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!

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!

March 29 – Poker Face

A Day in the Life

I wouldn’t call myself a Sin City expert, but I know a number of good places that are must-hits when visiting. If you follow my layout for a day out and about along the Las Vegas strip, it will be very difficult for you to keep your poker face (P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face). I dare you to try and keep up with the ol’ Sip Advisor.

Pool Time

I have very little need for breakfast… unless it is of the liquid variety. After sleeping in, Mrs. Sip and I usually meander our way to the hotel pool, where the first order of business is to order a bucket of beers, before relaxing in the sun for a couple hours. No need to rush around yet, we have tons of time left on the clock.

I guess my invite got lost in the mail...

I guess my invite got lost in the mail…

PBR Rock Bar – Planet Hollywood/Miracle Mile

It’s time to show off that tan you’ve been working on all morning, as you hit the street in search of strippers and blow… or in our case, pulled pork and Dorito-crusted mac n’ cheese! The servings here are massive, so it might be beneficial to split a meal or a couple appies. That way you can pig out throughout the day and not gorge yourself on one entrée. The best part of this location is you can sit on the patio and you can even sit on their patio area where you can people watch the zoo known as Las Vegas Boulevard!

Hyde Lounge – The Bellagio

With your tummy nice and full we venture across the street for some libations. The beauty of this joint (aside from the servers’ skimpy outfits) is that you can watch the wondrous Bellagio fountains against the back-drop of the Paris, while sucking back your bevvy! Like much of the strip, drinks can be a little pricey here, but it’s worth the splurging for the total experience.

Mon Ami Gabi – The Paris

While there are practically hundreds of dinner possibilities on and off the strip, it’s okay every once in a while to treat yourself to something on the fancy end of the spectrum. Get dressed up, enjoy some wine and lobster, and appreciate good company at this fine establishment. It also has killer sea scallops gratinées dish I fully recommend trying. If you’re lucky (or wait long enough) this restaurant also has a great patio for another round of people watching with the Bellagion fountains in the background.

Entertainment of Your Choice – Anywhere

It’s showtime! There are way too many options to choose from in Las Vegas. Whether you’re looking for comedy, magic, singing and dancing, or awe inspiring circus acts, the city has all the bases covered. Regardless of your budget, you can find a show that fits. There’s even a ton of stuff you can see all around the place that is free to all visitors, such as the Mirage Volcano, Fall of Atlantis (Caesar’s Palace), Show in the Sky (Rio), The Sirens (Treasure Island), Fremont Street Experience, and the previously mentioned Bellagio Fountains.

mirage-volcano

The Pub – Monte Carlo

Dueling pianos, plus $2 beers and shots of Jameson… you had me at hello. You never greeted me? Don’t really care, I’ll have two beers and two shots and for the missus, a stirring round of ‘Summer of 69’ by Bryan Adams (I like to enlist sexually suggestive songs to help me in wooing Mrs. Sip!). This place is always jamming and finding seating is not very difficult.

Sugar Factory – The Paris

It’s 2am and you have liquor to blame for your chocolate craving. So, you head over to the Sugar Factory, where the art of dessert has never been so exquisite. Share a gourmet fondue or sweet pizza with your loved one. They have regular food, too, in case you’re looking to satisfy your “fourth-meal” requirement. And if you want to keep your buzz up, why not try one of their signature goblets, martinis or cocktails… that will do the trick.

Well, it might be time for bed now… if not, you’re welcome to hit any one of the 24-hour buffets, food courts or a late night lounge. But guess what! Providing that you’re not going home that day, you get to do the whole nine yards (literally, if you buy nine yard-long drinks) again tomorrow!

Drink #88: Poker Face

Poker Face Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • Top with half Pineapple Juice and half Cranberry Juice
  • 0.5 oz Grand Marnier floated on top
  • Garnish with a Pineapple Wedge

This is basically – with a tweak or two – the outline of my and Mrs. Sip’s 10-year dating anniversary in 2012. What adventure will we get up to this time around? Surely it will be the subject of a future blog post, so look out for that!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink turned an interesting colour when all the ingredients came together. I’m so dedicated to garnishing drinks nicely that I took an expired can of Pineapple Wedges, just to use one for the photo. The taste was good, especially with the Grand Marnier floated at the surface.