Sip Trips #123: Wedded Bliss

Last week was a very busy one for myself and Mrs. Sip. We were members of a friend’s wedding party and there were a number of events to attend and breweries and restaurants to visit during our stay in the North Vancouver area.

Our first stop was the Tap & Barrel Shipyards location, which served host to the rehearsal dinner. There, I ordered the PB&J Burger, which was fantastic. I’ve had the burger on other occasions, but this was hands down the best version of it I have experienced. As for drinks, I chose pints of Mount Arrowsmith Comfortably Chum Hef and Hearthstone Magodes White IPA. I had also wanted to try the 33 Acres of Cashmere Red Ale, but it was tapped out.

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The next day, we visited Boston Pizza for a drink after I finished work. I picked the Whiskey BBQ Bacon Caesar, which had a really interesting smoky barbecue flavour to go with the usual Caesar blend. Following that beverage, we hit the nearby BC Liquor Store to pick up some supplies for the room. We snagged the Doan’s Brewing Happy Pack, which is comprised of two tall cans each of their Rye IPA, Kolsch, Stout, and seasonal Crystal Weiss.

After a brief respite in our room, we journeyed to Beere Brewing Company, where I had a serving of their recently released Cherry Willis Imperial Stout. The brew was very nice, featuring flavours of cherry and cacao. The night wrapped with one more brewery stop, as I showed an out-of-town friend the North Van scene, popping into Green Leaf Brewing for a pint of their Azacca Cadabra ISA.

Saturday was the wedding, and with an open bar on the docket, a lot of drinking was done. I visited the bar so many times that I had a good relationship going with the bartender, who complimented my alcohol tolerance, as well as the cuteness of Baby Sip, who was enjoying her first wedding and was very well-behaved throughout.

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Following a couple days off to recharge the batteries after the wedding, we were back at it Tuesday night, first stopping at Earl’s Kitchen + Bar for a happy hour beverage. I chose their Rhino Pale Ale, which is served in a massive, intimidating glass. Our evening entertainment was supplied by Relish The Pub and their weekly trivia night. One difference with Relish’s trivia, compared to other local options, is that each table pays a $5 entry, with that money going towards the BC Cancer Foundation. While we have yet to win anything during our few visits to Relish, the prizes are quite good (gift cards and pitchers of beer), so we will have to try our luck again in the future.

Mrs. Sip’s birthday is this weekend, so it will be another busy “break”. The Sip Advisor will be slinging drinks at a joint birthday party for Mrs. Sip and a friend, as the hosts are moving out at the end of the month and are looking to get rid of some liquor bottles. Should be a lot of fun!

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Love & Hate #1: Airports

The Sip Advisor is full of a lot of hate… but with that, also comes love. This new feature to the website will look at a certain subject and dissect three items I love and three items I hate within the topic. Up first, airports from around the world. Here are the ones the Sip Advisor doesn’t mind spending time in:

London, United Kingdom

The amount of times I’ve been day drunk in London-Heathrow Airport is quite impressive. On one trip in particular, Mrs. Sip and I were served – for free – full Gimlet and Vesper cocktails, as Duty Free locations were showing off gin and vodka products. There are also usually a few Whiskeys or Scotches available to sample and you can attain quite a buzz between flights. Heathrow is also a great place to get souvenirs, such as British chocolate bars.

Vancouver, Canada

At times, I have had an odd love-hate relationship with my hometown airport. I didn’t like going because it often meant sending Mrs. Sip off on her next great adventure. In the same breath, the site was nothing but joy when she would return from her journeys. It has also been the location of my own trips abroad… but every time you return, the airport is home to the celebration. Vancouver International is also a beautiful facility with transportation directly to Downtown Vancouver.

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Las Vegas, USA

Slot machines inside an airport… what isn’t there to love about this place! With all the times I have been through Las Vegas’ McCarran International, I have never had a bad experience. There’s an energy in this airport that simply can’t be recreated elsewhere. Not to mention, the commute from airport to Las Vegas Strip is incredibly short and keeps the good vibes rolling and party potential optimized.

Narrowly missing my love list were Edmonton (great place to do an airport pub crawl), Amsterdam (seriously, the place has not one but two McDonalds), and Taipei (where hours can be spent checking out each of their themed boarding areas). Now let’s move onto the worst of the worst:

Toronto, Canada

First, it’s not easily connected to Toronto’s downtown core. Second, it has one of the most confusing layouts I have ever encountered, with poor signage and even worse service from those who are supposed to be guiding you. It seems every time I land in Toronto for a connecting flight, I’m left with little time to get through customs, collect my luggage, go through security all over again, and make it to my gate. And if you’re final destination is Toronto, then things are even worse!

Airport Logic

Los Angeles, USA

While I love landing at LAX because it means Mickey Mouse and all his pals are only about an hour drive away, leaving from the same airport is often a disheartening task. The place is in need of some serious updating, which is slowly happening in some parts. Often, we would be on our way home, which is already disappointing enough, and then we’d be in a terminal that had zero to offer as far as food or beverage went. With a couple hours to kill, there really wasn’t anything to do but be cranky and miserable.

Casablanca, Morocco

This disgusting hellhole still gives me nightmares. Most notably, we have photos of no smoking signs throughout their food court, while every single person is lighting up and filling the place with disgusting smoke. Also, they only accept cash at stores and eateries, but when you’re (thankfully) leaving a country, you’ve often done everything you can to rid yourself of that country’s currency, leaving you completely out of luck.

Love & Hate #1: The Aviation

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  • 2 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Lemon Zest

Which airports out there do you either love or hate? Disagree with my assessments? Let me know in the comments!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
I can’t believe it took me so long to make this classic cocktail. It is a boozy one, but the flavours are so nice and work well together to provide the beverage balance. I recommend this to sippers of all walks. You will not be disappointed!

Sip Trips #122: Endings and Beginnings

The final week of 2017 offered extra time with family and friends and that led the Sip Family to doing what we do best: eat and drink and be merry! Here what we got up to while closing out the year:

After getting out of work early on Friday, I met the Sip Syndicate fellas for some celebratory drinks at The Railway Stage & Beer Café (a Vancouver landmark that has recently reopened under Donnelly Group ownership). I had never visited the original Railway Club, so can’t compare the two. I had a really good time during this drinking session, featuring six different craft beers available during happy hour for only $3. I had originally thought of drinking one of each, but opted to stick with what I liked. This included the Phillips 6IX IPA, Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and Parallel 49 Wobbly Pop Pale Ale. Outside the happy hour menu, I also selected the Postmark Winter Warmer, which I had wanted to try since gifting it as part of a Secret Santa package. To finish the outing, we ended up with a glass of Scotch, before venturing out into the Vancouver rain again.

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The next night, we made our way to Coquitlam to visit a friend who had recently bought a place out there. After checking out her new abode, we went for dinner at Boston Pizza. There, I ordered the Southwest Flatbread (BBQ Chicken, Mozzarella, Bacon, Red Onions, Ranch Drizzle), which was delicious. It had been a while since we had a meal at BP, so it was nice to give it a go again.

We followed dinner with a trip to Mariner Brewing (brewery #5 for Baby Sip!). When I first visited their location in the summer, it was only a few days old and their beer lineup has grown impressively. Mrs. Sip and I split a flight of brews, which included their Berliner Weisse, Margarita Ale, Tropical Milkshake IPA, and Night Sky Mocha Stout. The latter three were all new to me, with the IPA being particularly tasty.

For New Year’s Eve, we were set to host a bigger party at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, but a number of people bailed on the plan, which seems to be a New Year’s tradition for some. I find the night to be very anticlimactic, with so many plans falling through and people being flaky. We still made it memorable, as it was Baby Sip’s first and stuck to our ‘Treat Yo Self’ theme by consuming massive quantities of food and liquor. To ring in 2018, Mrs. Sip and I brought our bottle of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur (the orange one) to mix with bubbly, which ended up tasting like a Bellini. We also split a bottle of Unibroue’s 25th Anniversary limited edition release, which tasted like a Black Forest Cake. It was so very good and what made it special was it was the last bottle available at the liquor store when Mrs. Sip spotted it.

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The week wrapped with celebrating Cousin Sip’s birthday at Galini Greek Restaurant in Langley. I ordered their very tasty Chicken Souvlaki, complete with scrumptious Greek Salad. Our service here was exceptional, especially considering the larger group.

The Sip Advisor is spending the next month doing ‘No Junk Food January’ to aid in getting back in shape after a too long hiatus from the gym, following Baby Sip’s birth. It will not be easy, but I’ll be helped along by keeping booze part of my life. With a friend’s wedding approaching and a beer advent calendar to work through, there’s no way I could completely abandon my old friend!

2018 Site Update

Today marks the fifth anniversary of this website. Over that time, we have created over 700 cocktails and shots, while also taking the time to profile over 400 BC craft beers. Additionally, little sippers have lived vicariously through the Sip Advisor with 121 Sip Trip adventures documented.

So, what could possibly be next? Well, the Cocktail Corner feature will return following a couple years of hiatus. A new segment, Love & Hate, will also debut in 2018, highlighting three items I love and hate within a certain subject matter (ex. airports, comedians, chocolate bars, etc.). These items will be posted as regularly as I can, even with Baby Sip consuming much of my free time.

Speaking of Baby Sip, I’m hoping to continue my Baby Beverages articles, especially as I move into the role of primary parent, while on paternal leave. And don’t dare to think our Sip Trips will cease. No, there are many more exploits ahead.

Let me wrap by wishing all of you out there a very happy New Year and all the best in 2018!

New Year's

Best of 2017

With Mrs. Sip pregnant and nursing a baby throughout this year, many of the usual suspects to pop up on my annual “Best Of” list were not attended in 2017. Yes, the Sip Advisor had to suffer through missing out on the Portland Beer and Wine Fest, Tip N’ Taste, Made with Love and many others. Not one to give up, I soldiered on and found other events to take the place of those occasions. Here are my top 17 nights of 2017:

Rooting for the Home Team

The fuzzy memory nights got off to an early start when I joined a Sip Syndicate member for the Vancouver Canucks-Arizona Coyotes contest on January 4. The tickets were a Secret Santa gift for the Sip Advisor and provided perhaps the closest seats to the ice I’ve ever enjoyed. To mark the occasion, copious beers were consumed, including during a pre-game meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. Best of all, the Canucks picked up a rare 3-0 win on this evening, including a penalty shot goal.

Surprise, Surprise

One of Mrs. Sip’s last hurrahs before learning she was pregnant was this surprise birthday outing I arranged for her at the Tapped Vancouver beer and wine tasting event. Without her knowledge, I was able to get a number of our friends to also attend and it was fun to have them arrive throughout the evening, as continuous revelations.

Surprise Party Sick

Ode to Scotch

The night after Tapped Vancouver, I was back at it, attending a friend’s annual Whiskey Tasting event. The theme for this year was Scotch’s aged eight years or less, proving that many gems can be found. Going into the evening, I was a little hesitant, as I was going solo, with the one person I knew likely to be very busy throughout the night with hosting duties. Luckily, I got a seat at a great table of strangers, who made the event quite memorable. I was even included in the Robbie Burns addressing of the haggis!

Getting Away

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate journeyed to Pemberton, BC, for a secluded getaway. The retreat also provided an opportunity to tell some of our closest friends that Mrs. Sip was expecting. With that business out of the way, the rest of the weekend was spent eating, drinking and relaxing. One of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourite pastimes is hanging out in a hot tub with good beers and that was certainly achieved here.

Viva Las Vegas

The first of two jaunts we took to Las Vegas in 2017 took a bit of a twist when we discovered Mrs. Sip was pregnant after we had already booked our escape to the party capital. Still, we intended to live it up and that was helped by some friends also being in Sin City at the same time. Each day/night featured a different route for fun, from a club experience at XS, to exploring the off-strip craft beer scene into the wee hours of the morning, to relaxing and listening to dueling pianos (a Sip Advisor favourite activity).

Rough and Tumble

Missing out on the Rugby Sevens event in 2016 was something I would regret. I had hoped to make amends in 2017, but missed out on the original batch of tickets released. Thankfully, organizers put another batch out and when a friend informed me of the great news, I acted immediately. The frenetic action of the rugby, along with an eclectic and festive crowd made for an amazing (albeit long) day at BC Place Stadium. My favourite photo from the day shows how much junk piled up throughout the affair.

Rugby Violence

Great Cocktail Reveal

Learning the gender of our little one was a moment I’ll never forget. To do it in style, I suggested Mrs. Sip – who had learned the gender a couple weeks prior – reveal it to me by pouring either a pink or blue cocktail. When the beverage came out pink, we were both thrilled. Having a bulk of our family and friends on hand to share the memory with us made it extra special. For the gathering, I concocted two blue and two pink cocktail recipes, so others could share in the anticipation.

Sweet Returns

Back in Las Vegas for the Easter long weekend, we made sure to blend our favourite spots along the strip, while mixing in some new locales. The highlights of this adventure included a couple shows (Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil: Mystère) and a few new bars and eateries. We also squeezed in some pool time, which helped wipe away the winter blues.

Journey on the Seas

In order to highlight as many experiences as possible on this list, I’m lumping our nearly three-week cruise getaway (from Rome to Dubai) together as one entry. Highlights included drinking cocktails in both Rome and Athens; a bucket of beers and other tasty beverages aboard the cruise; the always fun task of finishing all the bottles we accumulate on the last day of the itinerary (this time as a one-man wrecking crew); and enjoying a drink in a mostly dry country.

Comedy Capers

Driving six hours round trip for a comedy show may not be every person’s idea of a good night out, but the Sip Advisor isn’t every person. When I discovered Christopher Titus was performing at the Tacoma Comedy Club and I had a small window in my schedule to actually attend one of the shows, I got down on my knees and begged the Sip Alliance to placate my wishes… nay, my demands. In actuality, everyone was quick to come aboard and we had a fun night out in Tacoma before coming home the next morning.

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Batting Practice

In the spring and summer of 2017, the Sip Advisor joined a baseball/softball team for the first time since I was a wee little sipper. While my skills were certainly lacking, I had a great time meeting new folks. After one set of early morning games, I hosted the team at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for some swimming and drinking. The weather was perfect for such an occasion and I think it helped the team bond even more than we previously had.

Runnin’ Down a Dream

From my earliest days, family road trips featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers providing the soundtrack. As a result, I grew up a fan of the band. Getting the opportunity to see them live was amazing and with Petty’s untimely passing just a month and a half later, the experience was all the more significant. I had already planned to see them the next time they rode into town… sadly, this will not be possible.

Baby Shower Beer Garden

When Mrs. Sip and I first conceived the idea of hosting a beer garden for our baby shower, we knew it would be a hit. After all, we wanted to include both our male and female friends and family and what better way to get everyone together than a beer garden. Mrs. Sip and I were taken aback with our guests incredible generosity with gifts. Our little one will be set up for some time to come.

Baseballs and Beers and Boxing

Unfortunately, I had missed our baseball team’s tournament earlier in the year, out of town for a family wedding. To make amends, I tied one on big time for the second competition, downing 10 beers over our five-hour break between games. Thankfully, those brews were of the 4.2% ABV variety. Once our day at the ballpark was finished, a few of us gathered for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight to keep the fun going.

Softball Fun

Brewer’s Row Revisited

Much like last year, our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row was a perfect summer day spent enjoying delicious beer and good company. For those that have never ventured that way, it’s a must. There are four breweries within a five-minute walking distance of each other and they each serve up fine products. This year, we also managed to visit the brand new Mariner Brewing in Coquitlam, as the first stop of our expedition.

Boys Will Be Boys

Bachelor parties/stags can be funny things. You’re often hanging out with a few friends and a number of strangers, perhaps doing a set of activities that normally wouldn’t be in your wheelhouse. But that’s also part of the fun. This day of debauchery included paintball and a Vancouver Whitecaps game, as well as the standard bar and strip club stops. The Sip Advisor drank quite well throughout and can’t wait for the January wedding and round two.

The Greatest Gift

My birthday was set to be an event-filled weekend, full of chicanery. Fate had other plans, however, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. On the morning of my birthday, I awoke to learn Mrs. Sip was experiencing early labour. The rest of the day was spent awaiting the arrival of Baby Sip, who entered the world at 1:33am the next morning. While I was happy to share my birthday, our little one decided she wanted her own spotlight, making for future birthday weekends to be that much more special!

There you have it folks, the Sip Advisor survived a year without my numero uno drinking buddy. As you can see, while Mrs. Sip was busy doing an awesome job of bringing our daughter into the world, I kept up with my usual antics!

Snack Time #47 – Chips Ahoy! Soft Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

On the prowl for the cookies to bring home on a recent trip to the grocery store, I spotted this Chips Ahoy! Cookies release and my decision was made. Sometimes the Sip Advisor gets it right and this was one of those occasions.

The Soft Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies may be a mouthful to say, but they are an even better mouthful to eat. The cookies are very good and check off many of my cookie requirements: soft, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. It’s hard to not eat the entire pack.

Chips Ahoy! Soft Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

Of the extensive line of cookies Chips Ahoy! Produces, I’d love to try their Sweet N’ Salty with salted caramel chunks. Perhaps putting together a cookie sandwich of the Soft Chunky Peanut Butter and Sweet N’ Salty will be in order.

I’ve long been a Chips Ahoy! fan and don’t see this changing. The one thing that bugs me about this product is the name, as soft and chunky is exactly what you’ll be if you eat too many of these delicious cookies.

For more Snack Time articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #121: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

With Christmas closing in, the Sip Advisor decided to take some time off work… but it certainly wasn’t spent relaxing. Here’s what we got up to in the lead up to the big day and how we fought off the post-holiday blues:

Last Thursday, the Sip Family crossed the border to do some last minute shopping in Bellingham. We hoped to start our visit with drinks at Menace Brewing, but it wasn’t open for the day yet. Lucky for us, Mrs. Sip spotted yet another brewery across the street. Melvin Brewing (a Jackson Hole, Wyoming brewery with a brew pub in Bellingham) hosted us for lunch. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered from their $10 lunch menu, with her selecting Fish & Chips, while I went with the Sandwich & Soup combo (Beef Dip with substituted Fries). For drinks, we passed around pints of their Block Away Brown Ale and Mash Murder Stout ($3 beer of the day special), while also sampling the Peaches Innit Pale Ale. All beers are brewed onsite and we quite good.

Christmas Shopping

On Christmas Eve, en route to a family dinner, we first met Sip Syndicate members at Central City Brewing in Surrey. Mrs. Sip and I had won a tour and tasting experience for six people at one of Central City’s trivia nights at their Downtown Vancouver brew pub in the summer and had to use the pass prior to the end of the year. For those keeping track, this was Baby Sip’s fourth craft brewery visit already. My flight of beers included the Smore Stout, Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine, Imperial IPA and Super Solar IPA. It was a very nice and relaxing setting to enjoy some drinks together and could become a yearly holiday tradition.

Finally, the big day arrived. As for liquor-based Christmas gifts, Mrs. Sip gave me the Central City/Parallel 49 Great White Wonder Adventure Pack (their annual collaborative advent calendar), which was marked down, given the month had come and gone. That doesn’t mean the beer can’t still be enjoyed, though. Last year, I picked up some of the individual bottles from this set and I’m hoping for some enjoyable beers this time around. Mrs. Sip also gifted me a Groupon for Andina Brewing, which provides a set of tasters for two people, as well as a growler and fill. I also received a bottle of Serbian Honey Brandy, which I’m looking forward to experimenting with. As for the gift of giving, I picked up the Erdinger Variety Pack for Mrs. Sip, along with a few other treats.

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The week ended with an impromptu visit to Craft Beer Market for a holiday wrap-up with friends. On Wednesday, the restaurant offers $8 wings and $5 BC craft beers, which is a terrific combo. Mrs. Sip and I split an order of Salt & Pepper Wings and their Gaucho Chicken Flatbread, while I selected the Torchlight Broadside IPA and Whistler/Craft Snowed In White IPA (with $1 going towards the Greater Vancouver Food Bank) for my beverages. Mrs. Sip went with the Storm Vanilla Whiskey Stout and Moody Ales Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout for her drinks.

This weekend will be another busy one, with a birthday/housewarming to attend, drinks with the guys on the schedule… and, oh yeah, that minor hidden-on-the-calendar event we call New Year’s Eve!