February 15 – Heart Warmer

Holiday Hell

Valentine’s Day is a funny beast to deal with. Among heightened expectations, shops and services everywhere jack up their prices and take advantage of the love frenzy (also the name of a sexual position I invented a few years back, but have yet to unleash on Mrs. Sip). After all, a sucker is born every minute and Valentine’s Day makes a fool out of us all. One of the best “Valentine’s Days” Mrs. Sip and I spent together was a couple days after the actual day, as Mrs. Sip had to travel for work and we weren’t able to be together. Here are the top five reasons to not celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th!

#5: Use Your Coupons

It sucks that most coupons (from sites like GrouponSocial Shopper, etc.) can’t be redeemed during the Valentine’s Day block of dates, usually Feb. 13-16, depending on where the holiday falls. And this is because the institutions using the coupon service know they have you hooked already for those dates. So, let’s get a little revenge on these establishments by redeeming for a romantic dinner on February 12th or 17th. Then, really rub it in their face by exchanging gifts, flowers, and the whole shebang!

Saint-Valentine

#4: Discounted Treats

Walk into any store after Valentine’s Day and you will find massive discounts on chocolates and other goodies, as the retailer is quickly trying to change their seasonal shelves over to anything from St. Patrick’s Day to Easter to even Christmas already (the holiday comes out earlier and earlier every year!). You can score some pretty wicked deals during this rush for savings, but be weary of fellow shoppers who will stop at nothing to deny you of you half-price stuffed bear.

#3: Easy-to-Get Reservations

If you don’t plan ahead and get onto making reservations as soon as the calendar rolls over to a new year, you may miss out on your preferred dining choice. Next you know, you’re chowing on McDonald’s takeout – actually not so bad, as Mrs. Sip and I did this last year when she wasn’t feeling well enough to fulfill our expensive seafood reservation… I saved a ton of cash! – and are decked out in sweatpants or pajamas, laying out on your couch… sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it!?

I Tolerate You

#2: Cheaper Flowers

I’ll never understand how stores can get away with not only increasing their prices on flowers, but doubling them just because it’s Valentine’s Day. And yet they sell out every year and if you don’t grab a bouquet earlier in the day, you may be left with the scraps nobody else wants. Go any other day and your cost will be cut in half, you will have a ton of options to choose from and you risk getting into a skirmish with another dude over posies.

#1: What is So Important About February 14th?

Mrs. Sip and I make a point of having date nights on a frequent basis. Yes, it’s not always easy to accomplish with busy schedules that include work, social gatherings, sports, and other commitments, but if you only have time for each other on a capitalism-created holiday, then you have more issues to deal with than where to eat and what kind of flowers to buy. Treat each other like you actually love each other and the rest will fall into place easier than you ever thought!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Heart Warmer (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Heart Warmer Shooter

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Cream Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Raspberry Cream Liqueur
  • Splash of Chile Chocolate Syrup
  • Garnish with Love Hearts

Valentine’s Day should be celebrated with the one you love, but perhaps not the way the restaurants and stores would have you spend it. Get together with your partner and have a quiet night in, snuggling up on the couch and watching zombie horror flicks… or whatever you two nutballs are into!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I was originally going to complete skip any Valentine’s coverage this year, but decided that February 15th was the perfect day to drop some love wisdom on all y’all (and yes, I realize how that line could be interpreted!). Therefore, I needed a recipe and decided to go with an original I had been working on for a little while. Combining the Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Liqueurs was a great start, but the crowning touch was the Chile Chocolate Syrup. It left a wonderful light burn on the lips, tongue and made the whole experience a little more unique than your usual shooter!

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.