December 18 – Holiday Hopper

Christmas Vacation

I prefer to spend Christmas at home with family and friends, but that’s not for everyone. Some like to get out and see the world, leaving the comforts of familiarity far behind. If that sounds like you, here are some of the best places to travel to for Christmas joy!

Leavenworth, Washington

This quaint little Bavarian-themed town is great to visit at all times of the year, but it particularly comes alive at Christmas, beginning with its annual lighting festival. The Family Sip spent a few Christmases in Leavenworth when the Sip Advisor was a wee little sipper. We enjoyed many hours playing in the snow, going cross country skiing, and causing a general ruckus in the hotel halls. It’s hard to not be in the full Christmas spirit when you’re so surrounded by it.

leavenworth-lighting

New York, New York

One would probably start by visiting Rockefeller Center for outdoor ice skating and ogling the giant Christmas tree placed in the center of the plaza, but I for one would try to relive Kevin McCallister’s adventures from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York… especially if I can convince a couple cons to provide me with willing Wet Bandits impersonators! For Pa Sip, there’s also the Holiday Train Show, featuring numerous model trains rumbling through an intricate New York landscape.

Lapland, Finland

Home to Santa Claus Village and Santa Park and located near the Arctic Circle, this area has long been considered Santa Claus’ base of operations, where reindeer and polar bears (of the Coca-Cola swilling variety) can be found inhabiting the region. It’s here that you can get a photo with one of the most legit looking Santa’s I’ve ever seen… perhaps he is the real thing. Whoa, mind blown, I’m off to Lapland!

Disney Theme Parks

You never need a specific reason to go to a Disney park, but seeing the resorts at Christmas is a must at some point in every person’s life. I love how rides like the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World are updated for the holiday season and the park’s Christmas Parade and Christmas Fireworks Extravaganza are spectacles that should be witnessed. Add to that all the Christmas treats, merchandise, lights, costumes, and everything else and it’s a holiday overload… in a good way!

Christmas-at-Disney

Bethlehem, Israel

Birthplace of Jesus Christ and home to the nativity scene, thousands make pilgrimages to Bethlehem each year to celebrate the holiday where its roots stem from. The Church of the Nativity sits upon the spot where Jesus is said to have been born (a silver star within the church marks the exact location of Jesus’ birth) and empties out into Manger Square. Numerous religious events take place around the Christmas holiday and regardless of your denomination, you can celebrate at some point in the area.

Reykjavik, Iceland

With its proximity to the North Pole, this may be the closest you ever come to Santa’s workshop. In fact, just outside the Icelandic capital is The Christmas Village, which offers everything from live musical performances to shopping opportunities to the Yuletide Lads (not one or two, but 13 Santa’s). Apparently their ‘mother’ can also be found nearby, but can you imagine the hardships she’s gone through raising 13 boys who are all unemployed and want to hand around children all day?

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Dubbed ‘The Christmas City‘ this place has taken celebrating the holiday season to new heights. They even have a live advent calendar, where each day, a different shopkeeper comes out the Goundie House door with treats for those attending. Christkindlmarkt is molded after the traditional European winter market and offers visitors the chance to buy arts and crafts and food. It doesn’t say anything about booze, but you hope that’s there too. I mean, you really, really, really hope they have that, as well!

Drink #352: Holiday Hopper

Holiday Hopper Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Menthe
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cacao
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Mint Leaf and Chocolate

After researching for this list, it’s clear that there aren’t many places that would be bad to spend Christmas. Perhaps war-torn areas and such should be avoided, but so many cities have something to offer for those looking to get away for the holidays.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This is one of those drinks that really surprises you. Given my aversion to Crème de Menthe, I can never really trust it, especially when it’s expected to play nice with other more normal ingredients like Melon Liqueur. Here, they all come together for a wonderful and enjoyable taste, perfect for a dessert beverage.

November 24 – Grasshopper

Big Crunch

While a crunching noise isn’t always a good thing (broken bone, car accident, etc.) for the most part, it is one of the most satisfying sounds in nature. Here are some of the many instances where you may crave that sweet auditory result!

Stepping on a Bug

I’m not one to commit frequent acts of insecticide, but there’s the odd time where even an accidental murder can sound pretty damn satisfying! It’s especially gratifying if the crime is committed on a vile pest: your spiders, silverfish, and roaches of the world. Just when a bug thinks they’ve outsmarted you and avoided your giant crushing abilities, SPLAT… and another one bites the dust!

cat_controls_bugs

Wad of Potato Chips

Picture yourself grapping a fat stack of potato chips, pinching them together and stuffing them into your mouth, ready to deliver an earthquake-like crunch that will completely satisfy all your desires and disturb every other person in your general vicinity. Now picture yourself doing that repeatedly until before you know it the bag of snack food is nothing more than crumbs. Now you’re getting a sad, yet wonderful glimpse of my life.

Head-Splitting Chair Shots

While the wrestling chair shot has been relegated to only being used against an opponent’s back (in trying to avoid concussions and all that jazz) we can still look fondly back to some of the greatest steel to skull bashings from the history of sports entertainment. If I had to pick a favourite from years of watching grapplers, I would have to select the time ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin cracked The Rock in the cranium, allowing Mankind to win his first ever WWE World Championship!

Glass-Shattering Body Checks

I perfectly-timed and –executed body check in hockey can bring the fans to their feet and pump up your own squad. But on thaty rare occasion when one player slams another right through a pane of Plexiglas meant to keep the action out of the stands… well, that’s a truly special moment. One of my favourite Vancouver Canucks of all-time, Trevor Linden, did exactly this, driving Jeff Norton into the unsuspecting crowd. Ever the gentleman, at the end of the video, you can see Linden going to check on Norton.

Fried Foods

There’s nothing like taking a massive bite into something deep fried and getting that sweet and satisfying crunching sound to go along with everything your palate is enjoying. Eating, when done properly, should stimulate all five senses: your smelling, seeing, feeling, and tasting the food are all quite obvious, but hearing plays a factor, as well. I’ve found I prefer most anything fried to a crisp. From sushi to chicken to fish and chips, and everything in between!

Playing in Leaves

Stomping around in dry, crunchy fallen leaves shouldn’t just be left to the kiddies. A highlight of each autumn was a spectacularly-choreographed wrestling match between Broski Sip and myself, after we’d huddled together a massive pile of leafs to serve as our mat. It’s the only time we ever really helped Pa Sip with housework around the yard. By the time we were done mucking about, we had to rake everything up again, but it was so totally worth it!

Drink #328: Grasshopper

Grasshopper Cocktail

  • 1 oz Crème de Cacao
  • 0.75 oz Crème de Menthe
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Chocolate Sprinkles

The most satisfying crunch may be the exercise version (not that I’m advocating physical activity… ever!). What’s your favourite crunch-inducing action?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail smelled fantastic and tasted pretty good too. The Crème de Menthe might be a little too similar to a mouthwash and I might sub in Peppermint Schnapps in the future, but then the colour would be changed and I thought it looked neat, especially with the Chocolate Sprinkles as garnish. When making the martini, lean towards adding a little more Crème de Cacao over Crème de Menthe, despite it asking for equal portions.

February 3 – Bill Murray

On the Rocks

Groundhog

As a bit of a carryover from yesterday’s post, in the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) orders “sweet vermouth on the rocks, with a twist,” his producer Rita’s (Andie MacDowell) favourite drink, in a bid to get closer to her. He learns this on the first day of his Groundhog Day loop and tries to exploit it on subsequent repeated days. Apparently this is the actual favourite drink of director Harold Ramis’ wife. So, given that I’m doing this challenge and I’m always open to new recipes, I thought I’d give it a shot. First though, here are some other drinks that are enjoyed on the rocks:

Scotch

I’ve only got into Scotch over the last few years, but I really enjoy it. In that time, I’ve been lucky to sample some really good stuff (thanks to some very generous friends and family) and most recently I met the pinnacle of drinking when I was able to have a glass of Ron Swanson’s (Parks and Recreation) favourite libation Lagavulin 16 Year Old. Imagine me, a mild-mannered drink jockey getting to enjoy this fine substance… let the good times roll! (See January 8 – Scotch on the Rocks for further reading)

Disaronno (Amaretto)

This is one of my favourite end-of-night, unwinding drinks. A couple cubes and a splash of Disaronno is all I need before bedtime. Call it nappy time juice! It used to be that cookies and milk were all I needed but then I entered my 30’s! Okay, I’m not there yet, but cookies and milk have been pushed aside for liqueurs and whatever is lying around the house that resembles food. It doesn’t really matter, I’ll eat anything.

Southern Comfort

I first tried Southern Comfort on the rocks on my honeymoon cruise and enjoyed it enough to buy a bottle. I’m curious to try some of the other Southern Comfort flavours out there, such as Fiery Pepper, Bold Black Cherry, plus one mama Sip Advisor told me about (this drinking is a family thing, after all), Lime. So, I have the perfect evening planned: southern BBQ, washed down by SoCo!

Southern Comfort

Courvoisier (Cognac)

Now, I’ve only had this once before, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Perhaps it holds a place in my heart because it helped me fall asleep on a flight, which I’m rarely able to do. I also love how it was regularly featured in the Ladies Man skits on Saturday Night Live. Great choice, Leon!

Ladies Man

Bailey’s Irish Crème

This last one is geared a little more towards the ladies, I suppose. I personally like drinks that have a little bit more of an edge, but I know there are a lot of folks out there that love their Irish Crèmes and anything that’s easier to down. It’s a smooth ride for these alcohols and there’s also an array of intriguing flavours (mint chocolate, crème caramel, hazelnut, biscotti) coming out from the Bailey’s people and other similar companies.

Drink #34: Bill Murray

Sweet Vermouth with Twist Drink

  • 2 oz Sweet Vermouth (I used Martini brand)
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with lemon twist

In honour of the legendary Bill Murray, I’ve gone ahead and named this concoction after him. I mean, Andie MacDowell is okay, but Bill Murray is Dr. Peter Venkman… groundskeeper Carl Spackler… hell, he’s even Garfield! This was the first time I ever had sweet vermouth on the rocks, as I usually only use it when making Manhattans. This is the type of experimenting I enjoy best and I thought the drink was great, especially with the addition of lemon.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Shockingly, no one has ever given this drink a name before, which is a shame because I believe that we should salute Bill Murray whenever the opportunity arises. I thought Sweet Vermouth on the rocks was actually a tasty drink and something you might have when unwinding after dinner, as a dessert aperitif.