Sip Trips #116: Ode to a Bar

Everybody experiences tragedies and one recently hit the Sip Advisor headquarters. Our crack team learned our favourite watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse, would be shutting their doors for good, with very little fanfare.

First, a little history: The Sip Advisor started going to Jimmy’s shortly after moving to Downtown Vancouver in 2010. One night, a buddy and I were on the prowl for cheap beer and stumbled upon the bar, sitting down to a couple pitchers of their very reasonably priced Jimmy’s Lager. Best of all, the place was located just a block away from my and Mrs. Sip’s apartment. From there, the legend quickly grew and I introduced many family and friends to the pub.

Husband-Signs

In the years that followed, we celebrated birthdays there, my bachelor party, St. Patrick’s Day, joined them for customer appreciation nights, and it was a prime venue for pre- or post-event indulgences. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first drinking establishment we took Baby Sip to when she was only two weeks old. I had hoped one day we could return with her as an adult and enjoy a beverage together. Alas, that dream is gone.

Why did we like the place so much? Well, their happy hour was one of the best in the city, with a thorough half price food menu and very good drink deals, such as $4 beer sleeves and house wine. Their poutine – with a unique chipotle drizzle – was so decadent and addictive, I would dream about the dish. Their chicken wings were also quite good, with a nice chunk of meat on each piece, something that is hard to find, in my opinion. And their patio area was a must-hit spot, situated across from the Roman Colosseum-inspired Vancouver Library.

I had only recently returned to the pub, after some time apart to pursue other relationships, but had visited a half dozen times over the last two months. It’s as if a part of me knew I’d be saying goodbye soon and it was time to make amends.

Working Goodbye

So, what grand plans do they have for the space? They will be expanding their adjacent private liquor store. It’s a decision that still befuddles this writer. Goodbye gorgeous patio, amazing happy hour and all the fantastic times you could have still hosted. Then again, I don’t write the cheques that keep the place operating.

Of course, there will be other bars that nestle their way into my heart. But nothing is ever the same as your first love.

Rest in peace, my old friend… you will be missed.

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Sip Trips #114: All the Hits

Well, another busy week is in the books (I’m starting to sound like a broken record), with Mrs. Sip and I finding time to have as much fun as possible, while getting things as ready as possible for the arrival of our daughter, sometime in the next few weeks. Here’s what we got up to:

The week began with the Sip Alliance’s long-awaited return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row. Before arriving there, though, we had to first travel to Coquitlam’s Mariner Brewing, which had only opened days before and is the first of its kind in the city. With four beers on tap, I tried their Northeast IPA, which I found to be pretty tasty. The brewery promises much more to come in the future and their space and constellation theming are really good starts.

Brewery Water

Next up was Brewer’s Row, with stops at Yellow Dog, Twin Sails and Parkside breweries, where I had pints of their High Five Hazy IPA, Street Legal IPA and Motel Five-Hop Pale Ale, respectively. Sadly, we didn’t manage to get to Moody Ales before closing time, so we owe them a visit in the future. I love this area of four breweries packed within a five-minute walk of each other and the new Evergreen SkyTrain line makes heading out that way so much easier. We will be back again soon.

On Friday, we finally got around to hitting one of our favourite annual summer traditions: the Twilight Drive-In Theatre in Aldergrove. While no drinking was involved, it was a great start to the Labour Day long weekend, as the lineup included Cars 3, followed by Despicable Me 3. We only stayed for those first two movies, but in celebration of the drive-in’s 12th anniversary, they were playing four movies on both Friday and Saturday night. While we love our trips out there for movies outdoors and you can’t beat the price of $12.50 per person for the entire evening, this was the first line-up this summer that actually appealed to us. Perhaps bad movies in general are to blame.

The next day, we started with some relaxing pool time at Ma and Pa Sip’s place before returning to Vancouver to move some furniture. Following the move, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at The Parlour in Yaletown, which had come highly recommended to me. We were not disappointed, as the place has a good happy hour to go along with great service. Our pizzas (The Dirty and Roasted varieties) were very good and were enough for a group of four to be happily fed.

Fitness Whole Pizza

After dinner, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Rio Theatre for their presentation of Dysfunctional Disney Cabaret. The goal here, according to our host, was to completely f*ck up our childhood memories with Disney-themed burlesque acts. It was quite the entertaining show and I have to commend the Rio for having a jug of water available to patrons on this hot, hot day. One server even steered me away from buying bottled water, in favour of the cooler, which I did not know about.

Sunday began with another round of furniture buying and baby laundry loads, but the reward came with hitting Jimmy’s Taphouse for happy hour. This has always been one of my favourite happy hours in the city with a number of half priced menu items and cheap drink options. We enjoyed their poutine with chipotle drizzle and an order of hot wings, which really hit the spot. The spicy combo was washed down with the Phillips Solaris White Peach Ale and a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Why was I getting my shot game on? Because we had received complimentary ticket to the Lionel Richie-Mariah Carey All the Hits concert, as part of Mrs. Sip’s recent anniversary gift to me of Vancouver Canucks half-season tickets. This was the first time either of us had ever sat in the exclusive 500-level Club seats, which provided a bar and bathrooms to about 50 people. As for the show, Mariah Carey didn’t do Fantasy or Honey, which if I know them, must have been hits. That’s okay, though, as Lionel Richie was extremely entertaining. His Dancing on the Ceiling with all the lights and video effects was the highlight of the night.

Lionel Richie Hello

We wrapped the long weekend by celebrating Pa Sip’s birthday at The Keg. Sitting atop the restaurant’s rooftop patio was very relaxing and the service was top notch. I ordered their Keg Burger, which pales in comparison to their former Prime Rib Burger, which I mourn the loss of to this day. As for beverages, I imbibed with a Keg Size Watermelon Mojito and Keg Caesar, perfect accompaniments to my still decent entree. A slice of Billy Miner Pie to finish the meal was the perfect bow on an incredible weekend!

But the family celebrations weren’t done there. On Tuesday, after Pa Sip helped me move some more furniture, we had another dinner in his honour at the Old Spaghetti Factory in New West. I tried their Pot-Pourri Spaghetti with meat, mushroom and clam sauce options. Best of all, the meals come with bread, salad or soup and ice cream for dessert, so we left quite stuffed. My beverage of choice was the Cobblestone Lager, developed for the restaurant by Granville Island Brewing.

The coming week doesn’t have much on the schedule, so I may grasp the opportunity for some rest and relaxation. Following that, the Sip Advisor has a bachelor party, Vancouver Canucks pre-season opener, Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday and much more on the docket… not to mention who knows when the baby will decide to arrive!

BC Beer Baron #25 – Red Truck Ale

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. For the opening month of this project, I wanted to look at some of the flagship and original offerings from breweries around the province.

Red Truck Brewing has been a Vancouver fixture since it was founded in 2005. Originally located in North Vancouver, the company recently moved their operations to the Brewery Creek region of the Downtown Vancouver core. They stress brewing honest beers by hardworking people.

I first enjoyed the Red Truck Ale at my local watering hole: Jimmy’s Taphouse. It quickly became a go-to pitcher beverage for me, while out with friends. Therefore, many nights ended with an order of Red Truck.

Red Truck Ale

The brewery is recognizable for their line of delivery trucks, including Old Weird Harold, Flying High Frank, and the Young and Old Frankensteins. Red Truck has recently ventured into more adventurous waters with their limited edition releases, including the Ridin’ Shotgun Belgian Blonde Ale and Double Clutch Unfiltered Double Pale Ale. These are largely only available in their tasting room.

Mrs. Sip and I have yet to visit Red Truck’s new facility, although we’ve heard that it is a hopping place and we’re not just talking about their IPA recipe. Even former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, stopped by the joint, although this gained the brewery more flack than good press from the liberal Vancouver crowd.

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #9 – Home Cooking

With Mrs. Sip out of town again this weekend – I know, I really have to rein that girl in! – the Sip Advisor spent his time out in the ‘burbs with the fam. While this article may not be as wild as a summary of Mrs. Sip’s trip to Las Vegas with the gals, I still made sure to get up to some fun!

It may not be booze related, per se, but I finally got around to trying the new McDonald’s CBO (Chicken, Bacon, Onion) on Friday and I have to say that I was impressed with the sandwich. I’ve really been into crispy onions – whether in ring or straw form – lately, and you can’t go wrong with bacon and chicken. I fully endorse the burger and advise anyone out there interested, to try this item before it’s gone.

McDonald's Classy

Saturday saw the Sip Advisor help Pa Sip with his construction of a new pool shed. My role was mixing the concrete and my experience behind the bar came in handy. We were basically throwing together one part concrete mix, with three parts navijack, topping with water, and garnishing with a trowel!

To reward me for my assistance, Ma Sip picked me up a pack of the Four Winds IPA, which was a nice treat for all my hard work. I also took the opportunity to open up my parent’s bottle of Rhubarb Tea Liqueur, for a future Flavour Revolution post.

On Sunday, we made our way to the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub in Cloverdale for a family event. Given the legend that I am, I decided to take advantage of their Sunday Caesar special (a double, of course!), as well as picking up a pint of their Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager. Dinner is always better with a few new friends!

Sober Decisions

Next up, Ma and Pa Sip decided to visit yours truly during the week, and we took our appetites to Jimmy’s Taphouse, which has long been one of the Sip Advisor’s favourite local watering holes. The poutine here is to die for and with great happy hour specials; it can be had for half price, every day of the week.

Over the course of dinner, I enjoyed both a pint of Phillip’s Blue Buck Ale and Hoyne’s Dark Matter. Talk about some serious great contributions from Victoria! Blue Buck is a solid beer, while the Dark Matter is a great starting point if you’re interested in getting into dark beers.

With Mrs. Sip’s return home, came the return of some duty free alcohol – like Christmas in… what month is it? Anyhoo, Mrs. Sip grabbed me bottles of Hendrick’s Gin and Appleton Rum, both of which are favourites in the Sip Advisor’s bar cabinet and were running low. Isn’t she so awesome!

Canada – Unsuspecting Victim

Legend of Poutine

As we continue our trek across Canada’s often frozen tundra, we discover another of the country’s greatest products: poutine. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it basically means fries with gravy and cheese curds, but it can also be so much more. Let’s take a look at Canada’s cultural cuisine.

Poutine Heart Attacks

As with most things that earn a cult status and become famous, there are many that claim to have created the dish. A number of French Canadian cities also assert that they are the home of poutine’s invention. Drummondville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Victoriaville, and Warwick each have ponies in this race.

It is commonly believed that poutine earned its name (which is French slang for “a mess”) when a trucker asked cook Fernand Lachance to add cheese curds to his fries in the 1950’s.

You can really make anything with the poutine base of fries and curds. Butter chicken, ribs, ground beef, pulled pork, and most other meats can be used in recipes. There are also Greek and Italian poutines which include Greek salad and gyro meat and Bolognese sauce and Italian sausage, respectively.

Chef Chuck Hughes even won an episode of Iron Chef America with an offering of lobster poutine, which sounds so amazingly fantastic. Not so fantastic (to the Sip Advisor, at least) are recipes which include foie gras, caviar, and truffles. I’d still give them a shot, though and probably end up eating crow.

Despite its wonderful taste, one major downside of poutine is its high-caloric value. Servings can range from 750-1,500 calories depending on how many ingredients are thrown on top of the base.

calories-poutine

A number of fast food joints have also jumped aboard the literal gravy train. New York Fries, KFC, Burger King, Dairy Queen, A&W, Wendy’s, and even McDonald’s, known for their world famous skinny fries, have got in on the poutine act. A number of poutine specific restaurants have also began popping up across Canada. In a small area of downtown Vancouver, you can find La Belle Patate, Smoke’s Poutinerie, Mean Poutine, and others.

My favourite rendition of the meal is available at my local watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse. It’s not an elaborate serving of the delicacy, but what pushes it over the edge is the chipotle drizzle they put over the fries, giving it a bit of spice. The menu item is also on the bar’s half price happy hour menu, which makes it all the more amazing.

Jones Soda released a poutine-flavoured beverage for a limited time in 2013, which was met with mostly harsh reviews. Still, I wish I could track it down and use it in a drink recipe. If you have a bottle lying around, donations to The Sip Advisor are always accepted and like a church offering plate are strongly encouraged!

Some close family members of poutine include Disco Fries (using mozza cheese and served in New Jersey and New York since the 1970’s), Chili Cheese Fries, and In-N-Out Burger’s Animal Fries (with cheese, onions, and secret sauce).

All this talk of poutine has worked up quite an appetite for me, so we’ll close with a note on perhaps the most famous moment for the popular dish. For Rick Mercer’s satirical ‘Talking to Americans’ segment on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, during the 2000 U.S. election, Mercer told George W. Bush that Prime Minister Jean Poutine had endorsed him. The actual Canadian PM at the time was Jean Chretien, but not a single interviewee picked up on the discrepancy. When President Bush made his first trip to Canada, he joked that he wanted to thank Mr. Poutine for the endorsement, finally clued in to the gag.

Canada: Unsuspecting Victim

Unsuspecting Victim Drink Recipe

  • 0.75 oz Crown Royal Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Chambord
  • 0.75 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Pineapple Juice and Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Lemon and Lime Wheels

This is one of the few things we can thank the French for… that and an endless number of liquor options. Please share your favourite poutine recipe, fact, or story. Then go get yourself some of Canada’s finest gastronomic delight!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Well, my little sippers, it happened again. I ended up with some Pineapple Juice that had gone bad and came out as clumpy as some poutine gravies. Luckily, I had some Pineapple Soda still lying around and it added a very nice touch to the drink. The always reliable (aren’t all Canadian items!) Crown Royal Whiskey tasted really good combined with the Chambord and Amaretto and everything mixed together made for an excellent cocktail.

January 18 – Lounge Lizard

Bar Hopping

While being privileged to travel the world, I’ve made numerous stops in bars and lounges, some good, some bad. Here are my favourites:

JT Schmids

JT Schmid’s  Anaheim, CA

There is nothing like seeing the sea of Vancouver Canucks fans invade this bar in Anaheim (conveniently across the street from the Honda Centre) after a Canucks-Ducks NHL game. Enjoying a hefeweizen beer in the outside patio with its fire pits and heaters: $10; a mass of Canucks fans booing the hometown Anaheim fans looking to enjoy a pint: priceless!

Jimmy’s Taphouse – Vancouver, B.C.

Jimmy’s is my hometown favourite to grab a pint. Reasonably priced drinks, excellent food and the best part is that the place is just a block walk away from my apartment and has a cool view of our city’s Colosseum-style library. It is also one of the few places downtown where I can find Red Truck Lager. They also have the occasional customer appreciation night where you, the valued customer, can score some free pints and food! Jimmy (whoever he is) is my man!

Hyde-Lounge

Hyde Lounge – Las Vegas, NV

This is one of my favourite, surprisingly hidden, attractions in Sin City. Here, you can sip a wide array of martinis and other cocktails and although the drinks are a little pricey, it is well worth it for the front row view of the Bellagio’s water fountain show. I’d stay here all day if it wasn’t for the previously mentioned prices and after about 9pm, they start pumping club music into the place, rather than the music that goes so perfectly with the fountains. Therefore, after a few warm-up drinks at Hyde, and looking to stretch our money a little more, we’re off into the night, eventually ending up at…

The Pub – Las Vegas, NV

It may not have the cleverest title, but two words: dueling pianos… the greatest bar invention since the keg. This bar, located inside the Monte Carlo, is amazing. You can get a pint of beer or shot of Jameson Whiskey for $2… I am prone to doubling down and getting both. Mixing beer and liqour… it’s really the only gambling I do in Vegas. The dueling pianists – once again, that’s pianists – take requests from the audience all night long and because of the ample seating in the bar, we’ve never had an issue getting in. The food here is also decent and while there are other dueling piano locations on the strip, this is far and above, my favourite.

Willie T's

Willie T’s – Key West, FL

My wife and I did a self-guided pub crawl when our Western Caribbean cruise stopped in Key West, Florida. Pay $40 each for the cruise-sponsored excursion, only to be taken around and still have to pay for drinks on top of that??? Fuck that noise! They hit a trio of places, while we squeezed at least eight places into our crawl – best described as more of a stagger. I say at least eight because although we were trying to take a picture outside each place, well counting wasn’t our forte that day. Our preferred stop along the crawl route was Willie T’s, which is very recognizable thanks to the dollar bills stapled all around the joint. To top the story off, we paid a combined total of $50 on drinks and food!

The Fox & Fiddle – Toronto, ON

I spent a lot of good nights at The Fox & Fiddle during my year living in Toronto. Notable for its incredibly huge team pitchers (approx. two pitchers in one), it was here that I spent April Fool’s Day, Canada Day and my birthday that year, as well as my karaoke debut (probably due to the aforementioned team pitchers). Sadly, it was also the setting for my goodbye round of drinks with all the friends I made over my stay.

coco-bongo

Coco Bongo – Cancun, Mexico

I hate clubs. I mean absolutely downright hate them… except this little gem. A Mexican specialty  your cover charge is all-inclusive. They serve you tequila shots as you wait to enter the place, then once you’re inside, guess what, more tequila shots! The music is rocking, drinks are flowing freely, and just when you think it can’t get any better, the show element begins, as dancers, actors and stuntmen do takes on movies like Chicago, Spiderman and others. All of a sudden confetti and balloons are being shot around and it all gets pretty epic. What could be the cherry of this awesome sundae? Oh, I don’t know, how about a midget dressed as Beetlejuice pouring a shot into your mouth!

Drink #18: Lounge Lizard

Lounge Lizard Drink

  • 1.5 oz Dark Rum
  • 1 oz Disaronno
  • Top with Cola
  • Garnish with lemon wedge stand for umbrella (umbrella sold separately!)

It should be noted that I’ve found another variant to this drink, same name, but different ingredients, which completely change the look of the cocktail. The second Lounge Lizard combines melon liquer, blue Curacao, coconut rum and lemon-lime soda and you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll be making it sometime in the future. So, continue checking back at the ol’ Sip Advisor and keep on keeping on!

Part 2 of my favourite bars will be posted in the future, along with another wonderful cocktail. Have a great weekend, all!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoyed this drink. It’s simple yet delicious. It makes me wonder if there’s anything Disaronno (Amaretto) can’t mix well with, as I’ve yet to find a concoction where it doesn’t hit the spot.