Best of 2017

With Mrs. Sip pregnant and nursing a baby throughout this year, many of the usual suspects to pop up on my annual “Best Of” list were not attended in 2017. Yes, the Sip Advisor had to suffer through missing out on the Portland Beer and Wine Fest, Tip N’ Taste, Made with Love and many others. Not one to give up, I soldiered on and found other events to take the place of those occasions. Here are my top 17 nights of 2017:

Rooting for the Home Team

The fuzzy memory nights got off to an early start when I joined a Sip Syndicate member for the Vancouver Canucks-Arizona Coyotes contest on January 4. The tickets were a Secret Santa gift for the Sip Advisor and provided perhaps the closest seats to the ice I’ve ever enjoyed. To mark the occasion, copious beers were consumed, including during a pre-game meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. Best of all, the Canucks picked up a rare 3-0 win on this evening, including a penalty shot goal.

Surprise, Surprise

One of Mrs. Sip’s last hurrahs before learning she was pregnant was this surprise birthday outing I arranged for her at the Tapped Vancouver beer and wine tasting event. Without her knowledge, I was able to get a number of our friends to also attend and it was fun to have them arrive throughout the evening, as continuous revelations.

Surprise Party Sick

Ode to Scotch

The night after Tapped Vancouver, I was back at it, attending a friend’s annual Whiskey Tasting event. The theme for this year was Scotch’s aged eight years or less, proving that many gems can be found. Going into the evening, I was a little hesitant, as I was going solo, with the one person I knew likely to be very busy throughout the night with hosting duties. Luckily, I got a seat at a great table of strangers, who made the event quite memorable. I was even included in the Robbie Burns addressing of the haggis!

Getting Away

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate journeyed to Pemberton, BC, for a secluded getaway. The retreat also provided an opportunity to tell some of our closest friends that Mrs. Sip was expecting. With that business out of the way, the rest of the weekend was spent eating, drinking and relaxing. One of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourite pastimes is hanging out in a hot tub with good beers and that was certainly achieved here.

Viva Las Vegas

The first of two jaunts we took to Las Vegas in 2017 took a bit of a twist when we discovered Mrs. Sip was pregnant after we had already booked our escape to the party capital. Still, we intended to live it up and that was helped by some friends also being in Sin City at the same time. Each day/night featured a different route for fun, from a club experience at XS, to exploring the off-strip craft beer scene into the wee hours of the morning, to relaxing and listening to dueling pianos (a Sip Advisor favourite activity).

Rough and Tumble

Missing out on the Rugby Sevens event in 2016 was something I would regret. I had hoped to make amends in 2017, but missed out on the original batch of tickets released. Thankfully, organizers put another batch out and when a friend informed me of the great news, I acted immediately. The frenetic action of the rugby, along with an eclectic and festive crowd made for an amazing (albeit long) day at BC Place Stadium. My favourite photo from the day shows how much junk piled up throughout the affair.

Rugby Violence

Great Cocktail Reveal

Learning the gender of our little one was a moment I’ll never forget. To do it in style, I suggested Mrs. Sip – who had learned the gender a couple weeks prior – reveal it to me by pouring either a pink or blue cocktail. When the beverage came out pink, we were both thrilled. Having a bulk of our family and friends on hand to share the memory with us made it extra special. For the gathering, I concocted two blue and two pink cocktail recipes, so others could share in the anticipation.

Sweet Returns

Back in Las Vegas for the Easter long weekend, we made sure to blend our favourite spots along the strip, while mixing in some new locales. The highlights of this adventure included a couple shows (Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil: Mystère) and a few new bars and eateries. We also squeezed in some pool time, which helped wipe away the winter blues.

Journey on the Seas

In order to highlight as many experiences as possible on this list, I’m lumping our nearly three-week cruise getaway (from Rome to Dubai) together as one entry. Highlights included drinking cocktails in both Rome and Athens; a bucket of beers and other tasty beverages aboard the cruise; the always fun task of finishing all the bottles we accumulate on the last day of the itinerary (this time as a one-man wrecking crew); and enjoying a drink in a mostly dry country.

Comedy Capers

Driving six hours round trip for a comedy show may not be every person’s idea of a good night out, but the Sip Advisor isn’t every person. When I discovered Christopher Titus was performing at the Tacoma Comedy Club and I had a small window in my schedule to actually attend one of the shows, I got down on my knees and begged the Sip Alliance to placate my wishes… nay, my demands. In actuality, everyone was quick to come aboard and we had a fun night out in Tacoma before coming home the next morning.

Short Road Trip.png

Batting Practice

In the spring and summer of 2017, the Sip Advisor joined a baseball/softball team for the first time since I was a wee little sipper. While my skills were certainly lacking, I had a great time meeting new folks. After one set of early morning games, I hosted the team at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for some swimming and drinking. The weather was perfect for such an occasion and I think it helped the team bond even more than we previously had.

Runnin’ Down a Dream

From my earliest days, family road trips featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers providing the soundtrack. As a result, I grew up a fan of the band. Getting the opportunity to see them live was amazing and with Petty’s untimely passing just a month and a half later, the experience was all the more significant. I had already planned to see them the next time they rode into town… sadly, this will not be possible.

Baby Shower Beer Garden

When Mrs. Sip and I first conceived the idea of hosting a beer garden for our baby shower, we knew it would be a hit. After all, we wanted to include both our male and female friends and family and what better way to get everyone together than a beer garden. Mrs. Sip and I were taken aback with our guests incredible generosity with gifts. Our little one will be set up for some time to come.

Baseballs and Beers and Boxing

Unfortunately, I had missed our baseball team’s tournament earlier in the year, out of town for a family wedding. To make amends, I tied one on big time for the second competition, downing 10 beers over our five-hour break between games. Thankfully, those brews were of the 4.2% ABV variety. Once our day at the ballpark was finished, a few of us gathered for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight to keep the fun going.

Softball Fun

Brewer’s Row Revisited

Much like last year, our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row was a perfect summer day spent enjoying delicious beer and good company. For those that have never ventured that way, it’s a must. There are four breweries within a five-minute walking distance of each other and they each serve up fine products. This year, we also managed to visit the brand new Mariner Brewing in Coquitlam, as the first stop of our expedition.

Boys Will Be Boys

Bachelor parties/stags can be funny things. You’re often hanging out with a few friends and a number of strangers, perhaps doing a set of activities that normally wouldn’t be in your wheelhouse. But that’s also part of the fun. This day of debauchery included paintball and a Vancouver Whitecaps game, as well as the standard bar and strip club stops. The Sip Advisor drank quite well throughout and can’t wait for the January wedding and round two.

The Greatest Gift

My birthday was set to be an event-filled weekend, full of chicanery. Fate had other plans, however, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. On the morning of my birthday, I awoke to learn Mrs. Sip was experiencing early labour. The rest of the day was spent awaiting the arrival of Baby Sip, who entered the world at 1:33am the next morning. While I was happy to share my birthday, our little one decided she wanted her own spotlight, making for future birthday weekends to be that much more special!

There you have it folks, the Sip Advisor survived a year without my numero uno drinking buddy. As you can see, while Mrs. Sip was busy doing an awesome job of bringing our daughter into the world, I kept up with my usual antics!

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January 10 – Bay Breeze

Missed Connections

Whenever I write a blog for this project, I try to come up with a topic that at least slightly goes along with the drink I’m presenting. Some work better than others. Given that today I’m covering the Bay Breeze, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about one of the most famous, breezy (if sometimes foggy) bays in the world, San Francisco, and my chance to thank a mysterious stranger.

san-francisco

This is my version of a Craigslist ‘Missed Connection’ post. For my honeymoon in September 2012, my wife and I went on a two-and-a-half week cruise through the Panama Canal. We started in our hometown of Vancouver and finished in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The first port of the sailing was San Francisco. We had previously stopped in San Francisco earlier in May 2012, before taking a short cruise from San Fran back to Vancouver

(Note: Yep, we’re 29 going on 50 with all our cruisin’, but until you’ve sat on your own cabin balcony, clad only in a robe, with drink in hand, don’t knock it.)

On that trip, we spent most of our short time there, exploring the famous piers, where we enjoyed fantastic seafood meals, scrumptious sourdough bread and delicious pints at Beer 39 (cleverly located on Pier 39). When we returned in September, our plan was to once again hit the piers, but this time, my wife wanted to do some wine tasting. I got my beer last time, so it was only fair to do wine for her on this stop.

(Note: We still hit Beer 39 for a flight of beers because I wear the pants in this relationship!)

(Note: I don’t, but I’ve made peace with that!)

Pier 39

It was a grayish day in the bay area, but nice enough that we were able to sit outside on the beautiful fern covered patio for our wine tasting at Wines of California Wine Bar, ironically with our cruise ship situated behind us in the distance. We took turns taking pictures of each other with the ship in the background, before a woman at the table next to us asked if we wanted one together.

(Note: I love the random people you meet while out on a drinking adventure… the salt of the earth, if you ask me.)

One thing led to another and we began chatting with her and her boyfriend. They had been dating a few months and as a 50th birthday present (although the dude looked like he should have been celebrating 40, instead) she had taken him on a surprise trip to San Francisco. We chatted about our honeymoon just starting, his 50th birthday bash, which tequila we should look out for in Mexico (our next stop was Cabo San Lucas and he was a bit of an expert, given his Mexican heritage and story about how much tequila they had at his party).

It was a great way to spend some of our stop and I even found a wine that I really enjoyed, Francis Coppola’s 2011 Diamond Collection-Emerald Label-Pinot Grigio, which was kind of a big deal because I’m not the biggest wine connoisseur.

(Note: Yes, that Francis Coppola – producer of Apocalypse Now, etc. and uncle of Nicholas Cage – in case you were wondering!)

The couple we were chatting with had to run for their tour of Alcatraz Island and so with a “happy honeymoon” they paid their bill and we said our goodbyes. My wife and I finished out wine flights and food and I began wondering why the waitress hadn’t approached us for a little bit. Perhaps she was just letting us enjoy our afternoon without interruption. When she finally came over to us, she revealed that the couple had covered our tab.

We were truly touched by the generosity of these complete strangers and it was an absolutely amazing way to begin our long-awaited vacation. We have vowed to pay this kindness forward when we are in a similar situation in the future and I look forward to doing so.

So, wherever they may be and I hope they one day read this, from the bottom of my heart (as well as my wife’s), I thank both of you for providing us with a wonderful example of how to do things right for your fellow human beings.

Now onto today’s drink…

Drink #10: Bay Breeze

Bay Breeze Drink

  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • Top with half cranberry juice and half pineapple juice
  • Garnish with a lime wedge

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I wasn’t a huge fan of this drink. That’s not to say it was bad, but it just didn’t amaze me or anything. Pineapple Juice is far from one of my preferred mixers, so maybe that played a role.