Sip Trips #123: Wedded Bliss

Last week was a very busy one for myself and Mrs. Sip. We were members of a friend’s wedding party and there were a number of events to attend and breweries and restaurants to visit during our stay in the North Vancouver area.

Our first stop was the Tap & Barrel Shipyards location, which served host to the rehearsal dinner. There, I ordered the PB&J Burger, which was fantastic. I’ve had the burger on other occasions, but this was hands down the best version of it I have experienced. As for drinks, I chose pints of Mount Arrowsmith Comfortably Chum Hef and Hearthstone Magodes White IPA. I had also wanted to try the 33 Acres of Cashmere Red Ale, but it was tapped out.

Rehearsal Dinner.png

The next day, we visited Boston Pizza for a drink after I finished work. I picked the Whiskey BBQ Bacon Caesar, which had a really interesting smoky barbecue flavour to go with the usual Caesar blend. Following that beverage, we hit the nearby BC Liquor Store to pick up some supplies for the room. We snagged the Doan’s Brewing Happy Pack, which is comprised of two tall cans each of their Rye IPA, Kolsch, Stout, and seasonal Crystal Weiss.

After a brief respite in our room, we journeyed to Beere Brewing Company, where I had a serving of their recently released Cherry Willis Imperial Stout. The brew was very nice, featuring flavours of cherry and cacao. The night wrapped with one more brewery stop, as I showed an out-of-town friend the North Van scene, popping into Green Leaf Brewing for a pint of their Azacca Cadabra ISA.

Saturday was the wedding, and with an open bar on the docket, a lot of drinking was done. I visited the bar so many times that I had a good relationship going with the bartender, who complimented my alcohol tolerance, as well as the cuteness of Baby Sip, who was enjoying her first wedding and was very well-behaved throughout.

Open Bar.jpg

Following a couple days off to recharge the batteries after the wedding, we were back at it Tuesday night, first stopping at Earl’s Kitchen + Bar for a happy hour beverage. I chose their Rhino Pale Ale, which is served in a massive, intimidating glass. Our evening entertainment was supplied by Relish The Pub and their weekly trivia night. One difference with Relish’s trivia, compared to other local options, is that each table pays a $5 entry, with that money going towards the BC Cancer Foundation. While we have yet to win anything during our few visits to Relish, the prizes are quite good (gift cards and pitchers of beer), so we will have to try our luck again in the future.

Mrs. Sip’s birthday is this weekend, so it will be another busy “break”. The Sip Advisor will be slinging drinks at a joint birthday party for Mrs. Sip and a friend, as the hosts are moving out at the end of the month and are looking to get rid of some liquor bottles. Should be a lot of fun!

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Sip Trips #43: California Dreamin’ (Part 1)

With many of our family and friends asking, “Do they ever work?”, Mrs. Sip and I were out of town again the past week and a half, enjoying a coastal cruise aboard the Star Princess, followed by a few days with her parents at a resort in Escondido, California. Here’s part one of all the fun we got up to:

One of the first things we do after boarding our ship is search out potential drinks deals and get a lay of the land. One of these deals came to us, as our steward dropped off two complimentary drink tickets upon meeting us. We used these later to grab a couple of their cocktails. While Mrs. Sip ordered an Ultimate Mai Tai – her favourite Princess beverage – I tried The Isaac, designed for Princess Cruises 50th anniversary, by the man who played the bartender on The Love Boat. The drink combined Bacardi Rum with lime and pomegranate juices and it was fun to have a drink made by the fictional liquor slinger.

Isaac The Love Boat

Mrs. Sip and I are platinum members with the cruise line and therefore have access to their Elite Lounge from 5-7pm each day of the voyage. This includes feature drinks and appies. While there used to just be one drink on the menu priced at $5, they now feature a line of about a half dozen cocktails that are discounted. We worked our way through the list over our four-day cruise, which included the Chairman of the Board; Rob Roy; Mojito; Japanese Slipper; Brezza Marina; and Cosmopolitan. I like that they picked strong drinks for the lounge options.

Another trick of the trade was the ship’s new BOGO hours, which allowed passengers to buy one drink and get a second of the same for only one dollar more. We used this on a couple occasions, to get Mojitos and Beverly Hills Iced Teas.

As far as bringing alcohol on board the ship, passengers are allowed one bottle of wine each, but we always bring on a little more. To cover the entire gamut, we brought on one red, one white, and one bubbly. We also typically tuck a couple mini liquor bottles into our toiletry kits, which go perfectly with the complimentary lemonade you can get at the buffet. On this cruise, we combined the soft drink with Evan Williams Cherry Liqueur, Smirnoff Watermelon and Camarena Reposado Tequila, Absolut Raspberri and Camarena Reposado Tequila, and Pinnacle Peach Vodka and Cruzan Coconut Rum.

pirate cruise

As previously mentioned, Princess Cruises is currently celebrating their 50th anniversary and had some specially designed drinks to ring in their golden anniversary year. Mrs. Sip and I splurged and tried a couple – at $12 per cocktail, we couldn’t enjoy them all – including the Anniversary Bliss (Bulleit Bourbon, Peach Schnapps, Frangelico, simple syrup, mint leaves) and 50 Years More (Don Julio, Blue Curacao, White Creme de Cacao, Galiano, lime juice). Both drinks we nicely crafted and blended some interesting ingredients.

Despite being on international waters, craft beer could still be found. We tried both the Seawitch Denali Red Alaska Style Red Ale and the Seawitch West Coast IPA, brewed exclusively for Princess Cruises by Denali Brewing and Strike Brewing, respectively. The Red Ale was the better of the two, as the IPA had a copper aftertaste, although that dissipated as you consumed more of the beer.

A new find for the Sip Advisor on this cruise was the Margarita Bar, which featured a number of great recipes. Mrs. Sip and I shared their Strawberry & Black Pepper (Cazadores Reposado, strawberry juice, black pepper) and Chocolate & Chili (Don Julio, White Creme de Cacao, fresh jalapeños) options. I loved the Chocolate & Chili, as the chocolate really balances out the jalapeños. There was also a Sweet & Smokey (Tequila, Scotch, Grand Marnier, orange juice) I was interested in, but did not get a chance to try.

margaritas archer

On our final evening of cruising, we went to the Vines wine bar, where they were advertising a wine and chocolate pairing. Unfortunately, they only had one set of the chocolates left, so I let Mrs. Sip be the fortunate recipient (chivalry is far from dead, my little sippers!) of the truffles designed by chocolatier Norman Love. Her pairing combined one light, medium and heavy red with chocolates using cocoa from five different countries (Venezuela, Tanzania, Peru, Dominican Republic, Ghana). On the server’s recommendation, I did New World wine flight which included Wild Horse Pinot Noir (USA), Caliterra Carmenere (Chile), and McPherson Shiraz (Australia).

I suppose my only complaint from the cruise would be that near the end, they had run out of a number of supplies, such as the aforementioned chocolates to pair with the wines and some other chocolate ingredients that were meant to go with a menu of cocktail concoctions intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Only half way through our little vacation, part two will look at our time spent in the San Diego County area, with a journey into the Temecula Valley Wine Country and time spent exploring the city’s craft beer community!

 

October 3 – Waikiki Wave

Aloha

As many of you little sippers know, I recently celebrated my 30th birthday in Hawaii! While there, I did what the Sip Advisor does best: got smashed all around the island, leaving a path of destruction not seen since the attack on Pearl Harbor… too soon!? Here is an account of my misadventures and some great spots to hit if you are ever in Honolulu:

Birthday Crawl and 30-Drink Challenge

Mrs. Sip and I arrived on the beautiful island shortly before the clock turned over to my birthday. At exactly midnight, I sipped my first drink and was promptly challenged to down 30 libations before the day was done. I had six down the hatch before going to bed and awoke to a shot around 8am. After picking up friends at the airport, the birthday pub crawl was off and running. Over the rest of the day, we hit Jimmy Buffett’s, LuLu’s, Tiki’s, Rum Fire, and The Yardhouse, where I destroyed a half-yard of brew for my 30-in-30!

30th Birthday

Happy Hours and Mai-Tais

Hawaii, perhaps more so than any other place in the world, is famous for their midday and late night happy hours. You can bet that we took advantage of as many as possible, despite the collection of bottles we had waiting for us in our apartment. A must-have drink while vacationing on any of the Hawaiian Islands is the Mai-Tai. The Mai-Tai is among Mrs. Sip’s all-time favourite offerings, while I enjoyed a couple at Chuck’s Steak House (which is owned by Duke’s, another not to be missed dinner spot with a phenomenal salad bar located at the Outrigger hotel). They even came in tiki-head shaped glasses!

Yardhouse Options

While we enjoyed many locations, our group’s favourite hangout was probably The Yardhouse, which we visited nearly every day. Thankfully, I’ve learned this chain exists near enough to me that I will get to visit again soon. The food was great and the drinks even better. They have countless offerings on tap (definitely something for everyone) and I made sure to try nearly every wheat or white beer they had in stock. Food was also pretty good with boneless chicken wings and half priced happy hour pizzas!

Dave and Busters

In a previous article, I outlined some restaurants that I wanted to visit. One of those was Dave and Busters, which I learned only days before our vacation had a location in Hawaii. When Mrs. Sip and I stumbled upon the outlet, we made sure to enjoy some food (delicious pretzel dogs), copious amounts of beer (a shuttle of 100 ounces) and their midway games! We had a wonderful time, highlighted by a four-way air hockey contest, yours truly defeating Mrs. Sip on a massive Connect 4 game, and also scoring the only 5/5 on the trivia challenge!

Dave and Busters

Top of Waikiki

This top-rated bar was a wonderful retreat from Waikiki’s bustling streets. As we rotated around the bar, it was fun to check out the restaurant’s liquor collection and indulge in a few delicious cocktails. Our bartender, Kory, was second only to your very own Sip Advisor and catered to our every whim. It was here (as well as at Rum Fire) that I learned how much I enjoy and appreciate drinks with a little heat, whether through hot sauces or being mixed with peppers.  My favourite recipe was the Naughty or Nice, which combined rum, strawberry puree, mint, soda, and Serrano peppers.

Beach Time

While I’m not a huge fan of going to the beach (the poor man’s pool, as I call it), we did spend a number of afternoon hours soaking up the sun and getting filthy in the ocean and sand. A highlight, was making our own midnight pizza and taking it out onto one of the beach piers (along with some liquid sunshine) and enjoying the waves crashing against our bare feet as we ate, drank and pondered.

Boozy Ending

Mrs. Sip and I spent our last night in paradise kicking back and relaxing (not to mention polishing off every last bit of alcohol in our place). The only thing I like about coming home from vacation is introducing the liquor we purchase (our babies) to their new abode. On this trip, Mrs. Sip and I picked up bottles of Macadamia Nut Liqueur, Rock Coconut Rum, Apple Pie Moonshine, Malibu Red, and some mini bottles of various flavours to be featured soon!

Drink #276: Waikiki Wave (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Waikiki Wave Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Spiced Rum (I used Bacardi Oakheart)
  • Top with POG (Passion-Orange-Guava) Juice
  • Splash of Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with Hawaii Cookie and Macadamia Nuts

I’d say the only area that Hawaii drinking needs improvement is that you can’t drink on the street and beach. If the island could remedy this and become a little more like Las Vegas in their public alcohol consumption laws, that would be amazing. Especially with all the ABC stores, I just wanted to grab a beer, crack it and walk a block to the next outlet!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This was an okay drink, but I think my Ginger Ale had gone a little flat and wasn’t the awesome ingredient it usually is. All the garnishes were certainly fun to eat after the drink was consumed and the munchies had truly kicked in!