Scotland – Macbeth’s Dream

Land of Make Believe

When picking what to write about for our visit to Scotland, golf was an obvious choice. And while there was an abundance of options for a second article, I kept being steered towards fictional characters. Rather than spend a fair bit of time on only one of these individuals, I’ve decided to split my time and cover the gamut of my favourite Scots. Hell, even some of Scotland’s most famous real-life citizens have been largely fictionalized in media portrayals following their deaths. So, let’s take a look at some of these fine fictional figures:

Scrooge McDuck

An all-time favourite character of the Sip Advisor, Scrooge McDuck can do no wrong. Do you know that he has even invited me over for a swim in his vault? Physics be damned, we had a hell of a time wading through all his gold and jewels. There’s a great DuckTales episode where Scrooge and family return to his native Scotland and Castle McDuck, which is being haunted by druids and a ghost hound. The fictional McDuck has actually been honoured in Glasgow as a famous citizen of the city.

Duck Dynasty

William Wallace

Braveheart is a wicked awesome movie and can be forgiven for all of the creative license the production took on the real-life version of Scotland’s fight for independence. Wallace (or at least his fictionalized version) is a born leader, who has been wronged too many times by the ruling English. In response, he pulls together an army of like-minded Scots to finally take arms against the English and win back their land. I won’t spoil the story, but let’s just say things could have turned out better.

Merida

Brave centers on this young Scottish princess, who isn’t ready to take on the role she is destined for. She wants to get dirty, ride horses, and shoot her bow and arrow. She certainly doesn’t want to be married off to a boy she’s never met or be responsible for ruling over her subjects. This difference of opinion causes a rift between Merida and her mother and an errant use of magic makes matter worse. Can the curse be reversed in time, restoring peace and order to the Scottish Highlands?

Loch Ness Monster

Without the advent of ol’ Nessie, I don’t think many people would travel to Loch Ness. While the area looks beautiful, the real drawing power here is the legend of the monster. Similar legends of underwater creatures exist around the world (including the Ogopogo, just a few hours away from the Sip Advisor’s home base), but the Loch Ness version is by far the most famous. To be fair, she was discovered by Mr. Burns on an episode of The Simpsons, so perhaps all the sightings weren’t hoaxes.

Kitty Loch Ness

Groundskeeper Willie

Speaking of The Simpsons, one of the funniest secondary characters on the show has to be this cynical, downtrodden Scotsman. The often kilt-clad Willie hails from Kirkwall in Orkney, a dispute that had to be settled when both Glasgow and Aberdeen laid claim to the groundskeeper. Much humour is derived from other characters not being able to understand what Willie is saying and also his penchant for ripping his clothes off to reveal a ripped and toned body.

Shrek

Sticking with the animated world, Shrek may be based off other nationalities (thought to be a stereotype of medieval Hungarians), but his voice is 100% Scottish. The role was originally intended for Bill Murray and later Chris Farley, before Mike Myers joined the project. After watching a rough cut, Myers asked to re-voice the character with a Scottish accent (which he also used as Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers franchise) and the rest is fairytale history.

Hulk to Shrek

Macbeth

This Shakespearean play (one of the original game of thrones) is based off the real-life King Macbeth of Scotland, although ol’ Billy Shakes takes Macbeth and makes him a regicidal anti-hero, who kills for the role of ruler. Because of his actions, Macbeth’s conscience won’t let him enjoy his ascension and when his wife, Lady Macbeth, goes crazy from guilt – despite pushing her husband into the whole scheme – both are tragically dealt with in typical Shakespeare style.

Montgomery Scott

Whenever Captain Kirk demanded, “Beam me up, Scotty!” he was referring to Montgomery Scott, the engineer of the USS Enterprise. Scott, in the original Star Trek series, was actually played by Canadian, James Doohan, who auditioned for the role using a variety of accents. Creator Gene Roddenberry settled on the Scottish accent, when Doohan explained that the Scots had a storied history of nautical engineering. Ironically, the character was almost completely cut from the series.

Scotland: Macbeth’s Dream

Macbeth's Dream Martini

  • 2 oz Scotch
  • 0.25 oz Triple Sec
  • 0.25 oz Amaretto
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Slice

In closing, it should be pointed out that the Sip Advisor is actually the greatest fictional character of Scottish descent. Hailing from the Clan Wilson, makers of fine scotch, bagpipes, and kilts, we also took the legend of Rob Roy and turned it into a cocktail!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I think this recipe ended up being a little too sweet thanks to ingredients like Triple Sec, Amaretto, and the Sugar. That said, it went down easy enough and the Scotch had its typical smoky finish to boot.

Denmark – Viking Blood

Something Rotten

Despite William Shakespeare being English, his tragic character Prince Hamlet (or Hammy, as I like to call him) is from Denmark, the setting for what is perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest work. Let’s take an in-depth look at the masterpiece, before poisoning ourselves with booze!:

Hamlet-shirt

The full title of the play is The Tragedy of Hamlet… they sure didn’t leave things to surprise the audience back then. It would be like me calling this site: The Tragedy of the Sip Advisor… I mean, Reading Useless Information and Getting Drunk.

Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, consisting of 4,042 lines, 1,530 of them belonging to Hammy. Uncut, the play takes between four and five hours to perform and it’s estimated that at every moment of every day, Hamlet is being performed somewhere around the world.

The Disney animated film The Lion King is based off of the plot of Hamlet, complete with Scar (Claudius) causing the death of his brother Mufasa (King Hamlet) and stealing rule of the Pride Lands (Denmark) from its natural leader Simba (Prince Hamlet). The differences being that Simba’s lady friend Nala (Ophelia) doesn’t go crazy and off herself; Timon and Pumbaa (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) don’t betray Simba and go off into the sunset singing Hakuna Matata instead of being killed; and Simba lives through the whole ordeal to claim his birthright.

Hamlet-Lion King

Similarly, the movie Strange Brew, borrows elements from Hamlet, particularly subbing the battle for the Danish throne with the Elsinore Brewery. There are also a number of similarities between Hamlet and Batman, particularly in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. As for TV, the biker gang drama Sons of Anarchy features many plot and character points found in Hamlet.

The Simpsons parodied Hamlet in their short story episode Tales from the Public Domain, with Bart playing Prince Hamlet. The segment features what has to be the first death by high-five, as everyone perishes. Homer then states that the Hamlet story was adapted to become the Ghostbusters script and the family dances to the greatest theme song in movie history!

Speaking of Ghostbusters, speculation exists that Shakespeare himself played the role of The Ghost, when Hamlet was being performed at The Globe in London. It’s too bad Slimer never got the chance to take on the character.

Hamlet Everyone Dies

When the Royal Shakespeare Company performed Hamlet in 2009, actor David Tennant used the very real skull of composer André Tchaikowsky during the infamous gravedigger scene. Don’t worry folks, this wasn’t the result of murder most foul. Tchaikowsky donated his skull to the theatre upon his death in 1982, for theatrical use. Almost 30 years later, Tennant was the first actor to make use of Tchaikowsky’s cranium.

Prince Hamlet has been portrayed by everyone from Laurence Olivier to Mel Gibson (does he hate Claudius as much as Jews!?). Other actors to tackle to starring role include: Kenneth Branagh, Richard Burton, Christopher Walken (did cowbells exist during Hamlet’s time!?), Jude Law, and Kevin Kline.

Hamlet Skulls

Prince Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy is one of the most famous passages in all of the performing arts. It has been interpreted many different ways, with scholars debating its meaning to no end. Sounds like a riveting profession, said no one ever.

Tying everything back to Denmark, the castle that plays the setting of Hamlet actually exists. It is Kronborg Castle in the Danish port of Helsingør. Built in the 1420’s by Eric of Pomerania (the Danish King), this World Heritage Site actually houses the occasional performance of Hamlet, usually in the courtyard. Also, a statue of ol’ Hammy was erected in Elsinore to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the play being published. Hopefully the Sip Advisor doesn’t have to wait three centuries to get his due!

Denmark: Viking Blood

Viking Blood Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Strawberry Syrup
  • 1 oz Akvavit
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

I was once given the nickname Billy Shakes (a reference to one William Shakespeare), but I have to say that my writing is better… I don’t use silly words like hath and doth!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
So, this is what Viking Blood tastes like… and apparently it’s black. Well, the cocktail itself was decent. I was curious about mixing Kahlua with Lemon-Lime Soda and it worked. I tried to theme the drink with the Strawberry Syrup rim acting as blood and garnishing the cocktail with a Maraschino Cherry to act as a heart. I think it looked alright. Not great, but who said I was ever performing to epic heights!

England – Reichenbach Fall

Cultured Characters

England is a land of professed culture, what with all its museums, historical figures, and landmarks. Perhaps it can be noticed most in the country’s long history of fine literature. They call it English Lit for a reason! Always one for a good read (kidding, I’m the world’s most prolific non-reading writer), here are the greatest literary characters who call England home:

Sherlock Holmes

Along with his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson, this formidable duo have solved some of greatest mysteries to occur in and around London. Add in arch nemesis Dr. Moriarty, as well as other secondary characters like Mycroft Holmes, Irene Adler, and Inspector Lestrade and you have the makings of some great fiction. It was suggested that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t like the character he is most famous for, as evidenced by Holmes being killed off so the author could pursue other projects. Public outrage brought Holmes back to life years later and the character has enjoyed a long history of different treatments.

sherlock-early-years

James Bond

Agent 007 is the quintessential secret service member. Created by writer Ian Fleming, Bond is just as popular for his prowess in the field as he is for his conquests beneath the sheets. While Bond has been played by Irish and Scottish actors on the big screen (and that is probably where he’s most famous and recognized), his origins are purely English. There is virtually no way to put down the famous MI6 operative, so he’ll probably be around for a very long time.

Harry Potter

For inspiring an entire generation of kids to pick up a book and read (or go to the theatre and watch!), Harry Potter and his pals are a must for this list. So famous is the franchise, that theme parks have set up lands to include Hogwarts Castle and the village of Hogsmeade. Quidich has also become a playable game, although it looks more ridiculous than polo and cricket combined. Wee little sippers want to grow up to become wizards and parents have J.K. Rowling to thank for the next wave of geeks!

Mr. Toad

Written by Scottish author Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows features the friendly and jovial, but selfish and reckless Mr. Toad, as well as his pals Mole, Ratty, and Badger. The stories were based on Grahame’s love of river life along the Thames. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was my favourite Disneyland attraction as a wee little sipper and I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Mr. Toad and careless ways.

Mr. Toad's Ride

Paddington Bear

From “Darkest Peru” (whatever that means… my theory is Paddington was sent to London by his Peruvian owner, who had awoken from a pisco haze and mistakenly shipped the bear away), Paddington Bear arrives in England and is promptly taken in by the Brown family. A Paddington film will be released in 2014, mixing live action and CGI animation. The bear will be voiced by Colin Firth, who ate endless marmalade sandwiches, while donning a duffle coat to get into character.

Robin Hood

Stealing from the rich, to give to the poor, Robin Hood may not have begun life as a literary figure and was more of a folk hero told about in ballads (aren’t those as good or even better than books?), but his legend has inspired countless appearances in media, especially the written word. My favourite adaptation of the vigilante is the 1973 Disney film with Robin Hood portrayed as a fox and opposing a cowardly lion in Prince John.

linkedin-robin-hood

Ebenezer Scrooge

Teaching civilization a lesson about how it behaves while using Christmas as a backdrop, Charles Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the finest examples of turnaround redemption. He goes from a literal scrooge to becoming a man of love, friendship, heart, and caring. One of the greatest scenes ever is ol’ Ebenezer racing through the streets of London like a raving madman after discovering he still has time to change his ways.

Willy Wonka

Roald Dahl’s famous chocolatier and candy producer is about as eccentric as a person can possibly come. That aids him in all the wacky creations he’s able to dream up and put into research and development, but at the same time, makes him guarded and suspicious, staying reclusive in his precious factory. We still don’t know where the hell Oompa Loompas come from, but they aren’t among the world’s greatest literary characters, so it doesn’t really matter.

England: Reichenbach Fall

Reichenbach Fall Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
  • 2 oz Sherry
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Top with Lemonade
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

An honourable mention should go to English authors like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen (although I hate her so very much), J.R.R. Tolkien, and the many others that I just didn’t feel like shoehorning into this list. Their contributions to the literary world, although I’ve only heard of such through movies, TV, and other more visual media, should not go unnoticed!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This recipe comes from my old friends at The Drunken Moogle, who nailed this cocktail inspired by the current Sherlock BBC Series, which is of course inspired by the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories about the sleuth. I used regular Orange Bitters, rather than the Blood Orange variety the drink calls for because I had it on hand. I really enjoyed the flavours and blend provided by this cocktail and was pleasantly surprised by the use of Sherry.