Flavour Revolution – Coconut

Hard as a Rock

The coconut has so much potential and can be used in so many ways. In Sanskrit, coconuts are called kalpa vriksha, which translates to “the tree which provides all the necessities of life” (that’s a lot of words for a short original term). Likewise, in Malay, it is known as pokok seribu guna, meaning “the tree of a thousand uses”. Finally, in the Philippines, the coconut is called the “tree of life”. Let’s take a look at some of the many uses the coconut can provide:

Welcome Weapon

In one of wrestling’s most infamous and controversial scenes, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper invited ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka onto his Piper’s Pit talk show, only to insult the Fijian high-flyer, before walloping him across the head with a coconut. This launched a heated feud between the two superstars that lasted all the way to the inaugural WrestleMania event, with Snuka being in the corner of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T as they battled Piper and Paul Orndorff, with ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton as their cornerman.

Urban Legend

Death by Coconut” became a mainstream fear, following the publishing of a report on the subject, in the mid 1980’s. Some claims stated that 150 people die each year of blows to the head via falling coconuts and this was exacerbated when an expert on shark attacks stated these numbers to ease people’s fears of sharks (ie. “you’re more likely to die from coconut trauma than a shark attack”). While it was used for humour on Gilligan’s Island, there are some recorded incidents of death by coconut.

Island Ingenuity

Speaking of Gilligan’s Island, the Professor managed to somehow cobble together a radio and other devices, using coconuts and bamboo… and yet he couldn’t just repair their damn boat!? This radio sparked a number of adventures for the deserted castaways, as they were informed of events going on in the outside world and the occasional chance at rescue by groups or vessels that might be in the area.

Clothing, etc.

The coconut bra is more likely to be found worn by Polynesian women at Hawaiian luaus… that or girls attending Hawaiian-themed college parties. My only concern would be potential splinters, but I guess I’m not wearing them anyways, so why should I worry. Coconuts have also been used as armor, from using shells as helmets to weaving the fibers together to guard the body from stones and other sharp armaments.

Coconut Bras

Movie Magic

The half coconut shell, is routinely used in the sound effects world. Perhaps most famously, it was used in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail to make the clip-clop sounds of imaginary horses. The comedy troupe used the coconuts rather than real-life horses, not just for a few laughs, but also because the animals were expensive and the movie’s budget was getting stretched thin. They certainly turned a negative into a positive, though, and created one of history’s funniest gags.

Gas Masks

During World War I, the first war to see toxic gases used in battle, coconut char was used to develop masks that would “scrub” the air clean. At least soldiers didn’t have to strap a coconut across their face. How goofy would that have looked!? Coconut carbon is still used today to clean up mankind’s messes, including leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant, caused by the massive earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011.

Drink Container

Mrs. Sip loves getting served a drink inside a coconut, likely because once she’s done, she often gets to enjoy the meat on the inside of the shell. One street server in Belize tracked us down after giving us a strongly-poured rum drink earlier, just so he could slash up the tough shell and open up the treat for us. Other times, the coconut is carved on the outside, typically to make it look like a monkey.

Flavour Revolution: The Heat

The Heat Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Coconut Shavings
  • 1.5 oz 1800 Coconut Tequila
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Of course, we also have the various coconut-flavoured alcohols out there, including rums, vodka, liqueurs, and today’s unique tequila libation. Let’s also not forget about all the food that the coconut provides, including a favourite of Mrs. Sip, coconut shrimp!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This is the only recipe 1800 offers on their website for the Coconut Tequila. I really wish they would add more, as finding drink ideas for this particular style of liquor is difficult. Shake the cocktail with a few Jalapeno Slices, but don’t go too crazy or you’ll burn your taste buds right off your tongue. Whenever I’m working with jalapeno, I go very light on any muddling or shaking, as all I want is a light burn at the end of each sip. This recipe is really good, tasting exquisite and looking fantastic… thanks to a few artistic additions, courtesy the Sip Advisor!

Estonia – Hammer & Sickle

Free as a Bird

Freedom… it’s something most of us take for granted. We wouldn’t do that, however, if we had been occupied by one empire after another for hundreds of years. Estonia (our next stop as we tour the liquor universe) has been listed as one of the freest countries in the world, following centuries of control by other countries. It’s a long and winding road, so buckle up and enjoy the ride to liberty.

meanwhile-in-estonia

If this doesn’t say freedom, I don’t know what does!

While Estonia was a long holdout in converting to Christianity during the Middle Ages, Pope Celestine III made sure that came to an end, calling for a crusade against the pagans of Northern Europe. In 1208, present-day Estonia was raided and despite resistance and fighting for many years, the country was finally conquered by Denmark in the north and Germany in the south. Around the same time, some Swedish people – including descendants of the legendary Swedish Chef – also settled into Estonian coastal land. The Germans became the ruling elite of Estonia by the end of the Middle Ages.

Fighting over Estonian land persisted for hundreds of years with Northern Estonia falling under Swedish control, while Southern Estonia briefly found itself under rule by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (ah, the PLC… not a group to meddle with). In 1625 the Swedes captured much of mainland Estonia and absorbed it into their growing empire. Estonia accepted this occupation, in exchange for protection against Russia and Poland. Kind of like a smart, but small kid recruiting a tougher, cool kid (although Sweden’s cool factor can be debated for hours on end) for protection against bullies.

When Russia defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War of the early 1700’s, they gained control of Estonia, although the legal system, governments, and education was mostly German up until the late 1800’s and in some cases, the first World War. The Russian Revolution of 1905 changed the landscape of Estonian life, but also opened the door for the country to gain autonomy.

Bread Freedom

Following World War I and the fall of the Russian Empire, Estonia declared its independence on February 23, 1918. It wasn’t long before they were back fighting, however, as the Red Army invaded just days after a provisional Estonian government was in place and the Estonian War of Independence lasted the next couple years. On June 15, 1920, Estonia adopted their first constitution and even joined the League of Nations in 1921, but we all know how that ended!

There was more trouble brewing for Estonia, however, as en route to a presidential election in 1934, Konstantin Päts, the head of state, became the country’s authoritarian ruler. The next period of life in Estonia was known as the Era of Silence. I’m praying this term also one day describes the death of reality TV. Political parties were banned and the parliament did not hold session from 1934 to 1938. Instead, Päts ruled by decree, much like the Sip Advisor does around the company headquarters!

As if things couldn’t get any worse, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939. The deal saw the two countries split up the nations the lay between them (Estonia, Finland, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia). Estonia went to the Soviet Union in the fantasy draft and it wasn’t long before the regime moved into its new territory.

Estonia Girls

The USSR occupied Estonia from 1940 to 1941 and during that time arrested over 8,000 citizens, executing more than a quarter of them. Next up, the German Nazi regime invaded. While originally welcomed, with hopes that Estonia could return to being an independent state, those wishes were quickly dashed by goose-stepping and swastikas.

World War II was not kind to Estonia and its people. The population decreased by about 200,000 people, with 80,000 fleeing West and 30,000 soldiers killed in action. Much of the land was destroyed, including ports, railways, and industrial and residential areas. As the Germans withdrew from the country, the USSR swooped in and put Soviet rule in place, arresting and executing those who opposed the takeover. Poor Estonia couldn’t buy a break.

Hidden behind the ‘red curtain,’ a movement known as the ‘Forest Brothers’ grew – similar to Robin Hood and his Merry Men, but minus the awesome songs of the Disney and Men in Tights offerings. They opposed the Soviet occupation and grew to approximately 30,000 members. Their resistance was ultimately unsuccessful and it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the tide began to change and Estonia reached for sovereignty again. The 1990’s brought free elections, a new congress, and a referendum on independence.

Free Turtle

Estonia’s confirmation of independence occurred on August 20, 1991. The day has become a national holiday as a result and features Will Smith battling aliens to save the world. On June 28, 1992, Estonians approved a draft constitution and on September 20, 1992, Lennart Meri was elected president, choosing Mart Laar as prime minister.

Things continued to roll along for Estonia as the new millennium approached. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro currency in 2011. In recent years, Estonia has found itself ranked first in Internet Freedom (so much porn!) and World Liberty. Congrats to everyone who made it all happen!

Estonia: Hammer & Sickle

Hammer & Sickle Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Mint and Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Vana Tallinn
  • Dash of Brown Sugar
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint Sprig

What’s next for the Baltic nation is unknown, but I sincerely hope things continue on an upswing. It’s a beautiful country and one I consider to be a hidden gem when touring Northern Europe.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Being the King of Mojitos comes with great responsibility… it means that you always have to be on the lookout for new variations to master. I wanted to try this recipe because the Vana Tallinn and Brown Sugar change things up from your usual Mojito Recipe and this cocktail is a keeper. The Vana Tallinn, which carries a vanilla flavour, makes for a delicious Mojito ingredient, getting along very well with the Brown Sugar and even the Mint and Lime Wedges. I took the drink name from Vana Tallinn’s Wikipedia page and although it was meant for another concoction, because citation was needed, I decided to steal the moniker for myself!

Austria – Green Tear

Not Just a Band

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated on June 28, 1914, he had absolutely no clue what his murder would instigate. Despite being the major catalyst for the first World War, this Austrian ruler is a largely forgotten footnote in history. Thankfully, the Sip Advisor is here to teach and while sipping a glass of the country’s fine schnaps, here is a little information on ol’ ‘Double F’ and the tragedy that would change the world!

First World War Problems

Growing Up

Ferdinand and his family lived by the motto: “Good Habsburgs (his family lineage), Good Catholics, and Good Austrians”… that just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “A Lannister always pays their debts.”

At the age of 11, Ferdinand found himself one of the wealthiest men in Austria, after his cousin Duke Francis V died and named Franz his heir on the condition that he add the name Este to his own. Hell, to become one of the wealthiest men in Austria, I’d tattoo the name Este on my member! Rumour has it Ferdinand also had to spend one night in a haunted house, but many are skeptical of this account.

Ferdinand may have never found himself the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne had it not been for his cousin Prince Rudolf (aged 30) committing suicide with his 17-year-old mistress in 1889. Karl Ludwig, Ferdinand’s father, became second in line behind Franz Josef, but quickly renounced the position and passed the rights down to his son.

Throne of Games

As a youngster, Ferdinand spent very little time in Austria, often travelling the world searching for cures to his never-ending stream of illnesses.

Ferdinand’s relationship with the citizens of Austria was always strained due to his lack of time spent within the country’s borders and the feeling that he was an outsider. And not one of those cool greaser outsiders like Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, or Matt Dillon. He still managed to somehow stay gold, though.

An avid hunter, Ferdinand always made sure to schedule at least one hunting trip as part of any official travel for the Empire. He kept a running tab of his hunting exploits and stories state that he killed 2140 birds in one day. My belief is that he wanted to assemble an army of undead animals to do his bidding.

Ferdinand was passionate about landscaping outdoors and interior design inside and was constantly on the lookout for a property in need of fixing up. He could be considered one of the world’s first home flippers. Ferdinand’s eclectic tastes also helped him build a great antique collection, which included 3750 pieces of St. George and the Dragon. Clearly, he had a thing for slaying mythical beasts.

slain da dragon

Finding Love

Women always have a way of muddling things up and that was no different for Ferdinand. His wife Sophie was from a lower social class and even though Franz Josef stated he would not consent to Franz and Sophie’s marriage, the two wed on June 28, 1900. The catch was that Sophie could never receive an official royal title and their children could not succeed Ferdinand as ruler. As a result, Sophie rarely appeared in public beside her husband.

Franz and Sophie had three children: Sophie (I guess you’d call her junior), Maximilian (a name which I hope to bring back to present day popularity), and Ernst (a name which I have no joke to deploy upon).

Sophie was finally allowed to accompany Franz on official business for the empire for his trip to Bosnia in June 1914. The end of the visit would also mark their 14th wedding anniversary. The couple arrived in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, which is also St. Vitus Day, commemorating the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.

cat-battle

Surprise Attack

The Battle of Kosovo made a martyr out of Milos Obilic, who snuck into the Ottoman Sultan’s tent and killed him before receiving the same fate himself.

Serbians viewed the Austria-Hungary Empire as their new oppressors and there had been other attempted attacks on high-ranking Austria-Hungary members before Ferdinand’s death.

The Black Hand (must have caught a case of gangrene), which carried out the assassination of Franz and Sophie were also responsible for the murders of King Alexander and Queen Draga of Serbia. This act of treachery was committed while the two were together in bed… what a way to go!

Death Sting

First, a grenade was hurled at Ferdinand’s procession by Nedlejko Cabrinovic, but it detonated behind his vehicle and he was not harmed. While any normal person would halt their little parade there, Ferdinand was urged to continue by General Oskar Potiorek who asked, “What, do you think my city is full of assassins?”

Ferdinand insisted that if the trip continued, only major routes should be used and no side streets… unfortunately his own driver was never delivered this message. When the driver took the first schedule turn, there was assassin Gavrilo Princip, waiting for him. Princip had earlier tried to get a shot in at Ferdinand and when he couldn’t retreated to the side street in dejection.

Princip fired only two shots, one into Franz’s neck, the other into Sophie’s stomach. Both proved to be fatal. Ferdinand’s final words to his wife were “’Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!”

Assassination

The Aftermath

Princip and his fellow assassins were rounded up and put on trial. Because he was under the age of 20, Princip did not receive the death penalty and was instead sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. Princip died in his jail cell on April 28, 1918 from tuberculosis. His illness was so bad that his right arm was amputated before his death.

Upon Franz’s assassination, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, etc.) declared war on Serbia, drawing Serbia’s allies (the UK, Russia, France, etc.) into the fray and creating the first World War.

The 1911 Gräf & Stift Double Phaeton automobile, which carried Franz and Sophie during their fateful procession, is now displayed at the Museum of Military History in Vienna. It’s no Batmobile, but it has its own place in history. The pistol used by Princip, as well as the clothing Ferdinand died in are also displayed at the museum.

Future Museums

The bullet that killed Ferdinand, sometimes referred to as “the bullet that started World War I” is part of an exhibit at Konopiště Castle in the Czech Republic.

Franz and Sophie are buried at Arstetten Castle in Austria. In memoriam, Austria-Hungary released a commemorative stamp featuring the couple. One day there will be a Sip Advisor stamp tribute that will taste like schnaps with each lick!

Austria: Green Tear

Green Tear Cocktail

  • 1 oz Mata Hari Absinthe
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Tonic Water
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

Well, that wraps up our stay here in Austria. It should be noted that the country can also claim to be home to famous world citizens like Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. That would be an interesting table to sit at for a dinner party!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Well, as you can see, the drink is certainly not green. On the plus side, this was a really decent Absinthe cocktail. I think the combo of Cranberry Juice and Tonic Water is perfect to go along with the very bitter Absinthe. If you’re weary of the hallucinogenic spirit, give this recipe a try and your mind may be changed for the long run!

December 7 – Winter is Coming

Yuletide Legends

Urban legends can be so fascinating. Movies and websites have been made to cover all of the crazy (yet sometimes true) theories out there. And Christmas is not safe from urban legends. Here are some of the most intriguing:

Suicidal Dream

Christmas is supposed to be one of happiest times of the year. For some, though, that just makes it all the more miserable. But the theory that more people commit suicide during the holidays over any other time of the year is pure myth. So, while the holidays may drive you crazy, as you visit with relatives you don’t particularly care for and battle with fellow shoppers to find the perfect gifts… it at least won’t drive you to kill yourself!

Assisted_Suicide

Candied Cane

While we recognize peppermints and candy canes as often being coloured red and white, a rumour has persisted that there’s more to the iconic image than just flavour. Some have insinuated that the candy cane is a symbol for Jesus Christ; the red representing his blood, and the white his purity, as well as the shape being a ‘J’. It’s simply not true, however, so feel free to eat your Jesus canes at all hours of the day and with complete disregard towards religious persecution.

The Brotherhood of the Travelling Pants

Let’s get a true legend into this piece. Apparently, two brother-in-laws spent 25 years trading a pair of pants back-and-forth as a Christmas gift, each year finding a more inventive way of exchanging the slacks. The tradition began in the 1960’s and involved the pants being stuffed into a thin pipe, baled, and even added to a concrete mix. The pants were finally destroyed when they were to be encased in molten glass, but were burned to ashes, accidentally. Kind of makes me hope I never have a brother-in-law!

Won’t Someone Think of the Children

We’ve all seen those donation boxes at Wal-Mart and other outlets that say toys bought in the store can be donated to needy children… well, it seems this case went awry when the donated toys were returned to store shelves for resale. At the Sterling, Colorado location, managers wanted gifts to be wrapped in a Wal-Mart bag to prove the item had been purchased and not simply taken off the shelf and tossed in the box. Of course, staff made the mistake of putting the box in an unsupervised spot in the first place and should have just taken a loss on any possible donations through mischief.

walmart-gene-pool

Unlikely Allies

We’ve all heard the story that German and Allied troops took a break from their World War I fighting on Christmas Day in 1914 to exchanged gifts, sing carols, and even play some footie (soccer for you North American blokes). Well, all of that is, in fact, true! There’s nothing like partying with your enemy. This is why I’m always celebrating with Mrs. Sip! The 1914 truce eventually ended (as does many of my armistices with Mrs. Sip) and future attempts to come together on Christmas didn’t pan out. The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918.

Only in Canada

Sometimes I love this little country of ours. Okay, so it’s actually a massive country, but that’s not the point. If you’ve ever wondered how to reach ol’ Santy Claus, apparently us Canucks even gave the jolly fat man a postal code. It’s H0H 0H0… that’s right, it reads Ho Ho Ho! Pretty clever stuff, am I right!? Every letter sent to this address is answered, even if it comes in a foreign language or even Braille. The postal code was established in 1982 does not require postage and even return letters are free of charge!

City of Santa Hate

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, but clearly not so much in the sports world, where fans of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles actually booed Santa Claus when he appeared during a game in December 1968. The Eagles had experienced a dreadful season that year, finishing with a 2-12 record and conditions at the game were horrible, with cold temperatures, slushy seats, and falling snow. The half-time Christmas Pageant ended with Santa being pelted with snowballs from much of the Philadelphia faithful. I hope they all received coal for Christmas!

Drink #341: Winter is Coming (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Winter is Coming Shooter

There are, of course, so many other urban legends to do with the Christmas season. So many that I can’t possibly fit them all in. If you’re interested in more, head over to Snopes and browse away to your heart’s content!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Based off of the catchphrase Winter is Coming from Game of Thrones, I decided to combine my alcohols that had the word “frost” in their title. The Crowberry Frost Liqueur is quite ironic because crows play a large role in the Game of Thrones story and there’s even an entire pack that dresses like the filthy bird. As for taste, it was pretty good. The Perma Frost Liqueur is strong, but not unpleasant and the Crowberry Liqueur adds a touch of sweetness to the shooter.