Ukraine – Fireball Martini

Brotherly Brawlers

It’s not often that a country can lay claim to one heavyweight title fighter, but a pair of brothers that are equally adept in the ring is a truly rare feat. Ukraine’s Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are both champions and give the Ukraine an image to be feared. Let’s take a look at the brothers and their rise to international stardom:

Vitali (born July 19, 1971) is nearly five years older than his brother Wladimir (born March 25, 1976). Both men made their debut on the same night (November, 6, 1996) in Hamburg, Germany. Not surprisingly, each brother was victorious, with Vitali KO’ing Tony Bradham at 1:14 of the second round. He was bested by Wladimir, who beat Fabian Meza by knockout at 1:35 of the first round.

Klitschko Jab

Prior to entering the professional ranks, Wladimir competed at the 1996 Olympics, winning gold in the Super Heavyweight division. Vitali was a member of the same team, but was booted off for testing positive for a banned substance. This opened the door for Wladimir, who was intended to compete in the Heavyweight Division and was struggling to make the weight limit, thus bumping up to Super Heavyweight, taking Vitali’s spot.

Vitali was also quite successful before his pro boxing career began, but in the discipline of kickboxing, where he was a six-time World Champion (twice as an amateur and four times professionally) with a record of 34-1, including 22 knockouts.

Vitali took four years off from the sport from 2004 to 2008. When he returned, he defeated Samuel Peter to win back the WBC World Heavyweight Championship. At the same time, Wladimir was in possession of the WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles (the longest reigning champion for each of those belts), marking the first time two brothers held world championships at the same time.

Klitschko Belts

When Wladimir added the WBA World Heavyweight Championship to his collection in 2011, the broskis held every world title (and continued to do so for the next 2 years, 5 months, and 13 days). Vitali forfeited his title in 2013, in order to enter the political realm in the Ukraine.

Vitali is extremely well-educated, having earned a master’s degree in social development and a doctorate in sport science, which netted him the nickname Dr. Ironfist. He was chosen as the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Allice for Reform Party and has twice sought to be elected as the mayor of Kiev. Vitali has been awarded Germany’s highest civilian honour, the Federal Cross of Merit for his achievements. Not to be unmatched, Wladimir also garnered a doctorate in sport science, changing his nickname from The Steel Hammer to Dr. Steel Hammer.

Outside of the ring, the Klitschko’s operate K2 Promotions and K2 East Promotions. They are also active in the philanthropy world with their Klitschko Brothers Fund, which works to help children around the world. The brothers have agreed to work with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), as of 2002.

Klitschko Fight Mode

Wladimir auctioned off his 1996 gold medal at an event in 2012, hoping to raise money to help Ukrainian children. The winning bid came in at $1 million, with the buyer immediately returning the medal to the boxer, not out of fear, but because he believed the treasure should remain with Wladimir and his family. Really gives you the warm fuzzies!

Wladimir appeared in the movie Ocean’s 11, fighting Lennox Lewis during the great heist and starred in the music video for ‘Part of Me,’ by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame. Regardless of all the bragging rights that come with being a boxing champion, Wladimir can also claim to be engaged to actress Hayden Penettiere from the TV shows Heroes and Nashville. The couple announced in 2014 that they are expecting their first child.

Combined, the sibling’s all-time record is 107 wins and 5 losses, with 93 knockouts. Vitali is 45-2-0 with 41 KOs, while Wladimir is 62-3-0 with 52 KOs. Vitali may not have as many knockouts as his little brother, but his KO percentage of 87% is the highest ever in the history of heavyweight champions. Despite his two losses, Vitali rarely lost a round and was never knocked down or out in competition. When he hasn’t come out as the winner, it’s because injuries suffered during a bout have caused him to concede defeat.

Ukraine: Fireball Martini

Fireball Martini

Although an encounter between the two siblings would be highly marketable, Vitali and Wladimir have both insisted that they would never fight each other. The Sip Advisor and his broski didn’t follow this mantra and faced off on pay-per-view in what has been viewed as the least watched sporting exhibition in history!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
When I first heard of this Vodka, I knew it would be a perfect addition to the Sip Advisor collection. I’m a fan of drinks that offer a little burn and this was no different. I could have used a little more heat, but that’s just me. I dared Mrs. Sip to take a bite of the Hot Pepper garnish and when she turned it back on me, I was game… I took my bite and let the flames fly for the next few minutes!

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Dominican Republic – Brash Monk

Amazing Americas

Did you know that breaking out into a round of applause when a plane lands in the Dominican Republic is an enforceable law? If your answer is no, then you’re probably also unaware that Santo Domingo, the capital of the D.R., is the first city of the Americas and where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 to create the first European settlement and Spain’s first capital across the pond. Here is that story:

Christopher Columbus

As some of us will remember, Columbus left Spain in search of new lands with three ships: the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Santa Clara (aka the Niña). After weeks of sailing, Columbus and company finally landed on the island of Hispaniola (what is now split between the Dominican and Haiti) on Dec. 5, 1492.

Things started off friendly between both sides. In classic European style, though, the voyagers first took over using force (once their conquest was resisted by the natives) and later through disease, as smallpox and measles wiped out a great chunk of the Taino population.

As part of the settlement, the Dominican is home to the first cathedral, monastery, castle, and fortress in the Americas. These are all located in Santa Domingo’s Colonial Zone, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heck, there’s even a Hard Rock Café there!

Once Spain conquered the Aztecs and Incas, they forgot about their holdings in the Caribbean and French pirates (think buccaneers searching for wine and cheese, rather than gold and rum) swooped in to take the neglected land. A series of peace treaties between Spain and France first gave what is now Haiti to the French and later what is now the Dominican Republic.

pirate-cat

As for Columbus, he continued to make voyages between the “New World” and “Old World,” which sounds like some sort of science fiction plot. In 1504, Columbus returned to Spain for good. He died on May 20, 1506, as a result of reactive arthritis, which could have been brought on by anything from food poisoning to sexually transmitted diseases (which one would you rather contract!?). Estimates state he was 54 years old.

And here’s where the explorer’s story takes an interesting twist that has helped his legend endure throughout the Dominican Republic, as well as around the world: both the D.R. and Spain claim to be in possession of Christopher Columbus’ remains. And both have legitimate claims to the relic.

Columbus was first buried in Valladolid, Spain, where he passed away, before being moved to the La Cartuja monastery in Seville, Spain, by request of his son Diego. Columbus had stated that he would like his final resting place to be in the New World, but no monument was grand enough yet for this request. Finally, in 1537, Christopher and Diego’s bones were shipped to Santa Domingo and placed in the cathedral there.

Later, came the aforementioned period of French rule. The Spaniards, fearing what the French would do with Columbus’ remains, moved them to Havana, Cuba. The Spanish-American War of 1898 forced the bones to be moved back to Spain, once again. This time, they were housed at the Cathedral of Seville, amongst an elaborate setting, featuring a tomb and statues.

Celebrating Columbus

In 1877, however, a box inscribed “Don Christopher Columbus” was discovered in the Santa Domingo cathedral, which contained human remains showing signs of advanced arthritis. This led the Dominicans to conclude that either Spain took the wrong remains away all those years ago, or that a bait and switch was pulled and the Spanish were in possession of bones not belonging to Columbus.

For their part, Spain had their Columbus artifacts DNA tested with experts finding that the remains in Seville are likely that of the legendary explorer. The movements of Columbus’ bones are also well-documented through their remarkable journey.

The Dominican Republic has never exhumed their version of Columbus’ remains for DNA testing, perhaps for fear that tourism, which the Caribbean nation heavily relies upon, could take a hit without the Columbus connection.

DNA Test

In the Dominican, Columbus is entombed in the Columbus Lighthouse. While recently visiting the country, Mrs. Sip and I went to this landmark with a tour group, but our guide didn’t allow us enough time to actually go into the site… he was more concerned with yapping on his phone all day and pigging out on the lunch buffet.

The truth on the subject probably lies somewhere in the middle and both countries may be in possession of Columbus remains. I suppose it’s kind of fitting that he may be resting in both worlds.

Dominican Republic: Brash Monk

Brash Monk Cocktail

  • 1 oz Mamajuana
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Espresso Vodka
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Chocolate Slice

Columbus’ journey to the New World was made into the feature film 1492, which was released 500 years after his voyage across the Atlantic. I’ve never seen the flick and given its 39% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I just can’t see it rocketing to the top of my ‘to view’ list!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Although a strong cocktail, I enjoyed this martini. Frangelico always burns a little harsher than other liquors, but the flavours were all really nice. The drink is supposed to be garnish with a coffee bean, but given I’m anti-coffee, there was none lying around to use. Mrs. Sip didn’t leave me much milk for the recipe, but I made due with what I had… at least she left me any at all!