Trinidad & Tobago – What’s Kraken?

Feel the Rhythm

Originating from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Calypso music enjoyed the height of its popularity in 1956, when Harry Belafonte released the “Banana Boat Song”, otherwise known as “Day-O”. The music style also produced other popular spinoffs, such as Soca, Reggae, Chutney, Rapso, and Ringbang. Let’s take a look at the history of this cultural music and get our groove on!

Calypso music, like many other genres, started with humble beginnings. During colonial slavery in the 17th century, slaves were not allowed to speak to each other while working long, exhausting days at sugar plantations, but were able to come together at night and play music. These songs helped form a bond among the slaves, as they mocked their masters and sung about the hardships of their existence in a French Creole language.

Day-O Spider

The music is based off of a call and response style, where the singer (dubbed the Calypsonian) engages his audience and involves them in the song. Instruments often associated with Calypso music include, steel drums, banjo, guitar, and other percussion devices. Calypso was played in tents made of palm trees and poles, which were constructed to keep rain away from performers and dance-goers alike.

Calypso music eventually became used to spread news around the islands and became a reliable source for current events. Songs battled political corruption, which sparked the British rulers to censor the songs and for officials to decide what could and couldn’t be heard by the public. This just pushed Calypsonians to use other tools to get their message across in song, such as double-entendres, satire, irony, and other elements of humour.

Long before rappers were taking aim at one another with thinly veiled criticisms and threats, Calypso musicians were insulting each other, while also making music based around sex, gossip, scandal, and innuendo. Like much of the music industry, there are some great artist names in the Calypso world, such as Lord Invader, Growling Tiger, Mighty Sparrow, King Fighter, Macbeth the Great, Sir Lancelot, and Duke of Iron.

Rapper Rapping

The first Calypso recording was made in New York City in 1912, by the visiting Lovey String Band. It’s thought that this was the first recording to ever take place of a musical style not to have originated in either North America or Europe. Not many other Calypso recordings were made until the late 1920’s and early 1930’s (given the title: the golden era of Calypso), perhaps due to the wartime economy and depression.

Attila the Hun (not the barbarian, but the musician) and Roaring Lion brought the music back to the United States in 1934, where they became regular recording artists and were later joined by other Calypsonians from Trinidad and Tobago. A tradition that ran up to the late 1970’s, with Mighty Sparrow being the last great Calypsonian abroad. The musical style then branched off into other genres.

prelude music

One of the first big Calypso hits, “Rum and Coca Cola”, by Lord Invader, was not about the fizzy beverage being mixed with alcohol, but the prostitution industry that popped up when American military bases began appearing in Trinidad during the 1940’s. Regardless, the Andrews Sisters turned this into a U.S. chart topper and were later sued by Lord Invader for copyright infringement, being awarded $150,000 in royalties after years of court battles.

Calypso music can be seen in popular works like the movie Beetlejuice, where Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O” plays during a very memorable scene. You can also hear “Day-O” at sporting events, often used to get fans pumped up as they echo the song’s title back to the singer. Interestingly, Eleanor Roosevelt dubbed Belafonte “The King of Calypso” after seeing him perform in 1958. Daylight come and me wan’ go home!

Trinidad & Tobago: What’s Kraken?

What's Kraken Cocktail

  • 1 oz Kraken Rum
  • 1 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
  • Top with Hot Chocolate
  • Garnish with Whipped Cream

That “Day-O” song sure can get stuck in your head easy. Belafonte even performed the hit on an episode of The Muppet Show, with Fozzie Bear interrupting the singer… and for that, we thank him!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoy Kraken Black Spice Rum, which gets its rum content (molasses) from Trinidad and Tobago. I made this cocktail for Pa Sip, also a fan of Rum, as well as Butterscotch Schnapps. It was a pretty good drink and perfect for this time of the year!

Advertisements

December 11 – The Woolly Mitten

Home for the Holidays

One of the best things to do at Christmas is watch cherished holiday episodes of your favourite TV shows, while getting warm and toasty by the fire. Here are some of my favourite shows and episodes for Christmas spirit.

Married… with Children

In ‘It’s a Bundy-ful Life’, the always down on his luck, Al Bundy, is shown what his family’s life would be like if he wasn’t around. In a twist on It’s a Wonderful Life, Al decides that his family is too happy and has such a better life without him that that’s reason enough to continue living. This hour-long episode featured late comedian Sam Kinison in the guardian angel role.

its-a-bundyful-life

South Park

The animated sensation has a bunch holiday episodes under its belt (even having its own DVD release of the collection) and in true South Park style, they use such absurdities as Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo to get their message across. The boys have even travelled to the bizarre world of Canada for Christmas, with Cartman wanting desperately to get home to his presents.

Home Improvement

Tim ‘the Tool Man’ Taylor is a house’s worst nightmare. With all of his renovation schemes – most of which end in disaster – if a home had feelings, they would fear for their existence with Mr. Taylor around. Christmas time is no different, as Tim pulls out all the stops in his attempt to decorate his home and compete with neighbours over who has the best set-up.

Beavis and Butt-head Do Christmas

While their delinquent brand of humour might not be for everyone (it certainly isn’t for Mrs. Sip), this Christmas episode is incredibly funny. In the first segment, Beavis is head honcho at Burger World and is visited by three ghosts to learn the true meaning of Christmas. After a break for some Christmas music videos, the second installment follows Butt-head being shown that everyone’s lives would be better without him existing.

beavis_and_butt_head_do_christmas

The Simpsons

It’s no surprise that The Simpsons would land a spot on this list. While they haven’t offered a Christmas episode in each of their 25 seasons, the ones they have done are quite memorable. In the first Simpson’s Christmas airing (the first full-length episode actually!), the family found its dog, Santa’s Little Helper, a turned away ex-racing mutt. The family has also battled commercialism during the holidays with a war on the Funzo toy release.

Community

Each year, the Community folks have provided an interesting Christmas episode, similar to their efforts at Halloween. In the show’s second season, the holiday episode featured the cast turned into stop-motion animation, similar to the Rankin/Bass specials, as Abeb searches for the meaning of Christmas. I don’t think I’d do very well in a stop-motion animation world!

The Office

The annual office Christmas party provides ample opportunity for laughs. I only thank the heavens above that my company doesn’t really do the Christmas thing. Do you think I want to be around my colleagues any longer than I actually have to be? Anyway, the antics of this rag tag bunch always seem to ramp up around the holidays and each Christmas party has its own issues to be dealt with.

Drink #345: The Woolly Mitten

The Woolly Mitten Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Top with Hot Chocolate
  • Garnish with Whipped Cream

There are far too many Christmas episodes out there in TV Land to get to them all, but if you have any specific suggestions for the Sip Advisor, I’m all ears!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
As I’ve written before, I’m not a huge fan of warm drinks, but I do make the occasional exception for Hot Chocolate. Where this drink was good is that all the liquors tasted good together and amongst the Hot Water and Cocoa Powder. Whip Cream is always fun to use and the Crushed Candy Canes sprinkled on top was one of my better ideas.

June 15 – Carpet Licker

Regionals

The world is littered with wonderful wine regions, where fans of the grape can pilgrimage to and get blasted winery-hopping style. While wine is far from my favourite libation, I do like to get travel wasted and visiting a winery provides some of the greatest surroundings for doing so. Here are some of the best stops to hit if you’re a connoisseur of reds and whites (and pinks, I suppose!):

Barossa Valley – Australia

This was a fun little wine tour Mrs. Sip and I did while visiting Adelaide, Australia. As good as the wine and scenery was, what I will always remember most from the tour was our picnic-style lunch, where the main course was barbecued kangaroo, marinated in red wine. I never thought kangaroo meat could be so delicious. I gorged myself on the delicacy, as well as the rest of the lunch, probably facilitated by the copious wine samples we had already enjoyed up to that point.

barossa valley

Okanagan Valley – British Columbia

Mrs. Sip just got back from visiting the Okanagan wine region on a stagette and if the 13 new bottles taking up space in my liquor racks is any indication, she had a good time and found some wines she really enjoyed. Heck, rumour has it Cousin Sip brought back 30 bottles of grape goodness after this 2 day trip!

Champagne/Beaujolais – France

Champagne was another wine excursion enjoyed by Mrs. Sip, minus your faithful Sip Advisor. How do I let her get away with this desertion!? While there, she sampled the wines and champagnes the region is renowned for. We were together for a brief stop in Beaujolais, where we climbed to the “Top of the World” and had a wine and picnic lunch before staying the night at a Beaujolais winery property.

Hood River – Oregon

On a weekend away with family, we hit a number of stops criss-crossing the Washington-Oregon border. We had a convoy of vehicles stopping at each business and it was fun to roll through a tasting with such a large, increasingly boisterous group. Our favourite stop was probably the Maryhill Winery, home to a summer concert series, and where guest can even hop into a tub and stomp some grapes.

Maryhill Winery

Columbia Cascade – Washington

On yet another wine tour (damn, we go on a lot of these!), Mrs. Sip and I, along with Cousin Sip and her husband braved the oncoming winter to sample a number of wines in the Cascade area. The last stop of our tour was the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, where the main drag houses many underground wine tasting options. Getting Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip back on the bus was far from easy for us guys.

Napa Valley & Sonoma Valley – California

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many California wines, but never had the chance to visit any of the winery regions the state is home to. While Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a wonderful and quite memorable wine tasting in San Francisco (see Bay Breeze), we have never had the time to do a tour of the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. It is on our Bucket List to do together, we just need to be in the area for longing than a cruise port stop.

Bubbles over Napa

Santorini – Greece

The last stop as part of a tour exploring the island was visiting the Wine Museum of Santorini and Koutsoyannopoulos Winery. How do I remember such a crazy long Grecian name, you ask? Well, you see, Mrs. Sip has (or at least had) this little habit of “collecting” souvenirs from her travels. On this occasion, she wanted a glass from the little winery and to make a long story short, she got it!

Monticello – Virginia

While visiting Washington, D.C., our hosts took us out of the American capital to Virginia, specifically Monticello, where we had access to numerous wines and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the storied grounds of the winery surrounded by 19th century plantation ruins. Later, we ventured to the home of Thomas Jefferson, where unfortunately, no wine was served, which would have been a great tribute to the former president.

Drink #166: Carpet Licker

June 15

  • 1 oz White Wine
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur (I used Watermelon Pucker)
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 0.5 oz Dr. Pepper
  • Top with Whipped Cream
  • Garnish with Sprinkles

I’m sure I’m missing some of the best wine regions, but I wanted to focus on areas we’ve actually visited or plan to visit in the very near future. Have any suggestions for a future getaway? Feel free to give us your best Lonely Planet review.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I thought this shot tasted fantastic, especially with my substitution of Watermelon Pucker for Melon Liqueur… I just had a feeling. The presentation is spectacular which certainly justifies the high score. The shooter ingredients and measurements are enough for two servings, so share the love!

March 2 – Key Lime Pie

Dessertification

Truth be told, I’m not much of a pie fan (dirty jokes aside). It’s not that I don’t like pie, but I’m more of a cookie and brownie man. I thought it might be best to list some of my favourite dessert treats, in case anyone out there is looking to butter me up like the living legend that I am.

Two-Bite Brownies

While they’re advertised as two-bite treats, it’s much more enjoyable to shove the entire brownie in your mouth and chomp on it noisily. If you’re looking for a fun evening in the future, try having a brownie bash. Each player brings a bag of two-bite brownies, which are emptied out into the centre of the playing surface. Then each competitor builds up a fortress for safe keeping of their treasures and you play Hungry Hungry Hippo’s style, running and retrieving one treat at a time until all the brownies have been claimed.

Sponge Bob Two Bite Brownie

Rainbow Chips Ahoy

Nothing beats ending a long hard day with a plate of cookies and a cold glass of milk… unless it’s a fat beefy burger and an ice cold cocktail. Hell, if your guy-et is going well, why not do both! Rainbow chips Ahoy (which are clearly superior to regular chocolate chips ahoy) are one of my favourite camping supplies and you truly haven’t experienced all the joys of life until you’ve made smores between of these two cookies. As a bonus, the rainbow chips take you back to fond childhood memories quicker than the sight of an ice cream truck.

Black Forest Cake

Mrs. Sip really stole a piece of my heart when we celebrated our first dating anniversary and she bought me an entire Black Forest Cake even though she isn’t besties with any cake other than Ice Cream Cake. Yes, that black forest beauty and I spent a bulk of the next week together, sharing tender glances, romantic embraces and nights of unbridled passion.

Chocolate Fondue

The fun part about fondue (maybe they should just call it FUNdue… great, now the lame police are after me… why do I always write the worst jokes?) is coming up with interesting things to dip in the chocolate. While pedestrian items like fruit, marshmallows and sponge cake are used by the masses, I am an extreme fondue-er, dunking sub sandwiches, turkey legs, and edible underwear into the melted goodness.

Chocolate Fondue

Minnie’s Bake Shop Cookies at Disney Parks

These cookies are amazing! Every time Mrs. Sip and I are in Disneyland or Disneyworld, a good portion of our snack budget (well, budget is a loose term, given it’s an infinite amount) is spent of these treats. We’ve come home with an entire suitcase filled with the delicacies before… and it’s not like we make them last for as long as possible. They are often demolished in a single serving, as we go into a trance-like orgy of cookie destruction. The next morning, we awake to smears of chocolate and peanut on our clothing (luckily we’re still in clothing); crumbs, like fallen snow, littering the floor; and splashes of milk dripping from the ceiling.

Black Magic Cupcakes

This is Mama Sip’s world famous recipe, which has caused her to be hounded over the years by family, friends, co-workers, even da freakin’ pope, to make them. Basically, they are a chocolate cupcake with chocolate chip cheesecake mixed in and are absolutely fabulous warmed up or even cold. Made from a secret family recipe that has been handed down for thousands of years, I may have said too much already. If you would like the recipe, please send $500 to Sip Advisor Enterprises and I’ll get back to you in due time.

Drink #61: Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie Shot

  • Rim glass with Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • 0.5 oz Fireball Whiskey
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Milk
  • Top with Whipped Cream

There are at least three variations of this shot and I kind of put pieces together from all three to make my version. Enjoy!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Full disclosure: I left out an ingredient when making this shooter. Originally, I forgot to include Galliano, so I had to make it again. It worked out pretty well when done properly. The Graham Cracker Crumb rim was a key part of the recipe.