Sip Trips #43: California Dreamin’ (Part 1)

With many of our family and friends asking, “Do they ever work?”, Mrs. Sip and I were out of town again the past week and a half, enjoying a coastal cruise aboard the Star Princess, followed by a few days with her parents at a resort in Escondido, California. Here’s part one of all the fun we got up to:

One of the first things we do after boarding our ship is search out potential drinks deals and get a lay of the land. One of these deals came to us, as our steward dropped off two complimentary drink tickets upon meeting us. We used these later to grab a couple of their cocktails. While Mrs. Sip ordered an Ultimate Mai Tai – her favourite Princess beverage – I tried The Isaac, designed for Princess Cruises 50th anniversary, by the man who played the bartender on The Love Boat. The drink combined Bacardi Rum with lime and pomegranate juices and it was fun to have a drink made by the fictional liquor slinger.

Isaac The Love Boat

Mrs. Sip and I are platinum members with the cruise line and therefore have access to their Elite Lounge from 5-7pm each day of the voyage. This includes feature drinks and appies. While there used to just be one drink on the menu priced at $5, they now feature a line of about a half dozen cocktails that are discounted. We worked our way through the list over our four-day cruise, which included the Chairman of the Board; Rob Roy; Mojito; Japanese Slipper; Brezza Marina; and Cosmopolitan. I like that they picked strong drinks for the lounge options.

Another trick of the trade was the ship’s new BOGO hours, which allowed passengers to buy one drink and get a second of the same for only one dollar more. We used this on a couple occasions, to get Mojitos and Beverly Hills Iced Teas.

As far as bringing alcohol on board the ship, passengers are allowed one bottle of wine each, but we always bring on a little more. To cover the entire gamut, we brought on one red, one white, and one bubbly. We also typically tuck a couple mini liquor bottles into our toiletry kits, which go perfectly with the complimentary lemonade you can get at the buffet. On this cruise, we combined the soft drink with Evan Williams Cherry Liqueur, Smirnoff Watermelon and Camarena Reposado Tequila, Absolut Raspberri and Camarena Reposado Tequila, and Pinnacle Peach Vodka and Cruzan Coconut Rum.

pirate cruise

As previously mentioned, Princess Cruises is currently celebrating their 50th anniversary and had some specially designed drinks to ring in their golden anniversary year. Mrs. Sip and I splurged and tried a couple – at $12 per cocktail, we couldn’t enjoy them all – including the Anniversary Bliss (Bulleit Bourbon, Peach Schnapps, Frangelico, simple syrup, mint leaves) and 50 Years More (Don Julio, Blue Curacao, White Creme de Cacao, Galiano, lime juice). Both drinks we nicely crafted and blended some interesting ingredients.

Despite being on international waters, craft beer could still be found. We tried both the Seawitch Denali Red Alaska Style Red Ale and the Seawitch West Coast IPA, brewed exclusively for Princess Cruises by Denali Brewing and Strike Brewing, respectively. The Red Ale was the better of the two, as the IPA had a copper aftertaste, although that dissipated as you consumed more of the beer.

A new find for the Sip Advisor on this cruise was the Margarita Bar, which featured a number of great recipes. Mrs. Sip and I shared their Strawberry & Black Pepper (Cazadores Reposado, strawberry juice, black pepper) and Chocolate & Chili (Don Julio, White Creme de Cacao, fresh jalapeños) options. I loved the Chocolate & Chili, as the chocolate really balances out the jalapeños. There was also a Sweet & Smokey (Tequila, Scotch, Grand Marnier, orange juice) I was interested in, but did not get a chance to try.

margaritas archer

On our final evening of cruising, we went to the Vines wine bar, where they were advertising a wine and chocolate pairing. Unfortunately, they only had one set of the chocolates left, so I let Mrs. Sip be the fortunate recipient (chivalry is far from dead, my little sippers!) of the truffles designed by chocolatier Norman Love. Her pairing combined one light, medium and heavy red with chocolates using cocoa from five different countries (Venezuela, Tanzania, Peru, Dominican Republic, Ghana). On the server’s recommendation, I did New World wine flight which included Wild Horse Pinot Noir (USA), Caliterra Carmenere (Chile), and McPherson Shiraz (Australia).

I suppose my only complaint from the cruise would be that near the end, they had run out of a number of supplies, such as the aforementioned chocolates to pair with the wines and some other chocolate ingredients that were meant to go with a menu of cocktail concoctions intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Only half way through our little vacation, part two will look at our time spent in the San Diego County area, with a journey into the Temecula Valley Wine Country and time spent exploring the city’s craft beer community!

 

October 28 – Witch’s Brew

Happy Hunting

Drawing from my years of experience as a world renowned candy hunter, I’ve come up with some great tips for all the little sippers out there that are looking forward to a wicked Halloween haul. Some of these tricks and tip may not be of the highest moral value, but they’ll fill your pillowcases quicker than a pillow (just made that up… probably needs a little tinkering)!

Tip #1: Candy Clusters

The best way to maximize your Trick or Treat time is to find areas where there are numerous doors to knock on in a tight space. Apartment and town house complexes or even neighbourhoods where houses don’t have much yard space between lots are perfect to rack up the goodies without tuckering yourself out too much.

Trick Fire

Tip #2: Return Trips

If a house is giving out something really awesome (full-sized bars, bags with multiple candies, etc.), there is nothing wrong with returning to that residence later in the evening. Don’t pester the poor people with repeated visits, but perhaps hit the place again on a second go-round of the neighbourhood.

Tip #3: No Pack Mentality

While you want to be with your friends and share this wonderful experience, don’t get bogged down by being in too big of a group. Let’s be honest, only a few of the people you’re usually with are actually your friends. Stick to smaller groups which makes it easier to travel and get your treat at each house before moving onto the next stop.

Childhood Obesity

Tip #4: Courtesy Counts

Be very thankful and energetic at each stop. You never know if your costume, behaviour or other intangible might earn you a bonus piece of candy. Also, if you drop by the home of someone you know, make sure to acknowledge them, as your relationship to them or their kin may benefit your treat haul.

Tip #5: Split Shift

It won’t be too long before you’re running out of room in your bag and are tired of lugging the heavy sack around. There’s no shame in planning a route that lets you stop off at home, dump out your candy, and hit the road again for round two. Or, if with friends, make sure one of your homes is along the route for a recharging point.

Trick or Treat

Tip #6: Home Collection

Each time you go in and out of your own house, make sure to grab a treat for yourself (and one for your imaginary friend!), courtesy of your own parents. The leftover will largely be yours anyway, so you’re just getting ahead of the game.

Tip #7: Longevity Wins

Make sure you’re up for a full night of candy hunting. At the end of the evening, some folks might be giving out more than the usual one piece in order to get through their stock and be able to shut their lights off. This is when you pounce and take advantage of the fact that you have better cardio and durability than all the others. Your training has paid off!

Drink #301: Witch’s Brew

Witch's Brew Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Raspberry Vodka (I used Absolut)
  • Top with half Tonic Water and half Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Blue Raspberry Mixer
  • Garnish with Berries

Anyone else out there have any suggestions for the wee little sippers who will be hitting the streets in just a few days’ time? Feel free to pass them along.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I was pleasantly surprised by this cocktail. While I’m not a big Tonic Water fan, it didn’t detract from this drink, perhaps because I covered it with the Berry garnishes and the Blue Raspberry Mixer. This is one case where I wish I had access to liquid nitrogen to create a fog effect.

October 2 – Raspberry Dew Drop

Seasonal Mythology

Greek mythology is pretty crazy. Somehow, some way, the myths can explain why everything exists today… including each of the four seasons. Here is the mythological explanation for all seasons:

Winter

The story goes like this: Hades, that underworld bad ass (he even has his own beer), kidnaps Persephone to be his wife (if only it were that easy!). Zeus, that omnipotent ruler, decrees that Persephone should be returned to her mother Demeter (also the goddess of earth). Hades tricks Persephone into eating the food of the dead, which I guess is a mix of bleu cheese and expired fruit, and that means she has to stay in the underworld. In one of the earliest examples of a child custody agreement, Zeus gives both Hades and Demeter half the year to have Persephone. Demeter gets all hormonal and moody when Persephone is with Hades and creates winter. So, if you’re not a fan of sweaters, indoor heating, and ice scrapers, you have Hades to blame for your own misery.

die-winter

Spring

Sticking with the whole Hades-Persephone-Demeter soap opera storyline, when Persephone returns to her mother Demeter, Demeter gets off her lazy ass and starts feeding mankind again, tending to the various harvests that must be maintained. I guess she had a serious case of empty nest syndrome. Moving on, the world become luscious again and people fatten themselves up, not knowing that summer is around the corner and they better start pulling out their Ab Rollers, Bowflexes, and ThighMasters, again. Next time Mrs. Sip complains of eating too much, I’ll just reference the gods and be done with it.

Summer

The happy times for Persephone and Demeter continue through the wonderful summer, where everyone on earth is happy and frolicking naked (by the way, all you little sippers should see the Sip Advisor frolic… it is a sight to behold… perhaps without the naked part) amongst the tall grass, hot temperatures and warm breezes. Hades is lurking in the shadows, however, and Persephone will soon be his again. For the time being everyone enjoys the bliss of sweet summer and forgets their troubles.

summer-is-ok

Fall

Persephone must be returned to the underworld and Hades (her father figure-wannabe husband-captor) couldn’t be happier with his prize. Demeter suffers from separation anxiety and doesn’t want to be alone in her misery, so she makes everyone else have to battle bouts of seasonal affective disorder (SAD… not to be confused with SADS – Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome). Just as people think things couldn’t get any worse, they are reminded of Demeter’s behaviour the previous year and folks begin to dread the newly dubbed ‘winter’ that is approaching. As they say on Game of Thrones and I like to bug Mrs. Sip by repeating at inappropriate times: “Winter is coming!

Drink #275: Raspberry Dew Drop

Raspberry Dew Drop Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Raspberry Vodka (I used Absolut)
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Garnish with Raspberries and Lemon Slices

Well, I hope you liked that eschewed view of seasonal changes… thanks for nothing Demeter!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I felt this drink nicely captured the changing of the seasons, although it works best when winter turns into spring. It certainly tasted fantastic and the look came together really well with all the garnishes!