Sip Trips #86: Best of 2016

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

Libational Learning

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

Family Day Festivities

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

family-time

Crawling Around

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

Lion City Leisure

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

The Happiest of Valleys

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

horse-racing-for-rich-people

So Many Options

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

Drinking Sky High

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

Tipping N’ Tasting

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

beer-crisper

Island Wedding

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

All You Need is Love

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

Cruise Credits

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

cruise-captain-morgan

Irish Blessings

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

Fear and Loathing

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

Award Season

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

awards-season

Diamond Celebration

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

Traditional Tidings

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

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

Sip Trips #63: Asian Antics (Part 1)

Mrs. Sip and I recently returned from a five-week vacation throughout Asia, which featured as much beer, wine and spirits as we could cram in. Here is part one of some of the notable experiences we enjoyed on our journey:

The fun all got started when we joined Mrs. Sip’s parents and sister in Singapore. Drinks in the city are very expensive and we had to work hard to find happy hour deals, where beverages could be had on a buy one-get one basis (or as they promoted it, one-for-one).

Happy Hour Savings

We also managed to track down some craft beer in Singapore, passing by the Red Dot Brewhouse, by chance. I ordered the Monster Green Lager, which was infused with spirulina and advertised as a must-try novelty beer, while Mrs. Sip asked for the Lime Wheat (brewed with local lime). The brewery’s name has an interesting story: the owner was touring South Africa in 1997 when he was first introduced to home brewing. When he visited a shop to bring some supplies back home, his options were for an ale or a lager… one marked with a red dot and the other not. The rest is history, as they say.

Our last night in Singapore was spent staying at the Marina Bay Sands. We splurged and booked one of their club rooms, which for the “low” price of $600, provided us with invitations to an afternoon tea, cocktail hour and breakfast. To justify the costly indulgence, Mrs. Sip and I made sure to drink $250-plus worth of booze during the cocktail hour! It was during this binge that I completed the four horseman challenge, consuming one beverage each featuring Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo, and Johnnie Walker (all doubles, of course)!

Next up was our 18-day cruise, with port stops throughout Asia. These stops included Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, Vietnam; Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; Taipei, Taiwan; Nagasaki, Japan; and Busan, South Korea.

Cruise Ship Pirate

I’ve written about our booze strategies on cruises before, but we learned some new things on this trip. One of our first tasks was to purchase a wine package. We went with the silver-level 12-bottle card, which meant our nightly bottle with dinner would cost as cheap as $20 each, as opposed to the $29 price point.

Another savings we regularly took advantage of was the ship’s BOGO hours, where two drinks could be purchased with the second only costing $1. We learned early on that this could also be applied to beers (which we would stock up on and save for days at sea as we relaxed poolside) and even wine bottles. Speaking of beers, Princess Cruises has introduced a third brew to their burgeoning Seawitch craft beer line-up, adding a Blonde Ale to their IPA and Red Ale (my personal fave).

My one not-so-good drinking experience on the ship was ordering a specialty margarita to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I asked for the Chili and Chocolate (Don Julio Reposado, White Creme de Cacao, jalapenos) option and the bartender had to look up the recipe. Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite of working the Margarita Bar? The drink was passable, but not as good as the previous serving I’ve had of it. The bartender used chocolate sauce in the margarita which made it look dirty and threw the flavour off.

Cinco de Mayo

As far as drinking off the ship, one of my favourite stops of the cruise was our two-day layover in Hong Kong. This gave us a rare chance to experience the city’s night life, which cruises don’t often provide. With Mrs. Sip having a couple friends living in Hong Kong, we had an inside edge and ended up at the Happy Valley Racecourse, which had its own beer garden. There, with a pitcher of Kronenboug Blanc in hand, I enjoyed our groups’ only betting win of the evening!

With the cruise over, we flew to Japan where we would spend the next two weeks trekking across the country… but that’s a story for another Sip Trips!