Flavour Revolution – Chipotle

Spice Spree

The Sip Advisor is a fan of spice in his beers and cocktails, so picking up a bottle of Rogue’s Chipotle Spirit was a no brainer. In honour of the liquor, I thought it would be good to look at the restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, of which I have visited on one occasion. Should I go back for more? Let’s weigh the evidence!

Today, Chipotle is worth an estimated value of over $22 billion, but its beginnings were much more humble. Founder Steve Ells launched the chain on July 13, 1993, with the first restaurant located in Denver, Colorado, financed thanks to an $80,000 loan from Ells’ father. The minimalist design that is common for Chipotle locations was based on Ells having to establish the original restaurant on a tight budget.

chipotle-burrito

Fast food giant McDonald’s was an early investor in the Chipotle business, joining the venture when it was still a budding brand with only 14 outlets located around Denver. By the time McDonald’s pulled out of Chipotle (wow, that sounds pretty bad… or delicious… I don’t know!?) in 2006, Chipotle had over 500 stores around the country. Sure, the deal netted McDonald’s $1.5 billion, but Chipotle is worth so much more now.

Some Chipotle joints in Chicago have partnered with craft brewery 5 Rabbit Brewing, to serve their specially made 5 Vulture, which is brewed with ancho chili, and 5 Rabbit Golden Ale. Other expansion the company has taken on includes a pizza chain, Pizzeria Locale, as well as ShopHouse, a collection of Southeast Asian eateries.

Sports stars Russell Wilson, Bryce Harper, Abby Wambach, and Tony Hawk (among others) have received “Free Burritos” cards from Chipotle, which allows them free meals for one year. The offer has also been extended to folks outside of athletics, including rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and comedian Gabriel Iglesias.

chipotle salad

They may be rare, but free burrito coins for the franchise do exist. They boast: “In Burritos We Trust,” which is a message many of us can get behind. The coins sell for pretty decent money on eBay, but that seems counterproductive to the whole idea of a free meal.

Chipotle goes through a ton of avocados each day, 480,000 to be exact… or at least estimated. 60 avocados go into each batch of guacamole, which also included red onions, cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, and salt. Musician Jason Mraz is one of the folks that owns an avocado farm which supplies Chipotle.

While not an officially recognized world record, Matt ‘Megatoad’ Stonie can destroy a Chipotle burrito in 35 seconds. He has also been recorded eating four burritos and downing a Diet Coke (gotta save calories somewhere!) in just three minutes.

Chipotle Server

Although first established in Denver, Colorado, Chipotle has become a sponsor of both the Boston Celtics (NBA) and Boston Bruins (NHL). It looks like teams in Colorado missed jumping aboard the burrito train and Boston fans can thank them for that.

Lastly, Chipotle delivery trucks warn that “Drivers Do Not Carry Burritos,” which puts my draft for a food truck heist movie on hold. It would have starred John Cho and Kal Penn and been the fourth installment in the Harold & Kumar franchise, seeing the two stoners in need of satisfying their munchies, with a cameo from Neil Patrick Harris as the truck driver. That actually sounds better than most of the drivel in theatres today!

Flavour Revolution: Berry Caliente

Berry Caliente Martini

  • 1.5 oz Chipotle Spirit
  • Top with Wildberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Chipotle means smoked chili and is derived from the Náhuatl (Aztec) word “chilpoctli”. Rogue also now has a Chipotle Whiskey, which looks pretty darn good and will be added to the Sip Advisor’s ‘I Want to Taste That’ list!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really liked the smokiness of this drink, thanks to the Chipotle Spirit. The Wildberry Juice also played an important part, while the Lemon Juice gave it just enough zest to complete the cocktail.

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Barbados – Sweet Heat

Grapefruits of Wrath

It took some serious digging to figure out a second post topic for Barbados. Pop star Rihanna was an obvious choice, but the country didn’t offer a whole lot of other in-your-face options… until I discovered this little nugget: grapefruits (a hybrid crop) were first produced in Barbados in the 18th century. Let’s take a look at this subtropical citrus fruit and its impact on the world:

Grapefruit was first known as “forbidden fruit” after its discovery by Rev. Griffith Hughes in Barbados, circa 1750. It has since earned status as one of the ‘7 Wonders of Barbados,’ which also include a cave, a tree, a mill, a synagogue, a cannon, and some mansions. Apparently an eight item (coral reefs) has recently been added to the list, as well.

grapefruit too much effort

The fruit comes in a few varieties, including white, ruby red, pink, golden, and star ruby (the darkest of the hues). Grapefruit even has its own special spoon, complete with serrated teeth at either the tip of the device or on the sides, used to cut the flesh from the rind.

Although discovered in Barbados, the country doesn’t crack the Top 10 list for producers of the fruit. The United States grows over 1,500,000 metric tons of grapefruit each year, dwarfing their nearest competitors. Also cracking the list are China, South Africa, Mexico, Syria, Israel, Turkey, India, Argentina, and Cuba. Speaking of China, pomelos have been nicknamed Chinese Grapefruit and are very popular around Chinese New Year for their resemblance to the moon.

One of the leagues for Major League Baseball’s spring training has been dubbed the Grapefruit League and plays out of the Florida area, while the Cactus League takes place in Arizona. The Grapefruit League has existed since 1914.

grapefruit spoon

The consumption of grapefruit can play havoc with a number of medical drugs, either speeding up the effectiveness of the dose or even inhibiting some of the chemicals needed to be absorbed. The intensified potency of the medicine can be potentially life threatening. I’m no doctor, only playing one on TV, but I’d advise you little sippers to enjoy grapefruit cautiously if you are taking various meds and perhaps consult a physician to make sure it’s all good in the hood.

Even more negative publicity for the fruit came in a July 2007 study published in the British Journal of Cancer (I guess everything has an outlet for recording their own thoughts), which stated that eating grapefruit everyday increased the risk of breast cancer by almost a third. This of course was refuted by two subsequent studies proving once again that everything in existence both causes and reduces the threat of cancer.

Enough about the bad, let’s see some of grapefruit’s benefits. First, because it doesn’t mess with a person’s blood sugar, it’s a great snack for diabetics. The citrus treat can also help in burning fat and is perfect for those trying to drop some pounds. Grapefruit is also rich in fiber, which can leave the eater feeling fuller longer and help with cleaning out one’s system. Don’t forget about all the vitamins and minerals coursing through the grapefruit. They can help with your immune system and energy level.

grapefruit_evil orange

In the Seinfeld episode ‘The Wink,’ George Costanza takes a blast of grapefruit juice to the eye, which in usual Seinfeld style, sets off a series of unfortunate events for the people that surround the main characters of the show. First, Kramer misinterprets George’s winking for giving him permission to sell a signed birthday card from the New York Yankees, meant for a sick child. Later, George appears to be winking when questioned by his boss on the whereabouts of a co-worker. The boss assumes that George is covering for the co-worker, who is promptly fired with George getting the position, which means longer hours, more responsibility and not enough pay increase to make up for the changes.

Sticking with TV, in The Simpsons episode Das Bus (a parody of Lord of the Flies), the children become stranded on a deserted island after bus driver Otto gets grapefruit juice in his eyes and crashes, following an ill-advised bowling game by the kids, where Milhouse Van Houten rolls a grapefruit that gets stuck under the brake pedal. To this day, I still think Ralph Wiggum’s banana should have won the fruit race and I will be forever perplexed as to why he lost out.

Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit is also used in the film The Public Enemy, when James Cagney’s character Tom Powers, smacks a grapefruit into the face of his girlfriend Kitty (played by Mae Clarke). Director William Wellman added the controversial scene to the 1931 crime drama because his wife always ate grapefruit for breakfast and whenever the couple would get into arguments, he fantasized about pushing the fruit into her face to get a reaction out of her. Cagney has said that Clarke’s ex-husband enjoyed the act so much that he would buy tickets to multiple showings of the movie, entering shortly before the scene and leaving after.

There are a number of grapefruit sodas available out there, although they may not expressly be called grapefruit sodas and are instead described as citrus drinks. Brands like Fresca, Squirt, Wink (funny name, given the Seinfeld episode mentioned above), Citrus Blast, and San Pellegrino will help give you some fizz if that’s what you prefer. I’ve recently come to enjoy grapefruit soda, especially over juices, and that reminds me… we have a drink to get to!

Barbados: Sweet Heat

Sweet Heat Martini

  • 2 oz Mango Rum
  • Top with Wildberry Juice
  • Garnish with Strawberry Slices

Well, I hope you enjoyed hanging out with the Sip Advisor and learning about a fruit you never thought could produce nearly 1,000 words on information for it. Now go out and grab yourself a nice ripe grapefruit… so long as you have the necessary utensils and aren’t on any meds that may result in your death when combined with consumption!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I feel, given the subject, that I should have added some grapefruit juice or soda to the recipe, but that may be saved for another time behind the scenes. The recipe actually calls for Wild Berry Rum, but I went with Wildberry Juice to add a little mixer to the recipe. There is no heat to the drink, so I’m not sure where the name comes from, but it’s still a tasty martini.

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.

August 12 – Wildberry Daiquiri

Missing Meals

Over the span of my life, I’ve seen restaurants come and go. Some I couldn’t care less for and others left a little mark on this boozehound’s soul. I’m prone to the odd moment of nostalgia. While some of these chains still exist, their locations that were closest to me have ceased operations, leaving me le sad. Here are the restaurants I miss:

Godfather’s Pizza

The pizza you can’t refuse! The Godfather’s outlet that was near our house growing up was filled with video games and played host to a number of wind-ups for sports teams I belonged to. It was perfect for parents. Stuff your child full of pizza and pop and let them run around and blow a stack of quarters on games. Surely, they slept well that night!

Bonanza Steakhouse

This will start an interesting trifecta of restaurants that just couldn’t catch on in the same location. I don’t remember too much about this joint because I was quite young, but I believe Ma and Pa Sip were fans because I was cognizant of its existence. The chain went through bankruptcy in 2008 (a somewhat common theme in the industry), but emerged and still has locations in the U.S. When Bonanza left my area and went back to the Ponderosa, in its place came…

Sizzler

As a fussy eater when I was young, I used to love salad bars, where I could just grab a few items here and there and not be bugged to struggle with food I didn’t much care for. I guess it’s kind of ironic that I liked salad and veggies as a young’un, while most kids hate the healthy stuff. In the interest of full disclosure, I was in it for the croutons and bread sticks! Sizzler left the area when I was still quite young, to be replaced by…

Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon

As a little sipper, I attended a number of birthday parties at the one Lone Star location that came to my neck of the woods. It was a novelty to go to a country-western themed eatery, with cow-folk servers and permission to throw your complimentary peanut shells on the floor. The chain didn’t last long enough for me to attend as a Sip Advisor. Interestingly, the Lone Star chain has no restaurants in the Lone Star State of Texas. I guess it just wouldn’t be unique there.

Izzy’s Buffet

This was the meal stop for many shopping trips across the border with family. It provided a nice mix of culinary options that could suit all the tastes and cravings of a large group. I remember their dessert table being specifically fantastic, with a self-serve ice cream sundae bar and other confectionary delights. The Bellingham, Washington Izzy’s location closed many years ago, replaced by a sex shop of all things

Rainforest Café

When the local Metrotown Mall underwent abundant upgrades many moons ago, one of their newest additions was the Rainforest Café, complete with animatronic jungle animals and an expansive aquarium. It didn’t last long, though, eventually being replaced by an Old Navy store. The only Rainforest Café’s I’m able to visit anymore are in Downtown Disneyland in Anaheim, California and at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, if I can get Mrs. Sip to tag along.

T.G.I. Friday’s

Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed an early date at T.G.I. Friday’s, but it may have been the one and only time we ever ate there together. Sadly, it was also before we could legally drink, so we never got to enjoy that element of the chain. Perhaps we’ll have to track down a location in the U.S. and give it another shot now that our tastes have evolved beyond chicken strips and fries orders.

Bennigan’s

The only thing I really know about this chain is that Butters on South Park absolutely adored it. I would love to try it myself, but the company went into bankruptcy in 2008 and closed a number of locations, as a result. 31 Bennigan’s restaurants in the U.S. and 44 abroad still remain, so I may get to try the Irish pub-themed joint eventually. I’ll do it for Butters!

Drink #224: Wildberry Daiquiri (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Wildberry Daquiri Frozen Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz White Rum (I used Bacardi)
  • Top with Wildberry Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Blend with Ice
  • Garnish with Blueberries

Which restaurants do you wish still existed and why? I’m curious about this because nostalgia can often be a great thing, but sad in many ways, as well, as we think about all the things we once enjoyed that are no longer an option. Now I need to have a little cry!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
The berry taste comes through nicely at the end of each sip, but it’s a pretty tame cocktail overall. Perhaps the flavour can be jacked up a little more with alcohols and liqueurs that go with the mixer.

May 14 – Time for a Change?

Politically Declined

To sum up quickly, I hate elections, politicians and basically everything having to do with the political process.

I feel that government doesn’t do very much, what it does accomplish takes way too long to get done, and when it finally gets done, then we go and repeal it anyway. I would never trust a politician further than I could throw them… unless it was hilariously off a cliff Wile E. Coyote style!

swanson-govt

Elections are the worst time of the year. Our news is inundated with one group of politicians going on about stupid things other politicians have done such as riding transit without a ticket or running a red light while taking their son to an early morning hockey practice, all presumably in an attempt to sway voters who won’t bother to actually look up the various parties’ platforms. With a multitude of rainbow signs going up everywhere you look and TV commercials interrupting my programming, I just want to take a three-month nap and avoid the whole scenario. And don’t even get me started on the annoying phone calls and pamphlets.

Perhaps if elections were solved with cage fights, I might be a little more interested. Think about it, you could have a stacked card of death matches and charge people to come and see who “wins” the battle. And all the proceeds would go to fund the “elected” government’s initiatives and programs.

If you look through the history of the world, every important issue has been settled at WrestleMania, so why not continue down this path in the political forum?

Sadly, this is not to be, but it’s something for future generations to keep in mind. Maybe when the polar ice caps eventually melt and we go into a state of martial law, we can revisit my proposal.

politicians

I took a political science course once and I couldn’t stand it. Every class, when the teacher looked like he was wrapping things up and was going to let us free a little earlier, there would always be one jackass who would keep asking questions – queries of a political nature, but having nothing to do with our current lesson – until before you knew it, we had actually run over the class time and would now be fighting each other to exit, Battle Royal style, in order to get to the parking lot.

All that said, today I have to go stand in line to execute my “right” as a free democratic being who enjoys the benefits of not living in a dictatorship, I guess.

dictator

Although, this guy looks like he knows how to party!

Mrs. Sip insists that I vote, even threatening to withhold potato chips and cookies from me. What she doesn’t know is that as soon as I enter the private voting booth, I promptly check off the candidate she dislikes the most, file my ballot, and call it a day!

Drink #134: Time for a Change?

Time For a Change Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Sugar
  • 1.5 oz Black Cherry Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Wildberry Juice
  • Dash of Orange Bitters

Is it really time for a change? I say, who cares. It’s usually not too long before we hate the dude or dudette we all elected. People say if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about what happens. And really, that’s the only reason the Sip Advisor goes to the polls every year!

elections-candidate

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is quite the cocktail to undertake. Sadly, I had to leave the lavender portion of the recipe out, but it wasn’t missed too much. I really enjoy any drink that contains Black Cherry Bourbon and this was no exception. I found it really hard to pick an election-themed cocktail, as most were American-related and well, that’s not where I live. I still love the drink name Obama Slammer, though.

March 15 – Bloodsucker

Parasitic Activity

By nature, we are all parasites. The following entries are groups, people and products that I have chosen to leech onto. I’m not proud of it (just kidding, I actually am), but it’s time to clear my sins and admit what I am.

The Lovely Mrs.Sip

This little lady does a lot for me and, by extension, for Sip Nation. While I won’t go into details, pumping her tires any more than necessary, let me tell you that this wonderful site wouldn’t exist if not for her help. If I wasn’t already in love with Sweet Lady Liquor (more on her below), Mrs. Sip would have 100% of my heart!

Global Potato Chip Cartel

This one is more of a symbiotic relationship. The Cartel provides me with wicked delicious snack treats and in return, I give them money to procure more potatoes and make more chippies and the wheel goes round and round. If it was legal to do so, I would bathe in potato chips. On second thought, that could be dangerous with all the rippled edges against my silky smooth skin. Maybe I’ll just continue to eat them en masse.

That’s right, distract her with chips and bubbly and get that dress off!

Public Broadcasting

You know when you hear the slogan: “This program has been made possible by viewers like you!”… they’re not talking about me. All I do is mooch off of public TV and never give them a dime in return. I’ll happily sit through their half-hour long ads and telethon drives without flinching. I have this innate ability to shut my brain off when people are in need. It’s my gift. Mrs. Sip says I live most my life with my brain shut off, but I’m only faking it around her!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Conspiracy

The Mayans predicted that the mixing of peanut butter and jelly would eventually lead to the end of days. I have taken this train of thought and turned it into a marketing opportunity, dubbing my sandwiches “The Most Dangerous Lunch in the World!” Daredevil foodies will eat anything if they think the risk-reward is worth it and I’ve made a nice profit on the scheme.

peanut-butter-jelly-time-kitten

Major League Baseball

Oh, such an easy comedic target. I take and I take and I take all I can from this organization. How about the guys who can’t play because they have a blister? Really!?!? You can’t take the field to play a kid’s game where you’re dressed in pajamas and stand around for most of the outing? How about the guys who fall asleep in their team’s dugout in the middle of the game? Yeah, I think we all find it pretty boring, but good job selling the sport.

Sweet Lady Liquor

Oh, my beautiful muse… I have suckled your sweet nectar too many times to count… and I have no plans to stop (after all, we still have about 300 drinks to go in the drink-per-day challenge)!

Drink #74: Bloodsucker

Bloodsucker Martini

The raspberry jam gives the rim a blood look, which is kind of neat, and was my own personal idea for the cocktail. It befuddles me that I am THAT awesome!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
While the Raspberry Jam rim turned out pretty good, the drink itself was disappointing, in my opinion. I’m not sure if that was because I was using Wildberry Juice for the very first time, or if that’s a result of the ever-bitter Absinthe.