Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

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Israel – Bloodbath

Pilgrimage & Play

Israel has the greatest number of museums per capita in the world. Therefore, it should be no surprise, especially given the country’s religious and historical significance, that many travelers are willing to risk their own security to visit the nation. Let’s take a look at some of those important religious tourism sites:

Western Wall

Also known as the ‘Wailing Wall,’ this location is recognized as one of the most sacred sites to Jewish people and is a favourite pilgrimage spot. It is commonly believed to have been built by Herod the Great, although the project was not finished during his lifetime. Visitors have been known to stuff papers, containing their prayers, into cracks the have developed in the structure. Conflicts between Muslims and Jews occurred frequently at the Western Wall, with both groups laying claim to the fortification. The wall was also the site of a major zombie attack in the film World War Z.

Western Wall

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is located next to the Western Wall, and no, it’s not a temple dedicated to wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson. It is one of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture and has a reputation of being one of the most recognizable sites in Jerusalem and Israel. The shrine’s centerpiece, the Foundation Stone, holds great significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Also known as the Well of Souls, Jews believe it to be the link between Heaven and Earth and typically face it while praying.

Masada

Translated into English, Masada means “fortress” and it was the site of numerous clashes throughout history. It is thought to be the first site that Herod the Great fortified. Masada has become one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions, seen by the citizens of Israel as a symbol of resistance and holding religious significance, as a result. Masada became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and today, visitors can hike up one of two trails (the Snake Trail and the Roman Ramp) or simply ride a cable car to the peak. There’s also an audio-visual lightshow presented each night.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Located within the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, this is the spot where Jesus was said to have been crucified, as well as where he was thought to have been buried. Therefore, it is also where Jesus’ resurrection would have occurred. All of these assumptions make the Church of the Holy Sepulchre a popular pilgrimage site for Christians. Among the church’s treasures are the Stone of Anointing, the Rock of Cavalry, the Aedicule, the Cross of Golgotha, the Prison of Christ, and the Altar of the Crucifiction.

jesus_resurrection

Sea of Galilee

Israel’s largest freshwater lake is said to be the sight of many of Jesus’ miracles, including walking on water, calming the storm, the boatload of fish, and feeding 5,000 people. The Sea of Galilee is also where Jesus recruited at least four of his disciples (Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, John the Apostle, and Saint James the Great) and conducted his Sermon on the Mount. Tourism along the shores today is largely made up of Christian pilgrims, who can walk along the 40-mile ‘Jesus Trail,’ which was opened by the Israeli government in 2011.

The Dead Sea

One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, the Dead Sea gets its name because animals and other life forms can’t thrive in the area. The Dead Sea Scrolls, made up of 981 religious texts were discovered here in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Israelites were said to have lived in caves near the Dead Sea during biblical times and King David used the Dead Sea for sanctuary. Herod the Great turned the Dead Sea into one of the world’s first health resorts and to this day, the sea’s water is used for a number of different therapies, including psoriasis (skin disorder), rhinosinusitis (nasal condition), and osteoarthritis (knee ailment).

Israel: Bloodbath

Bloodbath Wine Cocktail

Other popular attractions include Yad Vashem (Israel’s official memorial for Holocaust victims), The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, along with all those museums located around the country. I’ve never really been too hot on the prospect of travelling to Israel and while writing this article didn’t convert me, it does give me pause to think about the possibility.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail looked like a neat one to try and I suppose the name also goes well with the subject matter of this article given all the blood that has been spilled in the name of religion in and around Israel. This drink was really good… I’m talking great even. That Cranberry-Lemonade mix I’ve been using the last few months is a real gem. Most interesting about the wines from Israel is that many of them are kept kosher and can only be handled by observant Jews, while not including certain ingredients.

Portugal – Saint Valentine

A Pirate’s Life for Me

The Pirate Code was introduced by Bartolomeu Português of Portugal in the 17th century. From there, each captain adjusted the regulations to fit their desires and sometimes even changed the rules for each journey. Each crew member was then asked to sign an agreement ratifying the code, before swearing an oath of allegiance to the captain and ship. All the expected stuff was there, such as how to split any booty (wow, that came out much more sexually than I had intended) and what punishment was to be expected for abandoning the crew in times of battle. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting items the code produced:

Article: Rights to fresh provisions and strong liquors, unless they become scarce

Nuts to the provisions, let’s go straight to the strong liquors! I’m sure an argument could be made, even if supplies ran low that you were simply trying to fend off scurvy and needed whatever booze was available. Granted, other ingredients are needed to fight the disease, but pirates wouldn’t have known that.

Pirate Code Guidelines

Article: Lights and candles are to be put out at eight o’clock at night… if any crew wants to continue drinking, it must be done on the open deck

Eight o’clock doesn’t seem very badass and not what I expected from buccaneers, but at least you can continue getting your drink on if you were so inclined. I would have expected pirates to stay up until at least 12, maybe even 13, singing songs of the sea and setting towns ablaze to light their parties.

Article: Not allowed to fight on the ship, but save it for land, using swords and pistols duel style

The pirates duel was kind of crazy. After their paces, they were allowed one shot with a loaded pistol and if that failed, it was a race back to the starting point where cutlasses were used until blood was drawn. That sounds like the makings of a hot new reality TV series, which I’ll soon put into production.

Article: To compensate any injured crewman, according to the severity of his injury

We’re always told that pirates were in it for themselves and nothing else, but this article proves they were willing to look after each other. A lost limb usually meant a payout of 600-800 Pieces of Eight, while more minor inflictions were judged on a case by case basis. Interestingly, in some codes, a right arm or leg was worth more than a left arm or leg… take that sinister ones. Hands, fingers, and even eyes were the least valuable body parts. Who needs their vision, right!?

Caribbean Pirate

Article: If a crewman betrays the ship, he will be marooned with one bottle of water, one bottle of powder, one weapon and one shot

I gotta say, I’m greatly disappointed that the pirates wouldn’t at least include a little flask of booze for the disowned crewman, but that just leaves more for those still aboard the ship. If I was the marooned pirate, I would ration that bottle of water to the very last drop, hoping some other ship passes and takes me into their crew.

Article: To be amorous with a woman without her consent should be punished by death

This kind of proves the Pirates of the Caribbean (where most of us have learned the entire extent of our pirate knowledge) women chasing scene all wrong. They say that there is no honour among thieves, but this may counter that theory, although the bad acts towards women probably still occurred regularly.

pirate-cat

Article: Whoever sees a sail first, shall receive the best pistol found aboard the vessel when plundered

This is like an epic game of ‘I spy with my little eye!’ Problem is most pirates were probably so out of their mind drunk that their blurred vision couldn’t win them this awesome prize, had they even wanted it. On a side note: I have to incorporate the word plunder into my vocabulary more regularly.

Article: Anyone drunk during pirating will be punished according to what the captain and majority of the crew see fit

This could end with the Sip Advisor walking the plank. It also begs the question: Is there any reason to be a pirate if you can’t be shitfaced most of the time? Being a pirate is about breaking the bonds that normal folks are tied to and going on adventures… and many of those adventures should be of the inebriated variety!

Portugal: Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine Martini

  • 1.5 oz White Rum
  • 0.5 oz Port
  • 0.5 oz Grand Marnier
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

In a perfect world, we would still live according to the Pirate Code and I would thrive and flourish in that society. I’m good at following the rules, as well as getting deep into drinking, making me a prime candidate to work my way up the pirate ladder and eventually becoming a captain of my own ship. Perhaps I should explore career options with today’s Somali pirates!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was strong (not too strong, mind you), but had a very nice taste. The citrus notes, such as Grand Marnier and Lime Juice were particularly pleasant, as was the Port. I actually used Cachaca as my Rum addition and I think that helped with the whole blend.

Portugal – Maria McClaire

Fatal Attraction

The Portuguese are big into fatalism and it has even spawned the country’s national music genre, called Fado. They are quick to use the word “oxalá”, which translated means “if only” or “hopefully”. Let’s check out some of the most popular quotes on fate and see if we can join the Portuguese and get our heads wrapped around this cosmic concept:

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.” ― Lemony Snicket

I think this quote has to be my favourite of the bunch because it greatly describes how so many different people (“the waiters”) can play varying roles in your life and can push and pull you in different directions, some of which you’ll want to travel and others you’d avoid like the plague.

Fate Cat

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” ― John Lennon

Leave it to John Lennon to confuse and interest you all at the same time. This great lyric comes from The Beatles classic, All You Need is Love, and while it’s been proven time and time again that you, in fact, need a little more than simply love, it’s certainly a wonderful start and can be the impetus for your greatest adventures!

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote would seem to say that we have more power than we think in our own lives. That the universe will follow suit and fix itself accordingly to our wishes and desires. I hope that this is accurate. I’d like to think that I drive fate and not the other way around. I’m probably wrong, but I refuse to stop believing.

“Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been fate. People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that’s a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events — the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there — that must also be a miracle. Just because it’s not nice doesn’t mean it’s not miraculous.” ― Terry Pratchett

Mrs. Sip and her sister are huge fans of Terry Pratchett and even I must admit that I dig this quote. It’s so true that the word fate gets tossed around mostly for moments of tragedy. I tend to use it much more in the positive light, such as the fate of love, friendship, and great occurrences during one’s life.

Tempting Fate

“Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.” ― Groucho Marx

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Mrs. Sip does most of our planning and that has resulted in the Sip Advisor living a charmed life, with folks regularly saying they want what I have or being interested in my activities because I lead a fun-filled, fascinating lifestyle. Keep up the good work, Mrs. Sip!

“What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.” ― Donald Trump

So, if we are to believe The Donald, I guess he didn’t react too well to fate in the following situations where he turned out to be a mega loser: the death of the United States Football League; his multiple failed marriages; and worst yet, the bungling of Trump Vodka. Gotta give the guy props for always trying, though.

Tempting Fate Kitty

“I believe in luck and fate and I believe in karma, that the energy you put out in the world comes back to meet you.” ― Chris Pine

I’m a huge believer in karma. It guides most of what I do and when things take a downturn, I’m quick to examine what I may have done to cause my own misfortune. Finding a perfect balance in your own life is something I think all folks chase and if they don’t, they end up suffering and being miserable.

“Just because Fate doesn’t deal you the right cards, it doesn’t mean you should give up. It just means you have to play the cards you get to their maximum potential.” ― Les Brown

This reminds me of the old adage: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You have to roll with what you are given and turn bad into good. If you’re lucky enough to largely get good right off the bat, then you have to embrace that and turn it into as much positivity as possible, staving off the bad as long as you can.

Portugal: Maria McClaire

Maria McClaire Martini

  • 1.5 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz Port
  • 0.5 oz Campari
  • Dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Garnish with Peach Slice

What are your thoughts on fate? Did these quotes inspire anyone out there in the Land of Sip? Did I inspire any of you to be better people? Probably not, so let’s just enjoy a quick drink together and go our separate ways!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
If you’d like to check out more Port recipes, check out this great site. When I originally made this cocktail, I had a bit of a mind lapse and used Irish Creme instead of Irish Whiskey… let’s just say things turned out much better when I realized my transgression and corrected the recipe.

New Zealand – The Star Gazer

Haka Fear

Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and the All Blacks national team is an intimidating force. First, you have these hulking behemoths and then you add in the Maori war paint and tribal dances meant to scare off opponents… that’s enough to make me forfeit a contest. Let’s learn a little more about this massively popular group:

First things first, we need to investigate the name of this squad. It comes from their all black gear, save for the silver fern across their jersey. In recent years, the All Blacks have also featured an embroidered poppy on their sleeve to salute the New Zealand soldiers who died during the World Wars and other conflicts. Both Adidas and Nike competed to outfit the national team, with Adidas winning the contract, while Nike settled for Tiger Woods.

All Blacks Training

After Charles Monro brought rugby to New Zealand in 1870, what would become the national team was first put together in 1884 for a tour of eight games in New South Wales, Australia. The club went undefeated during that trip. In 1905, the lineup referred to as the Original All Blacks, toured what is now the United Kingdom, winning 34 of 35 matches (their one loss coming controversially) and gaining a reputation as ungentlemanly players.

A dominant team, the All Blacks have won a vast majority of their test matches and have often found themselves at the top of the world rankings (all other nations combined don’t equal the All Blacks time at the top of the table). New Zealand has the only national team that owns a winning record against every team they’ve faced. In their 111-year international history, they have only been defeated by five countries.

With an all-time points differential of 13,572 to 6,615, it’s completely understandable to learn that many countries worst losses in international competition have come at the hands of the All Blacks. France, Ireland, Argentina, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan, and Portugal are all on this list. The All Blacks largest margin of victory ever was a 145-17 drubbing of Japan on June 4, 1995, while their greatest loss was only 28-7 against Australia on August 28, 1999.

All Blacks Heart

The national team has won the Rugby World Cup twice, taking home the top prize in 1987 (the inaugural event) and 2011. The All Blacks have played in all seven World Cup tournaments and hosted the competition twice. Both times they have hosted (once co-hosting with Australia), they have emerged victorious. In most years, the All Blacks enter the World Cup as the odds-on-favourite.

The Tri Nations Rugby Championship (contested between New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and later adding Argentina) has been won by the All Blacks 12 times in 18 years. The team has completed the United kingdom Grand Slam – defeating England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in the same tour – four times, achieving the feat in 1978, 2005, 2008, and 2010.

The infamous haka dance the All Blacks utilize to rev their engines and strike fear into the hearts of their opponents has been associated with the squad since 1888 and may have been used before then. The most commonly used haka is the Ka Mate. In 2005, the All Blacks unveiled a new haka, the Kapa o Pango, but this included a throat slashing gesture, which has drawn some criticism for the imagery it encourages.

All Blacks Dance

There has been close to 1,200 players to suit up for the national team, with a half dozen or so going on to be knighted or received the Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, while a handful have been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. Some of the notable stars of the squad include James Allan (member of the original 1884 team), Dave Gallagher (captain of the Originals), and Sir Fred Allen (former captain and coach).

Don Clarke, Sir Wilson Whineray, Ian Kirkpatrick, Graham Mourie, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dan Carter, Doug Howlett, Christian Cullen, and Jonah Lomu, are among other top players for the national team. Being an All Black runs in the family, as there have been numerous sets of father and sons, as well as pairs of brothers who have suited up and played for the troop.

A devoted fan base follows the national team and why wouldn’t you? It’s fun to regularly be on the winning side. I have to admit that I even bought a mini All Blacks jersey while in New Zealand to go along with my mini Manchester United kit. After years of misery supporting the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, it’s great to put my support behind teams that, you know, don’t lose so often!

New Zealand: The Star Gazer

The Star Gazer Cocktail

  • 2 oz Sauvignon Blanc Wine
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

While I’ve never been a huge rugby fan, it’s an exciting game to watch with fast-paced, hard-hitting action. When the All Blacks are on the field, you can bet you’ll see some serious ass whipping and what could be more entertaining than that!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Just like the All Blacks leave their opponents staring up at the sky, so too will this cocktail… but in a good way. I made this drink for Mrs. Sip and she enjoyed it with her only note of criticism being that it may have been better in a chilled martini glass. Duly noted and next time it will be done!

Argentina – Vampire Voodoo

Flea Kicker

Well, Argentina’s World Cup aspirations didn’t turn out exactly as they hoped thanks to the Sip Advisor’s German squad, but the country can still lay claim to the top footballer in the world today: Lionel Messi. Let’s learn a little more about the man affectionately known as La Pulga (The Flea):

Born on June 24, 1987 in Roasario, Argentina (same hometown as communist revolutionary Che Guevara), Lionel Messi has come a long way to being the wealthiest football player in the world. As a young boy, he suffered from a growth hormone deficiency and today he stands at only 5’7”. Good things come in small packages, though, as Messi has benefited from his speed and skill.

Lionel-Messi-Lionel-Organized

The future superstar’s first contract came at 13 years old and was written out on a napkin after Barcelona sporting director Carles Rexach became enamored with Messi’s play and wanted to sign him immediately. With the contract, Messi and his family were moved to Spain with the youngster’s medical bills being covered. Messi made his debut for Barcelona at the fresh age of 17 and became the youngest person to ever score for the team, at the time.

Messi became a citizen of Spain in 2005 and now holds two passports (including his Argentinian documents). La Pulga turned down a spot with the Spanish national team and made his international debut with Argentina in 2005, although it lasted all of 47 seconds when Messi came on as a substitute and was promptly given a red card for an alleged elbow.

Wearing #10 with Barcelona, Messi was given the jersey number by fellow football great Ronaldinho in 2008. The following year, Messi picked up his first Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. Those two awards were merged in 2010, with Messi winning what is now known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or a total of four consecutive times.

What Messi Sees

Messi is a scoring machine, racking up a world record 91 goals in a single year. He has recorded a staggering 365 goals, including numerous hat tricks, over his career and is still in his prime years. Messi has received praise from some of football’s greatest players ever, including fellow Argentinian Diego Maradona, who thinks of Messi as his “successor.”

Team accomplishments for Messi include: Three UEFA Champions League wins, Six La Liga championships, two Copas del Rey titles, five Supercopas de España victories, two Club World Cups, and a gold medal with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

You ready to be really jealous of Messi? Thanks to his contract and endorsement deals, it’s estimated that the soccer star earns $128,000 each day. Even better, as part of his pact with Barcelona, the club covers his income tax payments. How can the Sip Advisor get that kind of agreement!

discipline-of-funny-soccer

With his substantial wealth, Messi launched the Leo Messi Foundation, which helps provide kids with education and health care. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and is involved with helping people suffering from Fragile X Syndrome. Some of Messi’s charitable attention has been directed towards his hometown, where in 2013, he donated 600,000 pounds to the Victor J Vilela Children’s Hospital. The money was used to renovate the building’s oncology unit and fund training trips in Spain, for doctors.

In his personal life, Messi has been dating Antonella Roccuzzo since 2009. The two have a child together, named Thiago, who was born on November 2, 2012. This prompted Messi to write on his Facebook page: “Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!” At just 72 hours old, young Thiago was signed to a supporters club contract with Messi’s original club, the Newell Old Boys. For lovers of ink (and supportive, loving fathers), Messi had Thiago’s name and handprints tattooed on his left calf.

Messi Scores

A devout Roman Catholic, Messi met Pope Francis (also from Argentina) at the Vatican in 2013. He said of the experience: “Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life. We have to excel on and off the field.”

Despite the international fame and success, Messi is very shy and has been since his childhood. He does most of his communication through text messages, as he avoids talking on the phone as much as possible. Similarly, while most strikers go into epileptic fits when celebrating a goal, Messi is more likely to simply raise both arms in the air, a salute to his late grandma, who he believes is watching over him. Messi does not like to watch highlights of himself, but is a video game enthusiast, so perhaps that’s how he gets to view and appreciate his own virtual achievements. Not surprisingly, Messi has been featured on numerous video game covers.

Argentina: Vampire Voodoo

Vampire Voodoo Cocktail

  • 1 oz Malbec Wine
  • 1 oz Gin
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Raspberries

One last tidbit: Ginza Takana, a jeweler in Japan has created a solid gold replica of Messi’s left foot. The piece weighed in at 55 lbs. and was valued at $5.25 million. The proceeds of its sale are meant to help victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. That’s an artifact every Argentinian football nut would surely covet!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
As I wrote before, Malbec cocktail recipes aren’t easy to come by. Therefore, I adapted this generic Red Wine cocktail to use that beautiful 1884 Malbec. Sadly, this drink was a complete miss. One or more ingredients just wasn’t right. I still can’t figure out if the Lemon or Lime Juice was to blame or if the Gin just wasn’t hitting the right chord. Either way, I have to say that I didn’t fall under the power of Vampire Voodoo.

Australia – Stormy Weather

Criminal Crunch

Not many countries start off as another nation’s penal colony. Australia is by far the most recognized of these lands and somehow, the British castoffs sent there turned Australia into one of the most wonderful places in the world to visit, live, and love. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable convicts to be shipped down under and how they helped build the great nation of Australia:

Australia Cell Blocks

William Bland

While I believe government to be largely useless, it is a necessary evil when building a new society. Bland was a former naval surgeon who found himself in Australia because he killed a man in a duel… seems like a fair and completely reasonable way to settle an argument. Bland eventually held a seat in Australia’s legislative assembly, an early example of government criminality.

William Henry Groom

Groom followed a path similar to Bland, going from prisoner to member of the inaugural Australian Parliament. I guess you can’t fault a penal colony for having members of its government being former convicts. Sadly, Groom died shortly after his appointment and never got to fully enjoy the perks of being an elected official (money, power, drugs… the Rob Ford special!).

James Squire

Now, here’s a guy who deserves massive recognition for his contributions to early Australia society. Squire was one of the original convicts to come over to Australia and being first was a recurrent theme for him. He later became the country’s first brewer and brands like Tooheys and Victoria Bitter have him to thank their legacy. Showing the importance of alcohol in any society, Squire’s death in 1822 spawned the biggest funeral held in the colony days.

VB Kangaroo

Jørgen Jørgensen

Not many folks can claim to be the ruler of Iceland, but Jørgensen was one of those peeps. He arrested the Danish Governor (almost as bad as The Walking Dead’s Governor), with intentions of giving Iceland their freedom, but that was squashed by Denmark. The eccentric adventurer, as Jørgensen’s been described, was a spy for a spell for the UK, translating documents and working throughout France and Germany. He wound up a convict in Australia and upon his release explored Tasmania.

William Chopin

This fella kind of went full circle, as he flourished working in a prison hospital and went into chemistry after receiving his ticket of leave. Unfotunately, his skills as a chemist landed him back in jail later, as he went into the illegal abortion business. He was the ‘chemist gone bad’ centuries before Breaking Bad ever aired.

John Kelly

Sometimes it takes a generation to make your mark on society, as is the case for John Kelly, whose son Ned gained notoriety as a Robin Hood-type folk hero, battling the establishment with his band of not-so-merry men (colloquially referred to as Kelly’s gang, but that’s such a harsh term) and becoming an outlaw in the process. Ned Kelly was later executed for his crimes, but his legend has grown thanks to movies starring Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger. He’s even featured on an Irish stamp.

Ned Kelly

John Davies

As a writer, I believe information (as well as entertainment) is essential in getting a nation rolling. After his release from prison, Davies co-founded The Mercury newspaper in 1854. The daily publication, servicing Hobart, Tasmania, still exists to this day. The company remained in the Davies family until 1988 when it was taken over by what is now News Corp Australia.

James Ruse

Without food, we’re all screwed… well, except perhaps Ghandi. Anyway, Ruse was responsible for the first successful wheat harvest in New South Wales (where the first convict ships landed to settle). Today, an Agricultural High School (the Aussies really push you to choose your career path early) is named after him and students spend their days riding tractors and shucking corn.

Henry Kable

While the world is always becoming more litigious, to have dropped the first lawsuit on a nation is quite the feat. Kable’s civil suit was over a parcel of goods to be given to he and his wife upon arrival at the Australian penal colony, but it was stolen en route. Kable successfully sued the ship’s captain for £15, even more impressive given prisoners were considered dead by law at the time and had no rights. It’s no surprise then, that Kable later became a wealthy businessman, probably turning his legal windfall into a fortune.

Lawsuit

Robert Sidaway

What is a society without entertainment? Sidaway opened Australia’s first theatre (and we’re not talking about one of those talking pictures types), in Sydney, in 1796. Back then, you could pay for seats using money, flour, meat, or alcohol. If alcohol was a currency nowadays, I’d be filthy rich (instead of just filthy!). The theatre featured performances of Shakespearean and other English works, but was shut down by authorities in 1800, as it was deemed a corrupting influence.

Mary Wade

Wade was the youngest female convict shipped away, leaving the UK for Australia at only 11 years old. By the time she passed away at age 82, she had 21 children and more than 300 descendants, leaving a family tree that now adds up to tens of thousands and includes former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Now that, my little sippers, is a legacy.

Australia: Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Shiraz/Syrah Wine
  • 1.5 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Float Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice and Raspberry

Coming from a lineage of scoundrels and miscreants, that explains the likes of Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe, but not Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee, and others of that ilk. Australia, forever mystifying outside observers with their citizen’s contrasting personality traits… I think I just came up with a new tagline for the country!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Another good Shiraz/Syrah cocktail has me really enjoying the Little Penguin Wine. The Ginger Ale was solid, as usual, and of particular pleasure was the Appleton Rum I used. You could get a hint of it with each sip and it was an absolutely delicious touch to the rest of the recipe.