New Jersey – Garden State Cocktail

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 venture to New Jersey. Although some call it the “Armpit of America,” we’ll reserve judgment. After all, it’s been nicknamed the Garden State for a reason. Let’s find out why:

Motto: “Liberty and Prosperity” – I particularly like that second one and the first one ain’t so bad either.

Food: The Pork Roll (aka Taylor Ham) is usually eaten in slices as part of a sandwich, but can also be used in a hash, called a Jersey Breakfast. John Taylor, from Hamilton Square, popularized the meat product in 1856. There are competing festivals celebrating the Pork Roll, both in Trenton. Add a side of Disco Fries (topped with cheese and gravy) and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Drink: Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy) was first produced in New Jersey, all the way back in 1698. It was originally known as Jersey Lightning, which is a name I think they should have kept. Laird & Company is based in Scobeyville, calling themselves America’s Oldest Distiller.

Pork Roll

Site to See: Two sites that highlight American freedom can be found in New Jersey, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island is the spot were countless immigrants first touched American soil, as the busiest inspection station in the country. Meanwhile, Lady Liberty is situated on land shared by New Jersey and New York and surrounded by New Jersey waters.

Street: The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a major tourist attraction in New Jersey. It is the first American boardwalk, opened on June 26, 1870, and the longest boardwalk in the world. There’s a lot going on along the boardwalk, including casinos, hotels, museums, shopping, restaurants, and much more. A number of movies and TV series have used the boardwalk for filming.

TV Show: The Sopranos, starring James Gandolfini, was one of the most popular TV shows of all-time, documenting the activities of the DiMeo crime family. The crime drama, which ran for six seasons and 86 episodes, was largely filmed in New Jersey, using real shops, restaurants and even a strip club to double for locations in the series.

Movie: Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse movies are all set in New Jersey. That includes films such as Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. That all makes sense, given Smith is New Jersey native, himself. Top actors like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have appeared in multiple films, as a variety of characters, throughout the series.

Sopranos

Book/Author: George R.R. Martin, writer of the epic fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones when adapted for TV) was born in Bayonne. At 71 years old, many fans wonder if the series will ever be finished on page, but at least we got – for better or worse – some closure with the TV series. Either way, Martin has made his money.

Fictional Character: The general consensus is that animated adult comedy, Bob’s Burgers, is set in New Jersey. Therefore, I will put the Belcher Family here. The clan includes parents and restauranteurs Bob and Linda, along with mischief-making kids Tina, Gene and Louise. Their antics have led to the show winning two Outstanding Animated Program Emmys.

Fictional City: Gotham City is said to be located in New Jersey, meaning the Batman universe takes place there. While it’s certainly not a place many would want to live, given its extremely high crime rate, corruption at all levels and the threat of death at every turn, Gotham City has remained a popular locale for fans of the franchise.

Actor/Actress: One of the world’s most celebrated actresses, Meryl Streep, was born in Summit. Streep has won three Oscars, based on 21 nominations, with her career as a whole recognized with an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. Other famous New Jerseyans, include Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, and Bruce Willis.

George R.R. Martin

Song: New Jersey doesn’t have a State Song, but that was not because of a lack of effort from one musician. In fact, his campaigning may have worked against him. I’m From New Jersey by Red Mascara was almost made the State Song in 1972, passed by the Legislature, but vetoed by the Governor. Mascara continued the push for his song up until his death.

Band/Musician: New Jersey is the home of so many music legends. Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Frankie Valli, Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra all hail from the state. I saw something that said Springsteen had at least 25 songs with references about New Jersey, which sounds about right, given his extensive music catalogue.

People: Domestic goddess, Martha Stewart, was born in Jersey City. Her media empire has included TV shows, books, magazines, and other projects, making her a household name as a household saviour. Also, travel and food writer, Anthony Bourdain, was raised in Leonia. He came to prominence thanks to the shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown.

Animal: Kids and adults alike love dinosaurs. These beasts from long ago have fascinated many and the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur was discovered in Haddonfield, in 1858. The Hadrosaurus (New Jersey’s State Fossil) find launched the field of paleontology and is memorialized with a eight-foot dinosaur statue in downtown Haddonfield.

Martha Stewart

Invention: Thomas Edison’s lab in Menlo Park is the site where he developed light bulbs, phonographs, motion pictures, and other items. Edison was called the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park’ and he held 1,093 patents in the US alone. Edison State Park now encompasses the site of his lab and a memorial tower and museum dedicated to the inventor.

Crime: There are some alarming crimes from New Jersey history, but when one is called the “Crime of the Century,” you have to profile it. In 1932, aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was abducted, with a ransom note left behind. Despite an exchange of money, the baby’s remains were found two months after the kidnapping. Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the crime and executed by electric chair in 1936.

Law: I’m not sure how this one is going over nowadays, but in New Jersey, it is illegal to frown at a cop. That must make recent protests a little awkward. Even worse, in Bernards Township, it is completely illegal to frown. This will turn your frown upside down, though. It is illegal for birds to poop on statues… finally, people who hate birds as much as I do.

Sports Team: The New Jersey Devils (NHL) are the only professional team to carry the ‘New Jersey’ name, following the New Jersey Nets (NBA) leaving for Brooklyn in 2012, after 35 seasons. New York-named teams the Jets and Giants (NFL), as well as Red Bulls (MLS), play out of the state, commonly referred to as the New York Metropolitan Area.

Thomas Edison

Athlete: Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal had a career filled with championships, including four NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal. O’Neal transcended the sport, starring in movies and video games. Likewise, shortstop Derek Jeter was a five-time World Series champion and 14-time all-star. In 2020, Jeter was one vote shy of being unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Famous Home: The Grover Cleveland Birthplace, in Caldwell, is a museum and National Historic Place dedicated to the only person from New Jersey to become U.S. President. Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th Commander-in-Chief (the only politician to ever serve non-consecutive terms), although he won the popular vote for all three elections which he ran.

Urban Legend: The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature with a horse head, bat wings, horns, clawed hands, and cloven hooves, said to be found in the Pine Barrens area of the state. The being was the 13th child of a witch (with the father being the devil), who cursed it after learning she was pregnant. It is now the moniker of the current NHL franchise.

Museum: The United States Golf Association (USGA) Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History is located in Far Hills. The USGA began collecting items in the late 1930’s, finally opening a facility in New York, in 1951. The collection was moved to New Jersey in 1972 and now offers the Pynes Putting Course, a nine-hole course where visitors can use classic replica putters.

Jersey Devil

Firsts: New Jersey has hosted a number of firsts in the sporting world. This included the first officially recorded organized baseball game (June 19, 1846 in Hoboken), the first college football game (November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick) and the first professional basketball game (November 7, 1896 in Trenton). The first American brewery was also established in Hoboken, in 1642.

Company: The Campbell Soup Company is headquartered in Camden. Along with its soup, Campbell’s is also responsible for brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Prego and Swanson. Another well-known New Jersey-based company is retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond, which was founded in Springfield and is now based in Union.

Events: More battles during the American Revolutionary War took place in New Jersey than any other colony, earning the state the nickname the ‘Crossroads of the Revolution’. The Battle of Trenton and Battle of Princeton were major victories for General George Washington and his troops, turning the tide against British forces.

Miscellaneous: Two infamous incidents, the Burr-Hamilton Duel and Hindenburg Disaster, occurred in New Jersey. First, on July 11, 1804, Vice-President Aaron Burr wounded former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, capping their long feud. This rivalry was turned into the hit musical Hamilton. Later, on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship caught fire and crashed, while docking at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst.

Garden State Cocktail

Garden State Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cucumber Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • Top with Bubbly
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cucumber Slice

This cocktail honours New Jersey’s nickname of Garden State by using ingredients such as cucumber. The term Garden State is often attributed to Abraham Browning, who noted that New Jersey is a barrel with good things to eat and open at both ends, helping to feed Pennsylvania on one side and New York on the other.

Italy – Sunday Confession

Goodfellas

The term “mafia” comes from Sicily, Italy, and let’s be honest, the most famous of mobsters all hail from the Italian line of organized crime, also known as Cosa Nostra, which translated means “Our Thing.” And, it certainly is THEIR thing. While the term ‘Omertà’ governs the mafia with a code of silence, the Sip Advisor is breaking all the rules with our own ‘Most Wanted’ list of infamous Italian gangsters:

Vito Cascioferro

Thought of as the ‘Boss of Bosses’ during his reign at the top, Cascioferro was arrested approximately 69 times during his career, but always acquitted. His luck ran out in June 1930, when Cascioferro was tried for numerous offences, including murder, attempted murder, robbery, extortion, and other offences. He was convicted and given a life sentence. He died in prison somewhere between 1943-45, with many inmates considering it an honour to now fill the same jail cell.

Mafia Cats

Calogero Vizzini

Dubbed the ‘King of the Black Market,’ Vizzini was even made mayor of Villalba, Italy (where his crime family was based), following World War II. Vizzini’s death was big news, even reported by the New York Times. Thousands turned out for the leader’s funeral, including other bosses, politicians, and priests. Vizzini predicted that the mafia would die with him and the old-school version did slowly dissolve, but was replaced by a more modern mob that we recognize today.

Michele Navarra

The boss of the famed Corleone family (also used for the Godfather movies) from 1944-58, Navarra was also a trained physician and perhaps this is why he was more likely to delegate murders than commit them himself. Navarra was killed on August 2, 1958 after feuding with former associate Luciano Leggio, whom Navarra tried to have ambushed by 15 gunmen, yet somehow Leggio survived with only minor injuries. I’d question his leadership, too!

Luciano Leggio

Speaking of Leggio, he became the Corleone boss following Navarra’s death and is credited with starting the Second Mafia War. After a string of acquittals on various charges, Leggio finally found himself sentenced to life imprisonment for Navarra’s slaying, but disappeared, running a successful kidnapping ring while on the run. He was finally caught in 1974, but continued to have influence over the syndicate from behind bars. He died in prison, of a heart attack in 1993.

Mafia Comic

Salvatore Riina

After Leggio was arrested in the 1970’s, Riina eventually took over control of the Corleone family, which was ironic because he was one of the suspects in the assassination of Navarra. Riina was considered the ‘Boss of Bosses’ following the Second Mafia War. Nicknamed ‘The Beast,’ by fellow mobsters, this 5’2” leader used a campaign of violence to achieve power, killing rivals, as well as prosecutors and other government officials. Riina was arrested in 1993, after 23 years as a fugitive.

Bernardo Provenzano

One of the most powerful Sicilian bosses of all-time, Provenzano followed Riina as leader of the Corleone family. Once at the helm, Provenzano worked to change the perception of the mafia to being less violent, more diplomatic and willing to work with established institutions. Under the new guidelines, violence was only to be used if absolutely necessary. Despite all that, Provenzano spent more than 40 years evading police capture, before authorities finally arrested him in April 2006.

Italy: Sunday Confession

Sunday Confession Cocktail

  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Tequila
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Cherry

This all has me wanting to go back and watch some of the best mafia media. Take your pick, but my favourites include The Godfather franchise, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and Donnie Brasco. Perhaps I’ll have to do a future article on fictional mobsters… so long as they make me an offer I can’t refuse!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail has a perfect name for a mafia-related article, although confession would certainly go against the Omertà code of silence. I used Cranberry Ginger Ale instead of the recommended Ginger Beer because it seemed like a good idea and it worked out really well. Limoncello and Tequila was a decent mix, too.

November 15 – The Soprano

Turn Down Service

For some actors, taking a TV role when you’re considered a movie star is a step down. That just provides an opportunity for another talent to step in, knock the performance out of the park and end up doing better in the long run than the one who originally turned his nose up at the project. Here are some examples of folks who passed up on TV glory (for whatever reason):

Ray Liotta as Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)

Ray Liotta, star of movies like Goodfellas, turned down the landmark role because he wanted to focus on movies. In the time he could have been playing the mobster, Liotta made numerous films, but nothing particularly memorable. Of course James Gandolfini took the role and ran with it… straight to three Emmy’s, which launched his own chance to enter the movie world before his untimely death earlier this year.

liotta-soprano

Tom Selleck as Mitch Buchannon (Baywatch)

Tom Selleck turned down the head lifeguard role, as he didn’t want to be a sex symbol… to which I’ve always said, “too late, Mr. Magnum!” Selleck’s role refusal did give David Hasselhoff and his German minions another chance to rejoice and without it, Hasselhoff’s infamous downward spiral might have gone unnoticed. Seriously, though, who hasn’t tried to eat a floor cheeseburger in a drunken stupor!?

Michael Richards as Adrian Monk (Monk)

Fresh off his stint as crazy neighbor Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld, Michael Richards was offered the role of obsessive compulsive disorder suffering detective Adrian Monk, but he wasn’t interested in the role. ABC let the show slip away to the USA Network, which cast Tony Shalhoub , who played the intricately troubled ex-cop perfectly. Richards instead went on a racial slur-laced rant at a comedy club and would probably pay for work now.

Craig T. Nelson as Jay Pritchett (Modern Family)

Craig T. Nelson hasn’t evaded the question of why he turned down a role on the wildly popular Modern Family. He is quoted as saying the money just wasn’t good enough. The former Coach star did go on to snag up the next patriarchal role to come his way on Parenthood, leaving the living legend, Al Bundy himself, Ed O’Neill to step in a lead the 21st century family… as well as cuddle up to Sofia Vergara!

nelson-pritchett

Dana Delaney as Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

Ms. Delaney passed on the iconic role because she didn’t want to be in a show about sex… then why audition for a show called SEX and the City!? And really, what show doesn’t have some element of sex in it. Hell, even Sesame Street has toyed with the idea of Bert and Ernie being romantically involved! Sarah Jessica Parker took the part and became a cosmopolitan swigging female hero. Honestly, I don’t even know who Delaney is…

Thomas Jane as Don Draper (Mad Men)

I’ve already professed my hatred for Mad Men and apparently Thomas Jane, The Punisher, agrees with me! He didn’t think an intellectual show on a channel (AMC) known for movie reruns would work. You win some, you lose some. Jon Hamm stepped in and gets to drink tons of whiskey, while being lauded for an incredibly awful show. Some guys have all the luck.

Michael Keaton as Jack Shepard (Lost)

I’ve never watched Lost, but Ma and Pa Sip were die-hard fans. Apparently the character of Jack was supposed to not live past the pilot episode. When writers changed their plans, the former Batman backed out, thus avoiding the most confusing plot in television history and likely countless headaches from trying to get an understanding of what was going on!

Drink #319: The Soprano

The Soprano Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • 1.5 oz Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Orange Wheel

Well, that wraps up our look at those that have turned down TV roles. I myself have turned down a couple characters in my childhood acting days: Bud Bundy on Married with Children; Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell, and Alf on, well Alf. Think of the money I’ve missed out on…

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Early this year, I made The Godfather cocktail. This is the Americanized version of said drink, with the use of Bourbon and Southern Comfort. I liked the recipe, but those who aren’t fans of strong, liquor-heavy beverages might want to avoid it. It wasn’t overly heavy, but it was pretty potent.