Sip Trips #175: Coastal Cruising

The September birthday blitz has come and gone for another year and it was fairly busy. It began with Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday, where I concocted four relatively easy drinks to go along with the treats of autumn/fall theme. These cocktails utilized spirits such as Pumpkin Pie Vodka, Roasted Pecan Whiskey, Cranberry Liqueur, Apple-Cinnamon Vodka, and Cinnamon Whiskey. Mixers included Ginger Beer, Hibiscus Iced Tea and Chocolate Milk. Overall, the beverages went over very well with guests in attendance.

The next evening, we ventured to Maple Ridge for a meal at the Billy Miner Pub. While enjoying a pint of R&B Brewing’s delicious Orange Negroni Saison, I partook in an order of Teriyaki Fries, while also stealing a few nibbles of Mrs. Sip’s Cornbread. The meal was very good and the pub has become our go-to option when out that way.

To celebrate my birthday, as well as Baby Sip’s (we are one day apart), we booked a Princess Cruises itinerary from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with one day at Disneyland scheduled as well. The cruise featured its typical level of booziness, but I didn’t expect some of the treats that came my way (bucket of beers pre-ordered by Ma and Pa Sip and a pair of complimentary cocktails from the ship) and given I was drinking solo, I think I made quite an effort. That’s right folks, Mrs. Sip is pregnant with our second child – a boy this time – so Baby Sip will from this post forward be referred to as Toddler Sip.

second child

My goal for this cruise, was to not buy a single drink. After all, I had a bottle each of red and white wine, a couple mini bottles and the previously mentioned bucket of beers and cocktails to go through on my own. I used my two cocktail vouchers on Long Island Iced Tea variations, including the Georgia Tea (vodka, gin, rum, peach schnapps, Cranberry Juice, sour mix) and Italian Tea (vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, cola, sour mix). Both were strong and tasty, just the way I prefer libations to be.

I did crack on my “don’t buy a drink” credo, as we celebrated my birthday dinner at the ship’s Salty Dog Gastropub, where I ordered the Salty Dog Smash (whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint). The drink paired well with our food, as each diner gets to pick two main courses. We went with the Grilled Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Calamari Frites, and Ernesto Burger. The meal was quite decadent and was finished with desserts of Strawberries & Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Our day at Disneyland was a lot of fun, with Toddler Sip getting to meet her hero Minnie Mouse and experience attractions such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, King Arthur Carrousel and the Mad Tea Party. We also tried a bunch of the specialty Halloween treats around the park, including the Toasted Salsa Roja Chicken Sandwich with Tortilla Soup, Blackberry Midnight Julep and Frozen Abuelita Horchata (mixing Mexican hot chocolate and horchata). Toddler Sip really liked the horchata.

tired disneyland

Admittedly, the day was exhausting and a bit of a bust, as far as my drinking goals were concerned. We were unable to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina (the only place to get a boozy drink in the park) in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area and were too drained at the end of the night to journey to Ballast Point’s new location in Downtown Disney. These will both have to be saved for next year’s return to the resort.

After flying back to Seattle and being picked up by Ma and Pa Sip, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There, I ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich and a pint of Mac & Jack’s Brewing African Amber Ale. We also took home a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which was so damn good when we finally got around to eating it the next night.

It should also be noted that I was gifted from the Sip-In-Laws a bottle of Swear Jar Whiskey, which can be used as a swear jar/piggy bank after being consumed. On the horizon is Oktoberfest, which we will be indulging in to celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday. Time to get the lederhosen ready!

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Best of 2018

Weddings, birthdays, travel, moves and babies. These are some of the themes that make up the Sip Advisor’s annual look back at the best nights from the year that was. Without further ado, here is the Sip Advisor’s top 18 of 2018:

Winter Wedding

The year started off with a bang, as we spent an early January weekend celebrating the wedding of very close friends. With Mrs. Sip a bridesmaid and yours truly delivering a speech, we were busy, but also made ample use of the reception’s open bar. This was Baby Sip’s first wedding and she took in the craziness with her usual charm.

Down Mexico Way

San Diego has an amazing craft beer scene and that has spread across the border to Tijuana, Mexico. While we were staying in nearby Escondido, we booked a tour that would take us across the border for the day, visit a few breweries and then return us stateside in the evening. Our guide was very good and I recommend checking out places on both sides of the boundary.

Riding High

Baby Sip and I joined Mrs. Sip at the tail end of her annual girls trip to Las Vegas and one definite highlight was riding the High Roller, while inside one of the attraction’s Happy Half Hour (Open Bar in the Sky) cabins. For 30 minutes, we enjoyed the sights of the strip, while consuming as much booze as our bodies could handle in such a short time.

open bar

Mamma Mia

To celebrate Mrs. Sip’s first Mother’s Day, we flew to London. Okay, the trip was already planned with saluting Mrs. Sip’s efforts being a happy coincidence. To mark the occasion, we enjoyed an afternoon tea, complete with bottomless bubbly. We finished the day with a stop at the East London Liquor Company for a couple craft cocktails.

French Kissing

While in Lyon, France, our group enjoyed the Les Fleurs du Malt craft beer bar; a Beaujolais wine region tour; drinking in a park along the Rhone River; and an epic feast of McDonald’s goodies, paired with French craft beer. That’s my kind of culture!

Portuguese Pleasing

Next up was Porto, Portugal, memorable for the Food & Wine Tour Mrs. Sip found. After our afternoon of indulging, we explored the city, visiting the Calem Port Museum and Sandeman Cellars for Port tastings and cocktails. Lisbon and Sintra were also neat cities.

Satisfying Two Food Groups

In Brussels, Belgium, the Chocolate & Beer Tour we booked was absolutely decadent. Following a few stops at some of the finest chocolatiers in the city, it was time to get our drink on and enjoy a seemingly endless lineup of brews. After the tour wrapped, we ventured to the Delirium Café for even more beverages.

chocolate and beer

On the Battlefield

The only thing better than a good craft beer event is one that comes with free entry. Scratch that, Mrs. Sip and I were practically paid to attend Cask Wars at the Portside Pub, as entry included one free beer. Sure, once inside you paid for tasting tickets, but even that was at a very reasonable price. The competition saw 11 breweries work to drain their cask the quickest and earn a tap at the bar.

Wedded Bliss

What happens when you pack an entire wedding into a four-hour cocktail reception? A fury of fun… and drinking. Best of all, the rest of the day before and after the nuptials is yours to enjoy. When at the wedding, you can be solely focused on the party and that’s exactly how this went down, with Mrs. Sip calling it a night once we got home.

Maritimes Marriage

With friends tying the knot in their native Nova Scotia, Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) made the cross-country trek to Halifax for a weekend of fun. While touring the city’s craft beer joints and devouring as much Atlantic seafood as we could get our hands on, we also took in some east coast culture in the form of a food tour and visiting some museum exhibits.

Adios Apartment

With just days remaining before we had to be out of our Downtown Vancouver apartment, Mrs. Sip and I decided to throw a final bash at the ol’ place, collecting our finest drinking buddies, with the hopes of depleting our liquor collection and having less bottles to pack and transport. Everyone brought their A-game to the festivity and we ended up retiring numerous bottles.

moving out

Return to the Battlefield

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, enjoying a rare (my very first) night away from Baby Sip to attend the Battle of the Brews event in Surrey. The rain couldn’t dampen our merriment – or inebriation – and we ate and drank our way through as many tents as we could.

Cruise Control

Even with Baby Sip in tow, Mrs. Sip and I managed to live up to our cruise reputation as we travelled from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Giant margaritas, wine tasting and cocktail hours were enjoyed throughout the voyage, along with all the fine dining one stomach can handle.

Day in Disneyland

While I prefer longer visits to the Disneyland Resort, with only one day to spend at the happiest place in the world, we did pretty well with our stay. There to get Baby Sip her first taste of Disneyland and attend Mickey’s Halloween Party, we began with a trio of beers in the California Adventure park, launching us into the second half of our day, trick-or-treating with Mickey and the gang.

Brew Birthday

The Sip Advisor’s birthday, which should be a national holiday, celebrated across Canada, was at least celebrated in style by a select few of us, attending Trading Post Brewing’s Oktoberfest event. We honoured my German heritage with an impressive drinking exhibition and continued the party at our new home with friends and family.

birthday-beer.jpg

Bash for Baby Sip

While I didn’t drink as much as expected for this momentous occasion (I mean, I did create a small menu of cocktail delights to serve to guests), it is still a highlight of the year. First, the day meant we somehow managed to keep a kid alive for a full year and second, watching the sheer joy in Baby Sip’s eyes as everyone focused their attention and love on her, is something I won’t soon forget.

Open House

To show off our new abode, we hosted an open house wine and cheese party that stretched from midday to the early hours of the next morning. We had dozens of bottles on hand, as well as more food than has ever been in our fridge before or since. Guests flowed in and out through the day and at the end, we were just happy it went off without a hitch.

Christmas Day

The moment the Sip Family arrived at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for Christmas dinner, the drinking began. I can’t recall how many Dark N’ Stormy beverages I had over the stay, but my precious bottle of ginger beer was drained. At the end of the night, I passed out to Christmas episodes of my favourite animated comedies… a merry Christmas, indeed!

That wraps up another trip around the sun. I’m not entirely sure what 2019 has in store for this site, but I hope to bring back the Cocktail Corner and Love & Hate segments to this site. I’m also working hard to put together a much bigger project for 2020, so stay tuned!

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!

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.