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!

Mixer Mania #38 – In the Face of Danger

Sometimes, grapefruits are used to describe a person’s bravery… as in that dude has some huge grapefruits on him. Today we look at some of the most courageous actions the Sip Advisor has taken in his life. While none were earth shattering, they helped form the person I am today:

Kidney Conundrum

Moving in a somewhat chronological order, when the Sip Advisor was 12, I had my right kidney removed, as it was not functioning properly. Major surgery when you’re that young can be hard, but it’s also a blessing to have the issue dealt with early on, before it does even more damage. I think I took the whole thing pretty well and the scar can provide an interesting talking point.

Kidney Operation.jpg

Asking Mrs. Sip Out

On mutual family trips to Disneyland, I mustered all the swagger I could and asked Mrs. Sip out on a date in front of Cinderella’s Castle during the nightly fireworks extravaganza. The moment was perfect and she couldn’t say no. Had she turned me down, not only would that have stung bad, but it would have probably ruined one of my favourite places in the world. Luckily, we’re still together 15 years later.

Moving Abroad

Leaving all the comforts you have always known can be a daunting task. On two different occasions, I packed up my belongings and ventured to other parts of the world for new adventures. I spent a semester in Preston, England as part of an exchange program, before later moving to Toronto, Canada for a year-long school course. Both journeys made me much more confident.

Traveller’s Choice

Along with Mrs. Sip, I have journeyed to 51 different countries across the globe, including some that aren’t as safe and settled as others. With each expedition, insight has been gained about how other parts of the world operate. There are many more places on my wish list, though, so this courageous enterprise will never be fully achieved.

Dangerous Travel

Daredevil Days

The Sip Advisor can have a bit of a reckless spirit, doing crazy things like leaping off of high platforms (sometimes tethered to a bungee cord) into watery depths below. Some highlights have included jumping off the Auckland Bridge in New Zealand, swimming in the Devil’s Pool on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and ziplining in multiple locales.

Conquering Anxiety

While it always remains in the background of my psyche, I can proudly say that I’ve conquered anxiety issues on three separate occasions in my life. For me, anxiety has largely been a fear of fear. It has been brought on by different circumstances and while each occurrence is tough, I have always worked through and made it out the other end stronger.

Daddy Daycare

Through my life, I haven’t really been around babies, meaning I’d never changed a diaper, fed a little one, and rarely even held a baby. So, taking the leap into fatherhood recently has certainly been an eye opener. It’s also been an awesome experience, despite the sleep deprivation, second guessing and unsolicited advice from all angles. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Mixer Mania #38: Hemingway Daquiri

Hemingway Daquiri.JPG

  • 2 oz White Rum
  • 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Top with Grapefruit Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge and Maraschino Cherry

Perhaps one day I’ll be viewed in a similar vein to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, recognized as the bravest man in the world. If not, I’m still happy with my own accomplishments!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This drink is very good and has brought me around to the Grapefruit Juice bandwagon. I’m particularly impressed with the Maraschino Liqueur. Ernest Hemingway was onto something!