November 11 – Dirty Martini

Hall of Fame

Recently, I got the idea of building my own shrine to immortal alcohols. These spirits have meant a great deal to me and have made me the Sip Advisor I am today. So, without further ado, here is the inaugural Sip Advisor Liquor Hall of Fame Class!

Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum

I’ve always enjoyed spiced rums, but none more so than Sailor Jerry’s. A definite highlight in my relationship with the spirit was a booth along Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience, where free pour drinks that were upwards of 60% Sailor Jerry’s were enjoyed in copious amounts. Sadly, on my last visit, that booth was nowhere to be found… but they can’t take my memories!

sailor-jerry's collection

Crown Royal Whiskey

A true Canadian classic, akin to actor Leslie Nielsen, musician Neil Young, and the Tim Horton’s donut franchise! Crown Royal is a wonderful whiskey that has played a large role in the Sip Advisor’s life and career as a liquor jockey. When a recipe calls for whiskey, it’s hard for me to not instinctively go for the Crown Royal, sitting high and mighty in its top shelf perch.

Bacardi Light Rum

Bacardi Light Rum was training wheels for me, as I entered the booze world in my teenage years. Ma and Pa Sip were regular rum and coke drinkers and like parents like son, I took up the family business. I can’t remember how many times I filled up a flask of Bacardi before heading out to a party. A tradition I will one day pass down to my own little sippers!

Fireball Whiskey

This is my go-to flask filler, perfect for weddings, camping, and nights out on the town. If you’re ever in the need for a little nip of something to get the party started or warm up in inclement weather, Fireball is the perfect tonic to get your motor running. I’ve even converted little sippers to the joys of the whiskey thanks to my great reputation as a sharer.

Frieball Whiskey Heaven & Hell

1800 Añejo Tequila

Mrs. Sip and I were first introduced to 1800 on a group trip to Mexico for New Year’s 2012. In the land of tequila, one fine product emerged for us, combining a wonderful taste with a very reasonable price point. We have since returned to Mexico and tracked down the 1800 Añejo again and it won’t be long before we have to repeat the process a third time.

Granville Island Brewery

The beer wing’s first entrant has to be the offerings of the Granville Island Brewery. From their Raspberry and Wheat Ales to their Lager and Honey Lager entries, not much comes out of the GIB kitchen that doesn’t pass the Sip Advisor’s stringent testing methods. I look forward to many more years of brewing goodness from this micro-brewery.

Cola

We finish the evening with our first hall of fame inductee among the mixer category. It’s a pretty obvious choice. My first drinks all included cola (of the Pepsi variety, of course). Whether it was a straight up rum and coke or the adventurous Long Island Iced Tea, cola has always been there for me and I’ll never forget its friendship, love, and support.

Drink #315: Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini Drink Recipe

  • 2 oz Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire East)
  • 0.25 oz Dry Vermouth
  • Splash of Olive Juice
  • Garnish with Olives

As with most hall of fames, a stringent voting process was needed to decide which drinking elements earned their way into these hallowed halls. Thankfully, an entire panel of top journalists and other prominent alcohol figures all reside in my head. Congrats to all the honourees.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
A star-studded event like saluting the 2013 hall of fame class needs a classy drink and so I went for the Dirty Martini. You can make this cocktail with either Gin or Vodka. I decided to go with the Gin variant, as that is the traditional method. One recipe noted to fill your martini glass with an ice cube and some water before placing in the fridge for a few minutes to let the chalice chill. This cocktail is certainly not for everyone. However, I like Olive Juice and I love Gin. Put the two together and the results are actually quite pleasant. I can see why this is such a popular martini to many people.

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August 29 – Mexican Mojito

Mocktail Mania

While I simply deplore the concept of the mocktail – I mean, seriously? You’re offering me a drink with no booze? – I feel it can be a fine training tool for young’uns who shouldn’t be indulging in sweet lady liquor. I have to give credit to the inventors of some mocktail names, which are as catchy as the spirits would normally be strong. Here are some of my favourites:

Nojito

One of my favourite families of drinks is the Mojito, highlighted by today’s offering of the Mexican variety. When I have my own little sippers, I’ll want to gradually introduce them to the wonders of mixology and this will be a fine starting point, especially for delicious summer bevvys. Mocktail Ingredients: Mint Leaves, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Club Soda

Mocktail Cat

Safe Sex on the Beach

Sometimes called No Sex on the Beach (although I prefer ‘Safe Sex’ because at least someone is getting lucky!), I think the safest sex on the beach is to make whoopee anywhere other than the beach. Remember, they don’t call it sandpaper for nothing… that stuff can be rough! Mocktail Ingredients: Cranberry Juice, Pineapple Juice, Peach Nectar, Maraschino Cherry

Maternitini

I have given brief thought to a time in the very distant future when Mrs. Sip becomes pregnant and whether or not I’ll give up booze in solidarity with her. And I’m quick to shrug those ideas off and say eff that! I just thank the gods above that I don’t have to carry a child and lose out on my drinking ways. Mocktail Ingredients: Raspberries, Grapefruit Juice, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice

Hot Not Toddy

While I rarely drink warm beverages (even if they are booze-fueled), this is a classic wintertime cocktail that can even be enjoyed sans alcohol (or so I’m led to believe!). I really only down the occasional hot chocolate at Christmas time and it’s usually topped with some sort of liqueur for added flavour and fun! Mocktail Ingredients: Tea, Honey, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg

Mocktail Poisoning

Virgin Mary

A number of mocktails simply throw the word virgin in to get their point across, but this is a rare instance where it actually works quite well. Subbing in for the Bloody Mary, the Virgin Mary doesn’t look very good on paper, at least from my perspective. Any drink with Tomato Juice and no liquor seems not worth the effort. Mocktail Ingredients: Tomato Juice, Worcestershire Sauce, Hot Sauce, Lemon Juice

Unfuzzy Navel

This solves the age old mystery of what exactly makes a Fuzzy Navel fuzzy… it’s the liquor, of course! I suppose an unfuzzy navel is much sexier than a fuzzy one because that probably means it belongs to a dude. Nevertheless, I’ll take mine fuzzy with alcohol, please! Mocktail Ingredients: Peach Nectar, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Grenadine

mocktail wedding

Not So Dark and Stormy

I feel a better name for this mocktail would be something like ‘Calm Before the Storm’, just to completely flip it around. I wonder if the Gosling’s Rum folks have hissy fits over this drink in the same manner they do over the Dark and Stormy alcoholic beverage recipe, which they have a copyright over. Mocktail Ingredients: Ginger Beer, Molasses, Lime Juice, Lime Wedge

Salty Dog Without the Tail

This is certainly one of the cleverer mocktail names I came across in my research. It actually makes more sense than the actual spirit-based refreshment. This would be a great drink to pull out around kids who would have a grand ol’ time with the name alone. Grapefruit Juice may be an acquired taste, but I’d make sure my kids got used to it! Mocktail Ingredients: Grapefruit Juice, Salt

Drink #241: Mexican Mojito

Aug 29

  • Muddle Mint Leaves and Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Tequila (I used 1800 Añejo)
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with a Mint Sprig

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some other classic mocktails, such as the Shirley Temple and Arnold Palmer (if you add alcohol, it becomes a John Daly!) with this list. My favourite as a wee little sipper was the Roy Rogers. The Sip Family would sometimes stay at the Embassy Suites hotel chain, which had a wonderful happy hour including drinks and appies. Kids were treated to this recipe (cola, grenadine and a Maraschino cherry) and got to feel like they were part of the party! Now let’s never speak of mocktails again!!!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
While not my favourite among the Mojito family of drinks, I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition. Using Añejo Tequila was a nice touch, of course, and it is yet another spirit that works well with all the usual Mojito ingredients.

June 17 – Mojave Green Rattlesnake

Fear Factor

I am an ophidiophobe. There, I said it. The first step on the road to recovery is admitting what I am. In layman’s terms: much like Indiana Jones, Conan the Barbarian, Johnny Cash, Andre the Giant, Pee Wee Herman, and Bam Margera (among other legendary characters of my ilk!), The Sip Advisor has a deathly fear of snakes.

It could stem from a cousin chasing me around when we were younger with a Tung Lashor (He-man and the Masters of the Universe) action figure. This toy had a long darting tongue that could be launched by rolling a wheel on the villain’s back. I can still vividly see my pose-able nightmare.

Tung Lashor

Heh, you’re not so tough anymore, are ya… with your fruit roll-up tongue!

I was also a wrestling fan as a wee lad and watching Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts bring his menagerie of serpents with him to the ring (and often use them on a fallen foe). This surely had some psychologically damaging effects on me… well, I guess no more so than the average wrestling maniac.

Over the years, I’ve tried to make peace with the slithering ones and it is on my bucket list to work up the courage to touch a live snake. That may be harder to do than I ever thought, as just going near the snake aquariums at any zoo give me the no-no feeling.

I wrote a psychology paper once, detailing my efforts to get over my fear. It included looking at pictures of snakes and watching snake movie and TV programs, working all the way up to going into a pet store and walking right up to the snake tanks without hurriedly and nervously speeding by. I got a decent grade on that paper, but I never actually went into the store. A good drinker knows that recovery can be faked!

Apparently actress Salma Hayek spent two months with therapists getting over her fear of snakes so she could take the part of Satanico Pandemonium in From Dusk Till Dawn. Director Robert Rodriguez tricked her into thinking that Madonna was about to sign on for the role, prompting Hayek to face her fears.

Satanico Pandemonium

I’m a little surprised the snake is so limp!

All that said, I do have a fascination with the creatures, often watching movies and TV programs involving serpents. Although, I have to admit, when I am watching any of the Anaconda movies or the Austin Stevens: Snakemaster biography series, I’m careful to keep my feet off the ground, for fear that a snake is waiting under the couch, poised to attack me with its toxic venom.

After all, my boy Launchpad McQuack thought he was okay with snakes until one tried to eat him. All we need is for everyone to have an experience like this and we’ll all be on the same page, fighting a common enemy. Talk about world unity y’all.

Drink #168: Mojave Green Rattlesnake

Mojave Green Rattlesnake Drink

  • 1.5 oz 1800 Añejo Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Garnish with Gummy Snakes

I much prefer my snakes shaken and stirred in a beverage, rather than slithering toward this sexy beast we know as The Sip Advisor. I’ve even mustered the courage to have eaten fried rattlesnake before. I know I’ve likely disappointed some of you, to let it be known that I, the ‘Slicker of Liquor’ do indeed fear something. A drink of this and living with yourself will be much easier.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was originally on the schedule all the way back in April. I had this vision of garnishing the cocktail with a gummy snake, which seemed easy enough to achieve. And then it took two months for me to track one down. Ironically, on the same day I finally found one in a candy store in London, Ma Sip located one in Hawaii. As for the martini itself, the best part is the smoky aftertaste that comes from the Añejo Tequila, rounding out the flavours of the Melon Liqueur and Sweet & Sour Mix.

April 28 – Matador

Taking the Bull by the Horns

While I never intend to be a matador, I have done my fair share of crazy. Here are my experiences in the realm of extreme activities!

Zorbing

Rolling down a hill inside a giant rubber ball filled with water is something only the Kiwi’s could have invented. Mrs. Sip and I jumped into the ball together and tumbled our way to the bottom of the hill, giggling as we crashed around inside our vessel. As you exit the ball, you feel as if you’re being birthed. We also did solo runs down a zig-zag course, trying to stay upright as long as possible, but always ending up flipping our way down the track.

Zorbing

Commercial Luge

The more you speed, the more you bleed… I found this out the hard way. Again, while in New Zealand, Mrs. Sip and I took to a commercial street luge track. Mrs. Sip played it safe and did two runs on the beginner track before advancing to intermediate. I did one intermediate run before hitting the expert slope twice. On my last run, feeling ballsy, I tried to videotape my journey. This didn’t go well, as holding the camera, while trying to steer was nearly impossible. I crashed into the embankment, rolled a few times and walked away with a gnarly gash on my arm, a grass- and dirt-stained shirt and a camera that struggled to open and close. Eh, you win some, you luge some!

Bungee Jumping

I’ve bungeed a total of five times from three different locations, including one epic jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand. Your mother always told you to never follow your friends and jump off bridges… that’s why I went solo and started the trend. Amazingly, Mrs. Sip has often accompanied me to view these jumps, despite her fear of heights. While I’m a fan of flipping through the air while bungeeing, I didn’t fully enjoy the backwards free-fall I once performed.

Bungee Jump

Ziplining

Despite what the creators of South Park might think about ziplining, I’ve always enjoyed flying through the air from platform to platform. Mrs. Sip and I have ziplined in Mexico, Costa Rica and into a cave in New Zealand (for a round of black water rafting). I like the lines where you can do some more elaborate tricks, like go upside down and pretend you’re a spider, hanging from your own webbing!

Scuba Diving

I know what you’re thinking (especially if you’ve never done it), how is scuba diving a danger sport? Well, just the concept of breathing deep underwater is something that can be difficult to wrap your head around. When Mrs. Sip (a certified diver) signed me up for an introductory scuba session, I was apprehensive to say the least. Once you get in the water, relax, and get used to the breathing and goggle techniques, the views are amazing and you can keep your fears subdued. I was privileged to do my dive at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and I think I even found Nemo!

Drink #118: Matador

The Matador Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Tequila (I used 1800 Añejo)
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

In the future, I hope to do other crazy shit like run with the bulls, skydive, base jump and cliff dive. For those that are afraid to try any of these activities, just remember how dangerous normal everyday things can be like walking the streets of a downtown core and you should have no problem jumping out of a plane, off a cliff, or into a stampede!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I liked this cocktail. It’s fun to put the odd non-bubbly-based drink into a champagne flute and I thought it worked really well for this recipe. All the ingredients mixed well together with many citrus notes shining through… plus you can never go wrong with Añejo Tequila!

April 11 – Coco Bongo

Mind = Blown

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of clubs. Give me a bar or a lounge any day over these glorified, noisy, cesspools.

That is, until I visited Coco Bongo. Before going to Mexico in 2012, someone (I really can’t remember who… perhaps we blame the concussions… perhaps the years of hard liquoring… perhaps I’m just not that intelligent) told me that at Coco Bongo’s a little person sometimes pours shots in people’s mouths. Well, my little sippers, this is something I had to experience for myself.

The day finally came. It was our last day in Cancun and we were dead set on hitting the Hotel Zone that night for some hardcore parkour… followed by some clubbing. Our group had been aiming to do this the entire trip, but various things – swimming in cenotes, climbing Mayan ruins, drinking beers on the beach, celebrating New Years in Playa, and other such annoyances – had stopped that from happening.

Prior to leaving for the evening, we had some pre-party tequila shots from our hosts’ fine bar selection. After all, what else are you supposed to do in Mexico? This is where Mrs. Sip and I fell in love with 1800 Añejo. After pounding back a few, we felt ready to get our freak on.

We were dropped off in the Hotel Zone and scouted out the details for getting into Coco Bongo’s (price, time, etc.). Some guy on the street who worked for the club hooked us up with our arm bands, which were both our ticket in and our open bar pass (Note: do the open bar thing, forget bottle service. You do NOT want to be stuck at a table in this venue!). Then we made our way to a bar across the street to keep our buzz going before we would tear shit down in the club. I don’t like to dance, but this white boy has some moves and a trick or two up his sleeve!

Vanilla Ice

Yeah, that looks about right!

The bar we hit was okay, but I think we were all anticipating the main event on the card. Soon we were lining-up for Coco Bongo’s, which although previously empty outside, now showed a long line of patrons waiting to get into the show.

I am prone to refusing to pay cover charges, especially if I have to wait in line to get into a place that is going to rip me off. I believe our bands were $40 so I had high expectations. I  joined a line that would surely take some time to disappear, but was rewarded as servers began passing out tequila shots to those waiting. This wasn’t wonderful añejo quality, but by this point, who cared!?

Our line moved much quicker than expected and soon we were inside the building, but not in da club. This still did not faze me, as tequila shots and some unidentifiable pink stuff were continually being served like they were going out of style… and I kept drinking them.

Finally we were ushered into the main staging area and this place was crazy! There was a massive stage with ample lighting and decorations. Seating set up all around the building, with people filling the rafters. The floor area was packed, but it was easy to move around and drinks came by frequently.

Top 40, this was not, thank god (… who may have also made an appearance at one point). The show element started up and it was one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen as gorgeous ladies came out dancing to Chicago’s “All that Jazz”, followed by appearances of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Captain America. The lights went out and when they came back on, Spider-Man had dropped down from the ceiling to party with us and fight off the Green Goblin. The Mask was doing his thing as confetti was streaming down all around, which is such an awesome effect – even if my shoes were stained pink by the tickertapes.

Coco Bongo Confetti

I was totally grooving, so much so that as Mrs. Sip and another girl in our group danced on the bar (they were the hot ones picked out of the crowd… I wonder why I wasn’t chosen!?) I decided to reach behind the bar and grab a massive beer for myself. Sure I only got a couple sips in before it was taken back, but it was a wonderful, hazy memory.

That’s when I saw it, Beetlejuice, in miniature, with a bottle of tequila. While the little bastard never got to me, Mrs. Sip was the recipient of the experience of a lifetime, as she got a shot of this dude’s potion (don’t get any wise ideas, my little sippers).

We celebrated her achievement with more passion than any of our graduations. When the rest of the group wanted to leave around 4am I was the one who wasn’t ready to call it a night (yes, I, the one who hates clubs).

It was a wonderful night, finished with a slice of cold pizza (what every great night should be capped with). I hereby dedicate this drink to that awesome place. As Arnold Schwazenegger once said, “It is not a tumour”… wait, that’s not it… ah, here it is, “I’ll be back!”

Drink #101: Coco Bongo

Coco Bongo Drink recipe

  • Rim glass with Coconut Shavings
  • 1.5 oz Malibu Rum
  • Top with half Coconut Water and half Pineapple Juice

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This drink should be on every alcohol fan’s short list menu. The Pineapple Juice was fantastic – not sure I’ve ever been able to say that before – and the Coconut Shavings always add a special something to any cocktail. A great way to start the 100-series beverages.