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!

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.