Sip Trips #86: Best of 2016

Each year, the Sip Advisor fondly looks back at the best drinking nights (in order of occurrence) of the previous calendar… at least what he can remember of them. Join us as we take a moment to dissect and celebrate 2016:

Libational Learning

When a night ends with the Sip Advisor passing out on the couch, sans clothing, you know it’s been a good one! The Science of Cocktails extravaganza was a fascinating and booze-fueled evening. We wanted to return this year, but Mrs. Sip has a trial starting the next day, so that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. #Responsibilities

Family Day Festivities

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Alliance explored both the Fraser Valley and North Vancouver craft beer regions, hitting more than a dozen locations. Many of these, were first time stops for our group and it opened our eyes to all the wonders that exist outside of Vancouver.

family-time

Crawling Around

Just one day after the Portland Beer & Wine Festival, we were back at it, hitting the streets of the City of Roses and searching out some of its most popular breweries. Over the course of the day, we worked our way through a half dozen tasting rooms. Eventually, we ended the journey with an Easter-themed burlesque show and Voodoo Doughnuts… because why the hell not!?

Lion City Leisure

With three nights in Singapore to start our five-week Asian adventure, we decided to spend one of those nights at the swanky Marina Bay Sands. Our hotel package included their evening happy hour, which in true Mr. and Mrs. Sip fashion, we rocked until they kindly asked us to leave. We followed this with swimming in the resort’s rooftop pool, 63 floors above the city.

The Happiest of Valleys

The fun didn’t stop there, as our cruise made a two-day stop in the vibrant city that is Hong Kong. This allowed us the chance to enjoy some nightlife, helped along by Mrs. Sip having a few friends living in the city. Coincidentally, it was also Wednesday race night at the Happy Valley Racetrack. Over a couple pitchers of beer, the Sip Advisor even picked a winning horse and took home a small prize.

horse-racing-for-rich-people

So Many Options

Arriving in Tokyo, Japan, we chose to stay near the Golden Gai district of the city. For those unfamiliar with the area, it is home to approximately 300 little bars, within a six-block radius. Our exploration led us into a few uniquely-themed watering holes, such as the one centered around horror movie and metal music cultures.

Drinking Sky High

Our fun in Tokyo didn’t stop there. The moment Mrs. Sip discovered that this attraction existed, we knew it would be a highlight of our stay in the city. At the Park Hyatt, their Peak Bar offered visitors the chance to drink all-inclusive during sunset hours, while looking down at the bustling city below, from the 41st floor. We ended up sitting next to a couple from Australia and spent the night drinking with them, as I challenged the bartender to make me her best drink with each different alcohol available.

Tipping N’ Tasting

Among my favourite annual beer festivals is the Tip N’ Taste event in Langley. It provides a chance to sample brews from companies based more in the Fraser Valley region of BC, as well as other entries from around the province. This year, we stayed overnight at the Convention Centre Hotel, which hosted the event. That meant the after party quickly moved to our room!

beer-crisper

Island Wedding

While on Prince Edward Island for a friend’s wedding, Mrs. Sip and I were introduced to a number of great people, who we partied away the weekend with. Following a meet-and-greet barbecue on the eve of the wedding, we accompanied our new associates back into Charlottetown for an impromptu night on the town, which ended much later than we had anticipated.

All You Need is Love

The Made with Love cocktail competition has become an annual tradition (three years running) for Mrs. Sip and I. It’s always a fun night out, trying the drinks of some of Vancouver’s most popular bartenders. Best of all, we get to play a role in picking the winning entry, although none of our personal favourites ever seem to come out on top.

Cruise Credits

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s birthday, we booked a one-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. Over the course of the evening, the Sip Advisor took in parts of four bottles of wine, a half-dozen beers, a couple cocktails, and a bottle of bubbly to boot, won through a ‘Finish the Song Lyrics’ quiz.

cruise-captain-morgan

Irish Blessings

Over the last couple years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have celebrated my birthday in Hawaii, aboard a cruise ship, in Southern Africa, and now Ireland – although it was a couple days after the actual date. The Sip Syndicate was along for this ride and we celebrated in true Irish style with shots of Jameson Whiskey and pints of Guinness.

Fear and Loathing

Our trips to Disneyland nowadays typically include enjoying the sights and sounds (and lines) of the park with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand. In October, we were also primed for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, which involves getting a good buzz going, prior to entering. Once that was accomplished, all we had to deal with was psycho killer clowns, a rogue’s gallery of baddies and even some Jabbawockeez!

Award Season

My first year attending one of BC’s best craft beer shindigs proved why I had missed out in previous years. Unable to attend because of vacations and other commitments, we finally made it to the BC Beer Awards, where the Sip Advisor was able to sample about 20 different beers from the wonderful breweries that make up the province’s craft industry.

awards-season

Diamond Celebration

To commemorate Ma Sip’s 60th birthday, the entire family ventured to Disneyland, which also recently celebrated the same milestone. Mrs. Sip’s aunt also had her 50th birthday on that weekend, so there was much to revel in. That included a fair bit of drinking at the park and in our hotel rooms, as we made the change from day to night wear.

Traditional Tidings

To celebrate Christmas this year, the Sip Family stayed in Leavenworth, Washington, which is famous for being a little slice of Bavaria, hidden in the mountains. The town is a haven for Christmas lovers, and it’s here that we explored the many wine tasting rooms, a couple breweries and exuded as much festive spirit as one is allowed to, by law.

2016 was an amazing year… at least drinking wise. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has to offer, even though it has quite a bit to live up to!

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Sip Trips #64: Asian Antics (Part 2)

With our cruise over, Mrs. Sip and I, along with her sister were on our way to Japan for two weeks of riding the rails, sightseeing and taking in the country’s fascinating culture.

I learned quickly that there were some craft beer options in Japan and picked up bottles and cans whenever the opportunity arose. Some of our favourites included releases from Cuedo Brewing (hefeweizen, IPL, pilsner, and a very interesting imperial sweet potato amber); Suntory (stout, IPA, weizen, amber ale, etc.); and what we can only call “frog beers” (saison and American wheat).

Japan Ready for War

Switching gears to the macro side of things, we were lucky to tour the Kirin Brewery outside Kobe, Japan. The shuttle that takes visitors from train station to factory is designed to look like a beer can, so things get off to a great start and only get better from there with a free tour and samples. Sure, you have to go through a tour that is only done in Japanese, but the sacrifice is well worth it!

In Osaka, we explored the Dotonbori area, known for its vibrant nightlife. Some research led us to the Space Station Video Game Bar, where drinkers can enjoy a beverage and a vintage video game. As expected, the drinks and shots available are themed after video games and popular characters. I had the Gin & Sonic (a G&T with Blue Curacao added to emulate the classic Sega speedster), followed by a Triforce shooter of Legend of Zelda fame. The owner made sure to get us set up with a great game called Ibb and Obb, while the bartender was very helpful with describing their extensive menu.

Our Air BnB in Tokyo was located just minutes away from the Golden Gai area of the city. Here, there are an estimated 300 little bars, some of which you would struggle to get more than a handful of people into. Some of these spots only welcome locals, while others may be open to tourists, providing they pay a cover charge. We tried to stick to bars that allowed foreigners (or gaijin as they are known) and didn’t have cover. We worked our way into four very unique settings, including one honouring classic movies; one where karaoke filled the venue; Death Match in Hell, which was a tribute to death metal and horror movies; and 5 Gallons, which was just straight up fun.

Japan Weird

The next night, we enjoyed a two-hour all-inclusive drinking experience on the 41st floor of the Park Hyatt, in their Peak Bar. Dubbed the Top of Tokyo, my strategy was to challenge the bartender to make her best cocktail with [insert liquor here]. It yielded some great results, such as a Cherry Blossom. This was joined by copious other beverages, including manhattans, mojitos, daiquiris and whiskey sours.

We wrapped up our Asian journey with a few days at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Drinks could be had in the Disney Sea park, which meant we spent a fair bit of time there. Mrs. Sip dared me to try their “Frozen” Kirin Draft, which translated into chilled foam at the top of the beer that kept it cooler, longer, but tasted as bad as you’d expect the head of beer to taste.

Japan Signs

We also enjoyed some quiet time in both of the park’s lounges: the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge and Magellan’s Lounge. At Magellan’s, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed their wine tasting flight, which included a white, red, and port pour, along with meat and cheese nibblies.

Much like most of our journeys, I can’t say enough good things about the sites we saw, the people we met and the activities we experienced. I wouldn’t trade the trip for anything and urge all you little sippers out there to try it for yourselves.