January 31 – Hotel California

California Screamin’

Mrs. Sip and I are frequent visitors to California and I try to blast some California-set tunes every time we are approaching our destination. Let’s take a look at the Sip Advisor’s California playlist!

#5: Going to California – Led Zeppelin

I doubt Led Zeppelin wrote this song about the Sip Advisor, but the lyrics “Going to California with an aching in my heart” kind of told my story. I was once a naïve teen on my way to California with the opportunity to meet a pretty little lady. That lady ended up being the future Mrs. Sip, who I first met in Disneyland all the way back in 2002. “Someone told me there’s a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair”… Mrs. Sip lacked both those things when we met, but I won her over!

#4: Californication/Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers

You knew at some point that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would appear on this list. The band has a long history of being influenced by California. Sadly, Mrs. Sip has made Californication her alarm music and therefore I have grown to have great disdain for the song I once thoroughly enjoyed. Coincidentally, Mrs. Sip and I actually met a girl named Dani in California… except she’s originally from Colorado and Dani’s just a shortened version of her middle name… I think it still counts!

#3: California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas

Given where the Sip Advisor and Mrs. Sip live (Vancouver, Canada), this song can really speak to us at times. You know, with all the leaves being brown and the sky turned gray and all. At that point, we’re desperate for the warmth and sunshine that California offers, leaving behind the “Wet Coast!” The Mamas and the Papas’ hit has been covered by so many artists, including high profile acts America, The Beach Boys, and R.E.M. Even Alvin and the Chipmunks have copied the song.

#2: Hotel California – The Eagles

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…” If that was true about California, I’d be quite happy. This begs the question: Where exactly is the Hotel California? Well, some have said it’s an inn located in San Francisco that was turned into a Church of Satan, while others believe it to be a mental hospital. While the original song is amazing, I absolutely love the flamenco-inspired acoustic adaptation that was first played live during The Eagles 1994 Hell Freezes Over reunion tour.

#1: California Love – 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre

This is a true California anthem, mentioning numerous areas of the state. San Diego, the Bay Area (San Francisco and Oakland), Long Beach, Sacramento, Pasadena, Inglewood, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Compton all get shout outs. Speaking of Compton, on one shuttle from LAX to Anaheim (where Mrs. Sip and I typically wind up on visits to California) we went through the notorious city to drop off a fellow passenger. Sadly, I was too afraid to play this song, for fear of getting a cap in my ass!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Hotel California

Hotel California Shot

Narrowly missing the cut for this list was California Girls by The Beach Boys. While babes from Cali are fun, they don’t necessarily have to be from there to get the Sip Advisor going. Now, I’m no music expert, but I’d venture a guess that California is the most sung about state in the U.S., with perhaps New York challenging that prediction. One song that definitely sucks is the theme to California Dreams… I hated that Saved by the Bell rip-off so very, very much!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is actually a cocktail recipe, but I thought it sounded neat, wanted to give it a try, and thought it went good with the theme of this post. You got a problem with that!? The recipe calls for 0.5 oz of Blue Curacao, but I took the opportunity to use my Bols Blue Curacao Foam again and I think the visual results speak for themselves. All the flavours here are light and tasty, so it all came together pretty well.

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June 13 – Cactus Berry

Please Bring Me My Wine

A little quote from The Eagles hit “Hotel California” to get us diving head first into the wine week’s themed playlist. I never knew there were so many songs about chardonnays, merlots and pinot grigios. I should have known better!

Red, Red Wine – UB40

Goes to my head… by far, the best wine song in existence. The lyrics read like a true story, as we’ve all experienced the red wine buzz that makes the brain feel like it’s floating and only remains encased in our head by the strong structure of the skull. What a wonderful sensation indeed!

Spill the Wine – War

This song is pretty sweet and anytime the flute comes out, you know you’re in for a hell of an aural experience… I said aural, not the other one! The song has also been performed by The Isley Brothers, but I prefer the War version. It’s just a little more psychedelic, in my opinion.

Wine Take Me Away – Merle Haggard

Ol’ Merle takes us down a country road and into wine country. This dude sang a bunch of songs about the grapes, but this has to be one of his better tunes. Like many people, Merle considers wine a friend of his and I can’t really blame him.

Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I muted this song shortly after it started and just watched the beautiful Miss Carter. Hey, I don’t get paid for this, so I have to enjoy the perks when they come my way! The song isn’t that bad, though, hitting number one on the country billboard charts in 1996. You have to love the title of her debut CD, “Did I Shave My Legs for This”!

Hey, Brother, Pour the Wine – Dean Martin

This Deano song is a pretty good tune. No surprise there, the Rat Pack members are total legends in the singing, entertaining and drinking communities. Marge Simpson also sings the song in one of the earliest episodes of the show after getting drunk at Homer’s company picnic.

Drink #164: Cactus Berry

Cactus Berry Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Salt
  • 1.25 oz Tequila (I used El Jimador)
  • 1.25 oz Red Wine
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Dash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Lime Wheel

The one thing I don’t like about wine songs is that so many of them are slow and sad. I’m more of an upbeat and fast pace music fan, not wanting to get too moody or anything like that. Enjoy this selection of wine melodies the next time you crack a bottle or box open!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This is like a Wine-based margarita and it’s a fun cocktail. The Red Wine cooperates very well with the Tequila and Triple Sec (among other ingredients) to make a solid drink. Mrs. Sip has asked for it again since. As for me, put a salt rim on most things and I’m a pretty happy fella.

January 21 – Tequila Sunrise

Re-Tequila-fication

Hola, amigos! It’s day two of Tequila Week and it’s probably time for a little education on the subject.

I know what you’re thinking, friends: as if you need another liquor lesson so soon after the last one. But fear not, for today is special. We are being joined by The Sip Advisor’s Mexican correspondent, Señor Juan Agave (pictured below). Judging by his photo, he really knows his tequila, or as I like to sometimes call it, to-kill-ya!

Juan Agave

There are five different categories of tequila:

  • Blanco – un-aged white tequila; sometimes called Silver Tequila (this is generally the cheaper stuff that all us gringos like to slam back at Señor Frog’s during Spring Break)
  • Joven – a mixture of blanco and reposado tequilas; sometimes called Gold Tequila
  • Reposado – “rested” tequila, aged for a minimum of two months
  • Añejo – “aged” or “vintage” tequila, aged for a minimum of one year  (your sipping Tequila… that’s right you’re actually supposed to SIP fine tequila… crazy, right?)
  • Extra Añejo – “extra aged” or “ultra aged” tequila, aged for a minimum of three years

The Extra Añejo category has only existed since 2006 and Joven is not very common, with Blanco, Reposado and Añejo being the most recognizable distinctions. The difference between all the categories, is in smoothness, with longer aging meaning a less harsh taste. If you’re not too picky, don’t worry about it. The booze all ends up in the same place, after all… with the same results.

tequila stages

On the other hand, awesome Añejo tequilas can be found for reasonable prices (in places other than Canada, that is) and these can really improve the taste of any mixed drink.

Now let’s tackle the worm myth… I’d put money on the fact that every person who reads this and has taken a trip to Mexico, had at least one person tell them: “Don’t drink the worm, man!” There is no worm. You will never find a reputable bottle of tequila with a worm in it. A worm in tequila is like some kind of moonshine-maker project. If you do find a bottle of tequila in some back alley in Mexico with a worm in it, drink it immediately… this is the true fountain of youth. Please report back to me on your results… after you’re released from the hospital, of course.

There are two municipalities in Mexico named Tequila and both are producers of the liquor. One is located in Veracruz and the other in Jalisco. In Jalisco, the people are known to chase their tequila shots with a drink called Sangrita, meaning “little blood”. It’s comprised of orange juice, lime juice, grenadine, chili powder or hot sauce and a slice or two of jalapenos… hey, why not add the jalapenos? Also, in Jalisco, there is a train called the Tequila Express. Imagine if Agatha Christie’s famous novel was actually titled Murder on the Tequila Express and featured all the characters getting liquored up and into fist fights while solving the crime.

And, very randomly, the song Tequila, originally performed by The Champs, reached #1 on the Billboard Charts on March 28, 1958. It was recorded in just three takes and was never intended to be more than a B-side jam session track. I’m totally going to blast that tune while doing this Saturday’s Super Shot!

As for the Tequila Sunrise and it’s trivial pursuit, well, it has been used for the title of a movie, a pair of songs (by The Eagles and Cypress Hill, respectively) and was the finishing move of pro wrestler Konnan.

Drink #21: Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Tequila (I used Hornitos Reposado)
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Drizzle Grenadine into the drink and let it settle
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

If done properly, or as I usually work, above average, you will have the makings of a beautiful liquid sunrise, with the red atmosphere rising to greet the day and a little fireball in the sky. Mix it all up and the sunrise is complete. In the future, I will also be making the Tequila Sunset, which substitutes blackberry liqueur or brandy for the grenadine!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
For some reason, I often find Orange Juice-based drinks disappointing and this recipe was no different. Sure, it looks neat with the Grenadine floating through the juice, but I can’t completely get behind the taste of the mix.