Sip Trips #208: Vegas Bound

To end March, Mrs. Sip and I entered the U.S. for the first time in over two years, which is a gap I thought I would never experience, unless I moved to another continent. We selected Las Vegas as the perfect place to celebrate our 20th dating anniversary and it was a journey full of good food, drinks and an adventure or two.

All the fun started at the Vancouver Airport, where we had a relaxed breakfast/lunch at the Canucks Bar & Grill. Their All-Dressed Poutine was one of the best poutines I’ve ever enjoyed and went really well with my mid-morning Stanley Park Wheels Up IPA.

Airport Drinking

In Vegas, we stayed at The Palazzo. Mrs. Sip booked us a Prestige Club room, which gave us access to the Prestige Lounge. We arrived just in time for happy hour on our first day, which featured free drinks from 4-7, along with delicious appies starting at 5. The staff at check-in and in the lounge were all fantastic and we would definitely recommend the Prestige experience.

For dinner that night, we had a reservation at Mon Ami Gabi. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed many meals over the years there, but our usual order of the Chilled Seafood Platter was sadly no longer on the menu. We adjusted and went with the Small Seafood Platter, along with the Escargot. All paired with a bottle of wine, we were even given a free dessert for our anniversary celebration.

The next day, we made the journey to the off-strip Ellis Island Hotel & Casino, home to Ellis Island Brewing. At The Front Yard restaurant, we enjoyed a couple $3 beers in the Amber Ale for me and Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip. I also had a Bonfire Rauchbier for $5, while Mrs. Sip did a flight of the Hefeweizen, Wit, Belgian Tripel and Dubbel Trouble. To eat, we had an amazing CBR Flatbread, comprised of citrus garlic sauce, bacon, shredded chicken, pico de gallo and jalapeño cream.

Flatbread

Returning to The Venetian, we hit up happy hour at Trustworthy Brewing, which was my 200th brewery visited! There, I had the A Year in the Making American Amber Ale, while Mrs. Sip switched things up and drank a Southern Peach Smash (bourbon, peach nectar, ginger syrup, mint, ginger ale), as she is getting more into whiskey and bourbon cocktails of late.

Given we could also access The Venetian Prestige Lounge, we had happy hour there, allowing us to compare the two options. After another set of cocktails, we returned to The Palazzo side, where I squeaked in two more beverages for the road, enjoyed as we got ready for another night out.

While at The Paris the night before, Vanderpump à Paris caught Mrs. Sip’s eye, so we made that our destination for dinner. The restaurant had only been open for a couple weeks when we tried it and we had a fantastic experience. We ordered Bouef Wellington Sliders, Mini Monsieurs and Baked Brie En Croute to share, while Mrs. Sip had a glass of wine and I tried the Louvre At First Sight cocktail, which came in its own smoker shaped like the infamous Louvre Museum glass pyramid. The drink is called ‘A Smoked Work of Art’ and includes Gracias a Dios Mezcal, prickly pear, lemon, jalapeño honey, orange bitters, aquafaba and hickory smoke.

Cocktails

Our main event of the evening was supposed to be checking out the Omega Mart immersive art exhibit by Meow Wolf, which had caught the eye of both myself and Mrs. Sip. Sadly, once we got out to the Area 15 location, we learned the facility had been evacuated due to a fire alarm and the Omega Mart had been cancelled for the night. We still checked the Area 15 building out and had overly expensive drinks at its bar – seriously, $15 for an off-strip Spiced Rum and Coke??? – but the air had kind of come out of my sails with the Omega Mart debacle.

For our anniversary day, we did what good couples do best and went our separate ways for the day. While Mrs. Sip enjoyed some rest and relaxation poolside, I had a need to walk the strip and explore, since I hadn’t been to Vegas since March 2018. Along the way, I grabbed a few road beers, had a very good lunch from Dave’s Hot Chicken (which is apparently opening a couple locations in the Lower Mainland soon) and took care of buying some snacks and souvenirs for the family, along with our booze to bring home, in the form of bottles of Jameson Orange Whiskey and Bacardi Dragonberry Rum.

We reconvened to unfortunately have to race out and take care of our COVID antigen tests, which needed to be done as we returned on March 31, and the whole need to get this done in Canada was being eliminated on April 1. While Mrs. Sip inquired about changing our trip to avoid this, Air Canada (after many hours on hold to speak to an agent), said we couldn’t change anything because we had booked a vacation package. #BoycottAirCanada

Air Canada

Following our negative tests, we enjoyed a final Prestige Lounge happy hour at The Palazzo, toasting our 20 years together. We weren’t able to go too crazy on the hors d’oeuvres, though, as we had a big night out planned. That began with dinner at Picasso, my first Michelin Star restaurant experience. In fact, Picasso is ranked at two Michelin Stars and is thought to be one of the best restaurants in the U.S.

So, what did I think of the meal. Overall, I was a little disappointed, to be honest. Nothing really blew my mind and I’ve had $14 burgers make me lose all my bodily functions. The price of this meal was absurd… like, I won’t even print it absurd. I did leave overly stuffed, which Mrs. Sip says is rare for Michelin Star restaurants, since portions are usually doled out to perfection, so eaters get just enough and are comfortably full by the time the feast is finished.

Upon arrival, I ordered the Greyscale cocktail (Earl Grey-infused gin, orange oleo saccharum, fresh lemon juice and a splash of soda). I went with the Menu Dégustation (Tasting Menu), which included four courses plus dessert (Maine Lobster Salad, Pan Seared U-10 Day Boat Scallop, Sautéed Steak of “A” Foie Gras, Prime Petit Filet Mignon). Mrs. Sip did the Prix Fixe Menu (Warm Quail Salad, Sautéed Crispy Gnocchi and Sautéed Medallion of Fallow Deer) with wine pairings. The desserts were fantastic, but Mrs. Sip didn’t even get a wine pairing with hers. Part of the draw of the restaurant is the many Picasso paintings that adorn its walls. Since I’m not an art guy, I preferred to watch the Bellagio fountains from our table, but the music accompanying the fountains was hard to hear, so that detracted a little from the shows. As we left, we were given boxed chocolate, which Mrs. Sip and I still have to eat.

Michelin Restaurant

To end the evening, we attended the Absinthe show at Caesar’s Palace, which was as wild and raunchy as advertised. Going into the performance, Mrs. Sip and I shared an Absinthe Hallucinator cocktail (vodka, pomegranate, blood orange, lemon, absinthe), which helped get us into the spirit.

The next day, with mere hours before we had to checkout and head to the airport, we tried to get to The Chocolate Bar at New York New York, but it was closed when we arrived, despite online sources saying it was supposed to be open. Dejected, we hurried back to The Palazzo to check out and finally enjoy the welcome bubbly we didn’t have at arrival, since happy hour was afoot.

It was amazing being back in Las Vegas, especially after what the world has gone through the last couple years. I will say, though, I was feeling my age a little on this getaway, as I was in bed each night by about 1 a.m. and my feet were done long before that each evening. Maybe I just need to “train” better in advance of the next trip!

Best of 2018

Weddings, birthdays, travel, moves and babies. These are some of the themes that make up the Sip Advisor’s annual look back at the best nights from the year that was. Without further ado, here is the Sip Advisor’s top 18 of 2018:

Winter Wedding

The year started off with a bang, as we spent an early January weekend celebrating the wedding of very close friends. With Mrs. Sip a bridesmaid and yours truly delivering a speech, we were busy, but also made ample use of the reception’s open bar. This was Baby Sip’s first wedding and she took in the craziness with her usual charm.

Down Mexico Way

San Diego has an amazing craft beer scene and that has spread across the border to Tijuana, Mexico. While we were staying in nearby Escondido, we booked a tour that would take us across the border for the day, visit a few breweries and then return us stateside in the evening. Our guide was very good and I recommend checking out places on both sides of the boundary.

Riding High

Baby Sip and I joined Mrs. Sip at the tail end of her annual girls trip to Las Vegas and one definite highlight was riding the High Roller, while inside one of the attraction’s Happy Half Hour (Open Bar in the Sky) cabins. For 30 minutes, we enjoyed the sights of the strip, while consuming as much booze as our bodies could handle in such a short time.

open bar

Mamma Mia

To celebrate Mrs. Sip’s first Mother’s Day, we flew to London. Okay, the trip was already planned with saluting Mrs. Sip’s efforts being a happy coincidence. To mark the occasion, we enjoyed an afternoon tea, complete with bottomless bubbly. We finished the day with a stop at the East London Liquor Company for a couple craft cocktails.

French Kissing

While in Lyon, France, our group enjoyed the Les Fleurs du Malt craft beer bar; a Beaujolais wine region tour; drinking in a park along the Rhone River; and an epic feast of McDonald’s goodies, paired with French craft beer. That’s my kind of culture!

Portuguese Pleasing

Next up was Porto, Portugal, memorable for the Food & Wine Tour Mrs. Sip found. After our afternoon of indulging, we explored the city, visiting the Calem Port Museum and Sandeman Cellars for Port tastings and cocktails. Lisbon and Sintra were also neat cities.

Satisfying Two Food Groups

In Brussels, Belgium, the Chocolate & Beer Tour we booked was absolutely decadent. Following a few stops at some of the finest chocolatiers in the city, it was time to get our drink on and enjoy a seemingly endless lineup of brews. After the tour wrapped, we ventured to the Delirium Café for even more beverages.

chocolate and beer

On the Battlefield

The only thing better than a good craft beer event is one that comes with free entry. Scratch that, Mrs. Sip and I were practically paid to attend Cask Wars at the Portside Pub, as entry included one free beer. Sure, once inside you paid for tasting tickets, but even that was at a very reasonable price. The competition saw 11 breweries work to drain their cask the quickest and earn a tap at the bar.

Wedded Bliss

What happens when you pack an entire wedding into a four-hour cocktail reception? A fury of fun… and drinking. Best of all, the rest of the day before and after the nuptials is yours to enjoy. When at the wedding, you can be solely focused on the party and that’s exactly how this went down, with Mrs. Sip calling it a night once we got home.

Maritimes Marriage

With friends tying the knot in their native Nova Scotia, Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) made the cross-country trek to Halifax for a weekend of fun. While touring the city’s craft beer joints and devouring as much Atlantic seafood as we could get our hands on, we also took in some east coast culture in the form of a food tour and visiting some museum exhibits.

Adios Apartment

With just days remaining before we had to be out of our Downtown Vancouver apartment, Mrs. Sip and I decided to throw a final bash at the ol’ place, collecting our finest drinking buddies, with the hopes of depleting our liquor collection and having less bottles to pack and transport. Everyone brought their A-game to the festivity and we ended up retiring numerous bottles.

moving out

Return to the Battlefield

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, enjoying a rare (my very first) night away from Baby Sip to attend the Battle of the Brews event in Surrey. The rain couldn’t dampen our merriment – or inebriation – and we ate and drank our way through as many tents as we could.

Cruise Control

Even with Baby Sip in tow, Mrs. Sip and I managed to live up to our cruise reputation as we travelled from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Giant margaritas, wine tasting and cocktail hours were enjoyed throughout the voyage, along with all the fine dining one stomach can handle.

Day in Disneyland

While I prefer longer visits to the Disneyland Resort, with only one day to spend at the happiest place in the world, we did pretty well with our stay. There to get Baby Sip her first taste of Disneyland and attend Mickey’s Halloween Party, we began with a trio of beers in the California Adventure park, launching us into the second half of our day, trick-or-treating with Mickey and the gang.

Brew Birthday

The Sip Advisor’s birthday, which should be a national holiday, celebrated across Canada, was at least celebrated in style by a select few of us, attending Trading Post Brewing’s Oktoberfest event. We honoured my German heritage with an impressive drinking exhibition and continued the party at our new home with friends and family.

birthday-beer.jpg

Bash for Baby Sip

While I didn’t drink as much as expected for this momentous occasion (I mean, I did create a small menu of cocktail delights to serve to guests), it is still a highlight of the year. First, the day meant we somehow managed to keep a kid alive for a full year and second, watching the sheer joy in Baby Sip’s eyes as everyone focused their attention and love on her, is something I won’t soon forget.

Open House

To show off our new abode, we hosted an open house wine and cheese party that stretched from midday to the early hours of the next morning. We had dozens of bottles on hand, as well as more food than has ever been in our fridge before or since. Guests flowed in and out through the day and at the end, we were just happy it went off without a hitch.

Christmas Day

The moment the Sip Family arrived at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for Christmas dinner, the drinking began. I can’t recall how many Dark N’ Stormy beverages I had over the stay, but my precious bottle of ginger beer was drained. At the end of the night, I passed out to Christmas episodes of my favourite animated comedies… a merry Christmas, indeed!

That wraps up another trip around the sun. I’m not entirely sure what 2019 has in store for this site, but I hope to bring back the Cocktail Corner and Love & Hate segments to this site. I’m also working hard to put together a much bigger project for 2020, so stay tuned!

Sip Trips #131: Strip Show (Part 2)

Part two of our travels to Las Vegas began with the holiest of drinking days: St. Patrick’s Day! I’ve actually celebrated the holiday in Dublin, Ireland, but being in Las Vegas was sure to be unique in its own way. We began the day with cracking open a few Guinness Nitro IPAs from the six-pack I bought at Walmart as we were out the day before. The beers were an interesting blend of a smooth and non-carbonated, yet hoppy ale.

Our first stop of the day was Ketchup Premium Burger Bar, to use the Groupon we had purchased prior to our trip. Our $10 got us $20 worth of food and drinks. With beverages already in hand (and more chilling in Baby Sip’s stroller!), we elected to go with a few food items, such as their Bacon Cheese Fries, Pretzel Bites and Crunch Dog. I was particularly fond of the fries, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed the hotdog.

As we travelled around the Miracle Mile Shops, we passed Sin City Brewing, which was serving up green beers to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Since this was something Mrs. Sip and I wanted to check off our list for the day, I grabbed us a pair of 24oz German Weisse Beers, which was a great way to enjoy the odd tradition.

Green Beer

After some more exploring, we had a late dinner Dick’s Last Resort in the Excalibur. This restaurant boasts servers that will treat you with contempt, as well as an eclectic food menu. Using a dining credit we had for staying at the resort, we ordered their Wicked Gator alligator bites, BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos and Crabby Balls with fries. To drink, I selected the Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale. The alligator bites were particularly awesome and it’s no wonder the chain is known for this menu item.

The next day, we snagged last-minute tickets (through StubHub) to the Vegas Golden Knights game versus the Calgary Flames. We had always hoped to attend this contest, but when we first saw tickets for only $45 each, we hadn’t taken Baby Sip to a hockey game yet and weren’t sure how she’d handle the experience. Once we knew she’d be okay, prices to Golden Knights games had drastically risen, thanks to the team’s success. So we bided our time and when seats popped up for only $40 an hour before puck drop, we jumped. The 4-0 Vegas win, hat trick by William Karlsson and shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury made for one hell of a contest. All NHL teams should study the Golden Knights in-game experience, which is something I will never forget.

While we didn’t indulge in any drinks at the game, as we were returning to our hotel, we passed by the Pour 24 bar in New York New York, with Mrs. Sip spotting an ad for their own Golden Knights Game-Day Beer. This ended up being a delicious 16oz serving from Hop Nuts Brewing, which I believe was their The Golden Knight Belgian Golden Strong Ale, but I could be mistaken.

Golden Knights Bandwagon

As we ventured out into the night again, we had to pick up some more formula for Baby Sip. After all, she’s allowed to enjoy some beverages just like mommy and daddy. As we shopped, I picked up another walking beer, this time a pint of Oskar Blues Brewing Dale’s Pale Ale. At the checkout, Mrs. Sip spotted a bottle of Kona Longboard Lager for only 99 cents, so we added that to our basket, as well.

We enjoyed these beverages en route to PBR Rock Bar. No Vegas vacation is complete for me and Mrs. Sip without a stop here. Sadly, the Doritos Crusted Mac N Cheese that I have raved about in past Sip Trips is no longer on the menu, replaced by Bacon Mac & Cheese Balls, which are equally delicious. Our other favourite menu item, the Bucking Bull Fries have also been adapted, now including a fried egg. This may be the best serving I have had of these fries, thus far. To drink, I cashed in a 2-for-1 offer Mrs. Sip had picked up earlier to receive a couple servings of Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA. The large serving was very tasty and lasted for a while.

After having such a good meal last time we were in town, we next made our way to The Cheesecake Factory for some dessert. Mrs. Sip ordered the Fresh Basil, Tomato and Cheese Flatbread for a small bite, while we agreed we had to try the Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. This delicious and decadent treat features caramel, peanut butter, Butterfinger bits and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Cheesecake Love

For a nightcap on the evening, we popped into the Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan, home to a drink I just had to try after hearing about it. The Verbena Cocktail is a hidden menu item that just has to be tried by anyone who fancies interesting drinks. It is by far the most interesting beverage experience I’ve ever had, as my entire mouth was first number by chewing on the Sichuan flower. The drink then changes in taste and flavours as your taste buds are incredibly sensitive and feel like they’re actually growing back. I will be back to try it again, despite the high price when converted into Canadian dollars.

Sadly, the time to return home had finally come, but we had time for one more great experience at Lilia’s Mexican Cuisine & Cantina in Bellingham, Washington. My order of Tacos Al Pastor was wonderful. Just as fantastic was my beer selection of Iron Horse Quilter’s Irish Death Dark Smooth Ale, which was on special for just $4.

In closing, my main goal with this vacation was to disprove an article we read prior to our trip where a mother proclaimed that people should not travel to Las Vegas with babies. Sure, the trip could have been different, perhaps even easier, but I wouldn’t trade in the time we shared together for anything.

Sip Trips #130: Strip Show (Part 1)

Well, it’s back to reality after our recent trip to Las Vegas. The town is definitely a little different with Baby Sip in tow, but we still managed to have an amazing time. Here is part one of our experiences from the strip and beyond:

Mrs. Sip was already in the city, having left a few days before me for a girl’s trip. That meant I was flying solo with Baby Sip for the first time and while she was pretty well-behaved on the flight, it was still an exhausting experience. When I arrived, I was in desperate need of a drink and Mrs. Sip must have read my mind. As we met up, she had a bottle of Victory Brewing Golden Monkey Belgian Tripel in hand for me. At least I had a limited edition New York Cheesecake Kit Kat Chunky to surprise her with, in return.

Kit Kat Chunky

Next up was grabbing a walking beer, which I enjoyed as we dined at Il Fornaio within New York New York. Following dinner, we visited The Chocolate Bar for some dessert cocktails. I selected the Hershey’s Chocolate Caramel Martini, while Mrs. Sip chose the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini. Both drinks were pure decadence and very boozy. We were feeling pretty buzzed after these beverages, but the night wasn’t over yet.

One girl from our group had money to be used at Nine Fine Irishmen, so she ordered as many drinks as would cover the credit. From this collection, I picked out a pint of Blue Moon, which I then enjoyed while watching the dueling pianos show from outside the Bar at Times Square. A fine way to end my and Baby Sip’s first day in Sin City.

As the girls went off to enjoy their last night together, I took Baby Sip back to our room, stopping for a road beer along the way. I didn’t get to immediately enjoy my New Belgium Brewing Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, thanks to my aforementioned fatigue and Baby Sip needing to be put to bed, so it made for a great first treat the next morning.

Tired Dog.jpg

The beer was enjoyed as Mrs. Sip and I went to ride the High Roller in one of their Happy Half Hour (Open Bar in the Sky) cabins. Mrs. Sip’s girl group had done this a few days earlier, but one of their crew chose not to use her ticket. That ticket was then given to me, with Mrs. Sip picking up another one for herself through Expedia for $35. This made our experience very reasonable when split between the two of us.

As for the ride itself, it was a lot of fun. Our bartender was very personable, although with the constant drinking and chatting, I had to remind myself to take in the view, as well. Mrs. Sip had consumed five drinks during her first ride, so my goal was to top her personal best and I did so with six beverages. These were all simple mixes, such as rum and cola and gin and lemon-lime soda, but we were also allowed one shot each, with the bartender serving up a round of tequila-Chambord shooters. Wine and beer was also available onboard, as well as a variety of sodas and juices, covering all the bases. Riders were allowed to leave with one drink at the end of the revolution.

As if we hadn’t drank enough already, we rejoined the girls – who were looking after Baby Sip because she wasn’t allowed to ride with us – and popped into the Fuel Bar, home to amazing flair bartenders and boozy 2-for-1 cocktails. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the place was packed with a bunch of guys smoking in the small space. As I waited outside with Baby Sip, the girls grabbed drinks, with Mrs. Sip selecting a pair of Mai Tais for us. The rest of the afternoon was spent riding the wave of our buzzes, while I added to mine with a pint of Founder’s Brewing All Day IPA Session Ale, as well as working on a bottle of New Amsterdam Vodka the girls hadn’t finished, implementing a variety of mixers.

Water and Vodka

For dinner that night, we visited Mon Ami Gabi, figuring we’d be able to get a fancier meal in while Baby Sip napped in her stroller. No such luck, as she has a habit of waking up as we’re about to eat. Luckily, we had a very helpful and understanding server, as well as restaurant manager. We split the restaurant’s Chilled Seafood Platter (lobster, jumbo shrimp, oysters, and salmon), paired with a bottle Vidal-Fleury Viognier. The meal wasn’t cheap, but it was nice to treat ourselves on this special occasion of Mrs. Sip being able to have the platter again, which she couldn’t do when we last visited Vegas while she was pregnant.

To prove we here at The Sip Advisor are not all about getting hammered, we spent our third day travelling to the Valley of Fire State Park (via rental car) to do the scenic drive the area is famous for. We weren’t able to do any of the small hikes, as Baby Sip fell asleep and we didn’t want to disturb her, but the sights were amazing and the drive was a nice break away from the strip. Part two of our travels will look at St. Patrick’s Day spent in Las Vegas among other shenanigans!

Love & Hate #1: Airports

The Sip Advisor is full of a lot of hate… but with that, also comes love. This new feature to the website will look at a certain subject and dissect three items I love and three items I hate within the topic. Up first, airports from around the world. Here are the ones the Sip Advisor doesn’t mind spending time in:

London, United Kingdom

The amount of times I’ve been day drunk in London-Heathrow Airport is quite impressive. On one trip in particular, Mrs. Sip and I were served – for free – full Gimlet and Vesper cocktails, as Duty Free locations were showing off gin and vodka products. There are also usually a few Whiskeys or Scotches available to sample and you can attain quite a buzz between flights. Heathrow is also a great place to get souvenirs, such as British chocolate bars.

Vancouver, Canada

At times, I have had an odd love-hate relationship with my hometown airport. I didn’t like going because it often meant sending Mrs. Sip off on her next great adventure. In the same breath, the site was nothing but joy when she would return from her journeys. It has also been the location of my own trips abroad… but every time you return, the airport is home to the celebration. Vancouver International is also a beautiful facility with transportation directly to Downtown Vancouver.

Airport Bars.png

Las Vegas, USA

Slot machines inside an airport… what isn’t there to love about this place! With all the times I have been through Las Vegas’ McCarran International, I have never had a bad experience. There’s an energy in this airport that simply can’t be recreated elsewhere. Not to mention, the commute from airport to Las Vegas Strip is incredibly short and keeps the good vibes rolling and party potential optimized.

Narrowly missing my love list were Edmonton (great place to do an airport pub crawl), Amsterdam (seriously, the place has not one but two McDonalds), and Taipei (where hours can be spent checking out each of their themed boarding areas). Now let’s move onto the worst of the worst:

Toronto, Canada

First, it’s not easily connected to Toronto’s downtown core. Second, it has one of the most confusing layouts I have ever encountered, with poor signage and even worse service from those who are supposed to be guiding you. It seems every time I land in Toronto for a connecting flight, I’m left with little time to get through customs, collect my luggage, go through security all over again, and make it to my gate. And if you’re final destination is Toronto, then things are even worse!

Airport Logic

Los Angeles, USA

While I love landing at LAX because it means Mickey Mouse and all his pals are only about an hour drive away, leaving from the same airport is often a disheartening task. The place is in need of some serious updating, which is slowly happening in some parts. Often, we would be on our way home, which is already disappointing enough, and then we’d be in a terminal that had zero to offer as far as food or beverage went. With a couple hours to kill, there really wasn’t anything to do but be cranky and miserable.

Casablanca, Morocco

This disgusting hellhole still gives me nightmares. Most notably, we have photos of no smoking signs throughout their food court, while every single person is lighting up and filling the place with disgusting smoke. Also, they only accept cash at stores and eateries, but when you’re (thankfully) leaving a country, you’ve often done everything you can to rid yourself of that country’s currency, leaving you completely out of luck.

Love & Hate #1: The Aviation

The Aviation.JPG

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Lemon Zest

Which airports out there do you either love or hate? Disagree with my assessments? Let me know in the comments!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
I can’t believe it took me so long to make this classic cocktail. It is a boozy one, but the flavours are so nice and work well together to provide the beverage balance. I recommend this to sippers of all walks. You will not be disappointed!

Best of 2017

With Mrs. Sip pregnant and nursing a baby throughout this year, many of the usual suspects to pop up on my annual “Best Of” list were not attended in 2017. Yes, the Sip Advisor had to suffer through missing out on the Portland Beer and Wine Fest, Tip N’ Taste, Made with Love and many others. Not one to give up, I soldiered on and found other events to take the place of those occasions. Here are my top 17 nights of 2017:

Rooting for the Home Team

The fuzzy memory nights got off to an early start when I joined a Sip Syndicate member for the Vancouver Canucks-Arizona Coyotes contest on January 4. The tickets were a Secret Santa gift for the Sip Advisor and provided perhaps the closest seats to the ice I’ve ever enjoyed. To mark the occasion, copious beers were consumed, including during a pre-game meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. Best of all, the Canucks picked up a rare 3-0 win on this evening, including a penalty shot goal.

Surprise, Surprise

One of Mrs. Sip’s last hurrahs before learning she was pregnant was this surprise birthday outing I arranged for her at the Tapped Vancouver beer and wine tasting event. Without her knowledge, I was able to get a number of our friends to also attend and it was fun to have them arrive throughout the evening, as continuous revelations.

Surprise Party Sick

Ode to Scotch

The night after Tapped Vancouver, I was back at it, attending a friend’s annual Whiskey Tasting event. The theme for this year was Scotch’s aged eight years or less, proving that many gems can be found. Going into the evening, I was a little hesitant, as I was going solo, with the one person I knew likely to be very busy throughout the night with hosting duties. Luckily, I got a seat at a great table of strangers, who made the event quite memorable. I was even included in the Robbie Burns addressing of the haggis!

Getting Away

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate journeyed to Pemberton, BC, for a secluded getaway. The retreat also provided an opportunity to tell some of our closest friends that Mrs. Sip was expecting. With that business out of the way, the rest of the weekend was spent eating, drinking and relaxing. One of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourite pastimes is hanging out in a hot tub with good beers and that was certainly achieved here.

Viva Las Vegas

The first of two jaunts we took to Las Vegas in 2017 took a bit of a twist when we discovered Mrs. Sip was pregnant after we had already booked our escape to the party capital. Still, we intended to live it up and that was helped by some friends also being in Sin City at the same time. Each day/night featured a different route for fun, from a club experience at XS, to exploring the off-strip craft beer scene into the wee hours of the morning, to relaxing and listening to dueling pianos (a Sip Advisor favourite activity).

Rough and Tumble

Missing out on the Rugby Sevens event in 2016 was something I would regret. I had hoped to make amends in 2017, but missed out on the original batch of tickets released. Thankfully, organizers put another batch out and when a friend informed me of the great news, I acted immediately. The frenetic action of the rugby, along with an eclectic and festive crowd made for an amazing (albeit long) day at BC Place Stadium. My favourite photo from the day shows how much junk piled up throughout the affair.

Rugby Violence

Great Cocktail Reveal

Learning the gender of our little one was a moment I’ll never forget. To do it in style, I suggested Mrs. Sip – who had learned the gender a couple weeks prior – reveal it to me by pouring either a pink or blue cocktail. When the beverage came out pink, we were both thrilled. Having a bulk of our family and friends on hand to share the memory with us made it extra special. For the gathering, I concocted two blue and two pink cocktail recipes, so others could share in the anticipation.

Sweet Returns

Back in Las Vegas for the Easter long weekend, we made sure to blend our favourite spots along the strip, while mixing in some new locales. The highlights of this adventure included a couple shows (Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil: Mystère) and a few new bars and eateries. We also squeezed in some pool time, which helped wipe away the winter blues.

Journey on the Seas

In order to highlight as many experiences as possible on this list, I’m lumping our nearly three-week cruise getaway (from Rome to Dubai) together as one entry. Highlights included drinking cocktails in both Rome and Athens; a bucket of beers and other tasty beverages aboard the cruise; the always fun task of finishing all the bottles we accumulate on the last day of the itinerary (this time as a one-man wrecking crew); and enjoying a drink in a mostly dry country.

Comedy Capers

Driving six hours round trip for a comedy show may not be every person’s idea of a good night out, but the Sip Advisor isn’t every person. When I discovered Christopher Titus was performing at the Tacoma Comedy Club and I had a small window in my schedule to actually attend one of the shows, I got down on my knees and begged the Sip Alliance to placate my wishes… nay, my demands. In actuality, everyone was quick to come aboard and we had a fun night out in Tacoma before coming home the next morning.

Short Road Trip.png

Batting Practice

In the spring and summer of 2017, the Sip Advisor joined a baseball/softball team for the first time since I was a wee little sipper. While my skills were certainly lacking, I had a great time meeting new folks. After one set of early morning games, I hosted the team at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for some swimming and drinking. The weather was perfect for such an occasion and I think it helped the team bond even more than we previously had.

Runnin’ Down a Dream

From my earliest days, family road trips featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers providing the soundtrack. As a result, I grew up a fan of the band. Getting the opportunity to see them live was amazing and with Petty’s untimely passing just a month and a half later, the experience was all the more significant. I had already planned to see them the next time they rode into town… sadly, this will not be possible.

Baby Shower Beer Garden

When Mrs. Sip and I first conceived the idea of hosting a beer garden for our baby shower, we knew it would be a hit. After all, we wanted to include both our male and female friends and family and what better way to get everyone together than a beer garden. Mrs. Sip and I were taken aback with our guests incredible generosity with gifts. Our little one will be set up for some time to come.

Baseballs and Beers and Boxing

Unfortunately, I had missed our baseball team’s tournament earlier in the year, out of town for a family wedding. To make amends, I tied one on big time for the second competition, downing 10 beers over our five-hour break between games. Thankfully, those brews were of the 4.2% ABV variety. Once our day at the ballpark was finished, a few of us gathered for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight to keep the fun going.

Softball Fun

Brewer’s Row Revisited

Much like last year, our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row was a perfect summer day spent enjoying delicious beer and good company. For those that have never ventured that way, it’s a must. There are four breweries within a five-minute walking distance of each other and they each serve up fine products. This year, we also managed to visit the brand new Mariner Brewing in Coquitlam, as the first stop of our expedition.

Boys Will Be Boys

Bachelor parties/stags can be funny things. You’re often hanging out with a few friends and a number of strangers, perhaps doing a set of activities that normally wouldn’t be in your wheelhouse. But that’s also part of the fun. This day of debauchery included paintball and a Vancouver Whitecaps game, as well as the standard bar and strip club stops. The Sip Advisor drank quite well throughout and can’t wait for the January wedding and round two.

The Greatest Gift

My birthday was set to be an event-filled weekend, full of chicanery. Fate had other plans, however, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. On the morning of my birthday, I awoke to learn Mrs. Sip was experiencing early labour. The rest of the day was spent awaiting the arrival of Baby Sip, who entered the world at 1:33am the next morning. While I was happy to share my birthday, our little one decided she wanted her own spotlight, making for future birthday weekends to be that much more special!

There you have it folks, the Sip Advisor survived a year without my numero uno drinking buddy. As you can see, while Mrs. Sip was busy doing an awesome job of bringing our daughter into the world, I kept up with my usual antics!

Snack Time #18 – Twizzlers Pull ‘N’ Peel Watermelon

What do you get when you combine two of the Sip Advisor’s favourite things into one nice, neat package? A very happy Sip Advisor! Thankfully, we found this Twizzlers product at the Hershey World store inside the New York New York resort in Las Vegas.

The Twizzlers Pull ‘N’ Peel Watermelon release instantly caught my eye and knowing what a fiend I am for the fruit, Mrs. Sip promptly added them to our growing basket. I’m curious about some of the other flavours we came across in the store, such as Chocolate, Fruit Punch and their Filled Twists line.

Twizzlers Pull ‘N_ Peel Watermelon

Let me be clear, the Sip Advisor is a bigtime Twizzlers fan. No Red Vines for this guy and I just can’t comprehend someone liking the competition. Can anyone try to provide me with an argument for why Red Vines should even share shelf space with the amazing Twizzlers?

I’m not sure how easy it is to find this product elsewhere, but we did spot them at one of the pharmacy stores that line the Las Vegas Strip. We will also be gifting a pack of Key Lime Twizzlers to Ma Sip for Mother’s Day, proving again how great a son I am!

For more Snack Time articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #100: Easter Eggs (Part 2)

Part one of our Easter long weekend expedition to Las Vegas can be found here

Day three of our trip began with us finally buying some show tickets. With the task of having to redeem our seats – starting at Bally’s and then travelling all the way to the Luxor (Blue Man Group), before traversing nearly the entire strip and hitting Treasure Island (Cirque du Soleil: Mystère), then finally returning to The Linq… all while Mrs. Sip relaxed poolside – I knew I needed some good stiff drinks for the trek.

That was achieved by popping into the Fuel Bar, using one of their 2-for-1 drink coupons. For only $14, I was able to get two very strong Melon Mules, while enjoying the skilled flair bartenders. To say I set out on my expedition feeling good and fuzzy, would be an understatement!

Shut Up Liver

My arduous two-hour journey complete – to be fair, I actually like doing these missions… just don’t let Mrs. Sip know – I collected Mrs. Sip from the pool and we made our way to Hyde Lounge for drinks and the Bellagio fountains. I had wanted to order their Smore cocktail, but they were out of the Graham cracker rim. I settled for the Love Unit (Vodka, Vanilla Vodka, Thai Basil, Lime, Grapefruit, and Bell Pepper Juices), which was pretty good. I would also like to try their Mexican Hot Coffee in the future.

From there, it was off to see the Blue Man Group at the Luxor. This show was non-step energy and entertainment. I totally blue myself! Following the spectacle, we were given 2-for-1 drink coupons at the Centra bar, where we were able to mix and match some cocktails. I ended up with their Smoked Salt Margarita and Hrdara, which featured Jameson Whiskey.

Not content to end the night, we ventured to New York New York’s The Chocolate Bar, which had caught our eye a couple nights earlier. My beverage of choice was the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini (Castries Peanut Butter Rum, 360 Chocolate Vodka, Marie Brizard Chocolate Liqueur), which was every bit as decadent as it sounds.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

After a slow start to the next day, we took advantage of the Yard House’s weekday happy hour and grabbed a set of cheap appies: Buffalo Boneless Wings, California Roll, and Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds. To wash down all the delicious nibbles, I ordered a pint of the Ninkasi Tricerahops, which lived up to its awesome name.

Next up was our Cirque du Soleil: Mystère show, which combined a nice mix of acrobatics and comedy. Forgive me for going on a little rant, but I have to call out the loser who sat in front of us at the show. First, his family showed up after the opening act and then he proceeded to constantly turn his phone on and off throughout the show, even sending photos via messaging. The kicker was that he then left just minutes before the show was over, causing yet another disturbance. The phone constantly lighting up was so distracting and I wish Cirque would just outright ban the use of them at their presentations. Okay… breathe.

Not letting some asshole ruin our night, on our way back from the show, we passed The Piano Bar at Harrah’s. Noticing that their outside patio was open, we decided to watch some of the dueling pianos. I ended up ordering a bottle of Ballast Point IPA for a whopping $9, but at least I can justify the charge as part of being entertained.

Piano Lesson

Having always wanted to try eating at In-N-Out Burger and in need of a midnight snack, Mrs. Sip and I visited the location in the Linq’s Promenade area. We thought the burgers were decent and Mrs. Sip enjoyed a Chocolate Milkshake (seriously, she’s really into milkshakes and ice cream lately), but I found the name of the burger joint does give me some reservations.

On our last day, we decided to revisit our top choices from the trip. First, after enjoying the drinks and atmosphere so much, we returned to the Fuel Bar for a pair of Lynchburg Lemonades that made for a good day drunk buzz. For lunch, we revisited the PBR Rock Bar to repeat our usual menu selections, while also trying their House Made Chili, which was a very nice addition.

After a long walk along the strip, we popped into AmeriCAN for one last beverage. While I like their concept of offering largely canned craft beers, I think they will have to make some changes to survive in the uber competitive market. For example, there is no happy hour to speak of. Also, they don’t even offer guests water, instead trying to charge them $3 for a bottle. That is a cardinal sin in the Sip Advisor’s books. After being out of my first few choices, I selected the Joseph James Weize Guy Hefeweizen, which was quite refreshing, especially after our extensive walk in the Vegas sun.

That wrapped another amazing trip to Sin City. Given this is likely the last time Mrs. Sip and I will get to enjoy the adult Disneyland prior to kids arriving, I think we went out with a bang!

Sip Trips #99: Easter Eggs (Part 1)

The Easter long weekend found Mrs. Sip and me back in Las Vegas for another wonderful stay on the strip. With Mrs. Sip being pregnant, things are a little different than other vacations, but we still managed to have a ton of fun, despite her not being able to imbibe like the Sip Advisor.

This journey started with our Lyft driver offering to take us to the Total Wine store to pick up supplies. Not wanting to make her regret her very generous offer, I raced around the store grabbing some provisions, such as a bottle of Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum and a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Tropical Torpedo Tropical IPA. Mrs. Sip bought a couple non-alcoholic items, but I don’t think either the beers or wine were much of a hit with her.

Non-Alcoholic-Vodka

After dropping off our luggage and buying some walking drinks (Coconut Water for the well-behaved Mrs. Sip), we decided to go for lunch at what has become our traditional first meal landing spot: the PBR Rock Bar. We promptly ordered our favourite dishes in the Doritos Crusted Mac N Cheese for Mrs. Sip and Bucking Bull Fries for moi. Mrs. Sip added a plate of their Cornbread Muffins, just to spice things up.

Given we had stayed up all night, driving from Vancouver to Seattle to fly out early Friday morning, both of us were in the need of a little nap. Staying at The Linq, this was easier said than done, given our room looked out onto the hotel pool and made sleeping difficult throughout the stay, thanks to the 9am-6pm thumping music. I’d stay at the resort again, but request a room as far away from the pool as possible.

Once we did get some rest in, we returned to the strip at night, capitalizing on the free burger coupons we were given in February for the Shake Shack. We both went with the Shack Burger option and split a serving of their Bacon BBQ Cheddar Fries. To drink, I tried the Shackmeister Pale Ale, while Mrs. Sip satisfied her frozen dessert craving with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake.

cats-with-milkshake

We wrapped up the night sitting outside the Bar at Times Square, enjoying the dueling pianos with a drink (at least for the Sip Advisor), before Mrs. Sip needed to catch up on some more sleep.

The next morning, it was time to see what all the fuss and thumping was about at the hotel pool. In between tanning, cooling off and people watching, I did hit the bar. I elected to try the Cucumber Kick cocktail (Sauza Cucumber Chili Tequila, Watermelon-Cucumber Juice, Lime, Cucumbers), which was pretty tasty. I did get upsold to the $24 souvenir glass version, which did come in handy for later walks with my previously-purchased supplies.

For dinner, we made our way to the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops and put our names in at The Cheesecake Factory. With only a short wait to endure, we were quickly sat down. I really enjoyed my Southern Fried Chicken Sliders, paired with a Great Basin Icky IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Avocado Toast. The meals provided a decent amount of leftovers, which we were actually able to take away for a change, as The Linq has very rare fridges in their rooms.

Back in the room for the night and halfway through our vacation, this seems like a good point to wrap up part one of our trip summary. Join us tomorrow for part two, highlighted by shows and sips!

Sip Trips #91: City of Sin (Part 2)

With so much crammed into our short getaway to Las Vegas, I split the happenings into two articles. Part one included a fair bit of action. Could we top our efforts on days three and four?

We began the second half of our Sin City experience by visiting the Yard House for their afternoon happy hour deals. We gorged ourselves on orders of their Fried Chicken Strips, California Roll, and Queso Dip, while I put back pints of Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA and Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado Double IPA.

Later, en route to the other end of the strip, we popped into the new Shake Shack, where I got a massive “Roadie” serving (32 oz. mug) of Big Dog Dirty Dog IPA. As we chatted with a server and told him we had never tried one of their burgers, he disappeared and returned with coupons to try a couple of their offerings, on the house.

shake-shack

We capped the evening with another favourite, enjoying the dueling pianos from outside the Bar at Times Square inside New York New York. Inside, the venue can usually get pretty packed, so we opt for seats outside, where we can still enjoy the tunes, high energy atmosphere, and best of all, drink our own beverages.

The next day, we journeyed to the Bellagio’s Hyde Lounge, where delicious, yet expensive cocktails can be enjoyed while watching the amazing fountain shows. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t rank this visit very high, as my Burning Mango cocktail completely lacked the advertised jalapeno flavour and the fountains weren’t running as regularly (every 15 minutes) as they should have been at that time of day. The one show we did get is Mrs. Sip’s least favourite, so the timing just wasn’t right.

Not to be deterred, and to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Sip and I bought a ticket package that included a buffet dinner at The Wynn, as well as tickets to their Cirque du Soleil-inspired Le Reve show. The meal and entertainment were top notch, with copious crab legs and other dinner and dessert items enjoyed, followed by a spectacular performance of the water-based program.

le-reve

The evening was topped with a visit to another of the strip’s popular dueling pianos hotspots at Harrah’s The Piano Bar. By this point, we were kind of running on fumes, so decided to call the night somewhat short and finish the drinks we had remaining at our resort, enjoying the amazing view we had of the area.

And just to show that we’re well-rounded (not physically… yet) people and are capable of doing more than shuffle through life with a permanent buzz, Mrs. Sip and I also managed to visit both the Neon Museum and Mob Museum attractions. Using a combo ticket, with nice discount, we would highly recommend both to anyone visiting the city.

The Neon Museum’s boneyard is home to 200 signs, each playing their own role in Las Vegas history. The guided one-hour tour takes you through many of these tales, such as that of the Moulin Rouge placard, which belonged to the first non-segregated casino on the strip.

neon-museum

As for the Mob Museum, we visited on an interesting day, as Valentine’s Day not only marked the exhibition’s 5th anniversary (and so it was open to locals for free), but it’s also the anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which is a featured attraction of the gallery. Our self-guided tour lasted three hours and we could have stayed even longer.

That wraps up a busy four days spent in Sin City. Did we enjoy ourselves? Well, we’re planning on returning over the Easter long weekend for even more debauchery!