Russia – Estate Cocktail

Pricey Souvenir

Anyone travelling in Russia has to pick up a Fabergé Egg (or at least a suitable knockoff), but what do we really know about these expensive and fragile relics? Luckily, the Sip Advisor is here for all your antiquity needs!

The famous jewel-covered eggs were created by artist Peter Carl Fabergé, starting in 1885. They were originally given by Tsar Alexander III to his wife as an Easter morning treat and continued by Alexander’s son Nicholas II (to his wife and mother), leading up to the Russian Revolution. Of the approximately 50 ‘Imperial’ eggs the House of Fabergé created, 43 still exist. Not that I’m complaining, but all I ever got for Easter was chocolate and candy!

Group Faberge eggs.

Fabergé’s first creation was dubbed the ‘Hen Egg,’ which featured a seemingly ordinary egg, but inside was gold yolk that contained a golden hen (with ruby eyes, no less) on a nest of gold. And the gifts kept coming. Inside the hen was a miniature diamond version of the royal crown, as well as a ruby egg pendant that could be worn as a necklace. While the Hen Egg is among those that have survived, the gifts inside have been lost to time (a sad, but common theme among the eggs).

Other famous eggs include the Diamond Trellis, Rosebud, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Basket of Wild Flowers, Moscow Kremlin, Rose Trellis, Standart Yacht, Colonnade, Napoleonic, Winter, and the unfinished Constellation. Constellation was never completed and presented thanks to the Russian Revolution taking place and the royal family being executed.

Eggs were made each year, except for 1904 and 1905, when Russia was at war with Japan. As the legend of the eggs grew, Fabergé picked up more clients, including industrialist Alexander Kelch, the Duchess of Marlborough, and the Rothschild and Yusupov families. Each egg contained hidden gifts, usually trinkets such as pendants and other jewelry that could be worn by the recipient.

Dos Equis Faberge

Some of the eggs ended up in private collections, while others are on display in museums around the world. Most of the eggs that are missing are thought to still be out there somewhere, while a few have certainly been destroyed, with little reference to them following the Russian Revolution. Next time Easter rolls around, you better be careful about what you discard and what you examine a little closer.

One of the ‘Imperial’ eggs was almost sold as scrap metal. Although the unidentified owner was looking to take home $500 from melting down the piece, the egg was actually worth $33 million US. Thankfully, the owner didn’t get the money he was hoping to score and kept the item. Thought to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of the antique world, it was last listed in an auction book in 1964 before it was located earlier this year.

Cracked Faberge

Fabergé Eggs were Russia’s featured showcase for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. This earned Fabergé, his two sons, and his head workmaster awards from the French government, as well as boosted the company’s profile and client list. The main Fabergé outlet still exists in St. Petersburg. Although it has been renamed, it is still known as the Fabergé store.

As for the artist, Fabergé was forced to flee Russia during the October Revolution of 1917. His company was seized by the new Bolshevik government and broken up. Fabergé died in 1920 at the age of 74, after taking refuge in Switzerland (following stops in Latvia, Germany, and Finland). The Fabergé brand has never disappeared, first being operated by Fabergé’s children before being purchased by larger corporations, which use the name for colognes and perfumes.

Russia: Estate Cocktail

Estate Cocktail

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 oz Beluga Vodka
  • Top with Grapefruit Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Mint Leaf

Another Russian treasure is the Matryoshka Dolls (or Nesting Dolls) which feature progressively smaller figures as you open each doll. There are sets for Russian presidents, various holidays, and other famous figures. While in Russia, I picked up a Christmas set for Ma Sip and a Beatles set for Pa Sip. Both were really neat and a perfect memento to bring back as souvenirs.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail comes from the Rum Howler, who has a great site reviewing a bunch of different spirits and including a recipe with each post. I used Squirt instead of Grapefruit Juice to add some fizz to the cocktail and it was a nice addition. It basically turned into a Vodka-based Mojito and with that beautiful Beluga Vodka, it was a knockout of a cocktail!

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July 30 – Maple Donut

Mmmm, Donuts!

One of The Sip Advisor’s favourite snack treats is the donut, despite the rarity in which I actually indulge in having one (after all, I can’t look as good as I do without a little effort in self-discipline!). Let’s take a little look at some of the more interesting bits and bites I was able to dig up on such a treasured subject!

The donut is the favourite food of Homer Simpson and he isn’t alone. It’s estimated that 10 billion donuts are made annually in the U.S. and the average American will eat 63 of these snacks each year.

National Donut Day occurs on the first Friday of every June and celebrates volunteers with the Salvation Army providing World War I veterans with the treat nearly a century ago. Sadly, Canada doesn’t recognize this holiday, but donut chains like Krispy Kreme, which have expanded into the country, extend the same free donut offer they do in the U.S. to their Canadian customers.

Donut Day

The glazed donut is by far the world’s most popular selection and only contains 200 calories on average. Other more “health conscious” breakfast items such as bagels or croissants will rack you up much more than that in calory content.

According to WhitePages.com, 10 people in the United States have the name Donut or Doughnut. I’m not sure if this is a hippy thing or just a snack treat loving thing.

At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, the donut was lauded as the “Hit Food of the Century of Progress”… that’s some serious street cred!

The art of dunking a donut into coffee was popularized by Clark Gable in the movie It Happened One Night. Legend persists though, that actress Mae Murray was the first to ever try this combination when she accidentally dropped her snack into a cup of java.

Voodoo Doughnut in Oregon has become world famous for their unique recipes and eclectic business operations. It even performs marriage ceremonies, providing donuts and coffee for the reception. Some of Voodoo’s fascinating recipes include the Captain My Captain, featuring Captain Crunch cereal on top of vanilla frosting and the Bacon-Maple Bar, with strips of crispy bacon. It also experiments with other cereals, such as Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs, and many of Voodoo’s doughnuts have a sexual or occult overtone. The company used to offer NyQuil Glazed and Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnuts, but local health officials kyboshed those varieties.

voodoo doughnut

Tim Horton’s, Canada’s largest contribution to the coffee and donut game, was founded by a former NHL player of the same name. Sadly, while he enjoyed some success with the business, he never saw the company grow into what it has become, dying after a high-speed police chase. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of his death. It may be a little ironic that Tim Horton’s has an annual Roll-Up the Rim to Win prize campaign, when its founder died rolling his sports car. On a positive note, despite Horton’s widow selling the family’s shares in the company for $1 million to Horton’s business partner and co-founder, Ron Joyce, Joyce’s son and Horton’s daughter later got married, bringing the Horton family back into the ownership fold.

Speaking of donut shops, I’m proud to say that Canada has more outlets per capita than any other country in the world. That’s some impressive stuff from my countrymen! Sadly, we can’t claim to have created the largest donut ever, as that unsurprisingly goes to the U.S. with a jelly donut weighting 1.7 tons.

There is much debate over doughnut vs. donut. I prefer donut and will only use the other form if that is the actual name of a company… enough of this arguing though, it’s time for some pastry snacking of the solid and liquid variety!

Drink #211: Maple Donut (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

July 30

Do you have any donut trivia to pass along to me? I’ll just be sitting here downing a Long John or two and sipping away at this terrific martini. But don’t worry about disturbing me… it was bound to happen sooner or later!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
On a whim, I put together this little recipe and it was a hit with the entire Sip Alliance. My only regret is that I didn’t have a donut or Timbit (Canadian donut hole) around to garnish the cocktail with. Oh well, will have to remember this slip up in the future.