Sip Trips #217: Christmas Craziness

December was the jam-packed month I’ve come to expect, especially since having kids. Christmas events, Vancouver Canucks games and many meals kept us out and about. Let’s see what the Sip Family got up to, as we bid adieu to 2022:

Early in the month, Mrs. Sip and I had a Canucks game to attend, so prior to the contest, we had dinner at The Keg in Yaletown, where I took full advantaged of their happy hour, ordering the Keg Burger & Fries, along with a pair of Gin Basil Lemonade cocktails. The feast was very good, but we still had time to kill before puck drop, so we walked over to Elisa, where we split a trio of drinks, including the Charring the Cosmos (Gin, Grilled Pineapple Agave Syrup, Lime, Soda, Lem-Marrakech Bitters), Earl Grey Martini (Gin, Amaretto, Earl Grey, Lavender Syrup, Egg White) and Roxanne (Scotch, Malbec, Lemon, Red Dragon Chai Syrup). We hope to return to Elisa another time for the full meal experience.

A few days later, we took Girl Sip out for a movie night, eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory beforehand. I selected the Chicken Parmagiana with Caesar Salad, which was good. It had been a while since I’d eaten at Old Spaghetti Factory and it was fun to try it again with Girl Sip, who is a passionate pasta fanatic.

Pasta

Later that week, Mrs. Sip and I needed to pick up a package at our mailbox in the U.S., so while across the line, we had a quick bite to eat at Gateway Taphouse & Grill in Blaine, Washington. To drink, I went with the Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale, while Mrs. Sip drank a pint of Beach Cat Meowy Christmas Winter Ale. For food, I took advantage of their $10 Burger Night, which included a burger and seasoned fries, which were a wedge/curly fry hybrid that I really liked.

In the middle of the month, Mrs. Sip and I received our winter VCBW Beer Boxes. I have to give a shout out to the breweries that continue to provide unique beers to this project, particularly Old Yale and Russell, which provided two beers this time. The Wild Eye Dark N Stormy cocktail-inspired beer was neat too.

Prior to another Canucks game, this time with the Sipplings in tow, we ate at Boston Pizza. I had the Boston-Sized Burger, which was very filling, paired with a couple pints of Rickard’s Red. The place was packed on this night and this caused service to be a little chaotic, which was the only downfall of a fun evening out.

Baby Sitting

Perhaps the dating highlight of the month was when Mrs. Sip and I were able to visit the Tinseltown Bar, being run out of the Vancouver Alpen Club. Tickets were $19 each and included a welcome drink (Mulled Wine, Hot Cider or Hot Chocolate with liquor of your choice). I went with a Hot Chocolate with Spiced Rum, which I enjoyed. As we played a few games and listened to various Christmas tunes, we also ordered four of the seven cocktails offered by the pop-up bar. This included the Jingle All the Way (Gin, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice, Simple Syrup, Egg Whites), White Christmas (White Rum, Lime Juice, Mint, Simple Syrup, Club Soda, Candy Cane garnish), Holly Jolly (Vodka, Elderflower, Orange Juice, Ginger Beer, Mint garnish) and Sugar Plum Fairy (Chambord, Gin, Soda, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Sugar Rim, Mint garnish). Each drink was $10-$12 and all we tried were tasty.

For Christmas, I received a couple beers, a BC Liquor Store gift card and edible cocktail glitters from Mrs. Sip. The Sip-in-Laws provided me a bottle of Hennessy Cognac and Ma and Pa Sip gave me the Monin Holiday Cheer Collection syrup collection (Macadamia Nut, Peppermint, Dark Chocolate, Gingerbread, Toasted Marshmallow), as far as liquor-related presents went.

For Christmas dinner, I presented another cocktail menu for the family. It was my last chance to serve the 38th Birthday recipes I had been working on for most of the year, after Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip’s joint birthday in January was vetoed due to a Covid lockdown. The menu was comprised of the Hold On Loosely (Southern Comfort, Cola, Orange Soda); stRontiUM (Bacardi Dragonfruit Rum, Sprite Winter Cranberry Soda, Maraschino Cherry Syrup); The Parallel (Grapefruit Soju, Peach Schnapps, Lemon Juice); Place Your Bets (Tito’s Vodka, Watermelon-Lime Club Soda, Raspberries and Blackberries); and Top of the Table (Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, Tonic Water, Raspberry-Lemonade). Each drink was connected to the number 38, as Hold On Loosely is a song by the rock group 38 Special, stRontiUM has an atomic number of 38, the 38th parallel separates North and South Korea, Place Your Bets is a reference to the 38 slots on a roulette wheel, and Top of the Table is connected to the 38 matches played by each team in a Premier League season.

Cocktail Menu

Following our last Canucks game of 2022, Mrs. Sip and I had a late night meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smokehouse. As we shared their Pulled Pork Plate (our two sides were the Mac N’ Cheese Cornbread and Tater Tots), I had servings of the Main Street Naked Fox IPA and Moon Under Water Puft Daddy Marshmallow White Stout, while Mrs. Sip tried the Faculty 241 Minzeweizen and Container Dark Arts Belgian Quadrupel. It was a very nice end to a busy Christmas week.

But we were ready to wrap the month just yet. After taking the Sipplings to Science World (or as Boy Sip calls it: Science Circle), we had a late lunch/early dinner at R&B Ale & Pizza House. Mrs. Sip and I both took advantage of their Pizza and Beer deal for $20. She had the Mushroom Bianca pizza with Auld Nick Winter Ale, while I went with a delicious BBQ Brisket and Pineapple pizza with Hipster Haze Hazy IPA. The Sipplings were quite content with their Pretzel, followed by a sundae at Earnest Ice Cream.

Ice Cream

For New Year’s Eve, I picked up a 1.14-litre bottle of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and immediately put it to good use. Adding it all up, my New Year’s consumption included seven mixed drinks, five vodka sodas, two beers, a couple shots, and a partridge in a pear tree! Our group stayed up way too late and this was following a 40th birthday celebration the night before. Suffice to say, Mrs. Sip and I are still tired and trying to get back on a good sleep pattern.

2023 is already shaping up to be a busy year. I wish everyone out there reading this a Happy New Year and hope you’ll continue to follow along with the shenanigans of the Sip Family!

Sip Trips #204: December Dynamics

Well, the merriest month of the year has come and gone and as we settle into the melancholy that January can often bring, it’s time to look back on how the Sip Family enjoyed December. There’s a fair bit to cover, so let’s get right to it:

We began the month with a trip to ride the Stanley Park Christmas Train. En route, we dropped into Storm Brewing, as I had wanted to pick up their Christmas themed tall can four-pack, including one can each of Christmas Orange Ale, Eggnog Latte Stout, Turkey Dinner IPA and Xmas Tree Pilsner. While there, Mrs. Sip and I shared a series of samples, comprised of the brewery’s Pineapple Paradise Pilsner, Strawberry Shortcake Ale, Chocolate Strawberry Stout and Mrs. Claus Pilsner (brewed with winter spices). It was an enjoyable stop, highlighted by the most unique beers the local scene has to offer.

beer-christmas

Prior to our train ride, we had dinner at the Stanley Park Brewpub. There, I enjoyed a Red Rye Session IPA and Master Chicken Sandwich. We had great service for our large group and the food and drink were very good.

The next week, for a Christmas party with friends, I picked up the Red Racer Dozen Donuts Mix Pack, composed of three each of Honey Crueller Lager, Chocolate Dip Stout, Raspberry Jelly Sour and Boston Cream Ale. Among the set, my favourites were the Stout and Cream Ale.

Although we had a couple Canucks games scheduled for the month, only one contest ended up going ahead (thanks a bunch, COVID!). Prior to the match, we met with friends at the Hotel Georgia 1927 Lobby Lounge, where I had a liquid dinner of their Hotel Georgia cocktail (Botanist Gin, orgeat, lemon, orange blossom water, egg white and nutmeg dust). It was a very nice drink, but I found the lounge to generally be more expensive than I was planning for.

Expensive

At the game, I enjoyed servings of Hoyne Dark Matter, Parkside Dreamboat Hazy IPA and Stanley Park 1897 Amber Ale. This was the Canucks game where they were down 3-0 early, before storming back and scoring the winning goal with minutes left in the game, coming away with a 4-3 victory. If COVID keeps scuttling games for us, that memory will last a while.

A couple nights later, Mrs. Sip and I took the kids to the Surrey Holiday Lights display. The free event was very well done and offered some drink options for adults. While Mrs. Sip had a spiked hot chocolate and a glass of wine, I went with a can of the Stanley Park Shadow Play Dark Ale. Afterwards, we went for dinner at the nearby Boston Pizza, where I sipped a double Spiced Rum and Coke, along with the Sriracha Garlic Chicken Pizza. It was a good meal and even came with a free Toblerone bar, as it was part of the special seasonal menu.

Next up, was Mrs. Sip’s office Christmas party, hosted at El Santo. Among a very filling set menu dinner, I ordered a number of cocktails, including the El Antijito (pulparindo-infused Cazadores blanco, Aperol, green apple, lime, guava, house-made chamoy and tajin rim); Grito de Delores (estancia raicilla, Cointreau, Green Chartreuse, verdita); El Bosque Nuboso (Avua cachaca, Bacardi 8, Sombra mezcal, Campari, pineapple, lime, passionfruit, Narrative fortified); and the El Padrino (Charred corn husk infused mezcal, Sons of Vancouver amaretto, house mole bitters) for dessert. I also had sips of Mrs. Sip’s Tepache Spritz (house-made tepache, cava, pineapple, cinnamon, soda).

Chips

Unfortunately, our Canucks vs. Leafs game (the reason we select the quarter season package we do) was cancelled due to Omicron concerns. To take advantage of the break in our schedule, Mrs. Sip and I decided to tackle our Christmas shopping, decorating and wrapping. To console ourselves, we began the day of errands with lunch at Milestones. My 1989 Burger was very good and I loved that the server suggested I do half fries and half Caesar Salad, when I struggled to decide on my side dish. More places should offer this option. To drink, I had a pint of the Twin Sails Dat Juice Pale Ale.

After our shopping was done, we dropped into Steel & Oak Brewing, where we shared a flight including B-Jamz Cherry Apricot Pale Ale, Nightcap Cranberry Orange Belgian Ale, Baltic Porter and Phonograph Maple Smoked Porter. Mrs. Sip also grabbed bottles of their Woodland Dark Lager and Velvet Thunder Barrel-Aged Wild Ale, before we returned home for a night of drinks, snacks and Home Alone movies, while wrapping gifts and doing some decorating.

Our last event prior to Christmas was Lumagica in Cloverdale. The weather was really windy, but we enjoyed the light displays and walk. The kids absolutely loved the outing, which is really what the season is about. As we traversed the route, I enjoyed a 2 Pals Cuffing Season Winter Ale.

Lights

Our Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day were all fun, if not hectic, but that’s par for the course. Liquor-related gifts I received included bottles of Wayward Distilleries Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur and Raspberry Gin Liqueur, as well as Havana Club Cuban Smoky Rum. I also got a BC Liquor Stores gift card for future adventures and The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe book for inspiration for those adventures.

Some notable boozy gifts I had for Mrs. Sip, included some neat new beers: tall can four-packs of Granville Island Cheeky Monkey Chocolate and Vanilla Hefeweizen, Russell Cinnamon Bun Brown Ale and Twin Sails These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty Stout (Chocolate, Peanut, Pretzel, Marshmallow). Also, single tall cans of Granville Island Prometheus Belgian-Style Golden Strong and Seawall Saison. We spent some of Boxing Day trying a few of these offerings.

For Christmas dinner, hosted at Ma and Pa Sip’s abode, I finally got to serve the Christmas cocktail menu I created for last year’s festivities. My theme was cocktails from around the world, with names that translated to Merry Christmas, featuring ingredients from those places. This resulted in the Mele Kalikimaka (Toasted Coconut Rum, Macadamia Nut Liqueur, Mango-Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice), Feliz Navidad (Cinnamon Tequila, Kahlua Vanilla, Milk/Soda Water), Joyeux Noel (Grey Goose Le Melon Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, Lemon-Lime Soda) and Buon Natale (Limoncello, Amaretto, Ginger Beer).

Gifts

Our last outing of December was to Patina Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I shared their Smoked Meat Bunwich (pulled pork in Memphis BBQ sauce) with fries and coleslaw, Pulled Pork Tacos and Southern Cornbread. Our beverages included an excellent Horchata Cream Ale (also bought a tall can four-pack) and Blueberry Wheat Ale. I loved seeing horchata used in a cream ale, as I typically only see it used in dark, heavier beers, such as stouts.

That’s a wrap for the month and the year. I hope to get my Best of 2021 out there soon. As for no mention of New Year’s on this article, it’s because the night was a dud, inspiring a future article on the best and worst holidays. Lots to look forward to as we begin 2022!