’s name.

Machete

#2: Kick-Ass

Before becoming a “superhero,” Dave Lizewski had hoped to make a difference in his crime-ridden city. He gets beat up pretty bad on his first attempt, but this results in severe nerve damage and numerous metal plates being surgically implanted in his body, thus making him somewhat impervious to pain. Along with fellow do-gooders like Hit-Girl, Colonel Stars and Stripes, Night Bitch, and Battle Guy, Kick-Ass takes to the streets to dole out some vigilante justice and keep would-be criminals in check.

#1: The Punisher

After his family is killed by members of organized crime, Frank Castle has nothing left to lose and becomes The Punisher, a vigilante who is hell bent on extracting revenge for his fallen kin and ridding the world of evildoers. The Punisher has become more of an anti-hero thanks to his willingness to take on all contracts and for the ruthless nature in which he operates. The man gets the job done, though, unwilling to let anyone get in the way of his end goal: total villain annihilation.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Punisher

The Punisher Shot

  • Rim glass with Chocolate Sprinkles
  • 0.5 oz Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Jagermeister
  • Splash of Mudslide Mix

Honourable mentions go to the A-Team, the Boondock Saints, and Batman, who narrowly misses this list because of his immense wealth, unlike other less fortunate crime fighters. Now, I will surely have Batman haunting me and stalking the Sip Advisor like some easy-to-catch prey!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
There are other Punisher/Vigilante recipes out there that I considered, but I felt this one best represented the character. I was missing both Mudslide Mix and Whip Cream (which you’re supposed to garnish the drink with), but mixed my own Mudslide ingredients (Irish Creme, Kahlua, Vodka, Milk) and went with some Chocolate Sprinkles for presentation points. The best part of this shooter is that it couldn’t be further from a punishment and is actually quite delightful!

March 7 – Grey Mouse

Rodent Rascals

Despite the fear these animals cause for many people, the following entries are loveable rats, mice, chipmunks, etc. It might help that they’re all animated (or at least began their existences that way) as that’s just how you can get the most cuteness out of what could otherwise be considered vermin. Here are the Top 5 rodents:

#5: Remy – Ratatouille

This rat may be one of the few Parisians I actually like! The fact that Remy is voiced by Patton Oswalt is simply a bonus. Interestingly, Oswalt was cast in the movie based off of his food-based stand-up routine. Want some more Ratatouille trivia? Did you know that a wine branded with the name of the film was supposed to be released in a joint venture between Disney, Pixar and Costco, but was pulled because the label featured the animated Remy, something the California Wine Institute was not pleased with, arguing that it encouraged underage drinking.

Remy Ratatouille

Remy certainly has some swagger!

#4: Rescue Rangers

Chip, Dale, Monterrey Jack, and the voluptuous Gadget (the only member of the team forced to wear pants!) may be the world’s smallest crime fighters, but they are thorns in the side of villains like Professor Norton Nimnul, Fat Cat, and Rat Capone. Sadly, little Zipper can’t be included in this entry because he’s not a rodent… sorry, buddy. Back to the team, we will get to see them again in the coming years, as Disney has announced plans for a live-action/CGI animation movie. As long as they keep the wicked opening theme song in some capacity, fans everywhere will rejoice!

#3: Pinky & The Brain – Animaniacs

These two made trying to take over the world fashionable… sure, their zany plans regularly go awry, but that doesn’t mean a strategy won’t ever work and we’ll all become the slaves of genetically-enhanced lab mice! The duo proved so popular that they were given their own series, sadly invaded by Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures. There’s a great theory out there that Pinky is actually the intelligent mouse, while The Brain is the insane one out of the two. That would explain why he’s hell bent on escaping his cage and ruling the earth.

Pinky and the Brain

#2: Splinter – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The wise sensei and father figure of the teen turtles may be a rodent of advanced age, but he can still fight when pushed to do so, often defending his shelled family. The one thing that pisses me off about Splinter is how his origin story changes from time to time. In some projects, he was a human turned into a rat, while other times, he was always a rat, who transformed thanks to the mutagen. He’s at his most awesome in the original Turtles movie, when he battles and defeats The Shredder, sending him crashing from a high-rise rooftop into the back of a garbage truck.

#1: Mickey Mouse

While I’ve never been a huge fan of Mickey, some of my favourite things in this world wouldn’t exist without him. Think about it: I met Mrs. Sip in Disneyland, which was only possible thanks to the success of early Mickey cartoons, leading to more animated gems from Walt Disney and company. With those facts, you just have to respect Mickey and everything he’s done in the name of entertainment. As Walt himself famously said, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Super Saturday Shot Day: Grey Mouse

Grey Mouse Shot

  • 1 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Black Sambuca
  • Garnish with a Gummy Mouse

Honourable mentions go to Bernard and Bianca (The Rescuers); Jerry Mouse (Tom & Jerry); and the trio of Alvin, Simon and Theodore Seville (Alvin & The Chipmunks). I really wish I could have included The Chipmunks, who got the Sip Advisor through some tough times with their upbeat music!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
The shot was one thing (it was what you’d expect from mixing Irish Creme and Sambuca), but I think my choice to garnish the shooter with a Gummy Mouse was spectacular. Thankfully, Ma Sip had a few on hand, which I was more than happy to use in the production.

Ukraine – Black Sea Blackout

Hearty Homage

While I’m not of Ukrainian descent in any way, Ma Sip always made a point of celebrating Ukrainian Christmas in late January. With that, came a healthy dose of perogies and cabbage rolls. Borsht is also an originally Ukrainian dish, which has been adapted around the world. You might not want to read this article on an empty stomach, because we’re delving into the best of Ukrainian cuisine!

Borscht

This soup, made from beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and spices is a Ukraine original. There is said to be about 30 different varieties of borscht, depending on ingredients used. Borscht can be served either hot or cold, just like pizza, although I don’t think the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be going out of their way for soup. The country is also known for a number of other brothy offerings, none of which seem overly appetizing, in the Sip Advisor’s opinion.

Borscht Dog

Similar to the fabled Bible Belt in the United States, there is a Borscht Belt, referring to parts of Upstate New York, where many Jewish immigrants vacationed between the 1920s and 1970s, bringing the Ukrainian dish with them over to America. Also dubbed the Jewish Alps, the area consists of many out of business summer resorts, although many stars got their start performing there, including comedians, singers, dancers, musicians, and variety acts. The area even inspired Fozzie Bear!

Pierogies

Although the pierogy was invented in Poland, it is a staple of Ukrainian meals. The people of Ukraine call these dumplings varenyky and they can be found stuffed with potato and cheese, meat, cabbage, mushrooms, or anything else that meets your fancy. Pierogies can be either savory or sweet and while some choose to boil their dumplings, the Sip Advisor is an advocate for the fried variety, especially if topped with crisp bacon, sautéed onions, and drizzled with ketchup and ranch dressing (freaky deaky!).

Pierogi Eater

The dessert pierogy options are typically stuffed with various berries or even cheese. They are topped with anything from butter to jam to honey. There is even a type of pierogy called Lazy Varenyky and we all know how fond of laziness the Sip Advisor can be. Varenyky monuments can be found in a couple Ukrainian towns and have even popped in in Glendon, Alberta, Canada, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States.

Cabbage Rolls

While never likely to make the Sip Advisor’s list of favourite foods, cabbage rolls have a devoted following around the world. In the Ukraine, cabbage leaves are either pickled or parboiled and then usually stuffed with only rice. This was because cabbage rolls were a meal of the peasants and meat was too expensive. Of course, the recipe has evolved in recent times to include meats, vegetables, and even tofu.

Cabbage Rolls Food

Cabbage rolls are typically cooked in or topped with sauces such as tomato juice, beef or vegetable stock, or different soup broths. Variations of this Eastern European classic have travelled the globe, to places including China (bai cai juan); Japan (rōru kyabetsu); Brazil (charuto de repolho); Iran (dolmeye kalam); Quebec, Canada (cigares au chou); and numerous other locales.

Babka

Famously known for its inclusion in an episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry and the gang are picking up a cake for a party they’ve all been invited to and in typical fashion, things go quite differently than intended. The Babka is a sweet bread, often baked with raisins and other dried fruit. It is mostly only produced at Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – as the dough rises, so shall the lord… or something to that effect!

Babka Barker

Unlike most cakes, which are long/round, the Babka is tall and cylindrical. The Babka dates back thousands of years, with evidence that ancient Greeks and Romans dined of the delicacy. Some versions of the dessert, typically from Sardinia, Italy, are decorated intricately with flowers and become more of an art form than a holiday food item. You’d feel horrible scarfing down something that looked so festive. Now that we have an appetizer, main, side, and dessert, I think it’s time for a drink!

Ukraine: Black Sea Blackout

Black Sea Blackout Cocktail

As I mentioned in one of my 25 Days of Christmas articles, Ukrainians (as well as other Eastern Europeans) also have a 12-course Christmas Eve feast, consisting of 12 meatless dishes, meant to symbolize the 12 Apostles. This year, I will do my own 12-course meal consisting of 12 different flavours of potato chips!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail is supposed to use the regular Khortytsa Vodka and more Blue Curacao than I was willing to let into a drink, so I adapted the recipe a smidge. The results were quite nice, especially when paired with my Cran-Lemonade mixer, which is a wonderful addition to any bar. The Honey Hot Pepper Vodka also lends a nice little burn at the end of each sip.

August 9 – Secret of the Ooze

Reptile Rebellion

I’m a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan and have been since the cool dudes with attitudes hit the airwaves in 1987. With the movie reboot that came out last night, it’s time to dedicate some space to turtle power and discuss the greatest reptiles ever. Let the debate begin!

#5: The Fraternity of Crocodiles – Pearls Before Swine

Some of the funniest Pearls Before Swine comics involve the Fraternity of Crocodiles (under their official name of Da Brudderhood of Zeeba Zeeba Eata) trying to get their chompers wrapped around the animals of Albany, California. These crocs really aren’t very bright, but they’re enthusiasm for eating zebras is unrivaled. Their failed attempts at procuring dinner is akin to Wile E. Coyote’s efforts and you find yourself routing for the bad guy to pick up a win.

zeeba_zeeba_eata

#4: Geico Gecko

I love this little mascot, who despite his gentle nature, seems to have a bite to him, as well. He is, after all, the smartest man in the room at high-level Geico meetings and that might be saying something about the insurance industry in general. The Geico Gecko was born out of the 1999 Screen Actors Guild strike, which resulted in the company not being able to use live actors. Kelsey Grammar originally voiced the character, but he has evolved into more of an everyman gecko with a Cockney accent.

#3: Rango

Perfectly cast, with Johnny Depp providing the lizard’s voice, Rango is the tale of a fish-out-of-water chameleon, who becomes sheriff of the desert town of Dirt and uncovers a mystery involving the area’s drinking water. I also have to give Rango props for dealing with the dreaded Rattlesnake Jake, using his brains to defeat the brawny gunslinger. Anytime a slithering snake is defeated, the Sip Advisor is a happy man.

rango-fear-and-loathing

#2: Bowser – Nintendo

One of the greatest video game baddies of all-time, Bowser seems obsessed with Princess Peach to the point that he’s kidnapped her so many times she’s developed a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome and doesn’t mind playing board games and going go-kart racing with the evil lizard king. Bowser even has his family members getting in on the sinful acts and you may defeat them, but the princess will likely be in another castle!

#1: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

You had to know that these four heroes in a half shell would take the top spot. Of course, Michaelangelo is my favourite among the troupe, but each member of the team holds a special place in my heart and brings something different to the table. One of my favourite things about the TMNT franchise is all the different sidekicks and villains that were introduced, from Casey Jones to the Shredder, and all the Bebop’s and Rocksteady’s in between.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Secret of the Ooze (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Aug 9

  • Rim glass with Candy Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Pisang Ambon
  • Splash of Sour Apple Mix
  • Dash of Lime Cordial

I have to throw some honourable mentions out to Dino (Flintstones), Godzilla, Tick-Tock (Peter Pan), Sir Hiss (Robin Hood), and Reptile (Mortal Kombat). One reptilian that is definitely on the hate list is Barney the Dinosaur… he gives all prehistoric beasts a bad name and should have been slaughtered by the Transformers Dinobots crew.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I wasn’t really happy with the Mutagen and other Ninja Turtles-themed drinks that already existed (although Drunken Moogle has a neat cocktail that actually uses the toy mutagen canister for its glass), so I built my own shot version, using as many green-coloured products I had in my arsenal. The results were a fruit punch of sorts, including the Lime Cordial Mrs. Sip and I made ourselves. This shooter also provided my first chance to use my new tilted shot glass, which goes perfectly with the theme, in my honest opinion.

Italy – The Winkle

Sicilian Slice

The modern pizza was invented in Naples, Italy and god bless them for doing so. Throughout the Sip Advisor’s life, pizza has always remained at or near the top of my favourite foods list. I don’t care that it’s not exactly a healthy choice and often falls under the junk food category… it’s god damn delicious!

The term ‘pizza’ can be traced all the way back to the year 997 AD in the city of Gaeta, Italy. Before that, flat breads called foccasia were garnished with a variety of toppings, but were usually sweet dishes, rather than savoury. In the 18th century, the people of Naples began adding tomatoes to the mix and thus the modern pizza was born, before spreading around the world thanks to Italian immigrants.

Pizza Gross

The thing I love about pizza is its versatility. It’s great upon first serving and a rare food item that can be better reheated later or even scarfed down cold, straight out of the fridge. It’s the perfect breakfast – especially after a night of hard drinking – as it doesn’t take much effort to prepare while you’re still a little fuzzy. Apparently, I’m not alone, as 36% of Americans think it makes the perfect morning meal.

As of 2012, there were 11,139 Pizza Hut outlets across 94 countries. Pizza Hut’s largest competitor, Domino’s Pizza, has more than 10,000 stores and is the world leader in delivery services. Along with these two giants are so many other companies hawking bread, cheese, sauce, and toppings, totaling more than five billion pizzas sold every year, with more than half of those sales occurring in the United States.

The largest pizza ever made weighed 12.9 tons and was created at the Norwood Pick ‘n Pay in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1990. The pie had a diameter of 37.4 meters (122 feet, 8 inches) and used 500kg of flour, 800kg of cheese, and 900kg of tomato sauce.

Pizza Win

The most expensive pizza ever made included ingredients such as sunblush-tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, venison medallions, lobster marinated in gognac, champagne-soaked caviar, and even edible gold. Made by restaurant owner Domenico Crolla, the pizza was auctioned for charity and raised 2,150 pounds. The most expensive regularly sold pizza can be found at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Maze, in London. Each serving will set you back 100 pounds, not to mention the weight that will be added to your waistline.

If you’re having a massive party, you could consider hitting up Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria in California, where you can purchase a pizza that measures 4’6” x 4’6” and serves anywhere from 50-100 people. Just make sure that competitive food eater Joey Chestnut isn’t on the guest list, as the dude set the world record for most pizza slices eaten in 10 minutes when he polished off 40 ½ slices.

Brooklyn, New York’s Scott Wiener (heh, wiener!) owns the world’s largest pizza box collection. As of late 2013, he has amassed 595 pizza boxes from 45 different countries. He only began collecting in 2008 after grabbing some ‘za in Israel and admiring the box there. Wiener’s favourite piece in his collection is a box from the Netherlands which features characters similar to Homer and Bart Simpson. Not content to just receive a certificate from the Guinness Records folks, Wiener has even released a book, Viva La Pizza, chronicling some of the world’s most artistic pizza boxes.

Pizza Simpsons

Pepperoni is the most popular topping worldwide, but so many specialty pizzas have popped up over the years thanks to this wonderful gastronomic invention. Let’s take a look at some of these “gourmet” options from around the globe:

Africa: The Africana pizza includes meat (ham/beef/chicken), peanuts, banana, pineapple, onion, and curry powder. I can’t say I’ve ever had a pizza with peanuts or banana, but it has me thinking about some of the combos the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came up with back in the day.

Australia: Known as The Aussie, Australian, or Australiana, this pizza takes your traditional base of marinara sauce and cheese, but then puts bacon and eggs on top. That sounds like a hell of a way to get your breakfast in at all times of the day!

Canada: The Canadian pizza isn’t very elaborate, combining bacon, pepperoni, and mushrooms. I think if our country had a do-over, we’d come up with something involving poutine, maple syrup, and hockey tape to hold it all together!

Pizza Turtles

Caribbean: I’m not sure which exact country you can attach this recipe to, but mixing barbeque sauce, chicken, pineapple, onion, and green peppers sounds like something I’d want to lay claim to if I belonged to any of these island nations.

France: The French pizza has seemingly normal toppings (chicken, mushrooms, peppers, olives) until you get to its sauce: Dijon mustard. While this would be something I’d try, Mrs. Sip would not be happy to find the yellow stuff on her meal.

Greece: The Greek pizza usually features olives, feta cheese, green peppers, and tomatoes… all the ingredients that make up a Greek salad. In the best scenarios chicken souvlaki is also thrown into the mix and if the Sip Advisor was running the show, he’d drizzle some tzatziki sauce all over that bad boy!

Indonesia: The Balinese pizza comes with shredded pork, roasted red peppers, and garlic. At least they’re not using the monkeys found all over the island for toppings… those little buggers may have attacked Mrs. Sip and I, but I still love them.

Pizza Dogs

Jamaican: Jerk Chicken is at the heart of this pizza, which frankly is Jamaican me hungry!

Mexico: The Mexican or Mexicana pizza usually involves ingredients one would find on tacos and other Americanized fare from the country. This includes ground beef, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, chili, avocado, peppers, etc. The cheese on the Mexican pizza is sometimes modified to be of the pepper jack variety to help add another dash of spice to the recipe.

Portugal: Portuguese pizzas include Portuguese sausage, onions, and bell peppers. This pie may not be for the weak of heart.

Pizza Cat

Thailand: Thai pizzas are highlighted by Thai chicken and also include peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and shaved carrots. Pizzas may not be the healthiest of food, but that mix doesn’t sound as artery clogging as others.

United States: The Hawaiian is probably the U.S.’s most recognized pizza, combining ham and pineapple, but there are other options, including Santa Fe, with spiced chicken and the Californian, featuring club sandwich ingredients, such as avocado and bacon. The U.S. is also famous for all the different style of pizza, such as Chicago deep dish, Detroit twice-baked, New York thin crust, St. Louis rectangle slices, and New Haven no cheese.

Italy: The Winkle

The Winkle Martini

  • Muddle Raspberries and Sage
  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Sage Sprig

Pizza should be celebrated, so why not observe National Pizza Month, which occurs every October in the U.S. You could also attend the annual International Pizza Expo, which takes place in Las Vegas every March. Either way, make sure to enjoy as much pizza pie goodness as you can and thank those crazy Italians for coming up with this culinary gem!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I absolutely loved this martini, although everyone I told to try a sip wasn’t in agreement with ol’ Mr. Sip. The Sage was a unique ingredient that I’ve never used before this. The Gin and Limoncello worked together in perfect harmony… kind of like cheese, bread, and tomato sauce!

June 7 – Theme Songs

Musical Interlude

On one episode of Big Bang Theory, Sheldon reveals his favourite TV theme songs to be Inspector Gadget, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Spider-Man. While these are all fine selections in their own right, it got me thinking about which TV title tracks are really the greatest. That list is as follows!

#5: Disney Afternoon

Like Sheldon, I have a great fondness for my childhood. When I discussed this article with Mrs. Sip, she was quick to point out some absolutely spectacular music I had neglected, particularly entries from the Disney block of afternoon cartoons, including DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, and Goof Troop. Songwriter Mark Mueller was responsible for both DuckTales and Rescue Rangers and the others hold their own as memorable bits of my youth.

#4: Good Times

This theme song really speaks to anyone out there who tries to keep a bright outlook and smile on their face despite any hardships they may be wading through. “Temporary layoffs… Good Times. Easy credit rip offs… Good Times. Scratchin’ and surviving… Good Times.” There’s an episode of Chappelle Show which sees Dave Chappelle quiz various participants about the lyrics of this song, showing its true meaning to pop culture. “Ain’t we lucky we got ’em… Good Times!”

#3: Golden Girls

Thank you for being a friend, indeed. Such an awesome show deserves an equally epic theme. You really have to admire the work of everyone who touched this project, as they made elderly women an entertaining subject. The one lyric I disagree with is the one about the biggest gift being from that friend because there’s nothing wrong with presents that come in small packages: rings, earrings, necklaces… aren’t these really the presents women want!?

#2: TGIF Shows

We’re talking about the ditties from Full House (Everywhere You Look), Family Matters (As Days Go By), and Step by Step (Second Time Around), all written and performed by Jesse Frederick. The songs can sometimes be interchangeable, as I will often be humming one and it will transition right into another family sitcom classic. If you play them for a TGIF rookie, they will often confuse them for being the start to another show and I only give that person crap for the rest of our existence knowing one another, as a result of their tragic blunder.

#1: Growing Pains

I love to get under Mrs. Sip’s skin by blasting this tune at the highest of volumes and belting out the lyrics as shrilly as my voice can get. I even tried to get it added to our wedding playlist, arguing that it was “my jam,” but apparently that doesn’t hold the weight I wish it did. The only difficulty with the song is trying to cover both the male and female portions of the duet. It’s tricky, but if done properly, you can bet your previously intimate night will be no more… trust me!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Theme Songs

Theme Songs Shot

  • 1 oz Tattoo Rum
  • Dash of Ice Cream
  • Garnish with Sprinkles

Some of my proudest geek moments have been playing TV theme song trivia quizzes on cruise ships. Nothing says nerd of the highest variety than scoring 39 out of 40 and walking away with a little trophy for your years of sitting in front of the tube effort! Honourable mentions to Night Court, the 1960’s Batman, Benny Hill, Odd Couple, Saved by the Bell, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air… great songs I just couldn’t wedge into this post.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I used Drinkify.org to find this recipe. The site suggests which drink to pair with whatever music you’re listening to. I searched for “TV Themes” and this came up. It specified 8 oz of Rum and 8 oz of Ice Cream, which is a little insane, so I condensed the recipe down to shot form. In fact, all of the site’s measurements seem a little out of whack and in many cases, it’s suggested to just drink straight liquor, but it’s still a neat idea in principle. As for the shooter itself, it was good. I’d been saving some Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum for a while and this was the perfect recipe for it.

Slovakia – Dragon Tea

Stimulating Statues

Every European country is chock full of history, monuments, and statues. Slovakia (particularly in the country’s capital Bratislava) is no different and has a collection of busts that are incredibly unique, bordering on bizarre. Most of the sculptures have their own name and backstory. Here is a look at some of those works and an examination of what they are telling us:

The Greeter

This friendly fella was known to walk the streets of Bratislava, dressed to the nines, and offer women flowers or songs as they went about their daily business. The original ladies’ man, he could often be heard saying “I kiss your hand,” in a variety of languages. While his real name was Ignác Lamár, he was known by the moniker Schöner Náci and received free food from many of the city’s restaurants. Here’s hoping that one day they make a statue of me holding doors open for people and getting angry when they don’t appreciate the gesture.

Greeter statue

The Sewer Man

This statue, dubbed Rubberneck (perhaps because of the accidents it causes when people are distracted by it while driving or walking) is the world’s first bust to show a person emerging from a sewer. Perhaps he had given up his search for the fabled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, resulting in his exasperated look. I would also be despondent had my quest failed to turn up any leads. The sculpture has actually been decapitated twice by motorists, prompting city officials to create a sign warning passersby’s of the figure.

sewer statue

The Photographer

You can play celebrity for a day in Slovakia… providing you hang out in this alley for the entire time. I’m not sure if the artist was hoping to inspire some social commentary on the state of paparazzi stalkers or to just make people feel famous for a brief moment. I wonder if folks like Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin, known for their run-ins with photographers have made their way to Bratislava to slap around this statue and get some free therapy courtesy the artist and the Slovakian government. It might be worth the trip if it saves the life of one dirty paparazzo!

paparazzi statue

The Threesome

Well, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but I definitely want in! Three naked chicks frolicking… hell yeah, let’s party! I really can’t describe the scene and would love to hear what the artist was aiming for. It looks like the chick on the right is in one of the those skydiving simulators, while the one in the middle is knee boarding (or perhaps performing other tasks that at best achieved at that level!) and the broad on the left is in the middle of a Matrix-style bomb explosion. I kind of want to use the structure for some hardcore parkour to tucker myself out.

threesome statue

The Soldier

Imagine that you’re just hanging out, enjoying a good rest on a bench and next you know, the infamous military midget Napoleon (or one of his men) shows up behind you. Apparently, they enjoy gags like that in Slovakia. For some reason, it has become a popular photo op in the city, although I don’t understand the appeal myself. When I travel, I’m more about experiences (usually involving a drink or three) rather than standing in front of various icons and buildings just to say that I’ve been there. Not to stomp on anybody that tours in that way, but it’s not what works for me.

Napoleon statue

Slovakia: Dragon Tea

Dragon Tea Cocktail

  • 1 oz Tatratea Forest Fruit
  • 0.75 Grand Marnier
  • 0.75 Chambord
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Wildberry Juice
  • Dash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

Well, that wraps up our little jaunt through Slovakia. We took some interesting photos, met some intriguing people and drank some wonderful booze… that’s my kind of travelling!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have to say that the Tatratea website is kind of lame when looking for recipes to try with their liqueurs. If they want to send me a couple bottles of their product, I promise to invent a minimum of three rockin’ recipes with each spirit. Even online videos seem to exclude which ingredients to use or names of the cocktails being created. Very frustrating, indeed. As for this cocktail, it was very good. The flavours were nice and made for a pleasant martini.

January 11 – The Joker

Bad to the Bone

I’ve always had a fascination with villains and what drives them to become evil? Generally, they’re just so much more interesting than heroes. It’s hard to narrow a list down of the greatest super villains, but I’m the man drunk enough to try. Just a heads up before we start the list, that I’m not a comic book guy by any means, so a character’s villainy will be judged by their more mainstream examples of mischief!

#5: Shredder

Just think of the things the Shredder could have accomplished if he wasn’t so preoccupied by those meddling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles were like the mutant version of the Scooby Doo Gang, constantly interfering with Shredder’s scheming. While the Turtles may battle other foes, the Shredder (aka Oroku Saki) was a constant presence on their mind, frequently causing havoc across New York City. Shredder was bad enough… do we even need to bring up the actions of the Super Shredder!?

Shredder

#4: Two-Face

You have to be pretty deranged to base all of your decisions on the flip of a coin. This is why NFL referees are so reviled! Two-Face (aka Harvey Dent) went from young, handsome, successful, and respected to a beast of a creature that is deformed and feared. He now hates the civil order he once enforced and is hell bent on destroying the Gotham City he previously protected. Harvey Dent still resides somewhere in Two-Face’s psyche, making for an interesting duality between good and evil, all fought within one man.

#3: Kingpin

It seemed like the Kingpin was always front and center, stirring the pot, when trouble was brewing. One of the best things about the crime boss is that he very rarely got his own hands dirty. Kingpin preferred to employ a series of henchman to do his bidding, while maintaining the public image of a successful businessman. That’s not to say that Wilson Fisk, as he’s known to most of the world, can’t handle his own wars. He’s portrayed as being incredibly strong, while battling the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Punisher.

Kingpin

#2: Magneto

While he has sometimes crossed the line into good guy territory, Magneto’s end goal of a brotherhood of mutants that is no longer held back by humans (humans which Magneto would rather see eradicated from the world) drives him to perform all his misdeeds. His on-again, off-again friendship with Professor Charles Xavier is perhaps the only thing that keeps humanity alive within Magneto’s soul. It’s not surprising the mutant has suffered some psychological damage after surviving the Holocaust during World War II.

#1: Joker

Given Batman’s rogue gallery, it takes a pretty disturbed individual to take the mantle of the caped crusader’s arch nemesis. Pair him with the equally insane Harley Quinn and you have quite the deranged tandem. The Joker’s troubling reign of terror has spanned over 70 years. Whether portrayed by Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, or even Mark Hamill (that’s right, Luke Skywalker voiced the evil jester in the Animated Series), the Joker is equal parts fascinating and haunting… just the way we like him.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Joker

The Joker Shooter

  • Rim glass with Sprinkles
  • 0.75 oz Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 0.75 oz Whiskey
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Do you agree with the list? Clearly, my selections will ruffle the feathers of some super geek out there. I welcome the chirps. Bring it on! And by the way, the results of my ‘Which Super Villain Are You?’ (which I’ve linked at the top of this post) say that I’m Venom because strength, disguise and adrenaline are my greatest weapons!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
While I’m not sure if this recipe is actually meant to salute the infamous Joker, I’ve designed elements of it to better represent the Clown Prince of Crime. The Sprinkles, of course, represent all the wild colours he dons, as well as give a sense of the festive nature he would provide if he was a normal entertainer and not a psychotic villain. The Maraschino Cherry is the plush clown nose most entertainers adorn themselves with. As for the shooter, it wasn’t bad. I blended Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey with Bombay Sapphire East Gin. The Gin came in with its juniper taste at the end of the shot and while strong, was kind of tasty.