Sip Trips #178: Aloha Hawaii

Last week, the Sip Family enjoyed some rest and relaxation in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii. We didn’t just laze poolside or at the beach, though. Here’s what we got up to while on the island:

Upon arriving at our hotel late last Sunday, I ran across the street to pick up a six-pack of Waikiki Hana Hou Hefe. Then I poured a couple back on our balcony, enjoying the late night humidity and wondering what time Toddler Sip would have us up in the morning, affected by the three-hour time change, including the daylight savings time adjustment from that morning. The answer: six-freaking-a.m. We all managed to survive, though, and it could have been worse.

During Toddler Sip’s first nap of the vacation, I spent my free time at Yard House for their excellent happy hour, which includes $2 off draft beers and half price appies, among other deals. My brews for this occasion were the Koholo Red Sand and Kona Koko Brown. Both were paired with a serving of Korean Boneless Wings, which were tremendous. The only thing that sucks whenever I’m at a place that has a large tap list (Yard House, Craft Beer Market, etc.) and I finally decide and order something, they’re always out of my first choice and I have to scramble to make a second pick. Also, drinking on your own when the urge to pee hits can cause some tough decisions.

cute cats

That evening, we walked down to Waikiki Brewing, where I satisfied my thirst for a spicy beer with their Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale. I really liked this brew, as it featured more spice and flavour than some similar beers I’ve tried. For eats, we ordered their Prime Sliders and Giant Pretzel, which was impressively big. The meal was very good and set us up for the long walk to the nearest Walmart for some grocery shopping.

The next day, we returned to Yard House for happy hour again, this time with Mrs. Sip and a napping Toddler Sip tagging along. On this visit, I drank the Aloha Waimanalo Farmhouse Ale, completing a trifecta of good beers served up at the restaurant. Our appies were the Fried Chicken Tenders and Chicken Nachos, which we managed to complete right before Toddler Sip woke up and threw her one and only massive tantrum of the vacay. That’s the last time Mrs. Sip offers her water after a nap!

Finally, it was time to do some booze shopping for our room after some serious price comparison work throughout the area. On the cheap, I picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to use with Cherry Coke and later Tonic Water as mixers. Spiced Rum has become my favourite go-to elixir when travelling, thanks to its versatility with a number of drinks, from sodas to hot chocolate.

captain morgan

Day three happy hour was spent at The Street Food Hall within the International Market Place. I began at Beer & Be Merry, capitalizing on their $2 Kirin all day deal with a pair of servings. Before leaving the place, I also popped over to The Myna Bird Tiki Bar for a cocktail, ordering the El Diablo (mezcal, creme de cassis, lime, ginger, soda).

With Toddler and Mrs. Sip up from their naps, we ventured over to the O Bar, where my beverage of choice was the Karai Thai (tequila, pineapple, guava, Thai chili pepper syrup, lime). While the drink was very refreshing, it was not as spicy as I would have liked. We also tried to feed Toddler Sip dinner here, but she was too interested in the fish tanks and live music.

The next day, we returned to The Street Food Hall as a family to share some pepperoni pizza from Nana Lu Pizzeria. I also went back to the Beer & Be Merry bar for a pint of Aloha Red Zeppelin, which had caught my eye the previous day. When you bought a craft beer from this bar, the serving size was bigger than the $2 Kirins, while the price was cheaper than other locations, even while not a special deal.

cheap beer

Up next, was a visit to Maui Brewing, where I put together a flight of beer, including Pineapple Mana Wheat, Anada Hemp Brown Ale, Coconut Hiwa Porter, Imperial Dolce Porter (w/ Caramel and Salt). Once again, a place was out of my top choice beer, in this case, the Fully Pitted Habanero Milkshake IPA. For food, we shared a Pork Belly Bao, which we both liked. To wrap the stay, I ordered the Street Fighter (tequila, watermelon, sour mix, Hawaiian chili salt rim) cocktail, which packed the heat I was looking for.

Following this stop, we walked a little further to the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant. Sitting in their lounge area for happy hour, I had the Kona Winds (tequila, mezcal, hibiscus, mole bitters) cocktail. To restock my beers, I grabbed a six-pack of Kona Wailua Wheat from a nearby store, before we returned to our room for our evening tradition of Netflix and falling asleep with Toddler Sip. No more Netflix and chill for us!

On Friday, we enjoyed happy hour at our hotel’s Splash Bar (at the Sheraton PK), ordering a round of Kalua Pork Nachos, as well as their Homemade Potato Chips to scoop up all the nacho toppings. I finally ordered a Mai Tai for the occasion, as well as a pint of Kona Castaway IPA. With Toddler Sip napping, we were able to pull out the Sushi Go cards and play a few rounds following the meal.

mai tai.jpg

For dinner, we ate at The Cheesecake Factory, sharing some Roadside Sliders and a slice of the spectacular Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. To quench my thirst, I had the Kona Gold Cliff IPA, which complimented the food nicely.

Saturday saw us do another long walk to the Ala Moana Center mall, then over to Dave & Busters for dinner and some arcade games. Our server here was nice enough, but did not provide the usual service we get when at the chain (didn’t explain how things work with the games, etc. and never asked if we wanted dessert, just brought the bill). Another complaint from me is that their drink menu doesn’t include prices… Cheesecake Factory does the same and I’ve decided I will no longer enjoy a beverage at places that hide the cost. What we did enjoy was our food, including Pretzel Dogs, Philly Cheesesteak Sliders and Goldfingers. It was also neat to see Toddler Sip play some of the games, as her last visit to D&Bs occurred when she was only four months old.

Sadly, all great vacations must come to an end. After a morning swim, I took care of my liquor buying business by grabbing bottles of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and Kula Toasted Coconut Rum. I also picked up a couple massive cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the day because I just can’t help myself when it comes to PBR!

choose fun.jpg

Our final meal of the trip was enjoyed at Duke’s Waikiki, where we enjoyed an epic feast. My fish entrée was prepared in a mouthwatering Spicy Gochujang-Ginger Roasted sauce, while I sipped away at a Hawaiian Time (strawberry basil lemonade with Absolut Mandarin and Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu) cocktail. For dessert, we shared the Specialty Hula Pie (Oreo crust, peanut butter cup ice cream), which was truly decadent and we all overate prior to our redeye flight home.

We hope to return to Hawaii soon and wish our stay there was longer than a week. For now, it’s back to cold weather, but at least the Christmas season is ramping up and that will provide much festive joy!

Sip Trips #131: Strip Show (Part 2)

Part two of our travels to Las Vegas began with the holiest of drinking days: St. Patrick’s Day! I’ve actually celebrated the holiday in Dublin, Ireland, but being in Las Vegas was sure to be unique in its own way. We began the day with cracking open a few Guinness Nitro IPAs from the six-pack I bought at Walmart as we were out the day before. The beers were an interesting blend of a smooth and non-carbonated, yet hoppy ale.

Our first stop of the day was Ketchup Premium Burger Bar, to use the Groupon we had purchased prior to our trip. Our $10 got us $20 worth of food and drinks. With beverages already in hand (and more chilling in Baby Sip’s stroller!), we elected to go with a few food items, such as their Bacon Cheese Fries, Pretzel Bites and Crunch Dog. I was particularly fond of the fries, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed the hotdog.

As we travelled around the Miracle Mile Shops, we passed Sin City Brewing, which was serving up green beers to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Since this was something Mrs. Sip and I wanted to check off our list for the day, I grabbed us a pair of 24oz German Weisse Beers, which was a great way to enjoy the odd tradition.

Green Beer

After some more exploring, we had a late dinner Dick’s Last Resort in the Excalibur. This restaurant boasts servers that will treat you with contempt, as well as an eclectic food menu. Using a dining credit we had for staying at the resort, we ordered their Wicked Gator alligator bites, BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos and Crabby Balls with fries. To drink, I selected the Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale. The alligator bites were particularly awesome and it’s no wonder the chain is known for this menu item.

The next day, we snagged last-minute tickets (through StubHub) to the Vegas Golden Knights game versus the Calgary Flames. We had always hoped to attend this contest, but when we first saw tickets for only $45 each, we hadn’t taken Baby Sip to a hockey game yet and weren’t sure how she’d handle the experience. Once we knew she’d be okay, prices to Golden Knights games had drastically risen, thanks to the team’s success. So we bided our time and when seats popped up for only $40 an hour before puck drop, we jumped. The 4-0 Vegas win, hat trick by William Karlsson and shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury made for one hell of a contest. All NHL teams should study the Golden Knights in-game experience, which is something I will never forget.

While we didn’t indulge in any drinks at the game, as we were returning to our hotel, we passed by the Pour 24 bar in New York New York, with Mrs. Sip spotting an ad for their own Golden Knights Game-Day Beer. This ended up being a delicious 16oz serving from Hop Nuts Brewing, which I believe was their The Golden Knight Belgian Golden Strong Ale, but I could be mistaken.

Golden Knights Bandwagon

As we ventured out into the night again, we had to pick up some more formula for Baby Sip. After all, she’s allowed to enjoy some beverages just like mommy and daddy. As we shopped, I picked up another walking beer, this time a pint of Oskar Blues Brewing Dale’s Pale Ale. At the checkout, Mrs. Sip spotted a bottle of Kona Longboard Lager for only 99 cents, so we added that to our basket, as well.

We enjoyed these beverages en route to PBR Rock Bar. No Vegas vacation is complete for me and Mrs. Sip without a stop here. Sadly, the Doritos Crusted Mac N Cheese that I have raved about in past Sip Trips is no longer on the menu, replaced by Bacon Mac & Cheese Balls, which are equally delicious. Our other favourite menu item, the Bucking Bull Fries have also been adapted, now including a fried egg. This may be the best serving I have had of these fries, thus far. To drink, I cashed in a 2-for-1 offer Mrs. Sip had picked up earlier to receive a couple servings of Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA. The large serving was very tasty and lasted for a while.

After having such a good meal last time we were in town, we next made our way to The Cheesecake Factory for some dessert. Mrs. Sip ordered the Fresh Basil, Tomato and Cheese Flatbread for a small bite, while we agreed we had to try the Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. This delicious and decadent treat features caramel, peanut butter, Butterfinger bits and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Cheesecake Love

For a nightcap on the evening, we popped into the Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan, home to a drink I just had to try after hearing about it. The Verbena Cocktail is a hidden menu item that just has to be tried by anyone who fancies interesting drinks. It is by far the most interesting beverage experience I’ve ever had, as my entire mouth was first number by chewing on the Sichuan flower. The drink then changes in taste and flavours as your taste buds are incredibly sensitive and feel like they’re actually growing back. I will be back to try it again, despite the high price when converted into Canadian dollars.

Sadly, the time to return home had finally come, but we had time for one more great experience at Lilia’s Mexican Cuisine & Cantina in Bellingham, Washington. My order of Tacos Al Pastor was wonderful. Just as fantastic was my beer selection of Iron Horse Quilter’s Irish Death Dark Smooth Ale, which was on special for just $4.

In closing, my main goal with this vacation was to disprove an article we read prior to our trip where a mother proclaimed that people should not travel to Las Vegas with babies. Sure, the trip could have been different, perhaps even easier, but I wouldn’t trade in the time we shared together for anything.

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!