Sip Trips #207: Rinks and Drinks

Well, March was interesting, full of outings and even some travel. In fact, the month was so busy, I’ve split our experiences into two entries, something I haven’t had to do for a very long time when it comes to Sip Trips diaries. Let’s see how the majority of March played out:

The month began with the Sip Advisor meeting a friend to watch the All Elite Wrestling Revolution pay-per-view. Prior to arriving for the show, we had a couple beers at Roxy Burger, a former frequent haunt for the Sip Family. There, I had two James Brown Ales, at the Sunday special price of $4.50 each.

Next up was the pay-per-view, hosted at Red Card Sports Bar. Throughout the amazing, but lengthy show, I consumed two Red Card Pale Ales, two Howe Sound Sky Pilot NW Pale Ales and one Howe Sound Hazy Daze IPA. To keep from over liquefying, I enjoyed a serving of the bar’s Hotiyaki Wings at happy hour pricing, as well as a Classic Burger later in the evening. The wings were delicious and I really liked the blend of hot sauce and teriyaki. The burger was also very good and we hope to return for future events.

Wrestling

Later that week, Mrs. Sip and I both signed up for Vancouver Craft Beer Week Beer Boxes at the Founding Membership level. This means, four times per year (spring, early summer, late summer and winter), we will receive 24 curated craft beers from a variety of breweries, for only $69 each delivery. We felt this was an amazing deal and can’t wait to see what our first Beer Box holds.

Offered a mid-week date night, Mrs. Sip and I finally visited Gotham Steakhouse, something we had always intended to, but never got around to, while living downtown. We picked Gotham from the list of places that were supposed to be doing Cinq A Sept, as part of Vancouver Cocktail Week, but nobody seemed to know what I was talking about with regards to the special happy hours. Not to be deterred, Mrs. Sip and I both had the restaurant’s Feature Cocktail of the day (Aperol, St. Germain, Gin, Lemon Juice, Absinthe Rinse). I also enjoyed pints of Backcountry Widowmaker IPA and Parkside Dusk Pale Ale, while Mrs. Sip was recommended to order a Whiskey Sour, which we both enjoyed. For eats, we shared the Steak and Prawn Skewers, Caesar Salad and Seymour Street Fried Chicken, all of which were tasty.

Following our meal, it was time for the Vancouver Canucks vs. Montreal Canadiens game we had tickets to. After the first period, we tried Strawberry and Passionfruit Margaritas from the Rogers Arena margarita bar, which I’d like to think spurred the Canucks on to their eventual victory that night.

Margarita

That weekend, we took the Sipplings to the Dead Frog Carnival, where the brewery was releasing two new beers with cotton candy additions. The beers, which I tried each of, were the Hippity Hop Hazy IPA and Pondside Pale Ale. Mrs. Sip had a Black Raspberry Sangria Sour. Our food consisted of the yummy Maple Jalapeno Beef Dip, a Jumbo Beer Pretzel and Smoked Salt & Pepper Wings, which ended up at our table by mistake, but the server said they couldn’t take them back, so we might as well enjoy them.

The next day, prior to another Canucks contest, Mrs. Sip and I had a pre-game meal at The Keg. I paired a Gin Basil Lemonade with an order of French Onion Soup, as I had earlier finished my Beef Dip from the day before and wasn’t super hungry by the time we sat down for dinner.

For St. Patrick’s Day, we went to the 120 Pub for dinner and drinks. It was a great stop for the entire family, as a magician/balloon animal artist was on hand to entertain the kids. My meal consisted of a pint of 120 Winter Wheat Ale (brewed by Red Truck Brewing), to go with the Cali Club sandwich.

St. Patrick's Day

Next up, was Boy Sip’s 2nd birthday. Following a day out, our extended family met for dinner at Boston Pizza. Here, I had a Kick’n Memphis Chicken Sandwich, along with a Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA. Best of all, throughout the month of March, kids meals were free, so long as adults purchased entrees.

For guests at Boy Sip’s Choo Choo Two birthday party the next day, I picked up the Mt. Begbie Bundle of Joy case, containing three each of their Nasty Habit IPA, Tall Timber Brown Ale, Attila the Honey Amber Ale and High Country Kolsch. The pack caught my eye for its unique combo of beers.

We arrived early for our last Canucks game of the month, so decided to start at the arena’s SportsBar. There, we shared the Buffalo Chicken Poutine, where the Buffalo chicken, gravy, veggies and fries all made for a good combo of flavours. To drink, I had a pint of Main Street Naked Fox IPA. We sat and watched the first period in the bar, before moving to our seats for the rest of the match.

Sports Bar

To celebrate another handful of March birthdays on Mrs. Sip’s side of the family, we again ate at The Keg. This time, I went with The Keg Burger, which was decent, but reminded me of how much I missed the original Keg Burger. My beverage choices included a Chili Mango Margarita and a Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA.

The last week of March was spent in Las Vegas, celebrating my and Mrs. Sip’s 20th dating anniversary. What did we get up to in Sin City? You’ll have to wait for the next Sip Trips to find out!

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!

Sip Trips #201: September Celebrations

Well, September was a busy month, as it usually is, filled with numerous birthdays and other activities as the summer comes to a close and we try to eke out the last bits of outdoor fun. Let’s see what the Sip Family did to wrap up the season:

September began with a visit to the Great Canadian Brewhouse in Abbotsford, as we returned home from a day with the kids at Cultus Lake Adventure Park. We may have been pushing our luck after a really good but long day, as both young’uns were in no mood for us to enjoy a restaurant meal. We tried to make the best of it, but the restaurant was also out of a few of the Feature Menu items Mrs. Sip wanted to try and a beer I had hoped to have. Mrs. Sip did join their app/rewards club, which gave us access to a free order of Golden Garlic Fingers, which were very good. She also ordered the Triple Eh! Peppered Angus Steak Bites, along with a Same Team Soda, while I paired the Brewhouse Hoser Club with a Stanley Park Windstorm Pale Ale. Despite any of the issues, we returned to their Richmond location later in the month to try more of their menu.

Club Sandwich

The next week, we popped into Steel & Oak Brewing, since they had food and drink Mrs. Sip was interested in trying. While I enjoyed my Turned Out Spruce Tip Ale, Mrs. Sip finally got to try the Berliner Weisse flight with three different syrups (orange and saffron, ginger and turmeric, and spruce tip) she had been curious about for much of the summer. The Mr. Arancino food truck was also on site, so we grabbed a set of Risotto Balls from it, Arancini being one of Mrs. Sip’s favourite appetizers.

En route to visit some friends in Langley, I popped into the Clayton Liquor Store and picked up tall can four-packs of Vancouver Island Watermelon Hibiscus Blonde (Tidal Series) and Russell Strawberry & Kiwi Milkshake IPA. Both beers were perfect for a late summer outing. I had originally stopped at the store, hoping to track down the Phillips Twenty Point Buck (Barrel-Aged Blue Buck) 20th Anniversary Gift Set with commemorative glass. I was unlucky here, but did eventually find the product at the Central City Bridgeview Liquor Store.

The next day, after taking advantage of advanced voting in the Canadian federal election, we celebrated with dinner at Brown’s Social House in Sapperton. We took advantage of a few Social Hour deals, including Parmesan Garlic Fries, Crispy Cauliflower and beverages including the Social Palmer for me and Summer Social Soda for Mrs. Sip. For my meal, I went with the Florida Special (crispy chicken, avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, tomato, and coleslaw on a toasted baguette) with Caesar Salad. For Girl Sip, we ordered a Kids Dragon Bowl, the leftovers of which became my yummy lunch the next day.

Leftovers

That weekend, The Bakery Brewing was advertising Nitro Pumpkin Spice Porter Floats, which caught the attention of Mrs. Sip. Since we were gathering with friends at a park in the area anyway, we decided to pop in for the float. We also ordered taster glasses of their Amber Ale, Strawberry Farmhouse Ale and Bavarian Hefeweizen. Once again, though, the kids were not into the prospect of hanging out at a brewery… at least until we bribed them with some ice cream!

To celebrate my birthday, we started with lunch at Kelly O’Bryan’s, taking advantage of their free birthday meal offer. I went with the Chicken Lips N’ Fries, with a Black Currant Mojito and Fernie Hit the Deck Hazy IPA to wash the food down. It was a great start to the celebrations, which would also include a Chinese dinner feast with family in the evening.

I received a number of alcohol-based gifts for my birthday, including four-can tall packs of Camp Fall Camp Smoked Amber Ale and Lazy River Watermelon Gose from Cousin Sip; the Central City Summer Weekender 24 Pack from Ma and Pa Sip; a bottle Havana Club Añejo Rum from the Sip-in-Laws; and a bomber of Barnside Heavy Horse Blueberry Milkshake IPA from Mrs. Sip and the Sipplings.

Birthday Gifts

The next day was Girl Sip’s birthday and with a My Little Pony theme, I compiled a cocktail menu for the occasion (for the adults, of course). Drinks included: Twilight Sparkle (Crème de Violette, Bubbly); Pinkie Pie (White Rum, Peach Schnapps, Pink Lemonade, Whip Cream, Garnished with Sprinkles); Applejack (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniel’s Winter Apple, Iced Tea); and Rainbow Dash (Arctic Grape Rum, Blue Curacao, Club Soda).

We continued my birthday celebrations on the weekend, getting together with a group of friends for an evening out. The expedition started with gathering at ABC Brewing for some bevvies. Between Mrs. Sip and myself, I tried their Festbier, Water Frolic Small IPA, Fest IPA and Imperial Stout. Next up, was a couple hours at the Industry Arcade next door. Here, we could play a host of pinball and arcade games, as well as Skee Ball. It was a lot of fun, with highlights for me being playing The Simpsons and Bubble Bobble arcade games.

From there, we moved onto the Sapperton District Taphouse, where I had a pair of beers, consisting of the Parkside Dreamboat IPA and Tin House High Knoll Hazy IPA. I also took the time to refuel a little, with an order of the Chicken Sliders. My night gets a little foggy here, as one would expect after drinking all afternoon, but I remember having fun with what was left of our group.

Arcade Games

With our friends all done for the evening, returning to their respective kids, but with Mrs. Sip and I free of such obligations, thanks to Ma and Pa Sip, we decided to try to take in a movie at the New West Landmark Cinemas. I say try, because the Sip Advisor ended up crashing and sleeping throughout our viewing of Free Guy. What can I say, dark theatres are my kryptonite. Thankfully, the movie has since made its way onto Disney+, allowing my to absolve the guilt I felt for missing out.

The next morning, after picking up the Sipplings, we ventured out to Richmond and the Great Canadian Brewhouse there for our aforementioned return to the chain. Meeting up with a friend, we shared an order of the Birthday Nachos we were offered through their app. I paired the giant order with a tankard of Central City Super Solar IPA, which my friend picked up the tab for, so all in all, it was a pretty inexpensive meal.

The following weekend, we travelled to the Sunshine Coast to spend four nights at a beautiful Airbnb home in Gibsons. On our first day, we had lunch at Tapworks Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I split servings of the One Sailing Wait IPA and Backwoods Hazy Pale Ale. To eat, I selected the Crispy Chicken Bao, which was overflowing with delicious hoisin-drizzled fried chicken.

Nachos

Our next outing was a late lunch at The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery. We had a nice outdoor table, which allowed the kids to roam a little bit, as we ate and drank and supervised… well, mostly supervised! Split between our trio of parents, we ordered the Poutine, Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich and Chicken Quesadillas, which provided quite the spread. To drink, I had the Tall Faller Hazy IPA. As The 101 is also a distillery, Mrs. Sip made a point of trying one of their cocktails, selecting the 101 Coast Sour (gin, bourbon, lemon juice, mint, simple syrup, bitters, topped with Brickers Cider).

Afterwards, we hit the Persephone Brewing farm where Mrs. Sip and I had servings of the Brett Saison and Oktoberfest Lager. If not for our collection of kids, I could have stayed at the location longer, enjoying another pint or two. Even the occasional whiff of typical farm smells wouldn’t have deterred us!

For our last full day, we journeyed to Sechelt, to visit Batch 44 Brewery & Kitchen. Mrs. Sip put together a flight of their Lonely Giant IPA, The Village Altbier, Happy Wanderer Hefeweizen and an Earl Grey Cider, so I elected to go with a brew she didn’t choose, in the Frosty Morning Scottish Ale. My only complaint about the beer is it came in at a 4% ABV and I would have liked that a little higher.

Farm

The only Sunshine Coast brewery we weren’t able to visit was Powell River’s Townsite Brewing, so I picked up a tall can four-pack of their Savary Beaches Wheat Ale (Shoreline Series) from a BC Liquor Store. It helped me complete the Brewers Coast collection.

That was a wrap on a wild and eventful month. October has already started out busy and with a trip to Osoyoos in the cards, along with a number of Halloween events on the calendar, there will surely be much to write about!

Sip Trips #188: Sea to Sky

Taking the last week of August off to celebrate my and Mrs. Sip’s wedding anniversary and make a short getaway to Whistler with the Sip Family, was a perfect way to end the summer. We crammed a lot of stuff into a limited time, so let’s get right to the action:

Prior to our little vacation, we had a bit of activity that should be documented. A couple recent purchases included a six-pack of Spectrum Strawberry Ice Cream Pale Ale, which may be the best beer I’ve had all summer. It’s not too strong on the strawberry flavour, but just enough that you can enjoy it. I also picked up the Nude Vodka Soda Pride Pack for Mrs. Sip to try. It included six flavous (Cran Raspberry, Raspberry Lemon, Lime, Black Cherry, Mango, Peach), giving her a chance to sample a good variety of the brand’s offerings and decide if she wants to do more vodka soda products in the future.

Vodka Soda

We also dropped into Steamworks Brewing in Burnaby one evening. There, I had a delicious Imperial Red Ale, while Mrs. Sip ordered a flight, which included their Refresh Raspberry and Lemon Ale, Killer Cucumber Ale, Hazy Pale Ale and Black Angel IPA. We both particularly liked the Cucumber Ale, which I’ve had before, but never on tap.

The first portion of my week off was a night without kids, enjoying an overnight stay in Downtown Vancouver. We began with some happy hour snacks at 131 Water Kitchen & Bar. Our food included Crispy Chicken Bites and Veggie Spring Roll, which I paired with a 131 Lager. The beer went down like juice, while the food was good and enough to tide me over for our upcoming dinner.

To stock our hotel room, we picked up a tall can four-pack of Barkerville Sluice Juice Hazy Pale Ale, a bomber of Fuggles & Warlock Valkyrie Belgian Vineyard Ale and a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, our room’s fridge wasn’t really much of a cooling device, so we didn’t get to enjoy our treats as we had originally hoped.

Hotel Fridge

For dinner, we went to Lift Bar Grill View in Coal Harbour. Arriving just in time for a quick happy hour order, we each got a glass of house rosé, an appetizer of Humboldt Squid and an Oyster each (for aphrodisiacal reasons!). Mrs. Sip then went with the Halibut for dinner, while I elected to have the Burger. With my meal, I had a pint of Parkside Dusk Pale Ale. The restaurant also kindly gave us each a glass of dessert wines on the house, as a little anniversary delight.

The next morning, we had brunch at Bellaggio Cafe, where Mrs. Sip had Eggs Benedict and I went with the Chicken & Brussels Waffle. I also enjoyed a 3-ounce Caesar, which got the day off to a good start. Our activities while in the area, included the Dimensions Art Gallery, where visitors can become part of the art installations and solving a cold murder case with Vancouver Mysteries. I would recommend both to anyone looking for something to do in Vancouver.

After a brief respite, we were on the road to Whistler, which I hadn’t visited since New Year’s 2012-2013. On our way up, we stopped at the Howe Sound Brewpub in Squamish for lunch. There, I ordered the Hopraiser West Coast IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Alpine Traverse New World Tripel. To eat, we shared the Brewer’s Select Pizza, topped with pepperoni, bacon, and chorizo. We also received a taster of the Pamplemousse Pale Ale and grabbed tall cans of King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen and Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale to go.

Summer Vacation

Before leaving Squamish, we also went to A-Frame Brewing, which only had a few of their own beers on tap. We put together a flight of their Okanagan Lake Cream Ale, Sproat Lake Pale Ale, Shuswap Lake West Coast IPA and finished the set with guest tap House of Funk Atomic Jam. The brewery had a food truck onsite, which allowed us to get Toddler Sip a Churro treat for dessert.

Our dinner that night was at The Keg, since we desired a slice of Billy Miner Pie. Our food selections included Prime Rib Sliders for me and a Lobster Tail for Mrs. Sip. I paired my meal with a Chili Mango Margarita that really hit the spot. Of course, that decadent Billy Miner Pie capped the meal, which the restaurant generously comped since it was our anniversary.

Our main event for the night was checking out the Vallea Lumina Light Walk. Words and photos can’t really describe how neat of an attraction this is. Set on a dark mountainous trail, you travel through some amazing light and sound experiences that make you feel connected to the surrounding nature. I’d love to revisit in the winter, if possible.

The next day, we left the village to explore a couple nearby breweries. First up, was Whistler Brewing, where we put together a flight of their The Blonde Spruce Goose, Wayside Apricot Wit, Chestnut Ale and Black Tusk Ale. It was a solidly built flight, if I don’t say so myself. The Sunny Daze Yuzu IPA, which I had wanted to try, wasn’t on tap, so I grabbed a tall can of it for the road and really enjoyed as a breakfast beer the next day.

Coast Mountain Brewing was our second stop and we ordered two flights to be able to try eight of their 11 brews. Our boards consisted of the Day Dream IPA, The Surveyor IPA, Forecast Pale Ale, Green Run Session IPA, Vanilla Bean Stout, Woodnutt Brown Ale, Sunbreak Saison, and Drink the Rainbow (made with Skittles). I feel like doing flights is a great way to try as much as possible, but a full serving is the best way to truly appreciate a beer, as palate fatigue seems to set in when we go the flight route.

Day three was my negotiated “don’t have to drive anywhere day”, so we spent the day exploring the village. For lunch, we ate at the High Mountain BrewHouse, where between Mrs. Sip and I, we had pints of their Belgian Tripel, Belgian Wit, Alta Lake Ale and Grizzly Brown Ale. Food seemed like a good idea with all those drinks, so we ordered the Four Cheese Pizza.

Pizza

Sadly, our stay in Whistler came to an end, but we weren’t ready to go home yet. We journeyed to Pemberton to hit a couple breweries there, starting with The Beer Farmers. Following our flight, made up of the Locals Only Lager, Farmers Daughter Biere de Table, Cover Crop Hazy IPA and Dunkelweizen, we completed the farm’s sunflower maze, which was a lot of fun, particularly for Toddler Sip.

Next up, was Pemberton Brewing, for a quick flight (U-Pick Strawberry Pale Ale, Cream Puff NE Pale Ale, Upside Down Brut IPA, Barb’s Nice Pear Rhubarb Pear Sour). We also brought home a bomber of Cream Puff NE Pale Ale, which will be a nice way to bring up memories of the journey, when we finally get around to enjoy it.

Road Trip

On our drive home, we stopped in Squamish again, to hit Backcountry Brewing. There, we had a fantastic Fig & Prosciutto Pizza (as well as an appetizer of Hushpuppies), to go along with a flight of beers. The flight included the Go Get Yourself Some Cheap Sunglasses IPA, Living in a Van Down By the River ISA, I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop Peach Sour and Patches O’Houlihan Porter. To go, Mrs. Sip grabbed a tall can four-pack of I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop Peach Sour and single tall can of Case of the Mondays Peach-Pineapple-Guava Sour.

Eight breweries over four days, completes to checklist for Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. The expedition brought Toddler Sip’s number up to 96 breweries visited and Baby Sip up to 27. Parenting done right!

Sip Trips #104: Babymooning (Part 2)

Yesterday, we took a look at the first portion of our Rome to Dubai babymoon cruise, with stops in Rome, Naples, Athens, and Santorini. Today, we make our way through the Suez Canal to Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, with many ships hijinks in between:

While our ship was brand-spanking new with some great updates to behold, I missed some of the charms of the older vessels in the Princess Cruises line. For example, the Explorer’s Lounge has been replaced by the Princess Live Studio. This is where many trivia events take place, respectively, but the studio is lacking tables, so there’s no surface to write on. Even worse, there’s nowhere to rest a drink… heck, the place doesn’t even have a bar, which is practically criminal.

Also, the Skywalker’s Lounge – home to the Elite/Platinum Lounge – is gone from the newer ship design and so the lounge time for loyal guests now takes place in a windowless room of the ship, with servers having to travel some distance to hook passengers up with the daily drink special. As a result, one of my favourite parts of the day on most cruises, was only attended twice by me and Mrs. Sip. The experience just didn’t feel special at all.

Fix Your Own Drinks

Another missing piece from other ships we’ve sailed on was the line’s Crooner’s Martini Bar. Apparently, we weren’t the only guests to notice, as a few days into the cruise, the Juice Bar was turned into a pop-up Martini Bar each evening. On its opening night, we dropped by for their Tropitini (Bacardi Oakheart, Malibu, Creme de Banana), which was very tasty and far better than a health smoothie.

As we docked in Aqaba, Jordan, I tallied my 50th country visited. With a Rob Roy ordered in the Elite/Platinum Lounge, I was also able to cross off country number 50 that I’ve drank in. This is a feat I’m very proud of and just may make the cut to be immortalized on my headstone: Here lies the Sip Advisor… he drank EVERYWHERE!

That evening, as Mrs. Sip and I were checking out what the buffet had to offer, we were stopped by the team selling shots of Limoncello and souvenir shot glasses. Eventually, they coerced me into buying a glass and shot for $3. Then, the lead of the group offered to give me a second pour on the house, if I downed the concoction right there. That was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Before I knew it, I was four shots deep – one for me, one for Mrs. Sip, one for Baby Sip, and one just for the hell of it – and I had still only shelled out $3.

Shots You Take

The next day brought the British pub lunch that seems to occur at least once per cruise voyage. I paired my delicious fish and chips with a Blue Moon, which got the ball rolling on it being a beer day. Afterwards, while laying in the sun and watching Queensland vs. New South Wales (National Rugby League) on the pool deck with a horde of Aussie passengers, I delved into a bucket of Heineken beers, which all made for an entertaining and relaxing afternoon.

With my stock of mixers depleted at this point, I purchased cans of Tonic Water and Barq’s Root Beer. For whatever reason, I was really craving a Gin & Tonic (perhaps I needed to stave off scurvy) and after getting a couple lime wedges from the pool bar, I had all the ingredients needed to make some really good beverages for myself.

Nearing the end of our cruise, we attended the Captain’s Circle Party, which is hosted for Elite/Platinum passengers and provides free drinks. I had a few beverages here, but they weren’t of the best quality, as usual for this event. We did however win a bottle of champagne, amongst hundreds of entries. As soon as they said Mr. and Mrs. I knew they were going to announce our names, since Mrs. Sip isn’t drinking much at this point.

Champ in Champagne

We were also invited to a Farewell Cocktail Party, as the ship’s captain was also taking leave in Dubai. Hosted in the Hollywood Pool (an indoor, adult’s only area they unsuccessfully tried to turn into a night club setting in the evenings) this was an absolute drinkfest for the Sip Advisor. With Mrs. Sip’s help, I grabbed a few really good Cosmos and Gimlets, as well as some other treats.

Upon arriving in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it was time for Mrs. Sip and I to sadly disembark the cruise. While Dubai was an absolutely fascinating place to visit, drinks are pretty difficult to find. I did manage to have one cocktail at our hotel’s bar, the Double Decker Pub. I ordered the Eldery Flower (Elderflower-infused Gin, topped with Lime, Apple and Cranberry Juices), which was very refreshing, but expensive (45 Dirham = approx. $16 CDN) . It was worth it, though, as consuming drinks in “dry” countries is a guilty pleasure of mine.

That wraps up our babymoon, our last big trip before we move from a family of two to three. I can promise all you little sippers, though, that the fun is far from over!

Sip Trips #103: Babymooning (Part 1)

Back in 2012, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our honeymoon with a cruise through the Panama Canal. Nearly five years later and with a little girl on the way, we decided to take our babymoon from Rome to Dubai – through the Suez Canal – aboard another luxury liner. Here’s part one of that expedition:

Our first stop of the journey was Rome, Italy, a favourite city for both Mrs. Sip and myself. Friends from London joined us for this portion of the vacation and after some sightseeing, we journeyed to the 404 Name Not Found bar, which one of our companions had researched. There, complex cocktails (and a mocktail for Mrs. Sip) awaited us. Always a fan of spicy drinks, I tried the 666, complete with Jalapeno-infused Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice and Honey.

The next morning, I was able to cross an item off my drinking bucket list, when I enjoyed my first ever McBeer (Beera Moretti Baffo D’oro) at the McDonald’s just outside the walls of the Vatican City. Despite beer being available at a McDonald’s stop or two prior, this was the first time I’ve imbibed in the option and it was a great experience with my set of famous hamburgers.

McBeers

Later that day, we were off to board our ship at the Civitavecchia Port, over an hour outside Rome. After checking in, we arrived at our room (which had been upgraded from a balcony to a mini suite) and were promptly given glasses of sail away bubbly. It was a very nice start to our two-week journey aboard the Majestic Princess.

Mrs. Sip surprised me with bottles of Bacardi Rum, Skyy Vodka and Gordon’s Gin to go along with the two bottles of wine I had just grabbed at the Termini train station. I also brought a handful of Grey Goose mini bottles, so giving I was drinking solo, I was quite set for the voyage. I never buy the all-inclusive pop package available on the cruise, so having mixers for my booze can be challenging, but I’ve picked up some tricks along the way. I did purchase a soda set, which provided me with six cans of pop, while also taking advantage of free orange juice for breakfast and lemonade throughout the day. This allowed me to create an array of drinks, enhanced by some clever fruit pick-ups at the buffet.

Our first stop of the cruise docked in Naples, Italy. Our excursion for the day would take us to the island of Capri, where I got to do a little Limoncello tasting, followed by lunch in Sorrento (where I chugged back close to a bottle of house wine) and finishing with a tour of the historic Pompeii.

Pompeii Stoned

Our next port of call was in Athens. Mrs. Sip and I elected to take a hop-on, hop-off bus into the city, where we visited the 360 Cocktail Bar. With views of the legendary Acropolis from the bar’s rooftop patio, I sat back and enjoyed servings of their Heat Wave (Russian Standard Vodka, Mezcal, Jalapeno Chillies, Oregano, Herbs, Agave, Lime) and The Journey of Chivalry (Chivas Regal 12-year, Noilly Prat Vermouth, Cashews, Smoked Salt, Coconut Water) cocktails. I had also tried to order the Summer Loading (Bacardi White Rum, Watermelon, Orgeat, Lime, Three Cents Agean Tonic), but sadly it was not available.

As we continued to explore the area, we popped into a store where I purchased a bomber-sized bottle of Alfa Weiss Beer and cans of Fanta Strawberry-Kiwi and Tuborg Orange-Cinnamon Soda to add to my mixer collection. The greatest treat came as we returned to the port. There was a duty-free shop in the terminal and after confirming purchases wouldn’t be taken away, as there was no security check to go through boarding the ship, I popped back into the store before we set sail to snag a half-liter bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon.

Our stop the next day on the Greek island of Santorini was one I was greatly looking forward to. We had visited for a week 10 years prior and it became one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to. Sadly, this trip wasn’t nearly as good, as the tiny island was hosting three different ships and was overrun. To salvage the day, Mrs. Sip and I sat down in a tiny bar in the capital city of Fira, where I had an Alfa Beer and enjoyed the sights. Then we travelled down 700 steps to the port, dodging donkeys and their droppings along the way.

That wraps up part one of our expedition. Join us tomorrow for the second half of an amazing holiday.

Mixer Mania #17 – Island Hopping

Mrs. Sip spent a lot of her youth in Hawaii and she has been able to share some of those experiences with me, since we’ve been together. With Hawaiian Punch being today’s feature mixer, let’s take a look at some of the things the islands have brought to our lives:

Traditions

One of the most fascinating parts of a vacation to Hawaii is taking in all the unique culture. From being greeted with leis to luau feasts to hula dancing and everything in between, the island experience is something that must be seen to be appreciated.

Hawaiian-Time-Hours.jpg

Drinks

Despite its name, Hawaiian Punch was actually developed in California in 1934. Originally an ice cream topping, it became a beverage when water was added. POG, however, can claim Hawaiian ties, as it was developed in 1971 for Haleakala Dairy on Maui. The islands are also famous for Kona coffee, which must be grown in that district. Hawaii is the only American state which grows coffee plants.

Food

Hawaiian food can be looked at, in this humble writer’s opinion, as the good, the bad, and the ugly. First, there’s the delicious Macadamia Nuts, which are a souvenir every traveller brings back with them. Next up, we have the polarizing pineapple, which I like on my pizza, but don’t like in my cocktails. Then, we enter dangerous territory, with items like poi and spam, which are certainly acquired tasted. We can’t forget one of Mrs. Sip’s favourites: McDonald’s Haupia Pie!

People

The most famous Hawaiian is probably former president Barack Obama, while the islands are also the birthplace of musicians such as Bruno Mars, Jack Johnson, Don Ho, and even Bette Midler. Let’s not forget Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, also calls Hawaii – and its waters – home.

Hawaiian Dad

Media

Some of my favourite TV shows and movies were filmed amongst the beautiful setting that is Hawaii. These projects include Magnum P.I., Hawaii 5-0 (I’m more a fan of the original), and one of Ma and Pa Sip’s favourites, Lost, on the TV side. As for films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 50 First Dates, The Descendants, and Lilo & Stitch have used the island backdrop to their advantage.

Other

Hawaii can be credited with being the birthplace of many other notable things. Some of these include ABC Stores, which can be found all across the islands; the Shaka (aka Hang Loose); the POG game; and likely also played a role in the popularity of surfing, although that can be spread across much of the Polynesian islands.

Mixer Mania #17: Hawaiian Wipeout

Hawaiian Wipeout.JPG

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Goldschlager
  • Top with Hawaiian Punch
  • Garnish with Strawberry Slices

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Of course, this recipe is meant for the original Hawaiian Punch, but I’m going with the Berry Blue Blast version. The drink called for Everclear as a liquor, but Vodka is a quick and sufficient substitute. The taste is dominated by the cinnamon flavour in the Goldschlager, with some berry coming out, but being largely hidden.

Sip Trips #97: Baby on Board

Well, the cat’s finally out of the bag (that is such a weird saying… I mean, who puts a cat in a bag anyway): Mrs. Sip is pregnant! That has meant some great changes at the Sip Advisor offices, which I will delve into in future articles. Today’s post is about how we recently celebrated our big news, with the Great Cocktail Reveal party!

After taking a couple months to let our friends and family in on the secret, we were ready to reveal the gender of our little one in grand fashion. There was only one fitting way the Sip Advisor should learn of this detail and that was through either a pink or blue cocktail being poured by Mrs. Sip, who learned of the sex a couple weeks earlier.

Gender Reveal T-Shirt

Along with the cocktail being prepared for me, we also put together two pink and two blue recipes for our guests and let them make their wager through their beverage of choice. Each serving was garnished with either a pink or blue tuft of cotton candy, completing the presentation. Here are the tasty, yet simple cocktails I created for the event:

Blue Bubbles

  • Vodka
  • Bubble Gum Soda
  • Club Soda

Brilliant Blue

  • Tequila
  • Berry Blue Blast Juice
  • Lemon-Lime Soda

Pretty in Pink

  • Vodka
  • Pink Grapefruit Juice
  • Club Soda

Pink Danger

  • Tequila
  • Watermelon Juice
  • Lemon-Lime Soda

So, now that I’ve got your attention, I bet you’re wondering what the results were. Well, come late September (due date is estimated to be September 27th), Mrs. Sip and I will be the proud parents of a baby girl! While I’m still adjusting to writing lines like that, we are ecstatic with this development in our lives and can’t wait to meet the new addition to our family!