Sip Trips #212: Bachelor Recall

Well, July was an interesting month, with about half of it spent living an alternative life without the wife and kids. Did the Sip Advisor get up to much trouble? Nah, I’m too much of a homebody, but I did manage some fun. Here’s how the month played out:

July began with the Sip Family arriving in Penticton for the second half of our Okanagan getaway. For one of our lunches, we ate at Saltys, where Mrs. Sip and I shared a pitcher of Rhino Watermelon Wheat Ale. I paired this with an order of Fish & Chips. The restaurant had a neat collection of cocktails and a great food menu for kids and adults alike.

Pour Decisions

Before leaving Penticton, we had our final lunch at Neighbourhood Brewing. Both Mrs. Sip and I took advantage of their 3 Tacos deal, with my selections being the Prawn Shop Shrimp Taco, Guy Fiery Buffalo Fried Chicken Taco and Cluck Kent Fried Chicken Taco, while Mrs. Sip ordered the Piggies Smalls Al Pastor, James Pond Baja Fish Taco and Cluck Norris Roasted Chicken. Sadly, they were tapped out of a few beers that interested our group, but I did enjoy my fallback choice Way of Life Hazy IPA and the taste I had of Mrs. Sip’s Sunshine City Passionfruit Wheat Ale. I liked that the kid’s meals come with chips and a churro for dessert.

For the second half of the month, I was left to my own devices, as Mrs. Sip and the Sipplings travelled to Italy. The quiet weekdays were a stark contrast to my very active weekends, making for a perfect blend of rest and getting off my ass. My first outing was attending a New Westminster Salmonbellies lacrosse game. Tickets are only $15 for adults and half that price for kids. My only complaint from the experience is they should bring in some New West craft beer for the games, rather than serving up Coors and Canadian.

Lacrosse

The next night, a friend and I met for dinner at the Paddlewheeler Pub. We were greeted by live music and a delicious meal. I had the Crispy Chicken Burger, which I’ve enjoyed there before, and shared a pitcher of Okanagan Springs 1516 Lager.

After dinner, we hit a couple locations on my Columbia Street crawl list. Both bars, Judge Begbie’s Tavern and The Met, we’re first time visits for the Sip Advisor, which seems criminal after living in New West since September 2018. I liked both places, particularly The Met’s outdoor patio area.

Next up, a friend invited me to join him for a Vancouver Whitecaps soccer game. While attending the unfortunate loss for the team, I had servings of Goose Island IPA and Stanley Park Waypoint Hazy Pale Ale. The two 24oz brews set me back more than $40, but that’s what you get with stadium pricing.

Stadium Beers

To wrap the weekend, Pa Sip and I had tickets to watch John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Prior to the concert, we had a great meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, which we selected to go with the southern theme of our concert. My drinks included the Dageraad Rainshine Blonde Ale and a pair of Jack Daniels and Cokes. To eat, I went with the Dirty Fries, as I didn’t have a huge appetite.

I ended July with style, attending the Cool Lager Fest at Another Beer Company (ABC) with Cousin Sip. The event was part of the brewery’s third birthday celebrations and beer tokens were $5.25 each with no entry fee. My original plan was to just get a few tokens, but ended up getting eight over the course of the afternoon, allowing me to get at least one beer from each of the breweries on hand: ABC, Steel & Oak, Four Winds, Luppolo, Red Collar, Slow Hand, and Studio. The ABC crew did their best to deal with the hot day, offering beer slushies for no extra charge and stringing up misters around the already tented seating. One of the planned food trucks never showed up (or at least hadn’t by the time I left), but there was food and ice cream on hand for those who wanted it.

With Mrs. Sip and the Sipplings returning imminently, life will get busy again. The highlight of August looks to be my and Mrs. Sip’s getaway to Boston to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, but I’m sure other fun activities will pop up as the month progresses.

Newfoundland and Labrador – Screech Newfoundland Flower

Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink the area is known for. Today, we journey to Newfoundland and Labrador, affectionately known as The Rock. The place is called Canada’s Happy Province, so let’s see if that’s true:

Motto: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” – Do you have a map I can borrow?

Food: What do you get when you throw salted beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and turnips into a bowl and boil the whole collection together? You get the Newfie culinary delight known as Jiggs Dinner. The meal is typically followed by servings of pease pudding or figgy duff for dessert. Another edible tradition from the province is Fries, Dressing and Gravy (aka Newfoundland Fries), which is similar to poutine.

Drink: Newfoundland Screech is a rum distributed by Rock Spirits in St. John’s. The spirit gets its name from the term for any cheap, high alcohol booze, such as moonshine. Screech is famous for the ritual of the “screech-in”, which is performed by Newfoundlanders onto visitors to the island. The mainlander will take a shot of Screech, recite a prepared verse and kiss a codfish or suitable substitution.

Screech

Site to See: L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site is an ancient Norse settlement – the only in North America – and is the oldest European settlement on the continent. Discovered in 1960, the site has since been named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1968 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The settlement served as a base camp for Norse explorers to further explore.

Street: George Street in St. John’s has been dubbed ‘The Biggest Little Street in North America’ by the George Street Association. And the area sounds like a lot of fun, with two dozen bars, pubs and restaurants along it’s two-block stretch (most bars and pubs per square in North America). George Street is only open to traffic in the mornings, to allow businesses to restock, and even has it’s own festival.

TV Show: Republic of Doyle is a comedy-drama series set in St. John’s. Airing for six seasons and 77 episodes, the show followed the adventures of private investigator Jake Doyle and his family. Stars such as Russell Crowe, Victor Garber and Luis Guzman made guest appearances during the series’ run. The show was nominated for a number of Canadian media awards.

Movie: Come From Away is a film version of the live musical of the same name, which depicts the events following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when around 7,000 airline passengers were redirected to and stranded for a week in the small town of Gander. The movie was released on Apple TV+ on September 10, 2021, right before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

George-Street

Book/Author: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, is about a New York newspaper reporter, who moves to Newfoundland, where his father’s family had lived, in the hopes of restarting his life. It won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (along with the 1993 National Book Award for Fiction) and was later adapted into a 2001 movie, starring Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench and Julianne Moore.

Fictional Character: Mr. Peanutbutter, from the adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman, is a Labrador Retriever, making him from the Labrador Peninsula (which is shown in the cartoon as being inhabited by only Labrador Retrievers). Mr. Peanutbutter is overly friendly, thus making him the perfect Canadian. The character is voiced by comedian Paul F. Tompkins.

Fictional City: I couldn’t find any fictional locales for Newfoundland and Labrador, but perhaps this is the best category for noting the province has a collection of interestingly-named towns. This list includes Conception Bay, Heart’s Desire, Heart’s Content and the world famous community of Dildo. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel featured the place on his show and was made its honourary mayor for his efforts.

Actor/Actress: Shannon Tweed was born in Whitbourne. The 1982 Playboy Playmate of the Year had roles in soap operas such as Falcon Crest and Days of Our Lives, along with numerous guest appearances on TV shows, including Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, Baywatch and Frasier. Tweed is married the Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and featured prominently on his reality series Family Jewels.

Mr. Peanutbutter

Song: Ode to Newfoundland is Newfoundland and Labrador’s official provincial anthem and was once the area’s official national anthem, until Newfoundland became a Canadian province in 1949. It was composed by Cavendish Boyle in 1902, and sung by Frances Daisy Foster. The song is still sung at public events today, although typically only the first and last verses of the four-verse poem.

Band/Musician: Great Big Sea was formed in St. John’s in 1993. The folk rock band is perhaps best known for their songs When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) and Ordinary Day, which both featured on the Canadian RPM charts. The group retired following their 20th anniversary tour, although some of the members have continued on with solo careers and playing Great Big Sea songs.

People: Two legendary broadcasters, known for their long careers with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, hail from St. John’s. First, Bob Cole provided play-by-play commentary for NHL games (most notably on Hockey Night in Canada) for 50 seasons. Second, Rick Mercer hosted the news parody show Rick Mercer Report for 15 seasons. Mercer is best known for his Talking to Americans segments, showing the knowledge or lack thereof of Americans on Canadian subjects.

Animal: A pair of dog breeds, the Newfoundland Dog and Labrador Retriever, come from the province. Both breeds developed from working with fishermen. The most famous Newfoundland Dog was Napoleon the Wonder Dog, a circus performer, while some notable Labrador Retrievers, include Marley (aka “the world’s worst dog”), who was the subject of the book and film Marley & Me, as well as other service and rescue animals.

Labradors

Invention: The gas mask was invented by St. John’s physician Cluny Macpherson. He was serving during World War I and quickly developed the device, originally called the Hypo Helmet and later the British Smoke Hood, following Germany’s first poison gas attack on April 22, 1915. For his work, Macpherson was named a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

Crime: The murder of one-year-old Zachary Turner in St. John’s, by his mother Shirley Turner, who then committed suicide, stunned the nation and brought forth changes to Newfoundland’s child welfare system and Canada’s bail laws. Shirley killed her son while on bail and awaiting extradition to the U.S. for the murder of Zachary’s father, Andrew Bagby. Zachary’s Bill was later passed, allowing courts to refuse bail for serious crimes, in order to protect accused’s children.

Sports Team: The Newfoundland Growlers of the East Coast Hockey League are the closest thing the province has to a professional franchise. Previously, the St. John’s Maple Leafs and St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League played on The Rock. It should also be noted, the Royal St. John’s Regatta is the oldest annual North American sporting event, existing since 1816.

Athlete: Kaetlyn Osmond, born in Marystown, won a medal of each colour in figure skating, over two Olympics. At the 2014 Sochi games, the Canadian team took a silver medal, improving to a gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang games. Also in 2018, Osmond won a bronze medal in individual competition. It should also be noted, Daniel Cleary was the first Newfoundlander to win a Stanley Cup, accomplished in 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings.

Skating

Famous Home: Hawthorne Cottage in Brigus, was the home of famous Arctic explorer Captain Robert Bartlett… you know, when he wasn’t out adventuring. Artifacts and memorabilia from Bartlett’s storied voyages are on the display at the home now. Hawthorne Cottage was named a National Historic Site in 1978 and a Federal Heritage Building in 1993.

Urban Legend: Some call this apparition the Ghost of Dobbin’s Garden, while other’s dub it the Hag of Bell Island. Whatever you want to call her, she was featured as part of a 2016 Canada Post stamp series, highlighting spooks and specters from across Canada. The story behind this character is that she was murdered by German soldiers during World War II and now haunts the area, as revenge for not being saved during her attack.

Museum: The Rooms in St. John’s, is part art gallery, part museum and part archives. Opened in 2005, the cultural facility highlights all things Newfoundland and Labrador, with an amazing panoramic view of the city’s downtown and its port. Exhibits examine the province’s relationship with the Atlantic Ocean, military history and animals who call the region home.

Firsts: Newfoundland’s location has allowed it to become part of some very interesting feats in history. The Rock has received the first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901, as well as been the starting point of the first non-stop transatlantic flight (from St. John’s to Clifden, Ireland) in 1919. Additionally, the first New World smallpox vaccine occurred in Trinity in 1798.

Flight

Company: When franchisees tried to open the first Golden Skillet fried chicken restaurant in Canada in 1969, they were forced to change the name due to legal issues. Thus, Mary Brown’s Chicken was born, with the first location being at St. John’s Avalon Mall. The chain has since grown to 200 stores across Canada, continuing to sell the recipes created by Mary Brown Guthrie, wife of the Golden Skillet’s founder.

Events: Following two referendums held in 1948, it was narrowly voted by Newfoundlanders that the colony should enter into confederation with Canada, becoming the 10th and last province. The British North America Act was passed and Newfoundland official joined the country at midnight on March 31, 1949. Newfoundland added Labrador to its profile on December 6, 2001.

Miscellaneous: Some Newfoundland and Labrador eccentricities should be noted. First, the province has its own time zone, Newfoundland Time, which is 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Time. The province also has its own dictionary, used for pronunciations and definitions of “Newfoundland English”. Finally, Newfie’s participate in Mummering, the act of getting into disguise and visiting friends and family during the Christmas season.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Screech Newfoundland Flower

Screech Newfoundland Flower

  • 2 oz Newfoundland Screech Rum
  • 1 oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

I just had to use a Screech Rum recipe for the Newfoundland and Labrador drink. I mean, it gave me an excuse to add another bottle to my collection! Mrs. Sip and I hope to get to Newfoundland at some point in our travels. I can see us having too much fun on George Street!

What I Miss Most from the Pandemic – Pandemic Punch

A year ago, I wrote an article about things I was looking forward to, as we came out of the COVID pandemic. However, one year on, there are some elements of the pandemic I look back fondly on. I never thought I’d say it, but here are some things I miss from the COVID era:

Full-Time Work from Home

The company I work for has this insane idea that people actually want to come into work. That doesn’t jive with the opinions of anyone I’ve ever spoken to on the subject, so I’m curious as to who they’re polling to come to this result. We worked from home for close to two years straight, without issues, and all of a sudden we’re required to be back in the office. Even if it’s only a couple times a week, it seems asinine that this is the thought process.

Work From Home

Empty Roads and Easy Drives

I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice the roads getting busier and busier the further we get removed from COVID. Long gone are the days where you felt you were living in a post-apocalyptic world, roaming the streets and sidewalks feeling like you were among the last people alive. I’m glad things are returning to a level of normalcy, but it was nice to not deal with rush hour and traffic clogs for a time.

Not Having to Go Out All the Time

Mrs. Sip – and her like-minded friends – strive to fill every waking moment of our lives. During COVID, though, that power was taken away from Mrs. Sip and her cronies, and us gents appreciated the downtime. Meeting for drinks and a chat online had its issues too, but at least no one had to worry about being a designated driver or trying to find a place to crash if they indulged too much.

Empty Attractions

As much as I enjoyed not having to be out all the time, with young kids, we couldn’t just hunker down at home and shun the outside world. For their physical and social benefit, as well as our own mental health, we had to step out on occasion. It was nice that kid’s entertainment facilities and theme parks, for example, were practically vacated, as many people seemed hesitant to go out.

Pandemic Parenting

Reservations Required

Mrs. Sip and I definitely enjoyed that some places that normally wouldn’t take reservations (restaurants, attractions, etc.), now were forced to accept them, so they could work within health guidelines. This was so much better than not knowing how long it would take to get into a place, especially with kids who are easily frustrated with waits. Hell, who isn’t annoyed with an unexpected or even expected wait.

Cheap Hotels

It’s hard to believe there was a time where hotels were desperate for visitors and prices were reasonable as a result, along with other perks, such as free parking. Now, hotel prices have skyrocketed across the board, as places look to recoup money lost during the pandemic. If you can get a decent rate, you’re likely dealing with no cleaning service during the duration of your stay, as places cheap out under the guise of not contaminating your room.

Pandemic Punch

Pandemic Punch

  • 5 oz White Wine
  • Top with Lemonade
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Lemon Slices and Frozen Berries

Now, some would argue we’re still in the pandemic, perhaps falsely secure in the eye of the storm, but I’d say we have to start moving on sometime. While I miss the items listed above, of course I don’t wish to return to such uncertain times and health concerns caused by the pandemic.

Sip Trips #211: Tap Travels

June (or more accurately, Jun-uary) was a busy month, with a fair bit of travel on the schedule. We covered a lot of track, so let’s get right to it and see what the Sip Family got up to in the first month of summer:

We began June with a week-long all-inclusive vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There, we stayed at the Riu Jalisco resort, which impressed me from the start with a liquor dispenser in every room. I’ve never experienced this perk before, but apparently, that’s a standard feature of the Riu chain. It’s all the more appreciated to have rum, vodka, gin and tequila at the ready, when you have young kids and can’t always escape the room to hit a bar for your beverage.

Mexico

My one liquor purchase of the trip was a bottle of Azul Mango Chamoy Tequila, which I still haven’t had a chance to experiment with yet. I can see the booze going good in Margaritas, Palomas and other tequila-based beverages.

Our one day leaving the resort and going into the town of Puerto Vallarta, was highlighted by stops at two craft breweries. We started with Monzon Brewing, where I enjoyed a serving of their Paloma Doble IPA (with grapefruit and serrano peppers). They didn’t have the Coconut Lime DIPA I wanted to try, but I really enjoyed the beer I settled for. We also shared an order of the Birria Fries, which was a delicious dish, especially with all the different salsas and chipotle sauce you could add.

Next up, was Granero Brewing, which is associated with Los Muertos Brewing. I ended up having the same beer I had when we visited Los Muertos’ original location back in 2019, the Anillo de Fuego (Chili Ale).

Salsa

Upon returning home, Mrs. Sip and I received our second VCBW Beer Boxes. This offered another cool assortment of beers with one regular bottle, one 500ml bottle, two regular cans and 20 tall cans, curated from brewery’s around the province. The second box improves on the first one, which was quite good in its own right.

Out on a date night, Mrs. Sip and I began our evening with happy hour at The Hub. I had pours of the Russell Peach Apricot Hefeweizen and Papaya Milkshake IPA, while we also split a Blueberry Lemon Mojito. For food, I went with a pair of tacos, including the Beef Brisket and Spicy BBQ Chicken options.

Our main event of the evening was trying out the Neverland Peter Pan-inspired pop-up bar at the Vancouver Alpen Club. Tickets were $45 each, plus fees, and included a welcome drink, plus two cocktails. The 90-minute immersive experience was fun, with an amazingly decorated setting, games to play to “earn” your drinks and fine work from the actors. The drinks were just okay in my books, but they tried to do something different with each, using a fizzy stick for one and butterfly pea colouring for the other. We ended up helping another couple finish the fishbowl they ordered and this led to us all heading to karaoke at Georgie’s Local Kitchen & Bar.

Peter Pan

To end the month, we travelled up to Kelowna for a few days. Our first meal was at Boston Pizza, as we had to use our last two free kid’s meals before the June 30th expiry date. The deal of getting five kid’s meals for $5 is a fantastic offer and one we will do again next year, if the chain offers it. My meal consisted of items from the new summer menu, including the Carnitas Pizza (BBQ sauce, mozzarella cheese, BBQ pulled pork, pineapple, red onions, feta cheese), paired with a Spicy Blue Margarita (tequila, blue curacao, lime, mango, jalapeño). The pizza was fantastic… the drink, not so much.

The next day, we visited Off the Grid Winery, where Mrs. Sip did a tasting and bought a couple bottles, while the kids and I checked out the animals and other sights the place offers. It was a nice stop, with the perfect temperature and a relaxing vibe.

On our way back into town, we stopped at Copper Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I shared orders of the Darla’s Red Ale, Peaches N’ Cream Wheat Ale, Raspberry Lemonade Pils and Nut Brown Ale. The brewery offers guests the chance to play video games on their Classic NES and SNES systems, which were enjoyed by the Sipplings, even if they had no clue what was going on. We also played the Guess Who board game with Girl Sip, as Boy Sip enjoyed his afternoon nap.

NES

For dinner that night, we walked over to Bin 4 Burger Lounge. Hitting the tail end of their happy hour, I ordered a pint of Phillips Citrus Lager, along with a Blackberry Vanilla Lemonade (vodka, blackberry simple syrup, vanilla syrup, basil, lemon juice). Mrs. Sip had a tasty Pineapple Strawberry Mojito. To eat, I selected the Big Spenny Burger with Curry Aioli for my scrumptious fries. Other sauces we enjoyed, as each dish comes with one free cup, included Bacon Aioli and Truffle Aioli.

Our final Kelowna destination was Barn Owl Brewing, where I had the Passionfruit Paradise IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with a flight consisting of the Genesis Raspberry Wheat Ale, A Whittle Orange Witbier, Headturner Hazy IPA and Escape – The Pina Colada Sour. The brewery had a really neat upstairs area and visitors can bring food in from outside, particularly from the bakery next door. Prior to leaving, Mrs. Sip also ordered a Night Owl Porter Float, while the kids played shuffleboard.

As the calendar turned over from June to July, we were relocating from Kelowna to Penticton, to continue our Okanagan getaway. That portion of the vacation and much more will be documented in the next Sip Trips.

New Brunswick – The Donald Sutherland

Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink the area is known for. Today, we travel to the east coast, visiting New Brunswick. Let’s figure out if the province is more aptly nicknamed Petit Québec or Picture Province:

Motto: “Hope restored” – This sounds like a movie tagline!

Food: Do you like the McDonald’s McFlurry? Well, you have a New Brunswick location to thank for the dessert. In 1995, a store in Bathurst was the first to sell the product. Next, it was tested at location across the U.S., before it was widely released in North America in March 1998. Franchisee Ron McLellan created the treat, which can now be found at McDonald’s restaurants around the world.

Drink: Canada’s oldest independent brewery, Moosehead, can be found in Saint John. It was founded in 1867 by the Oland family, who still own and operate the company. The brewery’s popular Moosehead Lager has earned medals at the World Beer Cup, Monde Selection and Canadian Brewing Awards. Michael J. Fox once noted he enjoyed the brand and received a free truckload of beer in response.

McFlurry

Site to See: The Bay of Fundy/Fundy National Park is a top tourist destination in New Brunswick. The bay actually lies between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – with a portion touching U.S. state Maine – while the national park is located near the village of Alma. 25 hiking trails can be found throughout the park, while highlights of the bay itself, include the highest tidal range in the world.

Street: The Fundy Coastal Drive offers a 460 km trek, with notable highlights including the Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park and Fundy Trail Parkway. The towns of Saint John and St. Andrews by-the-Sea can also be visited along the way. The route stretches from Moncton all the way to St. Stephen, with many points of interest in between.

TV Show: There wasn’t much to choose from here, but Race Against the Tide is a reality show, which sees teams compete to construct sand sculptures in the Bay of Fundy. The teams only have so much time before the tide washes away their hard work. 10 episodes comprised season one of the series, while the second season of the show will begin airing next month.

Movie: Still Mine stars James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold as a husband and wife Craig and Irene Morrison, who encounter difficulties from a government official when they attempt to build a new home to help with Irene’s failing health. Set in the village of St. Martins, the film has a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for seven categories at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards, winning once.

New Brunswick

Book/Author: Born in Fredericton, Julia Catherine Beckwith is recognized as Canada’s first published novelist. At just 17 years old, she wrote St. Ursula’s Covent (aka The Nun of Canada), although the novel wasn’t published until over 10 years later in 1824. Beckwith would go on to write two more novels, the last of which was never released. Only six copies of her first work are known to exist.

Fictional Character: La Sagouine is a 1971 play that tells the tale of the titular Acadian cleaning lady, who resides in New Brunswick. It was written in Acadian French by Antonine Maillet, who was born in Bouctouche. The collection of monologues has since been translated into English twice. Maillet was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976 and promoted to Companion in 1981.

Fictional City: Montgomery Falls is the setting for the young adult mystery novel You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock. Peacock was born in Campbellton and continues to live in New Brunswick. Her surroundings must have formed the basis for Montgomery Falls. Peacock also authored the Hemlock trilogy of teen supernatural books.

Actor/Actress: Donald Sutherland, star of movies such as The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, Animal House and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, was born in Saint John in 1935. For younger audiences, Sutherland is probably best recognized for his role as the main baddie, President Coriolanus Snow, in The Hunger Games franchise of movies. Sutherland is recognized as one of the best actors to never win an Academy Award.

Donald Sutherland

Song: New Brunswick and Mary by Stompin’ Tom Connors tells the tale of a man missing the province and the girl he left behind to go to work out west. The tune drops a number of New Brunswick town names, as well as images and items the province can be associated with, such as the Miramichi salmon run and potatoes being grown in Woodstock.

Band/Musician: Speaking of Stompin’ Tom, he was born in Saint John in 1936. Connors is a Canadian institution, perhaps best known for The Hockey Song, which is played at hockey games across Canada and beyond. Connors wrote more than 300 songs, with other popular releases including Sudbury Saturday Night and Bud the Spud. In 1996, Connors received the Order of Canada.

People: Louis B. Mayer was born in Russia, but raised in Saint John. Coming from a poor background, Mayer worked his way up to being a successful film producer and co-founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, better known as the iconic MGM Studios. Today, Mayer is a controversial figure, with accusations of sexual abuse and controlling the private lives of stars attached to his legacy.

Animal: While I couldn’t find any notable live animals for New Brunswick, it should be noted the world’s largest lobster sculpture can be found in Shediac, known as the Lobster Capital of the World. The sculpture was erected in 1989 by the town’s Rotary Club. The work is 35-feet long and weighs 90 tonnes. A staircase allows visitors to have their picture taken with the carved crustacean.

Invention: As a fan of word games, I have to give some appreciation to Edward R. McDonald, who invented a crossword puzzle game with patents that predate Scrabble by 12 years. McDonald is a fascinating character, who was one of the first people to inhabit New Brunswick. Shediac, where McDonald lived, has taken up the moniker Scrabble Capital of Canada.

Crime: Allan Legere was dubbed the Monster of the Miramichi, following the murders of four people he committed in the area over a seven-month span, while having escaped custody for a previous robbery, sexual assault and murder. Legere’s 1991 trial featured the first use of DNA profiling in Canada, with the intent to convict, rather than exonerate. Legere is still in prison today, last denied parole in January 2021.

Sports Team: New Brunswick has no professional sports teams, but does have three entries in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Moncton Wildcats, Saint John Sea Dogs). It should also be noted, the World Pond Hockey Championships took place annually in the province from 2002 to 2019, on Roulston Lake, in the village of Plaster Rock.

Athlete: Fredricton’s Willie O’Ree did for hockey what Jackie Robinson did for baseball, breaking the colour barrier by becoming the first black NHL player on January 18, 1958. O’Ree accomplish the feat all while being blinded in his right eye by a puck two years prior, which he managed to keep a secret. Fredricton’s arena was renamed Willie O’Ree Place in 2008, the same year O’Ree received the Order of Canada.

Willie O'Ree

Famous Home: Roosevelt Campobello International Park on Campobello Island, was home to the summer cottage of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. It was here where Roosevelt was stricken with the illness that resulted in the paralysis of his legs. The movie Sunrise at Campobello documents Roosevelt’s struggle and was nominated for four Academy Awards.

Urban Legend: The Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews has been called the Canadian version of The Overlook Hotel, from the Stephen King novel The Shining. In typically Canadian fashion, many of the ghosts said to inhabit the hotel are there because they love the place so much, rather than something tragic occurring to them there. Paranormal activity includes ghostly figures, such as a bellboy and night watchman.

Museum: Potato World highlights the potato’s impact on New Brunswick. Found in Florenceville-Bristol, dubbed the French Fry Capital of the World, the museum offers interactive displays and antique machinery. There’s also a Hall of Recognition, dedicated to people and groups who have made an impact on the potato industry. Lastly, the place has a restaurant that offers a French Fry Charcuterie Board.

Firsts: Mount Allison University in Sackville, was the first university of the British Empire to award a woman a Bachelor’s degree, when Grace Annie Lockhart graduated in 1875, with a Bachelor of Science and English Literature degree. Lockhart graduated with the man who would become her husband, J.L. Dawson, and the couple had three sons, while Lockhart remained a women’s rights activist.

Potatoes

Company: McCain Foods, the world’s largest makers of frozen potato products, was founded in Florenceville in 1957. The company’s headquarters still exist there today. McCain also sells frozen pizzas, other vegetables and desserts, as part of its portfolio, but potatoes are its main game, with the business producing a quarter of the world’s frozen fries.

Events: The Great Fire of Saint John occurred in 1877, resulting in the destruction of close to half of the city. It all began with an errant spark falling into some hay in Henry Fairweather’s storehouse. 19 people were killed and many others injured in the blaze, which also destroyed a number of hotels, churches, banks and watercrafts. The whole ordeal only lasted nine hours.

Miscellaneous: New Brunswick has a fascinating professional wrestling history, thanks to Emile Duprée and his Grand Prix Wrestling promotion, as well as the Cormier wrestling family, comprised of grapplers Yvon ‘The Beast’ Cormier, Rudy Kay, Leo Burke and Bobby Kay. Emile Duprée has said the Cormier family was as important to New Brunswick as the famous Hart family was to Calgary.

New Brunswick: The Donald Sutherland

The Donald Sutherland

  • 2.25 oz Canadian Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Drambuie

This drink is a variation of the classic Rusty Nail cocktail, subbing Whiskey in for Scotch. It should be enjoyed while watching any Donald Sutherland film or if you’re enjoying a beautiful coastal view, with fresh air filling your lungs!

Sip Trips #210: Weekend Warrior

May was an interesting month, full of jam-packed weekends. We travelled a good portion of the Lower Mainland throughout, so here’s what we got up to on our journeys:

Our adventures began with eating at Taqueria Playa Tropical to celebrate Cinqo de Mayo. My meal of a Watermelon Margarita and Pastor Torta was fantastic, but there was some kind of issue with our food being delivered to us and we watched tables that had sat down and ordered long after us, be served before us. With a music lesson to get Girl Sip to, I ended up eating my meal hours after it was finally in my possession. Perhaps another visit on a non-Mexican holiday will be better.

Cinco-De-Mayo

That weekend, we attended the wedding of a close childhood friend at The Fairmont Waterfront. After our two drink tickets were spent during the cocktail reception, Mrs. Sip really wanted to get a fancy cocktail at the venue’s Arc Restaurant. She twisted my arm enough, so we had servings of the Salted Caramel & Peach Old Fashioned (Knob Creek Rye, Bacardi 8, Monin Caramel, Peach Bitters) and Summer Smash (Woodford Reserve, Hennessy, honey, lemon, orange, mint).

The next morning was Mother’s Day, so our little crew celebrated with brunch at the One20 Public House in Delta. My meal of the Cali Club and One20 Wheat Ale was a good combo. We’ve enjoyed our recent visits to the One20, as they have a good set up for families, including colouring for kids.

My liquor purchases for the month were a bottle of the new Bacardi Tropical Rum (very good in both rum and cokes and mojitos) and the Verve Vodka Soda variety pack, with an interesting selection of flavours, such as Wild Strawberry & Lemon, Peach Blackberry, Watermelon Raspberry and Grapefruit Elderflower.

Vodka Soda

Towards the end of the month, I attended the Brewhalla Beer & Music Festival with a couple of friends. Tickets were almost $50 each with taxes and fees and included a taster glass and three tokens. For $20, you could get a bag of 11 extra tokens. There was a good collection of breweries, with each one offering a nice variety of their wares. IPAs, saisons and sours seemed to be the beer themes of the event. Although we brought lawn chairs to sit back and enjoy the music, we spent most of the day going from line to line, drinking as we queued. This got worse later in the day, as some breweries tapped out early and lines grew longer. We left with tokens still to spend, feeling if we stuck around until the 6pm end of event, we’d have a tough time getting transportation out of the area.

Following the festival, we went for food at the Murrayville Town Pub. There, I had a Rajun Cajun Crispy Chicken burger, paired with a hazy pale ale/IPA I neglected to take note of. Regardless, it was delicious combo and we also ordered a pair of Pickle Back shots each because why the hell not!

Out in Abbotsford the next day for the Jurassic Quest event for the Sipplings, we dropped into Loudmouth Brewing for a late lunch. On a previous visit to the brewery and restaurant, another customer raved about their burgers, so I went out of my way to try one this time, while the girls and kids in our group split the Boss Platter. My Hamburger lived up to the hype and I still got to munch on a few items from the massive platter. As for my beverage, I went with the Hazy Pale Ale. Aside from food and drink, the best part about Loudmouth is its jovial, accommodating owner/operator. Every free moment he has, he’s chatting with customers and making them feel as comfortable as possible. He was great with our little ones, who were getting a little cranky after a busy morning, even moving a bunch of tables around to get us set up.

BBQ Platter

For the last weekend of the month, I was invited to join a group for the Langley Loop, hosted by The Clayton Pub. For $75 each, our group of six was shuttled from the pub to four different Langley breweries (Farm Country, Five Roads, Trading Post and Camp), then returned to The Clayton Pub to use an appetizer ticket. When finished at the pub, the shuttle would take folks home, so long as they lived in the area. Our driver Ed was amazing, as he navigated a bunch of groups around safely. I tasted quite the variety of brews as we went through the circuit and once back at the pub, our group had reduced to half, so three of us feasted on six tasty appies. Add a couple $3 rum and cokes to the finish the night and it was all quite the recipe for fun.

The next day, I joined another friend at the Red Card Sports Bar for the All Elite Wrestling: Double or Nothing pay-per-view. Over the close to five hour show, I enjoyed a pair of Red Card Pale Ales (at happy hour pricing), followed by a pair of Howe Sound Hazy Daze IPAs and capped with a spiced rum and coke. My meal for the evening was the Classic Burger, which was scrumptious, joined by yummy skinny fries. Best of all, the $10 cover charge we’d previously paid for other shows at the bar was not charged on this occasion.

That was it for the month of May. Just days from now, we’re off to Puerto Vallarta for a week of all-inclusive indulgence. Father’s Day is also around the corner, so there will certainly be much to discuss in the next Sip Trips!

Manitoba – The Winnipeg

Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also featuring a drink the area is known for. Today, we’re in Manitoba, the province at the longitudinal center of Canada. Let’s see just how centered Manitobans are:

Nicknames: Among monikers like Keystone Province (for Manitoba’s shape and location amongst the rest of Canada) and Postage Stamp Province (also for Manitoba’s shape), I lean towards Canada’s Heart Beats – Travel Manitoba’s catchphrase since 2014 – or Friendly Manitoba, which adorns licence plates in the province.

Motto: “Glorious and free” – If you’re going to be free, you might as well be glorious, too!

Food: The Salisbury House restaurant chain claims to have introduced hamburgers to Manitoba in the 1930s. Known affectionately as Sals, the eatery is famous for their Nips, burgers which are a nip or a bite of Salisbury steak, the dish which the restaurant was named after. Sals also serves another Manitoba institution, the Flapper Pie, which they call a Wafer Pie.

Drink: Crown Royal Whiskey – a preferred alcohol of the Sip Advisor… seriously, I currently have five bottles of different varieties from the brand – is manufactured in Gimli. It was first introduced in 1939 for a tour of the country by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and has grown to become the top selling Canadian whiskey in the U.S. Crown Royal is perhaps best recognized for the felt-like bags the bottles come in.

Crown Royal

Site to See: Churchill is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World and it is accessible for people to tour in the safety of caged tundra buggies. It is best to visit in the fall, when the bears can be viewed hunting seals on ice floes. Churchill even has a polar bear prison and locals are asked to leave car doors unlocked, in case people need to escape from a bear.

Street: Where the Red River and Assiniboine River meet in Winnipeg is known as The Forks. The area was designated a National Historic Site in 1974. Today, the popular Forks Market can be found there, hosting numerous restaurants, shops and stalls. During the winter, an outdoor skating rink is a widely used attraction of The Forks.

TV Show: Falcon Beach originally began as a made-for-TV movie before becoming a series that lasted two seasons and 26 episodes. The show was similar to The O.C. and was unique in that for each episode, two versions were filmed, one meant for Canadian audiences and another for American viewers, each using locations and terms unique to that country. The series was filmed at Winnipeg Beach.

Movie: The Ice Road, starring Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne, is about the aftermath of an explosion at a Manitoba diamond mine, which has trapped 26 miners. Neeson and Fishburne play truck drivers who lead a mission to save the miners, traversing the province’s frozen lakes and icy winter roads to get there. It was filmed in Île-des-Chênes and Gimli.

Polar Bear

Book/Author: The Stone Angel was written by Margaret Laurence. It tells the tale of Hagar Shipley, searching for closure in her life, as she prepares to be moved into a nursing home by her son and daughter-in-law. The book was made into a 2007 film, starring Ellen Burstyn. The movie also features Elliot Page, before his breakout role the same year in Juno.

Fictional Character: Shirley Holmes, the great-great niece of Sherlock Holmes, is the titular character of the children’s mystery TV series The Adventures of Shirley Holmes. Shirley was played by Meredith Henderson, who won a Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series for her portrayal. Filmed in Winnipeg, the series contains many nods to the stories of Sherlock Holmes.

Fictional City: Manawaka is a fictional setting often used for the novels and short stories by Margaret Laurence. It is based on Laurence’s hometown of Neepawa. Works using Manawaka include The Stone Angel, A Jest of God, The Fire-Dwellers, A Bird in the House, and The Diviners. Laurence was a top figure of Canadian literature and was among the founders of the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

Actor/Actress: Anna Paquin, star of True Blood (as Sookie Stackhouse) and the X-Men franchise of movies (as Rogue), was born in Winnipeg. Paquin won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the very young age of 11, for the film The Piano. It was also her acting debut, so that’s a good start to a career. Paquin is still going strong through both movie and TV roles.

Sookie

Song: There’s a song called Murder Me In Manitoba, but I think I’ll go with Stompin’ Tom Connors ode to the province, simply titled Manitoba. I mean, the ditty includes lines such as “Manitoba, you’re my heaven”. It should also be noted, rock classic Takin’ Care of Business was created by Winnipeg formed group Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the province probably thinks of the song as an unofficial anthem.

Band/Musician: Manitoba has quite the musical history. Among the artists to hail from the province, rocker Tom Cochrane has enjoyed a long and successful career. Cochrane began with the group Red Rider, before going solo with hits such as Life is a Highway. I also have to give a special shout out to children’s musician Fred Penner, whose songs and TV show are memorable from my childhood.

People: It’s hard to believe the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s famous character James Bond was Winnipeg-born soldier and spymaster Sir William Stephenson. Fleming once wrote: “James Bond is a highly romanticised version of a true spy. The real thing is… William Stephenson.” Best known by his codename Intrepid, Stephenson worked as a conduit between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, even being credited with bringing the U.S. into World War II as a Western ally.

Animal: The bear A. A. Milne used as his inspiration for Winnie the Pooh was named Winnipeg, given the moniker by Lt. Harry Colebourn, after his hometown. Following World War I, Winnie was supposed to make her new home at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, but remained at the London Zoo until she died in 1934, at the age of 20. Despite never reaching Assiniboine Park Zoo, a bronze statue of Winnie, as well as a gallery of items regarding the famous bear, can be found there.

Winnie the Pooh

Invention: Winnipeg’s Harry Wasylyk (along with Larry Hansen of Ontario) invented the polyethylene garbage bag. The bags were originally sold to the Winnipeg General Hospital, as they weren’t intended for domestic use. Once Wasylyk and Hansen sold the invention to the Union Carbide Company, green garbage bags for home use were released in the late 1960s, known as Glad garbage bags.

Crime: A crime that made headlines across Canada was the 2008 beheading of Tim McLean aboard a Greyhound bus. The attack was committed by Vince Li, a complete stranger to the victim. Out of nowhere, Li began stabbing McLean, causing the bus driver and other passengers to flee the vehicle. Li then decapitated McLean and even ate some of his flesh. Following a standoff with police, Li was arrested. Less than a decade later, Li was absolutely discharged and lives free.

Sports Team: The Winnipeg Jets (NHL) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) are the two major pro sports teams in the province. There was an earlier version of the Jets, which began in the World Hockey Association before that league merged with the NHL, but the franchise moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1996. American Hockey League club the Manitoba Moose shares an arena with the Jets (their NHL affiliate).

Athlete: Manitoba is known for their decorated speed skaters, including Susan Auch, Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes. Winnipeg’s long track speed skating oval is named after Auch, who won two Olympic silver medals and a bronze over her career. Meanwhile, Klassen won six Olympic medals, including five at the 2006 Games. Lastly, Hughes has competed at both the Winter and Summer Olympics, winning at both in speed skating and cycling, respectively.

Garbage Bags

Famous Home: Dalnavert, also known as MacDonald House, was designated a National Historic Site in 1990. It was the home of former Premier Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. The estate was originally restored by the Manitoba Historical Society and welcomes visitors year round.

Urban Legend: The Manitoba Legislative Building is said to be haunted. Of note, the building’s grand staircase is said to be where the ghost of a man wearing a top hat is thought to reside, while other spirits inhabit the area nearby. Meetings between all these spectres are said to occur, with security guards being sure to knock before entering any room, so as not to disturb the proceedings.

Museum: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights can be found in Winnipeg. It’s mission is to “explore the subject of human rights with a special but not exclusive reference to Canada”. Opened in 2014, the museum was the first national museum created since 1967 and first ever located outside the National Capital Region of Ottawa. Exhibits include a look at Indigenous issues, as well as the Holocaust and other genocides from around the world.

Firsts: Beginning in 1959, Winnipeg became the first North American city to operate a central emergency system. They originally went with the number 9-9-9, but changed to 9-1-1, when the number was proposed by U.S. representatives. Manitoba was also the first province to let women vote in provincial elections and ban indoor smoking in public places.

911

Company: Old Dutch Foods, makers of some of my favourite potato chips of all-time, have their Canadian headquarters in Winnipeg. They also have a production plant there, so I must make a pilgrimage to the holy land one day. It should also be noted, restaurant chain A&W was founded in Canada in Winnipeg in 1956. A&W mascot The Great Root Bear originated in Canada in 1974, appearing in the U.S. two years later.

Events: The Red River Resistance/Rebellion of 1869 resulted in Manitoba eventually becoming a Canadian province in 1870. The uprising was led by Louis Riel, leader of the Red River Colony. During the conflict, Thomas Scott, a pro-Canada opponent to Riel, was arrested and later executed by firing squad. Years later, this would be remembered and referenced as a reason Riel himself was hanged.

Miscellaneous: Wheelchair Rugby, also known by the tame title Murderball, was created in Winnipeg by wheelchair athletes Gerry Terwin, Duncan Campbell, Randy Dueck, Paul LeJeune, and Chris Sargent, in 1975. Today, the game has grown to be a Summer Paralympic sport, played in 30 countries. The activity is comprised of elements of ice hockey, basketball, handball and rugby.

Manitoba: The Winnipeg

The Winnipeg

  • 2 oz Crown Royal Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Amaro
  • 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Garnish with Cherries

There were some interesting Manitoba-created cocktails I would have loved to make for this article, but I’m not sure where I would find Saskatoon Berries, needed for both the Manitoba Martini and Manitoba Made beverages. Thus, I went with The Winnipeg, feeling Crown Royal Whiskey should be included. I used Jagermeister in place of Amaro, as it’s an herbal liqueur I had on hand.

Sip Trips #209: Okanagan Opus

April was highlighted by two trips to the Okanagan region of B.C., one to visit a friend and another to celebrate the end of a good buddy’s bachelor days. Let’s see what the Sip Family got up to in the month of showers:

Upon returning from Las Vegas at the end of March, we immediately departed for Peachland the next morning, with the Sipplings in tow. On our way there, we had a late lunch at Empty Keg Brew House in Merritt. Along with a great beers and fun food, the brewery also offered an awesome selection of free arcade games to play, which the Sipplings loved, even though they don’t get the concept of any of them. Board games and puzzles for various ages were also available. To eat, we all split orders of a Hot Dog with Parmesan Fries and the Chicken & Cheese Quesadilla. To drink, I enjoyed the Ruby’s Irish Red Ale, while Mrs. Sip went with the Eight Seconds Cream Ale.

Arcade Games

Over our weekend stay, another stop we made was at BNA Brewing. We had hoped to partake in their bowling alley, but were unable to get a lane. We did have a good meal and drinks in their expansive space, though, with my dinner consisting of the Kung Pao Street Fries, along with servings of the Big Mario IPA and Ace Hazy Pale Ale.

Back at home, Mrs. Sip and I received our first VCBW Beer Box deliveries. The box was full of interesting selections from around the province, with only a couple being ones I had tried previously. I’m still working my way through it all and have enjoyed the variety and quality of the picks, thus far.

As part of our Easter celebrations, Mrs. Sip and I were offered a kids-free date night, allowing us to attend Bunnies and Booze at Maan Farms. Tickets were $75 per person and included a meal and one drink ticket. I went with the Chicken Tikka Masala with Fries option, along with an Old Yale IPA. There was also a couple games for all to participate in, prior to the big Easter egg hunt. Those who collected four eggs of different colours (which was very easy to do), were given a goody bag, including chocolate treats and a can of the Farms’ own Beltzer Berry Wine Seltzer. We wrapped the evening with a pre-ordered ice cream inside a chocolate egg.

Easter Hunt

Prior to our final Vancouver Canucks game of the season, Mrs. Sip and I managed to get into the Devils Elbow Ale & Smokehouse, where we feasted on happy hour eats like their Brisket Sandwich, Pulled Pork Quesadilla and Mac & Cheese Cornbread. We also capitalized on the pricing of beers, splitting between us the Twin Sails Livin’ the Dream Fruited Pale Ale, North Point Strawberry Blonde, Townsite Mystery Reef IPA, Parkside Almost Citrus Orange Drink Beer, Driftwood Raised by Wolves IPA, and an Old Fashioned cocktail. The food was fantastic and with such a great selection of beers, everyone can find something they like.

After taking the Sipplings to an Easter event in Maple Ridge, we made sure to have lunch at the Billy Miner Alehouse, which has long been a favourite eatery of ours. I had the deliciously messy 3:10 to Yuma burger (smoked chicken, beef patty, smoked gouda, bacon, whiskey BBQ sauce, crispy onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles, burger sauce), which was so freakin’ good. We also shared their famous Basket of Cornbread. To wash down the food, I had a pint of Mission Springs Red Mountain Ale.

Next up, was a stag party weekend in Summerland. We had a beautiful home rented at the Oak Estate Winery and golf games and other activities to enjoy. A fun stop I made with a couple of the guys was to Alchemist Distiller. Here, we enjoyed a tour and tasting, which included pours of their Vodka, two Gins, Apple Liqueur, Herb Liqueur, and Absynthe. I walked away with the very last bottle of the Lady Fox Gin, which was at the end of production and at a discounted rate of $25 ($10 off).

Stag

Our big night out started with dinner at Cactus Club in Kelowna, where I had a pint of Ugly Wheat Ale, paired with some Chicken Tenders with Fries. This restaurant has a great location, but we waited outside the restaurant, in the cold, for close to half an hour, despite having a reservation. Inside, they really need to fix their bathroom set-up as there was a long wait for a stall throughout the night, causing an uncomfortable bottleneck as people took their place in line.

We finished the month with our Vancouver Warriors lacrosse game, thanks to the free tickets I won previously. I can best describe the experience as a combo of a hockey game, wrestling show and rock concert all rolled into one. During the course of the evening, I had a Stanley Park Amber Ale and Spiced Rum and Coke, to go along with a glorious Footlong Hotdog.

May is already shaping up to be an interesting month, with a wedding to attend, Mother’s Day to celebrate and other festivities scattered throughout. You’ll hear about it here; same Sip time, same Sip channel!

Sip Trips #208: Vegas Bound

To end March, Mrs. Sip and I entered the U.S. for the first time in over two years, which is a gap I thought I would never experience, unless I moved to another continent. We selected Las Vegas as the perfect place to celebrate our 20th dating anniversary and it was a journey full of good food, drinks and an adventure or two.

All the fun started at the Vancouver Airport, where we had a relaxed breakfast/lunch at the Canucks Bar & Grill. Their All-Dressed Poutine was one of the best poutines I’ve ever enjoyed and went really well with my mid-morning Stanley Park Wheels Up IPA.

Airport Drinking

In Vegas, we stayed at The Palazzo. Mrs. Sip booked us a Prestige Club room, which gave us access to the Prestige Lounge. We arrived just in time for happy hour on our first day, which featured free drinks from 4-7, along with delicious appies starting at 5. The staff at check-in and in the lounge were all fantastic and we would definitely recommend the Prestige experience.

For dinner that night, we had a reservation at Mon Ami Gabi. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed many meals over the years there, but our usual order of the Chilled Seafood Platter was sadly no longer on the menu. We adjusted and went with the Small Seafood Platter, along with the Escargot. All paired with a bottle of wine, we were even given a free dessert for our anniversary celebration.

The next day, we made the journey to the off-strip Ellis Island Hotel & Casino, home to Ellis Island Brewing. At The Front Yard restaurant, we enjoyed a couple $3 beers in the Amber Ale for me and Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip. I also had a Bonfire Rauchbier for $5, while Mrs. Sip did a flight of the Hefeweizen, Wit, Belgian Tripel and Dubbel Trouble. To eat, we had an amazing CBR Flatbread, comprised of citrus garlic sauce, bacon, shredded chicken, pico de gallo and jalapeño cream.

Flatbread

Returning to The Venetian, we hit up happy hour at Trustworthy Brewing, which was my 200th brewery visited! There, I had the A Year in the Making American Amber Ale, while Mrs. Sip switched things up and drank a Southern Peach Smash (bourbon, peach nectar, ginger syrup, mint, ginger ale), as she is getting more into whiskey and bourbon cocktails of late.

Given we could also access The Venetian Prestige Lounge, we had happy hour there, allowing us to compare the two options. After another set of cocktails, we returned to The Palazzo side, where I squeaked in two more beverages for the road, enjoyed as we got ready for another night out.

While at The Paris the night before, Vanderpump à Paris caught Mrs. Sip’s eye, so we made that our destination for dinner. The restaurant had only been open for a couple weeks when we tried it and we had a fantastic experience. We ordered Bouef Wellington Sliders, Mini Monsieurs and Baked Brie En Croute to share, while Mrs. Sip had a glass of wine and I tried the Louvre At First Sight cocktail, which came in its own smoker shaped like the infamous Louvre Museum glass pyramid. The drink is called ‘A Smoked Work of Art’ and includes Gracias a Dios Mezcal, prickly pear, lemon, jalapeño honey, orange bitters, aquafaba and hickory smoke.

Cocktails

Our main event of the evening was supposed to be checking out the Omega Mart immersive art exhibit by Meow Wolf, which had caught the eye of both myself and Mrs. Sip. Sadly, once we got out to the Area 15 location, we learned the facility had been evacuated due to a fire alarm and the Omega Mart had been cancelled for the night. We still checked the Area 15 building out and had overly expensive drinks at its bar – seriously, $15 for an off-strip Spiced Rum and Coke??? – but the air had kind of come out of my sails with the Omega Mart debacle.

For our anniversary day, we did what good couples do best and went our separate ways for the day. While Mrs. Sip enjoyed some rest and relaxation poolside, I had a need to walk the strip and explore, since I hadn’t been to Vegas since March 2018. Along the way, I grabbed a few road beers, had a very good lunch from Dave’s Hot Chicken (which is apparently opening a couple locations in the Lower Mainland soon) and took care of buying some snacks and souvenirs for the family, along with our booze to bring home, in the form of bottles of Jameson Orange Whiskey and Bacardi Dragonberry Rum.

We reconvened to unfortunately have to race out and take care of our COVID antigen tests, which needed to be done as we returned on March 31, and the whole need to get this done in Canada was being eliminated on April 1. While Mrs. Sip inquired about changing our trip to avoid this, Air Canada (after many hours on hold to speak to an agent), said we couldn’t change anything because we had booked a vacation package. #BoycottAirCanada

Air Canada

Following our negative tests, we enjoyed a final Prestige Lounge happy hour at The Palazzo, toasting our 20 years together. We weren’t able to go too crazy on the hors d’oeuvres, though, as we had a big night out planned. That began with dinner at Picasso, my first Michelin Star restaurant experience. In fact, Picasso is ranked at two Michelin Stars and is thought to be one of the best restaurants in the U.S.

So, what did I think of the meal. Overall, I was a little disappointed, to be honest. Nothing really blew my mind and I’ve had $14 burgers make me lose all my bodily functions. The price of this meal was absurd… like, I won’t even print it absurd. I did leave overly stuffed, which Mrs. Sip says is rare for Michelin Star restaurants, since portions are usually doled out to perfection, so eaters get just enough and are comfortably full by the time the feast is finished.

Upon arrival, I ordered the Greyscale cocktail (Earl Grey-infused gin, orange oleo saccharum, fresh lemon juice and a splash of soda). I went with the Menu Dégustation (Tasting Menu), which included four courses plus dessert (Maine Lobster Salad, Pan Seared U-10 Day Boat Scallop, Sautéed Steak of “A” Foie Gras, Prime Petit Filet Mignon). Mrs. Sip did the Prix Fixe Menu (Warm Quail Salad, Sautéed Crispy Gnocchi and Sautéed Medallion of Fallow Deer) with wine pairings. The desserts were fantastic, but Mrs. Sip didn’t even get a wine pairing with hers. Part of the draw of the restaurant is the many Picasso paintings that adorn its walls. Since I’m not an art guy, I preferred to watch the Bellagio fountains from our table, but the music accompanying the fountains was hard to hear, so that detracted a little from the shows. As we left, we were given boxed chocolate, which Mrs. Sip and I still have to eat.

Michelin Restaurant

To end the evening, we attended the Absinthe show at Caesar’s Palace, which was as wild and raunchy as advertised. Going into the performance, Mrs. Sip and I shared an Absinthe Hallucinator cocktail (vodka, pomegranate, blood orange, lemon, absinthe), which helped get us into the spirit.

The next day, with mere hours before we had to checkout and head to the airport, we tried to get to The Chocolate Bar at New York New York, but it was closed when we arrived, despite online sources saying it was supposed to be open. Dejected, we hurried back to The Palazzo to check out and finally enjoy the welcome bubbly we didn’t have at arrival, since happy hour was afoot.

It was amazing being back in Las Vegas, especially after what the world has gone through the last couple years. I will say, though, I was feeling my age a little on this getaway, as I was in bed each night by about 1 a.m. and my feet were done long before that each evening. Maybe I just need to “train” better in advance of the next trip!

Sip Trips #207: Rinks and Drinks

Well, March was interesting, full of outings and even some travel. In fact, the month was so busy, I’ve split our experiences into two entries, something I haven’t had to do for a very long time when it comes to Sip Trips diaries. Let’s see how the majority of March played out:

The month began with the Sip Advisor meeting a friend to watch the All Elite Wrestling Revolution pay-per-view. Prior to arriving for the show, we had a couple beers at Roxy Burger, a former frequent haunt for the Sip Family. There, I had two James Brown Ales, at the Sunday special price of $4.50 each.

Next up was the pay-per-view, hosted at Red Card Sports Bar. Throughout the amazing, but lengthy show, I consumed two Red Card Pale Ales, two Howe Sound Sky Pilot NW Pale Ales and one Howe Sound Hazy Daze IPA. To keep from over liquefying, I enjoyed a serving of the bar’s Hotiyaki Wings at happy hour pricing, as well as a Classic Burger later in the evening. The wings were delicious and I really liked the blend of hot sauce and teriyaki. The burger was also very good and we hope to return for future events.

Wrestling

Later that week, Mrs. Sip and I both signed up for Vancouver Craft Beer Week Beer Boxes at the Founding Membership level. This means, four times per year (spring, early summer, late summer and winter), we will receive 24 curated craft beers from a variety of breweries, for only $69 each delivery. We felt this was an amazing deal and can’t wait to see what our first Beer Box holds.

Offered a mid-week date night, Mrs. Sip and I finally visited Gotham Steakhouse, something we had always intended to, but never got around to, while living downtown. We picked Gotham from the list of places that were supposed to be doing Cinq A Sept, as part of Vancouver Cocktail Week, but nobody seemed to know what I was talking about with regards to the special happy hours. Not to be deterred, Mrs. Sip and I both had the restaurant’s Feature Cocktail of the day (Aperol, St. Germain, Gin, Lemon Juice, Absinthe Rinse). I also enjoyed pints of Backcountry Widowmaker IPA and Parkside Dusk Pale Ale, while Mrs. Sip was recommended to order a Whiskey Sour, which we both enjoyed. For eats, we shared the Steak and Prawn Skewers, Caesar Salad and Seymour Street Fried Chicken, all of which were tasty.

Following our meal, it was time for the Vancouver Canucks vs. Montreal Canadiens game we had tickets to. After the first period, we tried Strawberry and Passionfruit Margaritas from the Rogers Arena margarita bar, which I’d like to think spurred the Canucks on to their eventual victory that night.

Margarita

That weekend, we took the Sipplings to the Dead Frog Carnival, where the brewery was releasing two new beers with cotton candy additions. The beers, which I tried each of, were the Hippity Hop Hazy IPA and Pondside Pale Ale. Mrs. Sip had a Black Raspberry Sangria Sour. Our food consisted of the yummy Maple Jalapeno Beef Dip, a Jumbo Beer Pretzel and Smoked Salt & Pepper Wings, which ended up at our table by mistake, but the server said they couldn’t take them back, so we might as well enjoy them.

The next day, prior to another Canucks contest, Mrs. Sip and I had a pre-game meal at The Keg. I paired a Gin Basil Lemonade with an order of French Onion Soup, as I had earlier finished my Beef Dip from the day before and wasn’t super hungry by the time we sat down for dinner.

For St. Patrick’s Day, we went to the 120 Pub for dinner and drinks. It was a great stop for the entire family, as a magician/balloon animal artist was on hand to entertain the kids. My meal consisted of a pint of 120 Winter Wheat Ale (brewed by Red Truck Brewing), to go with the Cali Club sandwich.

St. Patrick's Day

Next up, was Boy Sip’s 2nd birthday. Following a day out, our extended family met for dinner at Boston Pizza. Here, I had a Kick’n Memphis Chicken Sandwich, along with a Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA. Best of all, throughout the month of March, kids meals were free, so long as adults purchased entrees.

For guests at Boy Sip’s Choo Choo Two birthday party the next day, I picked up the Mt. Begbie Bundle of Joy case, containing three each of their Nasty Habit IPA, Tall Timber Brown Ale, Attila the Honey Amber Ale and High Country Kolsch. The pack caught my eye for its unique combo of beers.

We arrived early for our last Canucks game of the month, so decided to start at the arena’s SportsBar. There, we shared the Buffalo Chicken Poutine, where the Buffalo chicken, gravy, veggies and fries all made for a good combo of flavours. To drink, I had a pint of Main Street Naked Fox IPA. We sat and watched the first period in the bar, before moving to our seats for the rest of the match.

Sports Bar

To celebrate another handful of March birthdays on Mrs. Sip’s side of the family, we again ate at The Keg. This time, I went with The Keg Burger, which was decent, but reminded me of how much I missed the original Keg Burger. My beverage choices included a Chili Mango Margarita and a Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA.

The last week of March was spent in Las Vegas, celebrating my and Mrs. Sip’s 20th dating anniversary. What did we get up to in Sin City? You’ll have to wait for the next Sip Trips to find out!