Sip Trips #83: ‘Tis the Season

This past week saw nearly the entire Sip Family clan celebrating the Christmas season in Disneyland, where we also rang in the 60th birthday of Ma Sip and the 50th birthday of Aunt-in-Law Sip. Here’s all the shenanigans the Sip Advisor was able to get into, while at and around the parks.

Most notably, the California Adventure portion of the resort was hosting their Festival of Holidays, featuring 14 food and drink stands, offering yuletide treats. My most frequest stop, of course, was at the Brews & Bites stall, where I was able to get my hands on a number of California craft beers that the park typically doesn’t have on hand. This included: Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale, Saint Archer White Ale, Bottle Logic Tattered Prince (Spiced Saison), Karl Strauss Seven Sharks A-Circling Smoked Porter, and 21st Amendment Fireside Chat (Spiced Ale).

wonderful-time-for-a-beer

While the new beverage options provided a lot of fun (as well as expense), the food available was disappointing. This wasn’t due to quality, but the pricing structure. Most servings were appetizer size, but came with a main dish price. For example, I enjoyed the Reuben Potato Smash, but paying $7 for two little potato balls seemed extreme. This made me question my list of the handful of items I had hoped to try. It seemed desserts (highlighted by the $4.25 Eggnog Cheesecake) were more reasonably priced, but only by comparison. Every dish could have been knocked down by a few dollars, allowing for more experimentation.

I also have to go on a little rant about how stupid the park’s policy is regarding Canadian visitors having to use their passports as ID, instead of their driver’s licenses. With the great number of folks from British Columbia (as well as the rest of the Great White North) coming to California to vacation, they should be more than familiar with our licenses. They also seems to be no consistency with their own policy, as sometimes my license was good enough and other times it wasn’t. I also note that only the festival booths were insisting on passports at any point, which is a pain because I had grown accustomed to not needing my passport on me in my early thirties.

Okay, back to the good. Other beers I enjoyed around the park included the usual smattering of Karl Strauss selections (Aurora Hoppyalis, Tower 10 IPA, Red Trolley Ale, Mosaic Session IPA, etc.), as well as the Grand-Am Pale Ale from Bear Republic Brewing. This brew has become my breakfast must-have beverage upon entering the park and lining up for the Radiator Springs Racers ride.

drink-and-drive-kid

A highlight of our celebrations was our meal at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. Here, our crew was given our own private dining room, although we joked it was more to do with keeping us from disrupting other guests. With my three-course meal, I enjoyed the Ernest Daiquiri, which for some reason the rest of our group viewed as a girly drink… pssh, amateurs. This experience also provided us with a special seating zone for the World of Color show that evening. Our server was spectacular, as was the staff assisting her. The only downside was the restaurant’s inability to split the bill more than into two, which made settling up a little difficult for a group of 13.

Mrs. Sip and I also managed to spend an evening at Dave & Buster’s where we had dinner and played some of their games over late night happy hour. This provided us half price cocktails (the mai tais and margaritas were flowing) and other drink deals, such as a very generously poured Jack & Coke for $3. Our appy of choice has always been the pretzel dogs, which even has Mrs. Sip using the honey mustard dipping sauce.

With Disneyland in the rear-view mirror, it’s onto the Christmas party season and we have a whack of them booked already. Should make for a very fun month!

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Sip Trips #33: SIP A Dee Doo Da

When Mrs. Sip and I bought annual passes to Disneyland last September, I never could have imagined that we would visit the resort in August. The summer months mean packed parks and extreme temperatures. This year was a special case though, as the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ celebrated its 60th anniversary and we wanted to join in the festivities!

Upon arriving, Mrs. Sip and I went straight for beers at Flo’s Café in Cars Land. It’s the only place in the park where you can get the Bear Republic Grand Am Pale Ale (special to me because I used to drive a Grand Am), which Mrs. Sip ordered, while I got the 5 Racer IPA, also brewed by Bear Republic. We noticed that the Radiator Springs Racers ride was temporarily down at the time, but speculated it would be back up and running shortly. As we enjoyed our first few sips of beer, sure enough, the ride opened and we joined the line. We found out the wait would be 75 minutes, as the back-up of riders was cleared, so we decided to give the single rider line a shot and ended up going on the ride three times in a row, before it broke down again.

Go To Disneyland

This helped us decide whether or not to get another beer, which we did at the Karl Strauss truck in the Pacific Wharf area. With no line-up, we were feeling very fortunate and grabbed a couple servings of the Windansea Wheat Hefeweizen, which was a delightful summer beer and one I wish I could easily get my hands on back at home. Karl Strauss is the feature craft beer at the resort. The company was launched in 1989, starting San Diego’s craft beer industry. Karl Strauss was a long-time brewer for Pabst (before opening his own operation), after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939.

For lunch, we hit the Carthay Circle Restaurant for their 3-course menu, which also gives diners priority seating for World of Color show later in the day. Here, we were joined by Cousin Sip and her husband, splitting a bottle of Beyond Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, with our meals. The wine was very nice and easy to drink, but perhaps wasn’t the best to pair with my Angus Burger entrée. At least it worked with Mrs. Sip’s Seasonal Fish (salmon) dish.

The rest of the day was spent picking up beers from around California Adventure and jumping on a few of the rides, before we moseyed on over to Disneyland Park. With a good buzz going, we also visited the Animation Building and tried our hand at a few of the character animation seminars. My Cheshire Cat and Tigger did not look very good, but I really can’t blame any level of inebriation on that.

drawing to fridge

We began the next day on the side where you can’t drink (boooooooo), before crossing over to California Adventure. Looking for a respite from the overwhelming heat, we ducked into the beautifully air-conditioned Carthay Circle Lounge, this time grabbing seats in the bar area. I ordered the Carthay Diamond Manhattan, largely based on the fact that the ice cube was going to be diamond shaped. I know, I’m very easy to please! The drink was strong, as you’d expect, but was a classy, flavourful cocktail to enjoy in the elegant lounge.

Mrs. Sip and I have become experts of sorts when it comes to drinking at Disneyland, but old dogs can learn new tricks. We recently learned about The Cove, located in the Paradise Pier area of the resort, which has apparently existed all along, right under our noses. I think we always thought it was part of the Ariel’s Grotto restaurant and never investigated further. Here, I had the Smoked Turkey cocktail, which combined Wild Turkey Bourbon, Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon, Grenadine, Odwalla Lemonade, and was garnished with Gourmet Maraschino Cherries. Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip ordered some off menu items (you have to know to ask the server about them, unless you get lucky and they mention them to you), including variations of the Long Island Iced Tea. To go with our drinks, we enjoyed some Lobster Nachos, followed by Quesadilla Rolls. The setting was beautiful (albeit in the sun at some points), while the food and drinks were very good. This is a new find that we will certainly return to in the future.

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Saturday is always a busy day in the park, so we did our best to stay cool and relaxed. This plan was highlighted by a trip to the Alfresco Tasting Terrace, where Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip indulged in wine tasting flights from the select Disney “family” of wines (chardonnay and reds, respectively), while the fellas experimented with the beer menu. My first brew was the Anaheim Hef, which was another nice summer beer. I followed that with a glass of Napa Smith Hopageddon IPA, which was quite different, but equally enjoyable.

Later on and disappointed that we missed out on the drinks available during the Mad Tea Party, our crew decided to head for the Downtown Disney district for one last beverage, before ending the evening in Disneyland Park. We landed at UVA Bar, located outdoors, in the center of the mayhem. This was a perfect spot for a night cap and there were too many options to choose from. I ordered the Stone Cold beer cocktail, which blended Stone IPA, Hendricks gin, lime juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Other items that we tried or that looked interesting, included Mrs. Sip’s Hibiscus Mojito (which although made too sweet, was adjusted to her taste, with even an extra dash of rum, although all Mrs. Sip requested was a soda top up), a beer sampler that featured Bootlegger’s Spicy Blonde Ale and Mermaid’s Red Ale, and one which we didn’t order, but looked neat: a Bloody Mary popsicle (Tomato Lime Diablo Pop) to put in a beer and make a Michelada.

Disney Vacation Fastpass

On our last day, we managed to cram some more beers into our California Adventure afternoon. I started with the Windansea, which may have been my favourite brew of the weekend, followed by a pour of Green Flash Hop Head Red, which was a double IPA and as hoppy as one would expect. For old time’s sake, I finished my visit with a very refreshing Blue Moon, soaking in the sights and sounds of the resort.

Overall, the crowds at the park were not nearly as bad as we originally feared, except for Saturday. The heat, however, was intense and anytime you walked from one area of the park to another, you tried to duck into a shop just to cool down. With our annual passes set to expire next month, it may be a while before Mrs. Sip and I are back, but we sure took advantage of our year!

Sip Trips #6 – Disney Drinking

Well, Mrs. Sip and I completed another successful trip to the Happiest Place on Earth this past week, taking advantage of B.C.’s Family Day holiday. In recent years, the park has become a completely different experience for us, thanks to California Adventure’s beer, wine, and spirit offerings. Here’s a wrap-up from our recent extra-long weekend:

Pier Beers

The first stop we usually hit after getting to the park is the Pacific Wharf, where Karl Strauss beer can be had. While the $8 price point isn’t ideal and lines can be pretty long, there are a variety of styles worth trying and Karl Strauss has become a favoured brewer for Mrs. Sip and me. On this visit, we enjoyed both the Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale and the Tower 10 IPA.

Wine with a View

Then, we were off to the Alfresco Tasting Terrace, so Mrs. Sip, along with Ma and Pa Sip, could get their wine on. While my drinking partners enjoyed their vino, I grabbed the Brother Thelonius Abbey Ale, which came in at a whopping 9.4%. As you can imagine, we were all flying pretty high by the time we were lining up for attractions!

wine-tasting olympics

Downtown Dining

The next day finished with a meal at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. It was here that I finally got to try Shock Top’s Shockolate, which mixes chocolate and their traditional wheat beer. The blend was very nice and I enjoyed the mix of cocoa and hefeweizen colliding. I don’t think I’d drink a six pack in one shot, but a couple per drinking evening would make a good beer nightcap.

Also, while there, I had an absolutely epic Smokehouse Burger, complete with three-pepper bacon, tangy barbecue sauce, crispy onion straws, and I even broke my own rules, throwing some cheese on the massive sandwich!

Classy Cocktails

After a busy trip, we were all in need of a little downtime, while still getting to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park. In this case, there is no better stop than the Carthay Circle Lounge, home to spectacular hand-crafted cocktails and the finest beers and wines the resort has to offer. As for food, Mrs. Sip and I always order the Queso Fundido dish, which blends melted Monterey Jack cheese with Ranchero Sauce and tortilla chips for dipping. It is a perfect complement to the high-end alcohol options.

Sis-in-Law Sip decided to go off the board and order a tasting flight of tequilas, consisting of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Don Julio Reposado Tequila, and Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Extra Anejo Tequila (damn, that’s a mouthful!). Each was great for sipping and had such unique scents, that it made for an incredibly different experience. Despite all my boozing, I’ve never done spirit flights like that.

tequila escalation

Games and Goodies

We ended the vacation with a visit to Dave & Buster’s, a place that has quickly become a favourite for Mrs. Sip and me, giving us a chance to harness our inner-child, playing video games, while downing fun food and great drinks. My Strawberry-Watermelon Margarita, for example, came with strawberry-flavoured ice cubes, which were creative and delicious. After 10pm, the joint goes into happy hour, where deals on cocktails, beer, and other items can be had.

On this visit, we got into a good video trivia battle, playing multiple rounds with a couple locals. The Sip Advisor, whose greatest attribute is having a head full of useless information, won a bunch of these matches, earning oodles of prize tickets that will surely eventually be used on candy and stuffed toys!

Do you have any suggestions for our next jaunt down to Disneyland and the surrounding area?

February 24 – Hidden Mickey

DisneyBANNED

Disney Trap

It’s story time here at The Sip, as I have all the little kiddies gathered around for one of Uncle Sip’s most epic tales.

Let’s cut straight to the chase (almost literally):

The Sip Advisor and staff were on their way to Disneyland for a reunion of sorts and the trip will live in infamy as a result of the events that transpired. Let me sum up our experience in a few words: Disneyland, wine & beer festival, 10% beer, security, Space Mountain. The day really starts as we wake up, reach for our beers, and slowly nurse them in bed like babies with a bottle, as we wake up and plan our tasting options in Disneyland: California Adventure.

After finishing our tasting tours, and with light buzzes all around, we moseyed on over to the Pacific Wharf area for (surprise!) some more beer. And here’s where the trouble began. We found out that they were offering a “festival beer” that was 10% alcohol. And since we are all for efficiency and avoiding necessary line-ups, why not grab two at a time… four times… I think… but my memory is not entirely clear on this point.

What followed was some tortilla eating, hang gliding, fortune cookie hunting, pure insanity… and then the park closed… and we promptly decided to hit up Disneyland: Magic Kingdom since it was open for another two hours. Of course, being absolutely trashed at this point we should have practiced some stealth… instead of hanging upside down from the letter “A” in the giant CALIFORNIA between the parks.

Mary Poppins

Not sure which of us were the penguins, but this is a pretty accurate portrayal of what happened that night…

As we finally started to make our way across the no man’s land, towards the main park’s entrance gates, a Disney security guard cheerily asked us where we were going. Jubilantly, we acted as if we’d just won the Super Bowl and shouted “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!”. Security smiles kindly at us and responds: “No, you’re not”. Shit, the fuzz was onto us and they want to give us the Song of the South treatment! She started following us towards the turnstiles, telling us we were done (we were!) and couldn’t go mingle with all the happy little kids in the park.

Cleverly we came up with a devious plan: somehow managing simple math we realized there were four of us and only one of her and we split up! Okay, that’s a lie, we couldn’t manage simple math at that point. Instead one of our group realized he had forgotten his bag in the now closed other park and turned around to get it without telling Mrs. Sip and I. The end result was the same however: we managed to make our way into the Happiest Place on Earth (that doesn’t sell beer).

Disney Drunk

The next morning I woke up with my memory a haze. I grabbed the camera and started scrolling through the pictures from the night before Hangover-style. There were pictures of all four of us crammed into a tiny tea cup, riding the Casey Jr. Railroad Train (of course, locked in the Wild Animals cage) and having our photo snapped on Space Mountain. It was the best night I never remembered and apparently after the second park closed, we went off in search of more beer, the evidence was in our fridge– a fresh six pack… well, it was down to four at this point.

We came that night, ready to play and we went home with a ton of great memories… well maybe some fuzzier than others!

Drink #55: Hidden Mickey (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Hidden Mickey Drink Recipe

  • Malibu Rum 0.5 oz
  • Irish Crème 0.5 oz
  • Cherry Liqueur 0.5 oz
  • Kraken Spiced Rum 0.5 oz
  • Europa Chocovine 2 oz
  • Yummy Candy garnish

This drink features a number of “Hidden Mickey’s”. Can you find them all?

In the future, I will also have to regale you, my little sippers, with the tale of our EPCOT pavilion crawl. Remember, at EPCOT, Every Person Comes Out Trashed!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I wish I could have incorporated even more ‘Hidden Mickeys’ into the recipe, but them’s the breaks. For such a random building of a cocktail, the drink tasted pretty good. The Europa Chocovine is a fantastic liqueur, should anyone be looking for such a product in the future.