Sip Trips #2 – Best of 2014

Well, Mrs. Sip and I didn’t get up to too much this last week in the booze realm, including a rare well-behaved weekend. We did make time to enjoy a couple craft beers, including Unibroue’s La Resolution and Wychwood’s Bah Humbug. This does give me the opportunity to finally publish my Best of 2014 Drinking Nights article. Some of the memories are fuzzy, but they made for an amazing year. Since all drinking days/nights are wonderful, I will not be ranking these… they will merely be listed in order of occurrence!

#1: Dominican Republic

Sadly, I got sick a couple days after arriving in the Dominican, but the first two nights of all-inclusive partying for Mrs. Sip’s 30th birthday were tropical bliss!

#2: New York

Bourbon followed by as true a cab ride as you can have in New York. Our buzz was killed a little by a snafu with picking up our City Pass tickets, but that was merely a bump in the road on an otherwise awesome first visit to the Big Apple.

#3: Portland Beer & Wine Fest

One of the best booze events I’ve ever attended and we were even the happy recipients of a pile of free tokens. When we returned to our hotel, I ended up triple fisting a few drinks to take advantage of the complimentary happy hour and the party just kept going. Late at night, I was the sole survivor, heading out to pick the family up some Voodoo Doughnuts for the morning!

Portland Guide

#4: Edmonton Airport

One would normally think that being stuck in Edmonton for six hours would be tragic. But the city’s airport – or at least their International Terminal – has one of best selection of bars I’ve ever seen. We made a point of turning our layover into a pub crawl, which certainly helped with falling asleep on the plane from Edmonton to Reykjavik, Iceland!

#5: Hamburg Garden Party

While visiting Hamburg, Germany, a garden party provided the setting for a family reunion. The craft beers Mrs. Sip and I brought with us from Vancouver helped loosen everybody up and the well-stocked party (highlighted by a bottle of Jack Daniels that I made sweet love to) kept the festivities rocking through the night. A torrential downpour of rain couldn’t stop our revelry!

#6: Self-Guided Vancouver Brewery Tour Weekend

Ever the adventurers, Mrs. Sip and I decided to take ourselves on a tour of Vancouver’s best bars and breweries, with stops at the Alibi Room, Postmark Brewery/Urban Winery, Brandywine Bartending School, 33 Acres Brewery, and Brassneck Brewery. Our typical good fortune was emphasized when we arrived at 33 Acres Brewery just in time for their first anniversary party!

#7: Made with Love

While I have some reservations about liquor events, I have nothing but love for Made with Love. Mrs. Sip and I bought tickets to this all-inclusive craft cocktail competition, in part because it fell on our 2nd wedding anniversary and seemed like a wonderful way to celebrate the occasion… oh, how right we were!

Bartender Juice

#8: Las Vegas Strip Drinking

Given that entire trips to Las Vegas are booze-fueled, it’s hard to narrow down any one day to highlight, but this one does stick out in my memory. It all started with an innocent game of Battle Shots at the PBR Rock Bar and then featured Hyde Lounge, gambling wins, Cirque du Soleil: Zumanity, dueling pianos at New York, New York, and a host of things I probably can’t remember.

#9: Surprise Birthday

Imagine my surprise when we showed up for what was supposed to be a friend’s birthday brunch and it turned out that the whole thing was meant for little ol’ me! I wish someone had captured the look on my face when the realization set in. Mrs. Sip always seems to find a way to outdo herself!

#10: Birthday Cruise Embarkation

Before the ship even set sail, we were all pretty loose (the bucket of beers, bottle of wine, and cocktails may have helped with that!), which made for a very fun muster drill. I can say with complete conviction that I’ve had worse! 😉

#11: Dave & Busters

I absolutely love this place, having visited three different locations (Honolulu, New York, Anaheim) in the last year and a half. It’s so much fun to play all the games while having a full-service bar at your disposal. Of course, the day started with Disneyland drinking, before we moved on to the fun and games at D&B’s.

GIFSec.com

#12: Bellingham Visit

All I can say is thank god we had a driver (Pa Sip), because I was pretty fuzzy after our tasting at Boundary Bay Brewery and it certainly made for some interesting shopping.

#13: Canucks game in Anaheim

When your day begins with an upscale bar (Disneyland’s Carthay Lounge) and ends with a fun sports bar in JT Schmid’s, everything else in the middle must be pretty good. In between, was a day of drinking at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” including California beers, wine tasting, thrill rides, and even animation tutorials!

#14: Hawaii

To celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday, we began at the Kona Brewery for tour and tasters. Next up, was Huggo’s on the Beach, where happy hour was in full swing and we were only too happy to join!

Some honourable mentions include an earlier trip to Portland for some beer tourism; traversing the Hamburg Reeperbahn; and surviving the wild Marrakesh market square. After all, it’s always fun drinking in a country that discourages alcohol consumption and I make it a point of every voyage to foreign lands!

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December 27 – Hammered Farmer

Experience Points

I got to thinking the other day about things that must be experienced as a drinker. The rites of passage as a boozehound, if you will. Here’s some of the items that crossed my mind and I believe made me the Sip Advisor I am today!

Drink from a Funnel – Friends of Mrs. Sip and myself had this funnel they called Skeletor (thanks to it being a skull), which was fun drinking out of and made for a good dare as part of drinking games.

Funnel Fail

Do a Keg Stand – As a kid, I was always standing on my head. It’s something I did well and I still do head stands on many objects I find. Combine that with chugging beer and you have the infamous keg stand. I think I did pretty well in my only attempt.

Use a Flask – I first bought a flask in my early 20’s and have since upgraded to a much nicer one, which I gave out to each of the groomsmen and ushers in my wedding. As I’ve written before, Fireball is my go-to flask filler and it has seen me through many wild nights.

Buy Booze as a Minor – While I didn’t frequently do this, it did happen from on a couple occasions and without incident. It truly shows your dedication to the sport.

Enjoy an Open Bar – I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few “open bar” functions in my time. Sometimes those bars haven’t been very lucky to have me as a guest!

Rent a Keg – This is something I have yet to do personally. Sure, I’ve been to the odd keg party, but I’ve never hosted one. We’ve often bandied about the idea of getting a keg for my annual beer pong tournament, but letting folks drink whatever they wish has always won out over the mass serving. I did have a mini keg that travelled through some of Europe with me, if that counts.

Tap the Keg

Drunken Karaoke – Is there any other kind of karaoke!?

Buy a Round for a Group – It’s always important to take your rightful turn in buying drinks for the group. Just make sure you get yours back in due time.

Invent a Cocktail – Clearly this is no longer an outstanding issue for the Sip Advisor…

Buy a Woman a Drink – Does Mrs. Sip count? If so, then check!

Play Drinking Games – Whether it’s Beer Pong, Quarters, King’s Cup, Flippy Cup, or anything else, drinking games are an essential element of boozing fun. I’d say go easy on rookies, but they should know what they’re getting themselves into.

battle-shots

Go on a Beer/Wine Tour – In the course of this project, I’ve detailed the wine and beer tours I’ve been privileged to go on. Next up comes some visits to hard alcohol distilleries.

Do a Shot Challenge – Whether it’s one you create on your own or something hosted by a bar, these are always a fun way to get smashed and stretch your drinking limits. Mrs. Sip and I took part in one notable challenge in Nice, France, where we (along with three others) had to down all of our 10 shots in successive order. I was the only one ballsy enough to include a couple Flatliners in my set.

Visit a Beer Hall – Drinking around the world has become a huge part of travel for Mrs. Sip and I, whether it’s trying news beers, wines, and spirits, or visiting booze landmarks across the globe. The beer hall we enjoyed in Munich, Germany was among these great memories.

Do a Pub Crawl – Man are these fun… I’ve done crawls in a lot of parts of the world (Key West, Florida; Preston, England; Honolulu, Hawaii; etc.) and they’re always full of laughs, adventure, and of course alcohol. Map out a route and hit the town!

Bar Crawl

Survive a Hangover – Does it count if I’ve helped someone through their hangover? Remember, the Sip Advisor is immune from rough morning afters.

Be Known by Name at a Bar – While I have yet to find a place “where everybody knows my name”, the Sip Alliance was recognized at The Yard House in Hawaii as “Oh, you guys are back!”

Ride a Mechanical Bull – This should only be done while blitzed because it limbers you up for the eventual fall. I achieved this at the PBR Rock Bar in Las Vegas this year (twice!) and it was totally worth the resulting crotch bruising.

Hit Multiple Fast Food Joints on the Same NightGuilty as charged. Just the other day, Mrs. Sip and I grabbed some Mickie D’s takeout and while passing by a Mega Bite pizza shop, I joked we should grab some slices for the road as well. Before I knew it, Mrs. Sip was in there snatching some before we were on our way again!

Drink #361: Hammered Farmer

Hammered Farmer Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Spiced Rum (I used New Orleans)
  • Top with Root Beer
  • Splash of Apple-Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wheel

What else do you think qualifies as a rite of passage for experienced drinkers? I wanted to include my feat of drinking a beer underwater, but Mrs. Sip insisted it was so rare and awesome that I was the only that would qualify. She’s always pumping my tires!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This is one of those bizarre recipes where they recommend way too much booze to make a decent drink. They say you should use 4 oz of Spiced Rum. While that will achieve the desired effect of being a Hammered Farmer, the cocktail’s taste will be way too strong. I dumbed the ingredients down to make a tasty drink where you can taste each element being presented. You’ll still get blasted, it just won’t be from one serving!

October 3 – Waikiki Wave

Aloha

As many of you little sippers know, I recently celebrated my 30th birthday in Hawaii! While there, I did what the Sip Advisor does best: got smashed all around the island, leaving a path of destruction not seen since the attack on Pearl Harbor… too soon!? Here is an account of my misadventures and some great spots to hit if you are ever in Honolulu:

Birthday Crawl and 30-Drink Challenge

Mrs. Sip and I arrived on the beautiful island shortly before the clock turned over to my birthday. At exactly midnight, I sipped my first drink and was promptly challenged to down 30 libations before the day was done. I had six down the hatch before going to bed and awoke to a shot around 8am. After picking up friends at the airport, the birthday pub crawl was off and running. Over the rest of the day, we hit Jimmy Buffett’s, LuLu’s, Tiki’s, Rum Fire, and The Yardhouse, where I destroyed a half-yard of brew for my 30-in-30!

30th Birthday

Happy Hours and Mai-Tais

Hawaii, perhaps more so than any other place in the world, is famous for their midday and late night happy hours. You can bet that we took advantage of as many as possible, despite the collection of bottles we had waiting for us in our apartment. A must-have drink while vacationing on any of the Hawaiian Islands is the Mai-Tai. The Mai-Tai is among Mrs. Sip’s all-time favourite offerings, while I enjoyed a couple at Chuck’s Steak House (which is owned by Duke’s, another not to be missed dinner spot with a phenomenal salad bar located at the Outrigger hotel). They even came in tiki-head shaped glasses!

Yardhouse Options

While we enjoyed many locations, our group’s favourite hangout was probably The Yardhouse, which we visited nearly every day. Thankfully, I’ve learned this chain exists near enough to me that I will get to visit again soon. The food was great and the drinks even better. They have countless offerings on tap (definitely something for everyone) and I made sure to try nearly every wheat or white beer they had in stock. Food was also pretty good with boneless chicken wings and half priced happy hour pizzas!

Dave and Busters

In a previous article, I outlined some restaurants that I wanted to visit. One of those was Dave and Busters, which I learned only days before our vacation had a location in Hawaii. When Mrs. Sip and I stumbled upon the outlet, we made sure to enjoy some food (delicious pretzel dogs), copious amounts of beer (a shuttle of 100 ounces) and their midway games! We had a wonderful time, highlighted by a four-way air hockey contest, yours truly defeating Mrs. Sip on a massive Connect 4 game, and also scoring the only 5/5 on the trivia challenge!

Dave and Busters

Top of Waikiki

This top-rated bar was a wonderful retreat from Waikiki’s bustling streets. As we rotated around the bar, it was fun to check out the restaurant’s liquor collection and indulge in a few delicious cocktails. Our bartender, Kory, was second only to your very own Sip Advisor and catered to our every whim. It was here (as well as at Rum Fire) that I learned how much I enjoy and appreciate drinks with a little heat, whether through hot sauces or being mixed with peppers.  My favourite recipe was the Naughty or Nice, which combined rum, strawberry puree, mint, soda, and Serrano peppers.

Beach Time

While I’m not a huge fan of going to the beach (the poor man’s pool, as I call it), we did spend a number of afternoon hours soaking up the sun and getting filthy in the ocean and sand. A highlight, was making our own midnight pizza and taking it out onto one of the beach piers (along with some liquid sunshine) and enjoying the waves crashing against our bare feet as we ate, drank and pondered.

Boozy Ending

Mrs. Sip and I spent our last night in paradise kicking back and relaxing (not to mention polishing off every last bit of alcohol in our place). The only thing I like about coming home from vacation is introducing the liquor we purchase (our babies) to their new abode. On this trip, Mrs. Sip and I picked up bottles of Macadamia Nut Liqueur, Rock Coconut Rum, Apple Pie Moonshine, Malibu Red, and some mini bottles of various flavours to be featured soon!

Drink #276: Waikiki Wave (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Waikiki Wave Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Spiced Rum (I used Bacardi Oakheart)
  • Top with POG (Passion-Orange-Guava) Juice
  • Splash of Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with Hawaii Cookie and Macadamia Nuts

I’d say the only area that Hawaii drinking needs improvement is that you can’t drink on the street and beach. If the island could remedy this and become a little more like Las Vegas in their public alcohol consumption laws, that would be amazing. Especially with all the ABC stores, I just wanted to grab a beer, crack it and walk a block to the next outlet!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This was an okay drink, but I think my Ginger Ale had gone a little flat and wasn’t the awesome ingredient it usually is. All the garnishes were certainly fun to eat after the drink was consumed and the munchies had truly kicked in!

January 18 – Lounge Lizard

Bar Hopping

While being privileged to travel the world, I’ve made numerous stops in bars and lounges, some good, some bad. Here are my favourites:

JT Schmids

JT Schmid’s  Anaheim, CA

There is nothing like seeing the sea of Vancouver Canucks fans invade this bar in Anaheim (conveniently across the street from the Honda Centre) after a Canucks-Ducks NHL game. Enjoying a hefeweizen beer in the outside patio with its fire pits and heaters: $10; a mass of Canucks fans booing the hometown Anaheim fans looking to enjoy a pint: priceless!

Jimmy’s Taphouse – Vancouver, B.C.

Jimmy’s is my hometown favourite to grab a pint. Reasonably priced drinks, excellent food and the best part is that the place is just a block walk away from my apartment and has a cool view of our city’s Colosseum-style library. It is also one of the few places downtown where I can find Red Truck Lager. They also have the occasional customer appreciation night where you, the valued customer, can score some free pints and food! Jimmy (whoever he is) is my man!

Hyde-Lounge

Hyde Lounge – Las Vegas, NV

This is one of my favourite, surprisingly hidden, attractions in Sin City. Here, you can sip a wide array of martinis and other cocktails and although the drinks are a little pricey, it is well worth it for the front row view of the Bellagio’s water fountain show. I’d stay here all day if it wasn’t for the previously mentioned prices and after about 9pm, they start pumping club music into the place, rather than the music that goes so perfectly with the fountains. Therefore, after a few warm-up drinks at Hyde, and looking to stretch our money a little more, we’re off into the night, eventually ending up at…

The Pub – Las Vegas, NV

It may not have the cleverest title, but two words: dueling pianos… the greatest bar invention since the keg. This bar, located inside the Monte Carlo, is amazing. You can get a pint of beer or shot of Jameson Whiskey for $2… I am prone to doubling down and getting both. Mixing beer and liqour… it’s really the only gambling I do in Vegas. The dueling pianists – once again, that’s pianists – take requests from the audience all night long and because of the ample seating in the bar, we’ve never had an issue getting in. The food here is also decent and while there are other dueling piano locations on the strip, this is far and above, my favourite.

Willie T's

Willie T’s – Key West, FL

My wife and I did a self-guided pub crawl when our Western Caribbean cruise stopped in Key West, Florida. Pay $40 each for the cruise-sponsored excursion, only to be taken around and still have to pay for drinks on top of that??? Fuck that noise! They hit a trio of places, while we squeezed at least eight places into our crawl – best described as more of a stagger. I say at least eight because although we were trying to take a picture outside each place, well counting wasn’t our forte that day. Our preferred stop along the crawl route was Willie T’s, which is very recognizable thanks to the dollar bills stapled all around the joint. To top the story off, we paid a combined total of $50 on drinks and food!

The Fox & Fiddle – Toronto, ON

I spent a lot of good nights at The Fox & Fiddle during my year living in Toronto. Notable for its incredibly huge team pitchers (approx. two pitchers in one), it was here that I spent April Fool’s Day, Canada Day and my birthday that year, as well as my karaoke debut (probably due to the aforementioned team pitchers). Sadly, it was also the setting for my goodbye round of drinks with all the friends I made over my stay.

coco-bongo

Coco Bongo – Cancun, Mexico

I hate clubs. I mean absolutely downright hate them… except this little gem. A Mexican specialty  your cover charge is all-inclusive. They serve you tequila shots as you wait to enter the place, then once you’re inside, guess what, more tequila shots! The music is rocking, drinks are flowing freely, and just when you think it can’t get any better, the show element begins, as dancers, actors and stuntmen do takes on movies like Chicago, Spiderman and others. All of a sudden confetti and balloons are being shot around and it all gets pretty epic. What could be the cherry of this awesome sundae? Oh, I don’t know, how about a midget dressed as Beetlejuice pouring a shot into your mouth!

Drink #18: Lounge Lizard

Lounge Lizard Drink

  • 1.5 oz Dark Rum
  • 1 oz Disaronno
  • Top with Cola
  • Garnish with lemon wedge stand for umbrella (umbrella sold separately!)

It should be noted that I’ve found another variant to this drink, same name, but different ingredients, which completely change the look of the cocktail. The second Lounge Lizard combines melon liquer, blue Curacao, coconut rum and lemon-lime soda and you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll be making it sometime in the future. So, continue checking back at the ol’ Sip Advisor and keep on keeping on!

Part 2 of my favourite bars will be posted in the future, along with another wonderful cocktail. Have a great weekend, all!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoyed this drink. It’s simple yet delicious. It makes me wonder if there’s anything Disaronno (Amaretto) can’t mix well with, as I’ve yet to find a concoction where it doesn’t hit the spot.