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Summit Avenue Romanesque architectureWhat is Summit Sips?
Summit Sips is an ongoing collection of musings about recipes, techniques, tools and other cocktail-related topics. Subjects include classic and contemporary cocktails, homemade ingredients, bars, restaurants and events. The best thing about Summit Sips is the focus on suggestions, opportunities and solutions that are appropriate for anyone. You don't have to be an expert to understand the details. We often share seasonal ideas, explain typical ingredients or share information about unusual items in an attempt to bring something exotic back home.

Why Summit?
Inspired by the rich local history of Saint Paul, Minnesota and the majestic peaks of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, Summit Sips is named for both a midwestern city's historic neighborhood and an artful dream to explore the Pacific Northwest.

St. Paul's Summit Avenue lines the northern border of the Summit Hill neighborhood. It is the longest stretch of residential Victorian architecture in the United States. From the Mississippi River to the heart of downtown, this Gilded Era avenue includes more than 400 houses, thirteen churches and nine schools. Of the homes constructed between 1856 and 1880, 85% have survived. It is a favorite place for walking, running, strolling babies, rollerblading and casual drives to marvel at it's grandiosity.

In addition to it's architectural history, St. Paul enjoys a fascinating connection with the prohibition gangster-era and was home to such notable figures as John Dillinger, Ma Barker, Alvin Karpis and many other notorious personalities. What made the city unique was the "arrangement" these criminals had with law enforcement. As long as resident gangsters and their visiting associates agreed to check-in, they could freely enjoy themselves within the city limits—just so long as they did not commit any crimes. St. Paul became the safest city around and was a popular destination for visitors like Al Capone. It's this colorful history that makes Summit a good name choice for topics that often find their roots within the same historical context.

Over the course of writing and expanding our knowledge of cocktails through classic styles and formulas,  we also explored contemporary creativity which led us to Portland, Oregon. Here, the local culture and culinary attitudes have blended beautifully with historic ideals against a backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks. Once again, Summit seems to be an appropriate description.

W. W. Bishop House, 1891Who's writing this stuff?
Former St. Paul resident Randy Hanson writes about his ongoing exploration of cocktails, food and related subjects. By demystifying techniques, demonstrating how to use unusual ingredients and sharing the results, Randy sheds new light on the familiar and reveals details of the unknown—bringing the international mixology craze home to midwesterners, north westerners, or wherever you happen to live.

Randy Hanson is a technology professional, visual artist, business analyst, stained glass aficionado and pottery enthusiast who enjoys cooking, antique furniture, and old lightbulbs. When he's not combing estate sales with his wife, building lamps or grilling, you might find him online or exploring caves. Although he is a BarSmarts certified member of the NorthStar Bartenders Guild that loves to play host at cocktail parties, Randy is not a foodservice professional or bartender.

In addition to writing for Summit Sips, Mr. Hanson runs a studio business called Studio Hanson were he explores antique lighting restoration, stained glass window design and repair, building museum-quality Tiffany lampshades as well as technology, graphic design and marketing projects. He spends his days consulting as a business systems analyst.

Suggestions?
If there is something you would like to see reviewed or a subject you'd like to know more about, you may contact Randy with your questions and he will do his best to find the answer for you. If it's something others could enjoy, it might even become the subject of a future article.

Samples and Advertising
Are there samples of a product that you would like tested or a tool that needs an honest review? Are you curious about advertising on SummitSips.com? Contact Randy for shipping arrangements, site analytics details and for assistance with ad banners, badges and linking to your site.

Disclaimer
It's often difficult to document cocktail recipes without mentioning specific products by name. In many cases, certain brands of spirits, liqueurs, bitters etc. offer flavors that are unique and may be required in order to properly complete a recipe. In addition, photographs that reveal product names, logos or promotional imagery do not typically represent an endorsement—just an honest disclosure of the tools or ingredients used—since access to alternatives may not always be available.

That said, Summit Sips does sometimes recommend certain products believed to be superior for the task or recipe at hand. Occasionally, Summit Sips receives product samples and although it isn't always the case, you should assume that a product described or reviewed on Summit Sips may have been sent for that purpose free of charge.