Sip Trips #2 – Best of 2014

Well, Mrs. Sip and I didn’t get up to too much this last week in the booze realm, including a rare well-behaved weekend. We did make time to enjoy a couple craft beers, including Unibroue’s La Resolution and Wychwood’s Bah Humbug. This does give me the opportunity to finally publish my Best of 2014 Drinking Nights article. Some of the memories are fuzzy, but they made for an amazing year. Since all drinking days/nights are wonderful, I will not be ranking these… they will merely be listed in order of occurrence!

#1: Dominican Republic

Sadly, I got sick a couple days after arriving in the Dominican, but the first two nights of all-inclusive partying for Mrs. Sip’s 30th birthday were tropical bliss!

#2: New York

Bourbon followed by as true a cab ride as you can have in New York. Our buzz was killed a little by a snafu with picking up our City Pass tickets, but that was merely a bump in the road on an otherwise awesome first visit to the Big Apple.

#3: Portland Beer & Wine Fest

One of the best booze events I’ve ever attended and we were even the happy recipients of a pile of free tokens. When we returned to our hotel, I ended up triple fisting a few drinks to take advantage of the complimentary happy hour and the party just kept going. Late at night, I was the sole survivor, heading out to pick the family up some Voodoo Doughnuts for the morning!

Portland Guide

#4: Edmonton Airport

One would normally think that being stuck in Edmonton for six hours would be tragic. But the city’s airport – or at least their International Terminal – has one of best selection of bars I’ve ever seen. We made a point of turning our layover into a pub crawl, which certainly helped with falling asleep on the plane from Edmonton to Reykjavik, Iceland!

#5: Hamburg Garden Party

While visiting Hamburg, Germany, a garden party provided the setting for a family reunion. The craft beers Mrs. Sip and I brought with us from Vancouver helped loosen everybody up and the well-stocked party (highlighted by a bottle of Jack Daniels that I made sweet love to) kept the festivities rocking through the night. A torrential downpour of rain couldn’t stop our revelry!

#6: Self-Guided Vancouver Brewery Tour Weekend

Ever the adventurers, Mrs. Sip and I decided to take ourselves on a tour of Vancouver’s best bars and breweries, with stops at the Alibi Room, Postmark Brewery/Urban Winery, Brandywine Bartending School, 33 Acres Brewery, and Brassneck Brewery. Our typical good fortune was emphasized when we arrived at 33 Acres Brewery just in time for their first anniversary party!

#7: Made with Love

While I have some reservations about liquor events, I have nothing but love for Made with Love. Mrs. Sip and I bought tickets to this all-inclusive craft cocktail competition, in part because it fell on our 2nd wedding anniversary and seemed like a wonderful way to celebrate the occasion… oh, how right we were!

Bartender Juice

#8: Las Vegas Strip Drinking

Given that entire trips to Las Vegas are booze-fueled, it’s hard to narrow down any one day to highlight, but this one does stick out in my memory. It all started with an innocent game of Battle Shots at the PBR Rock Bar and then featured Hyde Lounge, gambling wins, Cirque du Soleil: Zumanity, dueling pianos at New York, New York, and a host of things I probably can’t remember.

#9: Surprise Birthday

Imagine my surprise when we showed up for what was supposed to be a friend’s birthday brunch and it turned out that the whole thing was meant for little ol’ me! I wish someone had captured the look on my face when the realization set in. Mrs. Sip always seems to find a way to outdo herself!

#10: Birthday Cruise Embarkation

Before the ship even set sail, we were all pretty loose (the bucket of beers, bottle of wine, and cocktails may have helped with that!), which made for a very fun muster drill. I can say with complete conviction that I’ve had worse! 😉

#11: Dave & Busters

I absolutely love this place, having visited three different locations (Honolulu, New York, Anaheim) in the last year and a half. It’s so much fun to play all the games while having a full-service bar at your disposal. Of course, the day started with Disneyland drinking, before we moved on to the fun and games at D&B’s.

GIFSec.com

#12: Bellingham Visit

All I can say is thank god we had a driver (Pa Sip), because I was pretty fuzzy after our tasting at Boundary Bay Brewery and it certainly made for some interesting shopping.

#13: Canucks game in Anaheim

When your day begins with an upscale bar (Disneyland’s Carthay Lounge) and ends with a fun sports bar in JT Schmid’s, everything else in the middle must be pretty good. In between, was a day of drinking at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” including California beers, wine tasting, thrill rides, and even animation tutorials!

#14: Hawaii

To celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday, we began at the Kona Brewery for tour and tasters. Next up, was Huggo’s on the Beach, where happy hour was in full swing and we were only too happy to join!

Some honourable mentions include an earlier trip to Portland for some beer tourism; traversing the Hamburg Reeperbahn; and surviving the wild Marrakesh market square. After all, it’s always fun drinking in a country that discourages alcohol consumption and I make it a point of every voyage to foreign lands!

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November 28 – Apple Pie Martini

Shopping Season

Nothing is more American than apple pie and that’s why it’s also the perfect drink to help celebrate American Thanksgiving. This day also truly marks the beginning of the Christmas season (despite retailers around North America stocking their shelves with Christmas items as early as the end of summer) and so with that in mind, I present to you the holiday gift guide for all the little sippers in your life!

Wine Aroma Tasting Set – $43.61

Have you ever wanted to identify all the notes going on in your glass of wine? That’s not for me, but there are certainly folks out there that would like to have a better idea of what they’re smelling and drinking. This set offers your bottles of six of the most popular scents in red and white vino, giving you a chance to better recognize what the nose knows!

Wine Aroma Tasting Set

Molecular Mixology Cocktail Kit – $85.00

I’ve already written about this company’s Mojito Revolution Kit, so I figured I’d give some time to their newest products, as well: the Margarita and Cosmopolitan releases. Each set is $30.00, but buy all three and you save a little money. With these collections, little sippers can make different versions of the cocktails to share with friends throughout the next year.

Bar10der – $40.00

This is the Swiss-Army knife of the boozing world! Complete with a jigger, muddler, corkscrew, bottle opener, knives, stirrer, strainer, and so much more, this 10-tool piece will keep aspiring mixologists churning out drinks and never needed to jump between different utensils.

Bar10der

Subscription to Imbibe Magazine – $20 (One-Year), $32 (Two-Year)

For the cocktail connoisseur, this magazine offers all the best tips and tricks for what they call “liquid culture”! The magazine highlights drink and food recipes, new products, and other issues going on the world of booze. The price point is pretty reasonable, too.

Roulette Shot Wheel – $19.99

Mrs. Sip and I own one of these and it can make parties quite interesting. We fill each glass with random liquors and folks spin the wheel to figure out their fate. Sometimes you get lucky and get a sweet, tasty liqueur. Other times, you might have to step up to the plate and down the dreaded Absinthe offering. Either way, it’s a lot of fun!

Roulette Shot Wheel

Shots and Ladders Drinking Game – $12.99

I think it would be a total blast to play this adult-oriented version of the childhood classic game. Instead of falling into trouble and having to slide down a slippery reptile, in this case, you’ll be consuming shots for your gaming transgressions. A couple games of this and the party will really get started.

Cocktail Pop Charts – $43.61

This poster is perfect for bartenders who want to easily access drink recipes for 68 classic cocktails. Using 40 different alcohols, this chart will keep them busy for hours and your thirst quenched for the same amount of time. Lines leading from the spirits to the drinks they play a role in (as well as which glassware to use) will make little sippers cocktail gurus in no time!

Cocktail Pop Charts

Beer of the Month Club – $104.85 (3-Month), $139.80 (4-Month), $203.70 (6-Month), $395.40 (12-Month)

This is available in 3, 4 (seasonal releases), 6, and 12-month options and includes 12 bottles of various craft beers every month, shipped directly to your door. The delivery also comes with a newsletter and the company advertises free shipping, but that may only be to certain locations (US, Canada). It’s the gift that would keep on giving!

The Shot Flask – $24.99

This is a great little device that includes a collapsible shot glass that you pull out of your flask. My only critique is that the space needed to tuck away the shot glass takes up some precious space for booze, but the package deal is something that will go quite some way in the long run.

shot-flask

The Modern Drunkard – $11.07

I’d sum up this book myself, but the Amazon description is so well done, I’ll just quote it: “Attempting to deconstruct America’s joyless obsession with sobriety, The Modern Drunkard offers today’s befuddled drinkers a comprehensive and instructive manual on the delights of alcohol culture.” You can also check out the Modern Drunkard website and subscribe to their magazine (six issues for $24).

Final Notes:

If you choose to buy someone a bottle of booze, figure out what they like and get them a higher end product they might not pick up themselves. If they’re an experienced drinker, try to find them a unique product they might not even know exists. Smaller bottles are also fun for stocking stuffers. Mrs. Sip got me a bunch of these last year, providing me with a wide array of flavours to experiment with.

Of course, you can always pick up gift cards and coupons for your favourite drinking mate. Whether to their local liquor store or watering hole, they will be forever grateful. I’ve also seen sites like Groupon and Social Shopper have deals for winery and brewery tours. Send them on an adventure they’ll remember bits and pieces of!

Drink #332: Apple Pie Martini

Apple Pie Martini Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Goldschlager
  • Top with half Apple Juice and half Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Apple Slice

If you would like even more gift ideas, you can go back to the summer gift guide I put together earlier this year. There, you will find everything you need to get ready for the 2014 summer of boozing. There’s nothing wrong with looking ahead, especially in the alcohol world!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This drink literally tasted like liquid apple pie. The best sips came when you got a fair amount of the Graham Cracker Rim with the cocktail and it had me longing for a warm slice of apple crumble. The Goldschlager and Apple Juice really do the heavy lifting here and make for a tasty martini.

July 24 – California Root Beer

Brewski Tours

I love going on brewery tours, but as far as I’m concerned, the tour portion of the stopover are all largely the same. Once you’ve seen one vat of fermenting hops, you’ve seen them all. Therefore, I will largely base my brewery experience on the intangibles (tastings, other exhibits, etc.) of our visits. Without further ado then, here are some of my favourite breweries that I’ve been able to get to:

Heineken – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dubbed ‘The Heineken Experience’, this brewery tour is so much more than a quick walk through the brewing and bottling plant. They have everything from a station you can record a video at and send to your family and friends, to instruments made out of Heineken supplies, and, of course, a bar with multiple tastings to enjoy. We even made friends with an Aussie traveling on his own, enjoyed some brews together, and ended up all going to dinner at the nearby Hard Rock Café.

heineken experience

Whistler – Whistler, Canada

I liked the Whistler micro-brewery set up. Once the tour was done, you had all the company’s beer to choose from in a bar like setting, complete with board games, good food, and good company. My only note of advice is that the place is a little outside of Whistler Village, so you’ll either need a designated driver to get your crew there or luck out and have your hotel offer a shuttle to and from the outlet.

Holsten – Hamburg, Germany

What could be more fun than a brewery tour? How about one in a language you don’t understand! Ma Sip knows some German, so she was able to fill in any blanks, if necessary, but we were largely there to see, not hear… and eventually taste. When we were trying to book the tour, we were told that only groups were allowed. Ma Sip replied that we were a ‘group of four’ and our visit was on! I’ll always fondly remember the beer and pretzels we were given in the tasting portion of the attraction.

Granville Island – Vancouver, Canada

One of my favourite local micro-breweries, it’s always fun popping into the Granville Island Brewery, which has a great little area for taste tests, a stocked gift shop, and their tour isn’t too bad either… because it’s relatively short! They know people are mostly there for the samples. Granville Island itself is a funky little place to explore. It’s kind of the artsy area of Vancouver with improve shows, good restaurants, and watersports options.

GIB

Guinness – Dublin, Ireland

This one haunts me a little because we never actually got inside the palace of stout (Guinness PR people, you can thank me for that one later with a lifetime supply of suds). Our group took transit to the brewery on Friday and even got a picture outside one of the gates. When we were told the wait was two hours to get inside – it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend after all – we elected to save our visit for Monday, as we had to check-in to our hostel shortly. Due to unforeseen god-awful, weather, we had to leave Ireland very early that Monday morning and the Guinness Brewery was not to be enjoyed.

Steam Whistle – Toronto, Canada

I did the tour when Ma and Pa Sip visited me while living in ‘The Big Smoke’ and returned later for free beers (sans tour) with Mrs. Sip, prior to a Toronto Blue Jays game. When you’d enter, you’d get a couple tickets for free beer samples and the generous pours were enough to have you walking wobbly by the time you left the facility, en route to the game for really expensive and lacking-in-quality drinks.

steamwhistle

Alexander Keith’s – Halifax, Canada

No visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia would be complete without a stop at the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Here, you are guided through the history of the beer by period-dressed guides, learning about their trademark brewing practices. Finally, you come to the really good part: beer samples and games to play while boozing. Ma and Pa Sip aren’t fans of suds, so Mrs. Sip and I were the lucky recipients of bonus brews and we left the place with a good buzz and a couple “liberated” Keith’s mugs!

Carlsberg – Copenhagen, Denmark

Our most recent brewery visit was a lot of fun, despite being exhausted from travel and sleepless night. That’s what’s awesome about your fabled Sip Advisor, he knows when to man up for the sake of liquor. The Carlsberg Brewery has a stable of Jutland horses, had a neat exhibit on bottles of beer from around the world, and tons of history on the Carlsberg legacy and brewing techniques.

Drink #205: California Root Beer

California Rootbeer Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • Top with half Cola and half Beer (I used GIB Lager)
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedge

Later this summer, Mrs. Sip, myself and members of the Sip Alliance have a tour booked that will stop at a handful of local breweries that we’re all looking very forward to visiting. I better make my post early that day because by the time I get back home, I’ll probably be too blasted to work a computer!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This beer cocktail is simply delicious. You get hints of Galliano and Kahlua to go along with the Cola and Beer flavours. I heavily adapted this recipe to suit my needs and I’m glad I did so!