Sip Trips #100: Easter Eggs (Part 2)

Part one of our Easter long weekend expedition to Las Vegas can be found here

Day three of our trip began with us finally buying some show tickets. With the task of having to redeem our seats – starting at Bally’s and then travelling all the way to the Luxor (Blue Man Group), before traversing nearly the entire strip and hitting Treasure Island (Cirque du Soleil: Mystère), then finally returning to The Linq… all while Mrs. Sip relaxed poolside – I knew I needed some good stiff drinks for the trek.

That was achieved by popping into the Fuel Bar, using one of their 2-for-1 drink coupons. For only $14, I was able to get two very strong Melon Mules, while enjoying the skilled flair bartenders. To say I set out on my expedition feeling good and fuzzy, would be an understatement!

Shut Up Liver

My arduous two-hour journey complete – to be fair, I actually like doing these missions… just don’t let Mrs. Sip know – I collected Mrs. Sip from the pool and we made our way to Hyde Lounge for drinks and the Bellagio fountains. I had wanted to order their Smore cocktail, but they were out of the Graham cracker rim. I settled for the Love Unit (Vodka, Vanilla Vodka, Thai Basil, Lime, Grapefruit, and Bell Pepper Juices), which was pretty good. I would also like to try their Mexican Hot Coffee in the future.

From there, it was off to see the Blue Man Group at the Luxor. This show was non-step energy and entertainment. I totally blue myself! Following the spectacle, we were given 2-for-1 drink coupons at the Centra bar, where we were able to mix and match some cocktails. I ended up with their Smoked Salt Margarita and Hrdara, which featured Jameson Whiskey.

Not content to end the night, we ventured to New York New York’s The Chocolate Bar, which had caught our eye a couple nights earlier. My beverage of choice was the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini (Castries Peanut Butter Rum, 360 Chocolate Vodka, Marie Brizard Chocolate Liqueur), which was every bit as decadent as it sounds.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

After a slow start to the next day, we took advantage of the Yard House’s weekday happy hour and grabbed a set of cheap appies: Buffalo Boneless Wings, California Roll, and Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds. To wash down all the delicious nibbles, I ordered a pint of the Ninkasi Tricerahops, which lived up to its awesome name.

Next up was our Cirque du Soleil: Mystère show, which combined a nice mix of acrobatics and comedy. Forgive me for going on a little rant, but I have to call out the loser who sat in front of us at the show. First, his family showed up after the opening act and then he proceeded to constantly turn his phone on and off throughout the show, even sending photos via messaging. The kicker was that he then left just minutes before the show was over, causing yet another disturbance. The phone constantly lighting up was so distracting and I wish Cirque would just outright ban the use of them at their presentations. Okay… breathe.

Not letting some asshole ruin our night, on our way back from the show, we passed The Piano Bar at Harrah’s. Noticing that their outside patio was open, we decided to watch some of the dueling pianos. I ended up ordering a bottle of Ballast Point IPA for a whopping $9, but at least I can justify the charge as part of being entertained.

Piano Lesson

Having always wanted to try eating at In-N-Out Burger and in need of a midnight snack, Mrs. Sip and I visited the location in the Linq’s Promenade area. We thought the burgers were decent and Mrs. Sip enjoyed a Chocolate Milkshake (seriously, she’s really into milkshakes and ice cream lately), but I found the name of the burger joint does give me some reservations.

On our last day, we decided to revisit our top choices from the trip. First, after enjoying the drinks and atmosphere so much, we returned to the Fuel Bar for a pair of Lynchburg Lemonades that made for a good day drunk buzz. For lunch, we revisited the PBR Rock Bar to repeat our usual menu selections, while also trying their House Made Chili, which was a very nice addition.

After a long walk along the strip, we popped into AmeriCAN for one last beverage. While I like their concept of offering largely canned craft beers, I think they will have to make some changes to survive in the uber competitive market. For example, there is no happy hour to speak of. Also, they don’t even offer guests water, instead trying to charge them $3 for a bottle. That is a cardinal sin in the Sip Advisor’s books. After being out of my first few choices, I selected the Joseph James Weize Guy Hefeweizen, which was quite refreshing, especially after our extensive walk in the Vegas sun.

That wrapped another amazing trip to Sin City. Given this is likely the last time Mrs. Sip and I will get to enjoy the adult Disneyland prior to kids arriving, I think we went out with a bang!

Sip Trips #99: Easter Eggs (Part 1)

The Easter long weekend found Mrs. Sip and me back in Las Vegas for another wonderful stay on the strip. With Mrs. Sip being pregnant, things are a little different than other vacations, but we still managed to have a ton of fun, despite her not being able to imbibe like the Sip Advisor.

This journey started with our Lyft driver offering to take us to the Total Wine store to pick up supplies. Not wanting to make her regret her very generous offer, I raced around the store grabbing some provisions, such as a bottle of Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum and a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Tropical Torpedo Tropical IPA. Mrs. Sip bought a couple non-alcoholic items, but I don’t think either the beers or wine were much of a hit with her.

Non-Alcoholic-Vodka

After dropping off our luggage and buying some walking drinks (Coconut Water for the well-behaved Mrs. Sip), we decided to go for lunch at what has become our traditional first meal landing spot: the PBR Rock Bar. We promptly ordered our favourite dishes in the Doritos Crusted Mac N Cheese for Mrs. Sip and Bucking Bull Fries for moi. Mrs. Sip added a plate of their Cornbread Muffins, just to spice things up.

Given we had stayed up all night, driving from Vancouver to Seattle to fly out early Friday morning, both of us were in the need of a little nap. Staying at The Linq, this was easier said than done, given our room looked out onto the hotel pool and made sleeping difficult throughout the stay, thanks to the 9am-6pm thumping music. I’d stay at the resort again, but request a room as far away from the pool as possible.

Once we did get some rest in, we returned to the strip at night, capitalizing on the free burger coupons we were given in February for the Shake Shack. We both went with the Shack Burger option and split a serving of their Bacon BBQ Cheddar Fries. To drink, I tried the Shackmeister Pale Ale, while Mrs. Sip satisfied her frozen dessert craving with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake.

cats-with-milkshake

We wrapped up the night sitting outside the Bar at Times Square, enjoying the dueling pianos with a drink (at least for the Sip Advisor), before Mrs. Sip needed to catch up on some more sleep.

The next morning, it was time to see what all the fuss and thumping was about at the hotel pool. In between tanning, cooling off and people watching, I did hit the bar. I elected to try the Cucumber Kick cocktail (Sauza Cucumber Chili Tequila, Watermelon-Cucumber Juice, Lime, Cucumbers), which was pretty tasty. I did get upsold to the $24 souvenir glass version, which did come in handy for later walks with my previously-purchased supplies.

For dinner, we made our way to the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops and put our names in at The Cheesecake Factory. With only a short wait to endure, we were quickly sat down. I really enjoyed my Southern Fried Chicken Sliders, paired with a Great Basin Icky IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Avocado Toast. The meals provided a decent amount of leftovers, which we were actually able to take away for a change, as The Linq has very rare fridges in their rooms.

Back in the room for the night and halfway through our vacation, this seems like a good point to wrap up part one of our trip summary. Join us tomorrow for part two, highlighted by shows and sips!

Sip Trips #91: City of Sin (Part 2)

With so much crammed into our short getaway to Las Vegas, I split the happenings into two articles. Part one included a fair bit of action. Could we top our efforts on days three and four?

We began the second half of our Sin City experience by visiting the Yard House for their afternoon happy hour deals. We gorged ourselves on orders of their Fried Chicken Strips, California Roll, and Queso Dip, while I put back pints of Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA and Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado Double IPA.

Later, en route to the other end of the strip, we popped into the new Shake Shack, where I got a massive “Roadie” serving (32 oz. mug) of Big Dog Dirty Dog IPA. As we chatted with a server and told him we had never tried one of their burgers, he disappeared and returned with coupons to try a couple of their offerings, on the house.

shake-shack

We capped the evening with another favourite, enjoying the dueling pianos from outside the Bar at Times Square inside New York New York. Inside, the venue can usually get pretty packed, so we opt for seats outside, where we can still enjoy the tunes, high energy atmosphere, and best of all, drink our own beverages.

The next day, we journeyed to the Bellagio’s Hyde Lounge, where delicious, yet expensive cocktails can be enjoyed while watching the amazing fountain shows. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t rank this visit very high, as my Burning Mango cocktail completely lacked the advertised jalapeno flavour and the fountains weren’t running as regularly (every 15 minutes) as they should have been at that time of day. The one show we did get is Mrs. Sip’s least favourite, so the timing just wasn’t right.

Not to be deterred, and to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Sip and I bought a ticket package that included a buffet dinner at The Wynn, as well as tickets to their Cirque du Soleil-inspired Le Reve show. The meal and entertainment were top notch, with copious crab legs and other dinner and dessert items enjoyed, followed by a spectacular performance of the water-based program.

le-reve

The evening was topped with a visit to another of the strip’s popular dueling pianos hotspots at Harrah’s The Piano Bar. By this point, we were kind of running on fumes, so decided to call the night somewhat short and finish the drinks we had remaining at our resort, enjoying the amazing view we had of the area.

And just to show that we’re well-rounded (not physically… yet) people and are capable of doing more than shuffle through life with a permanent buzz, Mrs. Sip and I also managed to visit both the Neon Museum and Mob Museum attractions. Using a combo ticket, with nice discount, we would highly recommend both to anyone visiting the city.

The Neon Museum’s boneyard is home to 200 signs, each playing their own role in Las Vegas history. The guided one-hour tour takes you through many of these tales, such as that of the Moulin Rouge placard, which belonged to the first non-segregated casino on the strip.

neon-museum

As for the Mob Museum, we visited on an interesting day, as Valentine’s Day not only marked the exhibition’s 5th anniversary (and so it was open to locals for free), but it’s also the anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which is a featured attraction of the gallery. Our self-guided tour lasted three hours and we could have stayed even longer.

That wraps up a busy four days spent in Sin City. Did we enjoy ourselves? Well, we’re planning on returning over the Easter long weekend for even more debauchery!

Sip Trips #90: City of Sin (Part 1)

While Mrs. Sip has made countless girls trips to Las Vegas in recent years, this was a rare occasion (so rare in fact, that this is my first chance to do a Sip Trips article about Las Vegas, despite the posts being a site feature since 2015) where I was allowed to partake in the fun… and there was a lot of it to go around. Here’s what we got up to over our stay in Sin City:

Upon arriving and checking in at The Wynn, we hit the street in search of hookers and cocaine… er, beer and potato chips… yeah, that sounds more like us! Our first stop was at the nearby Walgreens (which would become a base of sorts over our vacation) to grab a couple road beverages.

Moving on, the PBR Rock Bar and Grill has long been a favourite eatery for Mrs. Sip and I, as we adore their Doritos Crusted Mac N Cheese and Bucking Bull Fries. While chowing on those menu items, I ordered the 8 Seconds cocktail, comprised of Bulleit Bourbon, ginger beer, bitters, orange juice, and basil.

doritos-crusted-mac-n-cheese

Following lunch, we made our way to Sin City Brewing, which is part of the Planet Hollywood resort’s Miracle Mile Shops. Here, I ordered a large serving of their seasonal Double IPA, which was enough to get me feeling pretty buzzed.

With a couple of friends also staying in the city, we met up at the Public House in the Venetian. My brew of choice at this stop was the Victory Hop Devil Nitro, which was paired with the bar’s Duck Confit Poutine.

Next up, we were off to XS Nightclub, where we had a spot on the guest list. This was my opportunity to experience some of the nightlife Mrs. Sip gets to revel in while away with the ladies, although we were only allowed to go so far before us guys were asked to cough up cash for further entry. Still, we managed to score a few free drink tickets, so that was a bonus. We largely used them on vodka sodas and procured one of the empty cabana areas to take in the scene.

XS Nightclub.png

The next morning, we were off to Downtown Las Vegas for a bar and craft beer crawl. Our first stop was Hop Nuts Brewing, where I started slowly with pints of their Belgian Wit and Snickerdoodle Brown. As we drank, we grabbed a two-for-one drinks Groupon for the nearby Velveteen Rabbit, a bar with very cool cocktails. I used my selections on the Love Potion No. 9 (lime peel-infused mezcal, house fig and pepper liqueur, grapefruit and mole bitters) and the Velvet Waltz (chai-infused dark rum, sherry, averna, vanilla and burnt sugar).

From there, we popped into Tenaya Creek Brewing, where they had a unique “spin the wheel, drink the beer” option. My spin resulted in a pint of their Pilsner GABF Gold, which I followed with an Imperial Stout. We then ventured to the Fremont Street Experience, beginning with Banger Brewing. While scarfing down some Korean Pork Fries, I tried pints of their Perfect 10 Pale Ale and Jalapeno Heffe with Pineapple.

Fremont Experience.jpg

Chicago Brewing at the 4 Queens was up next on the crawl, where they had a 8 beers for $8 flight deal. Our last stop of the tour was Triple 7 Brewery, inside the Main Street Station hotel and casino. Their late night happy hour included $2 beers and food deals. Although, by this point, I didn’t need any more to quench my thirst, I ordered their Brewmaster’s IPA and Bad Guys Wear Black Imperial Stout.

We’ll temporarily wrap things up there at the halfway point of our vacation. Come back tomorrow for the rest of our journey, including a few rare non-beverage-related experiences!

November 28 – The Talking Monkey

A Glimpse Inside

Last week, we began looking at one of the most underrated elements to visual storytelling: narration. It’s amazing how essential the narration of a movie or TV show can be, sometimes making or breaking a project. This week, we move to the big screen. Let’s get things rolling!

#5: Sin City

As if coming from the pages of a comic book, viewers are taken on a journey through the voice of each focal character, learning their desires, motives, issues, fears, and discoveries. Narration comes from a variety of sources, including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen, each captivating the audience with their character’s story. Film noir is no stranger to the narrator storytelling device, but Sin City brought the style back to the mainstream.

sincity

#4: A Clockwork Orange

The ultra-violent Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell) is a drug-fueled sociopath who won’t hesitate in committing all kinds of horrible acts on innocent victims. As a result, many of Alex’s thoughts are quite disturbing and the way they are delivered by McDowell, in Alex’s teenage Cockney slang, will really have your skin crawling. Despite all efforts to reform Alex, the teen eventually returns to his old habits and more suffering is in the cards.

#3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s one thing to narrate a movie and it’s a whole other ball of yarn when you’re delivering the words of Dr. Seuss! I wonder how many retakes were needed to perfectly deliver some of the Seussian language? Regardless, Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, nailed it, retelling the tale of The Grinch, who can’t stand the Whos down in Whoville, especially as the Christmas holiday approaches. While critics were less enthusiastic about the film, the Sip Advisor has always enjoyed it.

the grinch decorating

#2: Fight Club

The haunting narrations of this film will leave viewers chilled to the bone, as the protagonist (played by Edward Norton) turns his insomnia into attending support groups and later, starting a terrorist organization, bred out of a fighting club. While we never get the main character’s name, we certainly get all the thoughts that make him tick and lead to his mental breakdown… the problem is, he realizes too late exactly what he’s started and can’t stop.

#1: A Christmas Story

In a style that would go on to be the inspiration for The Wonder Years, we learn about the trials and tribulations little Ralphie goes through as he asks for a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle” for Christmas. This includes convincing his teacher, parents, and even the big guy himself, Santa, that the gun isn’t as dangerous as many fear. As if that’s not enough, Ralphie has to deal with schoolyard bullies, swearing in front of his parents, and ruined Christmas dinner.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Talking Monkey

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Banana Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Milk
  • Garnish with a Banana Slice

Of course, there’s always the king of the narration, Morgan Freeman, with credits in the role including Shawshank Redemption, War of the Worlds, March of the Penguins, and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. If a Hall of Fame, dedicated to the art, were to ever be built, Freeman would be its inaugural inductee!

April 29 – Sin City

Sin-sational

Over the Easter weekend, Mrs. Sip and I visited one of our favourite places in the world, Las Vegas. Along with many of our usual haunts (not one, but two trips to the Hyde Lounge!), here are a few new places we tried on our recent long weekend extravaganza, with wonderful cocktail options at almost every turn.

Max Brenner’s

This place specializes in chocolate, mixing it into every recipe on the menu (food, drink, dessert). Mrs. Sip and I went during its bar happy hour, sampling three of their dessert cocktails ($6 down from their normal $12), while also sharing some appies – waffle fries with chili-chocolate powder… um, yes please! Mrs. Sip enjoyed the classic chocolate martinii (garnished with a huge chocolate dipped strawberry) while my favourite drink was the wonderfully delicious Satisfaction Guaranteed, made with peanut and caramel liqueurs. When I think of a drink that is 5 sips out of 5, this is it!

max-brenner-satisfaction-guaranteed

Wynn Buffet

We like to get to at least one buffet on each trip to Las Vegas and over time, we’ve been able to try nearly every hotel’s offering on the strip. On this excursion, I gorged myself on a selection of Asian delicacies, from sushi to noodles and vegetables and followed that up with a plate of crab legs. Dessert was great too, with a make your own gelato sundae bar. Althoght a bit more pricey than your regular buffet ($38 for dinner), the Wynn Buffet is well worth the price and everything you would expect from the 5 star hotel and casino!

Parasol Down

While I can’t fully recommend the little shows that run every half an hour on the Lake of Dreams (two balls birthing a baby ball???) the place does provide a lovely setting for an evening cocktail, with it’s lake and forest atmosphere. Here, I tried the Sinatra Smash, made with Crème de Cassis, whiskey, sweet and sour mix, vanilla syrup, and blackberries.

Guns & Ammo Garage

It has long been on my bucket list to shoot a gun. Not at anything in particular (might I suggest the birds infesting my patio), but just to merely shoot a gun. When the opportunity arose to go to one of the many gun ranges in Las Vegas, I was happy to tag along. There, I shot a M9 and an Uzi (relatively well) and gained a whole new respect for the fine folks that have to carry a piece as part of their daily living.

guns-and-ammo-garage

Rock & Rita’s

A little off the main strip, but worth the trip, this restaurant features a southern barbecue menu, complete with massive drinks you can get in a souvenir toilet glass. I tried the 2000 Flushes recipe, while splitting an appie platter. This is a fun place for adults and kids alike, as while flair bartenders did their thing just outside the joint, one of the greatest balloon artists I’ve ever seen visited each table, making amazing creations for the little ones.

Go Pool Cabana

Mrs. Sip and I have done the hotel pool thing a few times before, but when Mama Sip (also in Vegas at the time) wanted to reserve one of the poolside cabanas for the day, it brought a whole new meaning to swim luxury. Myself and Papa Sip were able to watch a hockey game, while the ladies soaked in the sun. We also had around the clock service, which resulted in me ordering the Alligator Bite drink, made with a host of liquors and pineapple juice.

Flamingo-cabana

The ladies and me at the cabana!

Carlos & Charlie’s

This wild restaurant inside the Flamingo was just being built the last time we were in Vegas and we stopped here for lunch one day before hitting the pool. While splitting a scrumptious quesadilla stuffed with the works, I enjoyed a Lazarillo cocktail, made with tequila, cranberry juice, and lime. It was basically a Mexican Cosmo, but it really hit the spot as a good starter drink to another wild day.

New Cocktails

As previously mentioned, we enjoyed the Bellagio fountains at the Hyde Lounge twice on this trip and while there sampled a number of fantastic concoctions. Mrs. Sip finally gave the nitrogen drink, Bees Knees, a go, while I ordered a host of luxury cocktails, including the sweet and spicy Burning Mango, bell pepper-infused Love Unit, and subtle yet delicious Cucumber Watermelon Margarita.

Drink #119: Sin City

Sin City Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Vodka (I used Absolut Raspberri)
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Club Soda
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry and Cinnamon Stick

We will be back to Sin City again soon. It doesn’t take long before that itch returns and we’re booking our flights and hotel, salivating over the copious options available and prepping for a weekend filled with booze, sun, food, lack of sleep and hard partying!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was your typical Vodka-Cran-Soda. I was hoping the addition of the Cinnamon Stick would change things up – even using it as a straw for a couple sips – but unfortunately, any difference was so subtle that the flavour wasn’t modified at all.

April 2 – Lady Luck

Sex, Lies and Video Poker

I feel as if Lady Luck has always smiled down upon me. I can remember countless times that I’ve found money (and we’re not talking about nickels and dimes… the real shizzle) out and about: $5 outside a pub (after my drink had been bought for me, as well), or $20 as I waited in line to buy a wrestling action figure as a kid. You get the picture.

Lady Luck

This brings me to my greatest night out gambling in Las Vegas. The action may seem tame and the winnings mild to many, but it was a wonderful rush for me.

We were in Sin City to celebrate Broski Sip’s 21st birthday. The trip had gone very well to that point, but Mrs. Sip had now departed the group since she had to get back home early for school stuff (I had so far failed to bring her up to my Fonzie-like cool status… which is probably why she earns so much more than me now). We grabbed some drinks and hit the Treasure Island casino floor to try our luck.

Growing up, I played a lot of video poker on a handheld device I was given one Christmas. I decided to try my hand at that, too intimidated to play Texas Hold’em, Blackjack or anything else with live people.

Might have had a chance taking some money from this friendly fella!

Might have had a chance taking some money from this friendly fella!

Putting in a whopping $5, I figured I’d play until I was wiped of my massive funds and then concentrate on something I do best: drinking!

Early on I fluctuated back and forth, never making any serious gains, but I wasn’t losing much either. Then I started hitting some big hands. Two four-of-a-kind draws materialized in the span of about 10 hands and before I knew it, I was up $40. Not bad for video poker and starting small. The winning continued and I was having a ball. Surely casino officials would soon be approaching me for enrollment in the High Rollers Club now that I’d surpassed $50 in winnings!

What I expected to last about 10 minutes (if I was lucky) was now entering a second hour of play. I decided to set a drop out limit and when I finally came back down to about $50, I cashed out and proudly coddled the strip of paper that announced my earnings. It would have been nice to be back in the old days of casinos and actually have a massive bucket of coins to embrace, but then video poker may not have existed (and Back to the Future tells us that I would not have been born, in that case).

At least I knew when to stop!

At least I knew when to stop!

In need of a beverage top-up and not wanting to waste my precious windfall on grossly expensive casino cocktails, I made the trip back to my room, where we had a couple bottles of booze we needed to get through. En route, Lady Luck said, “Here’s one more little surprise… you’ve earned it!” and there, on the carpet in the hall was a crisp $20 bill, just lying there waiting for me. I looked around, and with the entire corridor empty, made the conclusion that nobody else deserved to claim this cash any more than me, so I snagged it and proclaimed, “This is the greatest night of my life!”

Drink #92: Lady Luck

Lady Luck Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Blue Curacao
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Garnish with Orange Twist and Maraschino Cherry

This cocktail is sure to give you all the blessings you need to match my $50 record winnings. May Lady Luck look over you and all your loved ones as you join me in the High Roller Executive Club!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
My favourite detail about this cocktail is probably the garnish, with the Maraschino Cherry wrapped up by the Orange Twist. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the taste of the cocktail and it was a little thick thanks to the Orange Juice.