About Daniel Wilson

I love making drinks for my friends and family, and, of course, sampling my concoctions myself! Finding and playing around with recipes is a favourite past time of mine and I hope to share that passion with all my readers.

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!

Sip Trips #206: Mexico Musings

February has come and gone and when you spend close to half the month on vacation, that can never be a bad thing. How did the Sip Family’s first international travel in over two years go? Let’s find out:

To begin the month, we finalized the purchase of our first ever new vehicle. After picking it up, we went for a late dinner at Montana’s in Langley. There, I took advantage of their $4.99 Rickard’s Red  special, pairing it with a Southern-Fried Chicken Sandwich. We also had a coupon for a free appy, using it on their Loaded Garlic and Cheese Pull-Apart Bread. The beer hit the spot, while all the food was tasty. This was my first time to Montana’s for some time and I hope we can return soon for more comfort food goodness.

Comfort Food

Next up, was our long-awaited family trip to Cancun, Mexico. We had booked this vacation all the way back in January 2021, thinking the world would be back to normal by February 2022. Well, it isn’t quite back to normal yet, but we weighed all the pros and cons and decided to still go ahead with the trip, despite pandemic concerns, having to take tests to return home, having to quarantine once we returned, and some of our fellow travel group deciding against travelling.

First, a couple quick notes about Vancouver International Airport and our flight to Mexico. Prior to our flight boarding, I noticed a Whistler Brewing Lodge was coming soon. I greatly look forward to this dining/drinking option at the airport and hope I get to enjoy it at some point. As for our flight, while we were saving our drinking for the all-inclusive resort, I was dismayed to hear flight attendants turn down drink orders and end drink service early because they didn’t have enough stock for the return trip. I mean, come on, people are starting their vacation and may want to get into the festive spirit or make their trip more relaxed. How could they not stock up properly for the round trip or why can’t they restock once in Mexico?

Upon arriving in Cancun, we boarded our private transport to the resort, with our drvier providing us with some of the most satisfying Coronas I’ve ever enjoyed. After a 1.5-hour journey, our long travel day was finally complete and we could begin relaxing and enjoying. Here are my notes about out resort, the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya:

All-Inclusive

Our bar set up was supposed to included two bottles of our choice, but we were thrilled to hear upon arrival that we would now get to select five bottles. In a bit of a panic, I quickly chose Stolichnaya Vodka, Havana Club 7 Rum, Jim Beam Bourbon, Bombay Sapphire Gin, and Don Julio Reposado Tequila. When looking into my selections, our bottles would have cost me close to $300 if purchased at a BC Liquor Store, so I was very satisfied with that. With free drinks across the resort, we planned to bring three of the bottles home and only opened two in the room.

Speaking of those drinks around the resort, my orders largely consisted of Margaritas, Palomas, Dos Equis Amber beers, Rum and Cokes, Gin & Tonics (using the delightful Tanqueray Rangpur whenever possible), and Jameson & Ginger Ale with lime juice. I also enjoyed the many “make your own” drink stations. There was ones for Mojitos, G&Ts, Bloody Marys and Mimosas.

As for food, it was mostly very good. I can’t say we had a single bad meal at any of the dinner restaurants and we enjoyed the various themes, including steakhouse, Thai, Japanese teppanyaki, family barbecue, Mexican, etc. We didn’t get a chance to hit them all, though, and particularly would have like to have tried their beach-set seafood and Spanish tapas options.

Resort Food

Okay, now for some negatives and areas where the resort can improve. I felt the resort was too big, comparing it to my opinions of rather being at Disneyland than Disney World, for manageability. Next, their computer system was atrocious with communication between different departments being almost non-existent. Add in some typical language barrier issues and there was a few problems we had to unfortunately work through, when we should have been relaxing without a care in the world. Lastly, I never got to try any of the resort craft beers, as they were only free in one part of the place, although they were on display everywhere. That said, I wasn’t thrilled with the varieties offered anyway.

My Top 5 experiences at the resort were:

  1. Playing with the Sipplings at the water slides
  2. Watching the kids dance at a couple of the parties
  3. Seeing Girl Sip perform live on stage for first time, through the Kid’s Club
  4. My night out with Mrs. Sip to watch the Chic Cabaret performance
  5. Our infinity pool getaways at the adult-only portion of the resort

We left the resort twice, once to see a friend’s mother in Puerto Venturas and a couple days later to Playa del Carmen to visit that same friend’s sister and her family. In Puerto Venturas, we had a late lunch at Café Ole International. There, I tried a Chamoy Michelada and scarfed down a delicious Baconnator Burger. The Chicken Strips for the Sipplings were also quite good, as I just had to try one. We also had a drink at the Beach Club & Hotel, where I had a Mai Tai.

Mexico

In Playa del Carmen, we ate at the Sonora Prime steakhouse, where I ordered the Skull Rabbit cocktail. For food, we shared a number of menu items, including the Calimari and Cheese Dip and Chips. For a main course, Mrs. Sip and I shared the Wellington Burger, which was injected with hot cheese. The burger was spectacular, but sadly, Girl Sip was dealing with a bout of heat/sun stroke and that put a damper on this outing, as we were concerned with her illness and recovery.

On our return trip home, at the Cancun Airport, we wanted to eat at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen Bar, but it inexplicably closed at 6. This, during a dinner rush with many weary travellers looking for a good meal before boarding their long flights home or to their own vacation destinations. We ended up getting some eats in the food court area, but I was disappointed with not getting to try Guy Fieri’s.

That wraps the shortest month of the year. In the end, I’m glad we took the risk and went on this vacation. It provided a chance to have some wonderful family time together and experience some new things. March will be fun, as we have a number of Canucks games, other events and we celebrate my and Mrs. Sip’s 20-year dating anniversary!

British Columbia – Vancouver Cocktail

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 are in British Columbia, where the Sip Advisor resides. Although we lack large egos (in this humble writer’s opinion), the province once called itself “The Best Place on Earth”. Let’s see what life is like on the Left Coast:

Nicknames: ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ is the slogan that appears on licence plates in the province after being adopted as an official motto in 1964. Another common catchphrase used here, particularly by the local tourism industry, is ‘Super, Natural, British Columbia’. No matter what moniker folks want to tag onto the place, I prefer to simply call it home.

Motto: “Splendor without diminishment” – Ooh la la, tres fancy!

Food: The Nanaimo Bar – a sweet treat consisting of layers of a crumb base, icing middle and chocolate top – was invented in Nanaimo in the 1950’s. The bar’s popularity grew when it was featured at Expo 86 and efforts have been made to see the Nanaimo Bar named ‘Canada’s Favourite Confection’. The dessert even got the stamp treatment in 2019, but I’d rather lick the real thing.

Drink: British Columbia has amazing craft beer, wine and distillery industries, making the Sip Advisor a very happy man. A nostalgic entry here is Clearly Canadian, which was founded in B.C. in 1987. The flavoured sparkling waters grew wildly popular quickly, being featured in movies and TV shows such as Jerry Maguire, Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex and the City.

Nanaimo Bar

Site to See: Having travelled a fair bit of the province, there’s really not many bad choices to explore. If I had to pick a favourite place, it would probably be Whistler, which provides an amazing escape in both winter and summer. Situated in the mountains, Whistler offers picturesque landscapes, while the has village a number of great dining and entertainment options.

Street: The Downtown Vancouver portion of Granville Street is lined with much of the city’s entertainment district and can be a very interesting place to traverse at night. The street was once illuminated with numerous neon light signs, reminiscent to Las Vegas, but many have been removed. Granville Street is the second most expensive property in Canadian Monopoly.

TV Show: While B.C. is sometimes referred to as Hollywood North, thanks to the film and TV industries that do so much shooting here, not many project are actually set in the province. The most enduring series was The Beachcombers, running for 19 seasons and 387 episodes. The Sip Family recently stayed in Gibsons, where the show was set, seeing the boat (Persephone) and café (Molly’s Reach) used in the show.

Movie: No movie takes place entirely in B.C., but a couple films have the majority of their plots occur in the province. Of these, I really enjoyed The Hunted, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. del Toro plays a former armed forces operative, while Jones, his former mentor, is tasked with tracking his student down. The movie mostly uses hand-to-hand combat fight scenes.

Granville Street

Book/Author: Environmental activist David Suzuki was born in Vancouver in 1936. He has authored 52 books, including 19 for children, mostly on scientific topics. Suzuki is also known for his long-running TV series The Nature of Things and the David Suzuki Foundation, which is dedicated “to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that does sustain us”.

Fictional Character: Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother, is played by Vancouverite Cobie Smulders. She is a true Canadian girl, best shown through her love of hockey and the Vancouver Canucks. Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed How I Met Your Mother even more with the touch of Canadiana and our hometown being involved. I’ll even forgive Scherbatsky for her time as teen pop idol Robin Sparkles.

Fictional City: Edgemont, a made up suburb of Vancouver, was the setting for a teen drama series of the same name. The show ran for five seasons and 70 episodes, centered on the young love and break ups of students at McKinley High School. A couple cast members went on to more recognized projects, such as Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang on Smallville) and Grace Park (Kono Kalakaua on Hawaii Five-0).

Actor/Actress: This is a tough category. First, there’s universally-beloved movie star Ryan Reynolds. Then, there’s stoner comedy icon Seth Rogen. And, who could forget the legendary Michael J. Fox. A sentimental nod also has to go to Raymond Burr for his iconic role as lawyer Perry Mason. All are from Vancouver or its surrounding suburbs and have represented the province quite well.

Ryan Reynolds

Song: British Columbia is certainly not the easiest name to turn into lyrics, but on New Year’s Eve 1965, Jewel of the West (Beautiful B.C.) was made the official theme song of the province. It was composed by musician Machelle Shapira. Another song worthy of mention is Home for a Rest by Spirit of the West. That home the North Vancouver-based band is longing for is B.C.

Band/Musician: Bryan Adams is one of the most successful musicians of all-time, selling close to 100 million records and singles worldwide. He is best known for songs such as (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, Summer of ’69 and Heaven. Also deserving of mention is crooner Michael Bublé, who has had a number of chart-topping songs and albums, to go along with four Grammy Awards.

People: Terry Fox is a national hero. With one leg amputated due to cancer, Fox was only 21 when he embarked on a cross-country trek to raise awareness about the disease. Sadly, Fox didn’t achieve his goal of going coast-to-coast, as his deteriorating health forced him off the road. His legacy exists to this day thanks to all he inspired with his courage. Terry Fox Runs are done annually around the world, raising an estimated $800 million for cancer research.

Animal: The Great Bear Rainforest is home to the rare Kermode Bear (aka Spirit Bear), which is recognized as B.C.’s Provincial Animal. The bear was named after Frank Kermode, who helped discover the animal. Spotting a Spirit Bear is said to bring good luck. One bear, nicknamed Clover, is believed to be the first in captivity, after the cub was abandoned and not suitable for release into the wild.

Spirit Bear

Invention: In 1911, the modern Egg Carton was invented by Joseph Coyle, a newspaper editor and publisher in Smithers. Coyle developed the device to help settle a disagreement between a farmer and hotel owner over deliveries often resulting in numerous broken eggs. Eggs were previously transported in baskets. Coyle turned the creation into a successful business venture.

Crime: B.C. has a sordid history, with criminals such as Robert Pickton and Clifford Olsen part of our unfortunate past. Pickton confessed to 49 murders, following the discovery of various remains on his family pig farm in 2002. Olsen, known as the Beast of British Columbia, killed 11 kids and teens in the early 1980’s. There’s also the Highway of Tears in Northern B.C., where at least 80 women have gone missing or been murdered from.

Sports Team: The Vancouver sports scene features three teams, the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), B.C. Lions (CFL) and Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS). From 1995 to 2001, there used to also be the Vancouver Grizzlies (NBA), but after six dreadful seasons, the franchise relocated to Memphis. Despite their short existence, the Grizzlies still have a cult following in the province and outside it.

Athlete: Two Burnaby-born icons fill this category. Hockey star Joe Sakic (commonly referred to as ‘Burnaby Joe’) and Christine Sinclair, perhaps the greatest female soccer player of all-time, both come from the Vancouver suburb. In Burnaby, a street has been named after Sakic, while Sinclair’s name is attached to a community centre located near Joe Sakic Way.

Grizzlies

Famous Home: Because so much filming is done in B.C., many recognizable homes from TV and movies can be found. This includes Archie’s house from Riverdale, the home Happy Gilmore is trying to save for his grandma, and Jacob’s property from the Twilight franchise. For something a little more historical, there’s Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1992.

Urban Legend: B.C. is home to some legendary mythical creatures, including the Sasquatch – was even used as one of the 2010 Olympics mascots, named Quatchi – and Ogopogo, a water monster said to inhabit Okanagan Lake. There have also been various sightings of mermaids, sometimes made along B.C. Ferry routes. It’s almost as if they want to be seen.

Museum: The Revelstoke Railway Museum is home to the Last Spike at Craigellachie, which completed the Canadian Pacific Railway’s cross-country expansion in 1885. This construction made the line the first transcontinental railway in Canada. The spike was driven into the ground by financier Donald Smith, then removed and turned into a souvenir for some of the wives of Craigellachie.

Firsts: Kim Campbell, born in Port Alberni, became the first female Prime Minister of Canada in 1993. Although her term only lasted 132 days (the third shortest in the country’s history), it was still a gender barrier-breaking moment. Canadian women’s magazine Chatelaine named Campbell its Woman of the Year for 1993. To date, she is the only Prime Minister to come from B.C.

Mermaids

Company: A family-favourite dining spot for the Sip Family is White Spot, famous for their comfort food. The company, founded almost 100 years ago in 1928, has branched out to offering their wares in fast food settings, with those locations known as Triple-O’s (named after the restaurant’s popular burger sauce). Mrs. Sip and I had part of our first-ever date at a White Spot, so I will always be fond of the chain.

Events: Two events put the province on the world stage: Expo 86 and the 2010 Olympics. Expo 86 marked only the second time a Canadian city hosted a World’s Fair, with the theme being “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch”. At the 2010 Olympics, Canada set a new record for gold medals at an Olympics, capped by winning the hockey tournament on Sidney Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal’.

Miscellaneous: Ladysmith’s own Pamela Anderson, recognized for her role on TV show Baywatch and appearances in Playboy Magazine, was actually famous from the day she was born. Born on July 1, 1967, the 100th anniversary of Canada’s official founding, Anderson was Canada’s Centennial Baby… at least from British Columbia. It’s like she was destined to be a star.

Vancouver Cocktail

Vancouver Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 0.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Benedictine
  • Dashes of Orange Bitters
  • Garnish with a Cucumber Slice

This drink was created in 1954 at the renowned Sylvia Hotel. Apparently, the recipe was lost until it was rediscovered by bartender and cocktail historian Steve Da Cruz in 2006. The beverage can now be found at various locations around Vancouver. I subbed my Jagermeister Spice for Benedictine, as I can’t justify buying a new bottle of something for a 0.25 oz serving.

Sip Trips #205: Dome Dining

Well, the first month of 2022 is in the books and it was a pretty good one. Even with Mrs. Sip trying out a keto diet, we managed to have a lot of fun, especially since Mrs. Sip enjoyed a cheat day for her mid-month birthday. Here’s what we got up to in Januray:

To welcome 2022, on New Year’s Day, the Sip Family had a delicious meal at The Keg. My beverage of the Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA combined very well with my Keg Burger with Fries. I had stopped ordering the Keg Burger a few years back when they sadly changed the beef blend the burger was made with. I’m glad I finally gave it another shot because although I still miss how the burger was done when I originally fell in love with it, it’s still a pretty damn good meal.

The next day, we met up with a friend at 3 Dogs Brewing in White Rock. I enjoyed servings of their I Like Big Mutts Hazy Tangerine IPA and K-Nein Mandarin Kolsch, as well as the walk I took with Boy Sip between the two brews, so he could stretch his legs and see the cars and trucks he has become obsessed with as he enters the toddler stage of life.

Toddler

The next weekend, Mrs. Sip and I were offered a childless night from Ma and Pa Sip. We took advantage of the occasion with a visit to Piva Modern Italian, where we used some of the gift card Ma and Pa Sip gave us for Christmas. Mrs. Sip and I split the Calamari Steak, which was very tasty with olive tapenade on top. To drink, I had the Viola cocktail (Empress Gin float, Cointreau, lemon, mango syrup, guava, soda), which was very refreshing thanks to the citrus and soda blend.

Afterwards, as Mrs. Sip did some shopping for snacks for her new diet, I went to the 8th Street Liquor Store, where I bought a single tall can of Stanley Park Deck the Malts Holiday Ale. I hadn’t had the chance to try the seasonal release prior to this and the brew came at a slightly discounted price, so how could I refuse the offer.

Another liquor shopping trip resulted in Mrs. Sip picking up two flavours of Nude Vodka Soda (Strawberry Kiwi and Watermelon), as well as Pyur Coconut Vodka Soda. I’ve enjoyed all three variations and it always feels good to get your drink on and know you’re not sacrificing too much in the calorie intake category.

Calories

Stocking up for a guys’ drinking night the next weekend, I visited the Clayton Liquor Store. There, I bought tall can four-packs of Steel and Oak Throw Blanket West Coast IPA and Boombox Paradise City Passionfruit Coconut IPA, along with a single can of Dead Frog Field Tripper Hazy Rye IPA. The Paradise City was particularly good, with a hint of coconut at the back end of each sip.

As for the guys’ night, our first stop of the evening was Farm Country Brewing. I’ve always liked Farm Country’s set up and enjoyed this stay too, with orders of the Last Call Cocktail Inspired Ale and Hoppy Tonk 2.0 Azacca Fresh Hop IPA.

Next up, was Camp Brewing. I love that Camp sticks with their theming, offering smokies and s’mores on their food menu. I took advantage of that, eating the Ranger Danger Smokie (Korean BBQ sauce, mayo, honey mustard, cilantro, sesame seeds), which really hit the spot. We stayed here for a while, enjoying the fire pit spot that opened up shortly after we arrived, with the Sip Advisor downing pints of Kodiak West Coast Brown Ale, Fall Camp Smoked Amber Ale and Winter Camp Gingersnap Ale. The only downside of the evening was a random woman coming up to us as she was leaving, informing us we had stolen their spot at the fire pit. This, after we asked a server for permission to move and had been sitting at the spot for an hour and a half before being approached. Had the woman come up to us earlier, we would have happily given up the spot in the name of good liquor karma.

Karma

Later that week, we celebrated Mrs. Sip’s birthday with the extravagant Winterlust dome dining experience at H Tasting Lounge. We began with an arrival bottle of bubbly and cheese and meat charcuterie plates. My cocktails consumed during our 2.5-hour reservation, included the Balrog’s Demise (Ardbeg Wee Beastie Scotch, Goslings Black Seal Rum, Lemon Hart 151, Cherry Heering, Averna, pineapple, lime, coconut, tiki bitters, spice), Cut The Chit Chat (Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Cynar, Campari, Apricot Liqueur, antica formula, hellfire bitters) and Isle of Man (Copper Spirits White Rye, Esquimalt Dry Vermouth, Boomsma Genever, Maraschino Liqueur, Sombra Mezcal). I also had tastes of some of Mrs. Sip’s beverages, including Bobby’s A Cinephile (ghee washed Lemon Hart 151 Rum, Angostura 5yr Rum, roasted corn lemon, vegan foamer, popcorn) and Like, Basically (strawberry jacked Absolut Vodka, O5 Elderflower Soda, Chambord, Galliano, lemon). Each cocktail was delicious and presented uniquely. This included my Balrog’s Demise being lit on fire and the Cut the Chit Chat coming in it’s own hand-painted flask, while Mrs. Sip’s Bobby’s A Cinephile was served in a popcorn bag, with caramel corn. To eat, I ordered the HTL Smash Burger and also enjoyed shared plates of Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Wings and Bread & Oil. The meal wrapped with the restaurant serving up some slices of birthday cake, which we all shared. The experience was well worth it and we had no problem surpassing the $300 minimum order, even though our group was only four people, instead of the six we had originally planned.

With the Sipplings staying over at Ma and Pa Sip’s for the night, we also managed to hit the House of Comedy for a show. As if we needed more food, upon arriving, we ordered the Chicken Tenders and Chips & Guac. To drink, I enjoyed the Dark Humor cocktail, which is their version of a Dark N’ Stormy.

We wrapped the month with a Vancouver Canucks game. Prior to heading to the arena, I needed some dinner and went to White Spot for my meal. I paired a pint of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale with a Legendary Burger Platter. It was a fantastic meal and set me up nicely for the hockey ahead.

Burger and Beer

At the game, I got a large-size Parkside Dreamboat IPA. It was nice to have the arena at 50 per cent capacity, for ease of moving around, emptier bathrooms and bar line ups, as well as using transit home. Of course, a packed stadium is good too, but I will enjoy the limited crowd while it lasts.

February promises to be a very interesting month, as the Sip Family goes on their first international vacation since November 2019. We’ll be staying at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, so that will surely provide some good material for next month’s Sip Trips!

Cocktail Corner – Quick Decision

Great Debates

Since the dawn of time, there have been certain arguments that have divided families, torn apart lovers, and broken up friendships. Yes, my little sippers, we’re talking about issues as important as peanut butter: crunchy or smooth and toilet paper: over or under. Here are some of society’s most crucial concerns:

#5: Marvel vs. DC

I prefer the Marvel Universe, in general, but there are some DC characters I love, such as Batman (does any superhero have a better rogues gallery?). This argument is no longer isolated to the world of comic books. It has spread to movies, TV shows, video games, and pop culture in general. Despite being competitors, the companies have co-existed for some crossover projects, including a number of comic book battles and alliances. After all, the scent of money can make for strange bedfellows.

Marvel & DC

#4: Boxers vs. Briefs

There are boxer briefs, but I don’t want to take the easy, harmonious route out of this conundrum. I’m a steadfast boxers man and have been since a young age. I suppose I like to have breathing room for my buddies. Us boxers guys have been buoyed by evidence that sperm count is enhanced when packages aren’t all bunched up. There is, of course, a third option in going commando, but I’m always weary of zippers when practicing complete freedom.

#3: Android vs. iPhone / PC vs. Mac

Personally, I’m not a fan of Apple products and refuse to use them whenever possible. Of course, when they have the market cornered with something like the iPod, my decision is practically made for me. While I haven’t ever used an iPhone or iPad, save for taking the odd photo for someone while travelling, I do have ample experience with Mac computers and much rather be sitting in front of a PC, regardless of potential capabilities.

Android vs. iPhone

#2: Coke vs. Pepsi

Many don’t like soft drinks at all, but for those who do, this rivalry has existed for eons, reaching its peak in the 1980’s. The companies (Coca-Cola and PepsiCo) also wage war with their other products: Sprite vs. 7-Up, Barq’s vs. Mug, Minute Maid vs. Tropicana, Nestea vs. Lipton Brisk, Powerade vs. Gatorade, Dasani vs. Aquafina, and so on. The two entities even compete to be major event sponsors and get their lines into various restaurants. Coke has McDonald’s, Subway, and Dominos; while Pepsi has KFC, Quiznos, and Pizza Hut. Personally, I side with Pepsi, but I’m actually more of a Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group man.

#1: Cats vs. Dogs

I’ve never been all that comfortable around dogs. I don’t know from where exactly this unease stems, but perhaps it has something to do with all that crotch sniffing. Plus, while it’s rare for a dog to pose a danger to people and fellow animals, you’ve never heard of a cat killing anything other than vermin (they can barely stay awake long enough to feed themselves!). No, my little sippers, I’ll take a cuddly kitty any day of the week over big, drooling, can’t clean themselves dogs.

Cocktail Corner: Quick Decision

Quick Decision

  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 0.75 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Dark Rum
  • 0.5 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • Garnish with Whip Cream

Honourable mentions include East Coast vs. West Coast, Cities vs. Suburbs, Burgers vs. Hot Dogs (the great barbecue dilemma), Coffee vs. Tea, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Glasses vs. Contacts, Ovens vs. Microwaves, Disneyland vs. Disneyworld, and T vs. A! What great arguments have you witnessed?

Love & Hate: Holidays/Observances

There are some days that mark the calendar that we greatly look forward to. Others, we’d rather not come to pass and perhaps even disappear entirely. The Sip Advisor is going to look at these occasions, some of which I’m a fan of and others I loathe. Let’s start with days to love:

Christmas

Christmas reminds me of the sentiment about pizza: even bad pizza is still pizza. For example, our COVID Christmases have somehow turned out to be good, despite restrictions and a general lack of holiday cheer. As a kid, Christmas is everything. Once Boxing Day hits, preparation for the next Christmas – and the presents that come with it – move into full gear. As an adult, there is still a lot of fun to be had with a series of days off and when you become a parent, you get to live the season through the kids’ experience. It can be a hectic and stressful time, but worth it all.

Halloween

Great as a kid, perhaps even better as an adult. When you’re young, with candy on the line, you would walk for miles to get your hands on the sweet stuff. To quote Garfield: Candy! Candy! CANDY!!! Adult Halloween parties are fantastic or at least an excuse to continue the Halloween extracurriculars when you can no longer justify trick-or-treating. Now, as a parent, I’ve come to greatly enjoy the night out with the Sipplings, although that is probably bolstered by my love of drinking outside and having a stroller to hold my wares.

halloween

Easter

Four days off for the rebirth of Jesus? Um, yes please. We’ve used the break to go to Vegas, Seattle, Disneyland, Portland (for back-to-back Beer and Wine Festivals) and other getaways. Plus, who can turn down all the chocolate eggs, jelly beans and other sweets that come with the holiday? Even that fake grass that’s used to fill out Easter baskets has become an item of fondness for many. My only complaint about Easter would be there’s not a lot of obvious viewing choices connected with the holiday, which is different than Christmas and Halloween.

So, those are the holidays the Sip Advisor particularly loves. Not let’s see the other side of the ledger and the days I hate:

New Year’s Eve

Every year, there’s this pressing need to have an epic plan for the occasion and it never goes off accordingly. Events get cancelled, people get lame and bail, etc. Among our NYE duds was when Mrs. Sip and I got engaged at Christmas and planned to announce it to a group of friends on New Year’s. Thanks to it being a mid week December 31st and there being a light snowfall, our guest list dwindled down to three people. We still gave our good news, but it felt anticlimactic. I will say, we’ve had some good New Year’s Eves, but they often consist of taking things easier, staying at home or going for a meal.

New Year's Eve

Valentine’s Day

Mrs. Sip and I actually prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day before or after the actual date. Why pay double for things like flowers and chocolates? I prefer to get the same items for their regular price, or in the case of chocolate, at a discounted price, as stores try to move the items after February 14th. And hell, you really shouldn’t need a specific day to show that special person in your life just how important they are to you. That’s a year-round commitment. Lastly, there’s the folks who find Valentine’s Day to be a real downer because of relationship issues. All-in-all, V-Day is meh.

Daylight Saving Time

It’s absolutely ridiculous that we still go through this changing of clocks twice each year. Many professionals have debunked the whole reasoning behind its beginnings and point to how unnecessary the whole ordeal is. It’s even worse as parents of young kids, when you have no clue how the change will affect them and for how long. Will they wake up an hour earlier than usual, which means you’ll lose sleep as well? The stress of what will happen just isn’t worth it. Let’s just agree to finally kibosh the whole thing.

Before wrapping this post up, here are some quick thoughts of mine on other holidays and observances (in chronological order):

Lunar New Year: I will never turn down a good Chinese meal.

Groundhog Day: What a ridiculous thing to highlight on any calendar.

Family Day: This was an awesome addition to the calendar when we were childless. Now it just means I have to spend time with the fam!

Family Day

St. Patrick’s Day: Green beers and banishing snakes… what’s there to complain about?

Cinqo de Mayo: Tacos and margaritas… what’s there to complain about?

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day: After fours years as one, parents deserve all the praise they can get.

Labour Day: I’m split here. It signifies the end of summer, but also inspires you to have one last big bash before the season is out.

Thanksgiving: A perfect excuse to eat and drink to excess.

Love & Hate: Bah Humbug!

Bah Humbug

  • 1 oz White Rum
  • 1 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1 oz Orange Liqueur
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

Agree or disagree with my holiday assessments? Think I’m just a bitter man, who needs to take a chill pill? Let me know in the comments below. Just remember, I’m always right and that’s a position I’m not willing to budge from!

Alberta – Angry Canadian

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 begin our journey in Alberta, sometimes called the Texas of Canada. Does this comparison hold true? Let’s find out:

Nicknames: Alberta is known as the Wild Rose Country, based on its provincial flower. The wild rose appears on licence plates in the province. The moniker has also been adopted by Wild Rose Brewing, based out of Calgary.

Motto: “Strong and free” – Typically, when you’re strong, you’re free!

Food: While Alberta is known for its beef industry (used in Canadian McDonald’s burgers, among other products), it should be noted Chinese restaurant staple Ginger Beef was invented in Calgary. Silver Inn chef George Wong is said to have created the dish of deep-fried beef strips in a sweet and spicy sauce in the mid 1970’s. Since then, it has spread to other Asian eateries.

Drink: The Caesar, Canada’s far superior cousin to America’s Bloody Mary, was created in Calgary, in 1969, at the Calgary Inn. Although similar recipes predate this variation, this rendition, made by restaurant manager Walter Chell, was the first time the cocktail was comprised of the unique recipe we know today, with the Caesar name. May 13, 2009 was proclaimed Caesar Day in Calgary.

Caesar

Site to See: For outdoorsy types, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are a must-see destination. The World Heritage Site is comprised of four National Parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho), offering stunning landscapes. For indoor entertainment, there’s West Edmonton Mall, complete with indoor amusement park, water park, ice rink and more. Finally, for young and old alike, Dinosaur Provincial Park allows people to embrace their love of dinosaurs.

Street: The Icefields Parkway (also known as Highway 93) runs through both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, connecting the two. The route allows access to glaciers and lakes, including such picturesque sites as Lake Louise, the Athabasca Glacier and Athabasca Falls, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake and Maligne Canyon. Along the way, people can also spot various wildlife.

TV Show: Heartland, based on a series of 26 novels by Lauren Brooke (although the books are set in Virginia), ran for 15 seasons and 234 episodes, becoming the longest running one-hour scripted drama in Canadian TV history. The show centers around Amy Fleming and the activity on her family Ranch in Alberta. Most filming for the series was done in High River.

Movie: The majority of the Disney movie Cool Runnings – loosely based on the real-life story of an unlikely Jamaican bobsled team competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics – is set in Calgary, which hosted those games. Starring John Candy (in one of his final roles) as disgraced bobsled coach Irving Blitzer, the film was a hit and a personal childhood favourite of mine.

Cool Runnings

Book/Author: Todd McFarlane is one of the most well-known comic book artists/writers in the world. His work on Spider-Man in the late 80’s and early 90’s led to great success and McFarlane forming his own publishing company, Image Comics, which released McFarlane’s Spawn property. Outside the comic world, McFarlane has popular businesses in McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment.

Fictional Character: X-Men wildcard Wolverine was born in Cold Lake in the 1880s, according to the mutant’s backstory. Wolverine is among the most popular super heroes of all-time, having appeared in numerous comic iterations, as well as other media, such as the X-Men movie franchise (portrayed by Hugh Jackman), which led to a trilogy of solo films for the character.

Fictional City: Adult animated cartoon Crash Canyon is about a society of people who have all wound up stuck in an Alberta canyon and are unable to return to their regular lives, due to the canyon’s high walls. The series lasted two seasons and I wish, like the show, that golf tees were currency, as it would justify my brief golf phase as a teenager.

Actor/Actress: Nathan Fillion, star of shows such as Firefly, Castle and The Rookie, was born in Edmonton. Fillion’s role in Firefly, as ship captain Malcolm Reynolds, earned him cult favourite star status. In his hometown, the Edmonton City Hall was renamed the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion on August 7 and August 8, 2021, resulting from a fan petition with over 27,000 signatures.

Nathan Fillion

Song: Alberta Bound, originally performed by Gordon Lightfoot, is about being en route to Alberta, with the singer heaping great praise on the province. Lyrics include: “I’m Alberta-bound, This piece of heaven that I’ve found, Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground, Everything I need beneath that big blue sky”. The song has been covered by other artists such as Bryan Adams and Paul Brandt.

Band/Musician: Alberta has produced a number of female artists who have gone on to great careers domestically and internationally. Singers/songwriters include Joni Mitchell, k.d. Lang, Jann Arden, Tegan and Sara, and Feist. Among them, Mitchell has been described as “one of the greatest songwriters ever” and one of “the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.

People: I was surprised to learn that actor and marijuana activist Tommy Chong was born in Edmonton. Chong is best known for his stoner comedy duo, Cheech & Chong, with Cheech Marin. The two released several popular movies and albums together, but my favourite role for Chong was as baked hippie Leo Chingkwake on That 70s Show.

Animal: Charlie was a mule that survived the 1903 Turtle Mountain landslide, which killed 70-90 people who called the mining town of Frank home. The mule managed to endure underground for more than a month by eating bark and drinking available water. Sadly, Charlie was overfed oats and brandy by his joyful rescuers, resulting in the mule perishing.

Leo

Invention: The SMART Board was developed Calgary husband and wife team David Martin and Nancy Knowlton in 1991. No longer would teachers and instructors alike have to struggle with chalkboards, overhead projectors or whiteboards. By 2016, the tandem’s company, SMART Technologies Inc., was purchased by the Foxconn Technology Group for $200 million.

Crime: Known as the Edmonton Shooting, in 2014, 53-year-old Phu Lam killed his wife, stepson, in-laws, a family friend and a neighbour. His victim count totalled eight people, making it the deadliest mass murder in the province’s history. Lam would take his own life following the homicides. In 2021, Lam threatened to do exactly what he later carried out. At the time of the crime, he was in heavy debt due to a gambling addiction.

Sports Team: Calgary, with the Flames (NHL) and Stampeders (CFL), and Edmonton, with the Oilers (NHL) and Elks (CFL), host all of the province’s professional franchises. The rivalry between the two cities is dubbed the Battle of Alberta for games between the NHL teams, while the Labour Day Classic is contested each September between the two CFL squads.

Athlete: Figure skater Jamie Salé was born in Calgary. Salé became internationally recognized when she and partner David Pelletier were awarded Olympic gold medals following the 2002 Salt Lake City figure skating scandal, which saw a brided French judge fix scores leading to a Russian team victory. Other top Alberta athletes include Alphonso Davies, Grant Fuhr, Jarome Iginla and Mark Messier.

Smart Board

Famous Home: A mecca for professional wrestling fans, the Hart Family home in Calgary is where such stars as Bret Hart and Owen Hart were born and raised, while other world famous grapplers were trained in the home’s basement, affectionately known as the Dungeon. The list of legends to graduate from the Dungeon include Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, the British Bulldog, and Jim and Natalya Niedhart.

Urban Legend: The Banff Springs Hotel, in scenic Banff National Park, is known as one of Canada’s most haunted locations. Opened in 1888, the resort is home to a number of ghosts, including a bride (famous enough to have her own coin and stamp) and bellman, based on former employee Sam McCauley, who passed away in 1975, but is said to still help hotel guests.

Museum: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame can be found in Calgary. The museum highlights Canada’s role and history in the sporting world, as well as the many athletes that have represented the country. Opened in 1955, close to 700 inductees have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame, split between athlete and builder categories. The building is hard to miss, painted in Canadian flag colours of red and white.

Firsts: In 1916, Alberta’s Emily Murphy, a women’s rights activist, was the first female judge in Canada and the British Commonwealth. Thereafter, in 1917, fellow activists Louise McKinney and Roberta MacAdams were the first and second females elected to a legislature in the British Empire. MacAdams would go on to be the first woman to pass a piece of legislation.

Hart Foundation

Company: A favourite eatery of the Sip Family, Boston Pizza was founded in Edmonton, in 1964. The chain was originally known as Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House, ironically established by four Greek (not Italian) immigrants. One of the first Boston Pizza franchisees and one of its current owners is Jim Treliving, best known for being one of the investors on Dragons’ Den.

Events: The 1988 Winter Olympics were hosted in Calgary, with skiing events taking place in Kananaskis Country and Canmore. Canada failed to win any gold medals as host country, but the facilities built for the event resulted in Calgary becoming a hub for Canadian winter sports training development. These Olympics also produced the aforementioned Jamaican bobsled team and Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards.

Miscellaneous: The Calgary Stampede, one of the world’s largest rodeos, is known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. Numerous free pancake breakfasts and barbecues are served throughout the 10-day long event, hosted every July since 1923. One million visitors are estimated to attend the event each year and it’s on the Sip Advisor’s bucket list to attend one day.

Angry Canadian

Angry Canadian

  • 2 oz Canadian Rye Whiskey
  • Dash of Maple Syrup
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This Old Fashioned variant was invented by Calgarian Steve Johnston in 2013. I liked the hint of maple syrup you could smell with each sip of the cocktail. I could have used the drink being a little more complex, but it’s a good start to this journey across Canada.

Top 21 of 2021

I’m always surprised that as this list grows each year (ie. Top 19 of 2019, Top 20 of 2020, etc.), I still struggle to narrow down the list of events to highlight, even in another COVID-affected year. No point delaying any longer, let’s get right to it:

Polar Bear Plunge

We got the year started off in style, as I attempted to appease the gods with a quick dip into Ma and Pa Sip’s frigid pool. Despite my parent’s having a pool my entire life, this was the first time I took advantage of a winter swim, which was helped along with shots of Fireball, spiced rum-spiked hot chocolate and other body-warming beverages.

Bon Appétit

As part of Mrs. Sip’s birthday celebrations, we finally cashed in a gift card we had for Dirty Apron in Vancouver, where we cooked a four-course meal, each dish paired with a B.C. wine selection. The evening was full of delicious food and drink, as well as the laughter that comes with preparing decadent culinary items with limited experience.

Lover’s Delight

Our Valentine’s Day celebration was two-pronged, with part one being a blind wine tasting at Township 7 Vineyards in Langley and the second portion being dinner at The Keg, taking advantage of their Dine Out Vancouver special menu. With two young kids, keeping our relationship flame aglow is challenging, but I’d like to think we’re doing okay.

Valentine's

Hidden Valley

For this entry, I’m combining two separate trips that took us out to Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and even Hope, trying to achieve the same feat for Boy Sip, as we had for Girl Sip: 52 breweries visited before they turned one. Thanks to these expeditions, we surpassed our goal with days to spare and had a lot of fun doing so.

Boy Sip’s Big Day

While the day wasn’t as boozy as others on this list, how could I not include our little guy’s first birthday. Born on the day British Columbia announced their state of emergency due to the COVID virus, it was an interesting year for us all. Boy Sip had a great day, tentatively enjoying some cake and diving into his first McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Time to Myself

For Mother’s and Father’s Day this year, Mrs. Sip and I exchanged days without kids and spouses, allowing us to do whatever we wanted with our free time. I spent the day enjoying food, drink and relaxation. There was absolutely nothing on my schedule for a full 24-hour period, which sadly, has become a completely rare occasion.

Resort Life

Our first of three trips to Whistler this year was spent celebrating Father’s Day, with Ma and Pa Sip and the Sip-in-Laws. Highlights included hitting all three Whistler breweries, a date night out with Mrs. Sip, where we tried axe throwing and had a wonderful meal together, and quality time spent with the kids (we do enjoy that!) and family.

Father's Day

Hot, Hot, Hot

Soon, we were off again, this time to Penticton. One downside of the trip was it occurred during our heat wave bubble, but we made the best of the situation with lots of time spent hydrating with cold drinks and swimming in the hotel pool. We also got a guy’s night, spent at the hotel’s restaurant, since the temperature was so stifling.

Luck of the Irish

It’s funny how some nights completely go off script. Plans to meet a friend at Kelly O’Bryans in New West started off innocent enough, with said friend saying he’d probably only do dinner and then call it a night. Hours later, we were still at the restaurant, having moved from outside to inside, and ended up staying well past closing time.

Very Merry Unbirthday

To finally celebrate Boy Sip’s first birthday with family and friends, we hosted a Very Merry Unbirthday party for him. Part of the festivities were my cocktail menu, featuring a handful of drinks that kept guests refreshed and delighted. After his initial shyness wore off, Boy Sip seemed to enjoy having the spotlight on himself for an afternoon.

Wet and Wild

To end the summer, Mrs. Sip and I joined Cousin Sip and her husband for the Sip n’ Dip event at the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience waterpark in Aldergrove. Floating around the lazy river with drinks was a lot of fun. Mutual friends of ours were also at the event and it was one of their birthdays, so the evening continued at the Townhall Pub in Langley.

Lazy River

Birthday Buddies

With me and Girl Sip’s birthday being back-to-back, there’s usually a lot of fun going on. This year, I got a nice free lunch and Chinese dinner, while Girl Sip’s special day was My Little Pony-themed and featured another Sip Advisor original cocktail lineup. This year, we’ll hopefully get to finally do the Disneyland trip we were supposed to do in 2020.

Like a Kid Again

For my birthday this year, Mrs. Sip organized a gathering of friends to check out the Industry Arcade in Sapperton. Beginning with beers at the adjacent ABC Brewing, we then moved over to the arcade, where we had two hours of unlimited play. Following our gaming session, we hit the Sapperton District Taphouse for dinner and even more drinks.

Sunshine Coast Ale Trail

At the end of September, we travelled to the Sunshine Coast for a weekend getaway. Over our stay, we visited all the breweries we could in Gibsons and Sechelt and also had a lot of fun in our Gibsons holiday home (Girl Sip’s term for all our accommodations), especially when the young’uns mercifully went to bed without issue each night.

Osoyoos Wine Country

A couple weeks later, we were in Osoyoos for the Thanksgiving long weekend. While this venture was largely spent at wineries during the day, each evening saw the extended Sip Family doing a lot of hotel drinking, enjoying each other’s company and an array of food and snacks. Sadly, we only hit one of the areas breweries, so will have to return.

Hotel Bar

Halloween Happenings

I’ve come to really enjoy Halloween with the kids. While they travel around our neighbourhood, stocking up on candy, I get to enjoy drinking outdoors. This was Boy Sip’s first Halloween where he participated and Girl Sip ranks the occasion among her favourite holidays. Topping off the night, was a meal of scrumptious Chicko Chicken.

Return to Whistler

Trip number two to Whistler in 2021, was with friends and their kids. Over the course of the weekend, we had some good meals in the village, while also enjoying downtime at our Airbnb home. We even managed to use the place’s hot tub one of the evenings, sipping beers while basking in the serenity of the area and watching snow fall.

Celebrating in Style

In between Whistler getaways, we celebrated a friend’s 40th birthday, who went all out in the planning of his milestone. Entertainment included dueling pianos and karaoke, while an open bar, food and snacks were all offered. Going all out ourselves, Mrs. Sip and I spent the night at a Downtown Vancouver hotel, allowing us much rest.

Return to Whistler: The Returnering

Our final adventure to Whistler was sans kids, for another friend’s 40th birthday celebrations. It was so nice to have a couple full childless days, allowing us to go at our own pace and not have to worry about our responsibilities. We managed to hit a number of new locales in the village, so have even more ideas for future visits.

40th Birthday

Feliz Navidad

Held at El Santo in New West, Mrs. Sip’s work Christmas party was a lot of fun. I got to see some old friends and meet some of her new coworkers, all while eating a delicious meal and ordering a series of creative cocktails. They weren’t able to have spouses/partners involved in 2020, so this was a welcome change, right before restrictions returned.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day was its typical mix of chaos and merriment, with multiple present openings and other activities. For Christmas dinner, I served up my most impressive cocktail collection yet, enjoyed by all. I love Christmas (in spite of how crazy the season can be) and it has become even more enjoyable with kids to watch experience the season.

While 2021 never produced the full return to normality we all hoped for, perhaps 2022 can provide us with that. If not, the Sip Family has seemingly found a way to continue having prosperous years and I imagine that will continue to be the trend!