Sip Trips #216: Bellingham Bonanza

November had a fair pace to it, including a mid-month getaway, along with other activities as we work towards the most wonderful time of the year. Let’s see what the Sip Family got up to throughout November:

The month began as many do, watching the Vancouver Canucks lose. While at the game, which started out well, only to end in misery, a friend and I took turns buying rounds. $20 for a tall craft beer at Rogers Arena is ridiculous and hard to accept. I had to do a double take each time the total came up on the payment machine. By comparison, we were able to buy late night happy hour pitchers at Browns Socialhouse following the game for the same price.

Beeramid

The highlight of November was our stay in Bellingham, Washington, over the Remembrance Day long weekend. Each night, our Oxford Suites hotel, offered a manager’s reception, with two drink tickets per guest. This allowed for a couple beers or wines to be enjoyed each day of our stay, so long as the kids allowed it. Mrs. Sip and I also had dinner at the hotel one night, where I really liked my Oxford Burger with Pasta Salad.

For dinner after arriving, we walked over to Buffalo Wild Wings at Bellis Fair Mall. This was my first time at the restaurant and I enjoyed my pair of Bird Dawgs (Honey BBQ and Buffalo), which is a chicken variation of hotdogs. Thanks to Mrs. Sip asking if I could mix and match flavour options, I was able to try two different versions of the meal, which I paired with a Breckenridge Christmas Ale. I hope to go back soon to try other menu items.

After visiting the fascinating Spark Museum, we dropped into Stemma Brewing. While there, I drank servings of the saBro That’s Fresh Hazy Fresh Hop IPA and Conditus Lager. I don’t normally go with lagers, but was curious about its blend of lemon and cayenne. I also got to try Mrs. Sip’s Skybright Winter Ale. To eat, we ordered some Birria Tacos from the food truck outside.

Birria Tacos

Next up, was returning to Bellis Fair Mall, to allow the kids to burn some energy at the Playdate playground. The best part of this place is that while the kids get to have their fun, parents and guardians are able to order beer and wine, along with various food offerings. Over two stays at Playdate, I was able to drink pints of Terramar Amber On, Breakside IPA and Stemma Hazy IPA. I would have taken the kids here if they only sold Budweiser, so for them to exclusively offer craft beers is a bonus. A playdate cafe, where adults can playdate too!

The next day, we started by perusing the Bellingham Farmer’s Market. This was followed by lunch at Boundary Bay Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I shared the B.L.A.T. + Turkey with Tim’s Potato Chips. To drink, I ordered the Cosmic Visions Cold IPA. We’ve always enjoyed our times at Boundary Bay and this was no exception.

After lunch, Ma and Pa Sip took the Sipplings to a playground, while allowing Mrs. Sip and I a chance to relax at Stones Throw Brewing. It was a brief stay, but very much enjoyed, as I tried the Happy Valley Hazy IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with a hot cup of Mulled Wine. We really enjoyed our outdoor seats around a roaring fire.

Mulled Wine

Our last brewery stop of the day was at Otherlands Brewing. Here, I went with the Some Soft Returning Amber Kellerbier, while Mrs. Sip tried the Send in the Clouds Hefeweizen. We were tempted to try some the vegetarian dishes offered by the eatery, but had dinner upcoming.

For that meal, we visited Mi Mexico. To drink, I ordered the Bartender’s Special (Tequila, Triple Sec, Margarita Mix, topped with Cranberry Juice and Grand Marnier), which was very tasty. My feast consisted of the Burrito Al Pastor, which was enough for two people and quite good.

The next day, Mrs. Sip left for her girl’s trip to Las Vegas, while the remaining Sip Family members travelled to Blaine to check out Beach Cat Brewing. I had a pint of the Munchkin Red Ale, while the Sipplings played with the many games at the brewery. For dinner, Pa Sip and I picked up food from Boomer’s Drive-In. I had the delicious Bacon Swiss Burger with Curly Fries.

Curly Fries

One more food note for the trip, I finally tried a McDonald’s McRib, as the sandwich is celebrating a farewell tour in the U.S. The results were I wish I’d ordered my usual Mickey D’s favourites instead, but I can cross it off the food bucket list. I also brought home bottles of Tito’s Vodka and Dough Ball Cookie Dough Whiskey, along with a case of Mountain Dew Fruit Quake fruit cake-flavoured soda.

After returning from the vacation, Girl Sip and I had a daddy-daughter dinner at Boston Pizza. Monday nights are a perfect time to visit the chain, as draft beer is $1.50 off and individual pizzas are only $9.99 (about $5 off). I had a pint of Belgian Moon, along with a Tropical Chicken Pizza. While I don’t typically order dessert at restaurants, I had a free dessert for my birthday, through the BP app, so I went with the Loaded Brownie S’mores, off the Fall Menu. The dish was delicious, with the combo of hot brownie bites, toasted marshmallows and Graham Crackers being perfectly blended.

I hate smores - meme

We wrapped the month with a performance of Disney on Ice, an earlier birthday gift for Girl Sip. Prior to the show, we ate at the White Spot R+D Kitchen, where I had to get my usual Legendary Deluxe Burger (with Caesar Salad), despite some experimental options piquing my interest. I paired the burger I was craving with a serving of Off the Rail Big Red Ale, which completed a very good spread.

December is now here and we’ve already attended a few Christmas festivities. The month will only get crazier as we progress through it, so my liver has been warned of the impending work schedule!

Sip Trips #214: Disney Days

The highlight of September, aside from our latest VCBW Beer Box arriving, was our long-awaited vacation to Disneyland. Seriously, we began planning this trip in late 2019, with the pandemic wiping out the journey for two straight years. Let’s see how it all finally went down:

To get to Southern California, we boarded a Princess Cruises ship from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Mrs. Sip finally reached Elite status on this voyage; therefore, she was given a complimentary mini bar set-up, among other perks. Only problem, she was given two gin and six blended whiskey bottles. Now, I understand this is a freebie, but a little more variety would have been preferred. We did call to make some changes, but availability was so limited, we were forced to go with six gin and two whiskey bottles. Another liquor issue we had was Ma and Pa Sip gifted me a bottle of Crown Royal for the cruise, but it was also unavailable. Not loving the substitution options, I elected to take a credit on the bottle, which allowed me to spend that on cocktails around the ship. I am now an Elite member as well, so hopefully our next cruise provides a better mini bar set-up.

Cruise

As for that ship credit, I quickly went to work on it, ordering a Mayan Mule at the Elite Lounge. We also bought a bottle of Pinot Grigio for dinner, which we spread over three of our four meals. My night cap that evening was the Captain’s Bounty (Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, Malibu Coconut Rum, Bacardi Limon Rum, Kraken Rum, sweet and sour, pineapple juice, Coca-Cola), which was my favourite cocktail of the cruise.

Our one port stop was in Victoria, where we met some family members for breakfast at the Breakwater Bistro. Before taking Boy Sip on a walk along Ogden Point, I quickly enjoyed a Hazy IPA and Breakfast Sandwich.

Our next two days at sea were spent celebrating my and Girl Sip’s birthdays. Drinks enjoyed over the festivities included: Alaska White and Amber Ales, Ultimate Cooler, Mango Margarita with added chili flakes, Long Island Iced Tea, Lynchburg Lemonade, and Strawberry Fields (Mezcal, Strawberry Puree, Ginger, Lime).

cruise work

Some thoughts to sum up the cruise, I still really miss the Explorer’s Lounge and Skywalker’s Lounge, which are both missing from these newer ships. Also, I feel there should be some sort of arcade available on the ship for kids and adults alike. Amongst some other good (not great) food eaten, my favourite meal was the quick serve Bahn Mi Sandwich from the International Café. I felt the food was better in Disneyland than on the cruise.

Speaking of Disneyland, we had finally arrived, in the middle of a SoCo heatwave and massive crowds in the park. The best way to handle it all was frequent visits to beer vendors. Our first servings of the stay were the Battlesnakes Pilsner for me and delicious Golden Road Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip. I later also added the Karl Strauss Boat Shoes Hazy IPA.

Each day, we retreated to either our or Ma and Pa Sip’s hotel for a break from the heat and recharge. On one of these occasions, I was tasked with getting Girl Sip a Quesadilla at Calaca Mamas. When asked to wait for my order at the bar, I took advantage of the situation and had a pint of the restaurant’s Mexican Lager.

Disneyland Fun

One of the best lunches of our trip was at the Pym Test Kitchen, where all food comes in enormous servings. Our meal included the Not so Little Chicken Sandwich and massive Quantum Pretzel, finished with the decadent Choco Smash Candy Bar. To drink, Mrs. Sip put in mobile orders at the Pym Tasting Lab. Our beverages were The Regulator (Tequila, Golden Road Mango Cart Wheat Ale, Mango and Habanero Syrups, Mango flavor-filled Boba) and Honey Buzz (Gin, Lemon Juice, Honey Syrup, Honey Straw). As we left the kids with Ma and Pa Sip for a Disneyland date night, we also enjoyed a pair of fantastic BarrelHouse Strawberry Daze Blonde Ales from the bar.

Continuing with our kid-free evening, we landed a spot at the Carthay Circle Lounge. Here, we sat back and enjoyed fancy cocktails, such as a Dill Gin & Tonic (Gin, Tonic, Dill Pickle Brine, Dill, Lemon Peel) for me and Tequila Daisy (Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, Crème Yvette Violet Liqueur, Lime Juice, Agave Nectar, Egg Whites) for Mrs. Sip. We also split an order of Bao Buns of Soy-Ginger Braised Pork Belly with Cucumber Kimchi, which were incredibly tasty.

We then moved to the Magic Kingdom park and managed to get into Oga’s Cantina, the only place you can get alcoholic beverages in this part of the resort. We were allowed to stay for a maximum of 45 minutes and two drinks, so we made quick work ordering the Tarkenian Night Flower (Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, Ginger, Huckleberry), The Outer Rim (Tequila, Pomegranate Liqueur, Lime Juice, Cane Sugar, Exotic Fruit Purée, Black Salt rim), Jet Juice (Bourbon, Piment d’Espelette, Pomegranate Liqueur, White Grape Juice, Lemon Juice) and Fondor Fizz (Chardonnay, Vodka, White Tea, Lemongrass, Pea Flower Citrus). The bar is neat, but it does make me wonder why liquor can’t be purchased at other parts of the park.

Star Wars Disneyland

In the middle of our California stay, we decided to head out to Legoland for the very first time. Our day here was a stark contrast to Disneyland crowd-wise, as we were able to walk onto almost every ride and sometimes do back-to-back runs of an attraction. We had lunch at the Knights’ Smokehouse BBQ, sharing the Taste of Texas Platter (Pulled Pork, Brisket and Hot Link) with Fries, Mac & Cheese and Jalapeno Cornbread as side dishes. To drink, we got servings of Societe The Harlot Blonde Ale and Stone Hazy IPA. The only downside of our Legoland day was the park was only open from 10am-5pm and we would have loved to have had more time to explore and play.

Back to Disneyland for a day, we cooled off with another visit to the Sonoma Terrace beer garden, where I enjoyed glasses of the Unsung Carina Hazy Double IPA and Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale.

With another day off on the schedule, we took the kids to Dave & Busters. Over our lunch of the Chicken Avocado Club and Pretzel Dogs, Mrs. Sip had a Strawberry Watermelon Margarita, while I sipped on a Jameson and Ginger Ale. Then, we played a host of arcade games, some of which were worth their cost and others not so much.

Dave & Busters

Following an afternoon of swimming, we returned to our hotel, which had a Denny’s next door. We decided to have dinner there, where I paired a Shock Top Belgian White with a yummy Nashville Hot Chicken Melt with Seasoned Fries.

For our final day at Disneyland, we had lunch at the Pacific Wharf area. I ordered from the Lucky Fortune Cookery, having the Teriyaki Chicken with a Four Sons Lucky Dragon IPA (exclusive to the Cookery). We also grabbed beers again at the Pym Tasting Lab, this time having the SLO Brew Cali Squeeze Blood Orange Hefeweizen, suggested by a friend who visited Disneyland in the summer.

My final thoughts on this Disneyland trip were that the resort has become shockingly unreliable, with rides being down and constantly having issues. The new Genie+ system ($20 per day, per person) has its perks, such as being able to get passes to rides from anywhere around the resort, but I refuse to pay extra for a ride on top of the exorbitant entry price. We used to be the type of people that would buy a Disneyland year pass and make the trek two to three times a year. That’s not feasible anymore with park ticket, food and drink and hotel prices all going up dramatically. I can’t see us coming back for at least a couple years and, more likely, a few years.

Disneyland Wishes

As we waited at LAX to fly home, we had a meal at the Point the Way Café by Golden Road Brewing. My Ride On Tropical IPA worked really well with the Grilled Chicken Nachos Mrs. Sip and I shared. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and we were back home with two tuckered out Sipplings.

October is already shaping up to be busy, albeit fun. This weekend we’re on the road again, taking advantage of the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, with a trip to the Okanagan. Halloween festivities will also provide ample opportunity for shenanigans!

Sip Trips #211: Tap Travels

June (or more accurately, Jun-uary) was a busy month, with a fair bit of travel on the schedule. We covered a lot of track, so let’s get right to it and see what the Sip Family got up to in the first month of summer:

We began June with a week-long all-inclusive vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There, we stayed at the Riu Jalisco resort, which impressed me from the start with a liquor dispenser in every room. I’ve never experienced this perk before, but apparently, that’s a standard feature of the Riu chain. It’s all the more appreciated to have rum, vodka, gin and tequila at the ready, when you have young kids and can’t always escape the room to hit a bar for your beverage.

Mexico

My one liquor purchase of the trip was a bottle of Azul Mango Chamoy Tequila, which I still haven’t had a chance to experiment with yet. I can see the booze going good in Margaritas, Palomas and other tequila-based beverages.

Our one day leaving the resort and going into the town of Puerto Vallarta, was highlighted by stops at two craft breweries. We started with Monzon Brewing, where I enjoyed a serving of their Paloma Doble IPA (with grapefruit and serrano peppers). They didn’t have the Coconut Lime DIPA I wanted to try, but I really enjoyed the beer I settled for. We also shared an order of the Birria Fries, which was a delicious dish, especially with all the different salsas and chipotle sauce you could add.

Next up, was Granero Brewing, which is associated with Los Muertos Brewing. I ended up having the same beer I had when we visited Los Muertos’ original location back in 2019, the Anillo de Fuego (Chili Ale).

Salsa

Upon returning home, Mrs. Sip and I received our second VCBW Beer Boxes. This offered another cool assortment of beers with one regular bottle, one 500ml bottle, two regular cans and 20 tall cans, curated from brewery’s around the province. The second box improves on the first one, which was quite good in its own right.

Out on a date night, Mrs. Sip and I began our evening with happy hour at The Hub. I had pours of the Russell Peach Apricot Hefeweizen and Papaya Milkshake IPA, while we also split a Blueberry Lemon Mojito. For food, I went with a pair of tacos, including the Beef Brisket and Spicy BBQ Chicken options.

Our main event of the evening was trying out the Neverland Peter Pan-inspired pop-up bar at the Vancouver Alpen Club. Tickets were $45 each, plus fees, and included a welcome drink, plus two cocktails. The 90-minute immersive experience was fun, with an amazingly decorated setting, games to play to “earn” your drinks and fine work from the actors. The drinks were just okay in my books, but they tried to do something different with each, using a fizzy stick for one and butterfly pea colouring for the other. We ended up helping another couple finish the fishbowl they ordered and this led to us all heading to karaoke at Georgie’s Local Kitchen & Bar.

Peter Pan

To end the month, we travelled up to Kelowna for a few days. Our first meal was at Boston Pizza, as we had to use our last two free kid’s meals before the June 30th expiry date. The deal of getting five kid’s meals for $5 is a fantastic offer and one we will do again next year, if the chain offers it. My meal consisted of items from the new summer menu, including the Carnitas Pizza (BBQ sauce, mozzarella cheese, BBQ pulled pork, pineapple, red onions, feta cheese), paired with a Spicy Blue Margarita (tequila, blue curacao, lime, mango, jalapeño). The pizza was fantastic… the drink, not so much.

The next day, we visited Off the Grid Winery, where Mrs. Sip did a tasting and bought a couple bottles, while the kids and I checked out the animals and other sights the place offers. It was a nice stop, with the perfect temperature and a relaxing vibe.

On our way back into town, we stopped at Copper Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I shared orders of the Darla’s Red Ale, Peaches N’ Cream Wheat Ale, Raspberry Lemonade Pils and Nut Brown Ale. The brewery offers guests the chance to play video games on their Classic NES and SNES systems, which were enjoyed by the Sipplings, even if they had no clue what was going on. We also played the Guess Who board game with Girl Sip, as Boy Sip enjoyed his afternoon nap.

NES

For dinner that night, we walked over to Bin 4 Burger Lounge. Hitting the tail end of their happy hour, I ordered a pint of Phillips Citrus Lager, along with a Blackberry Vanilla Lemonade (vodka, blackberry simple syrup, vanilla syrup, basil, lemon juice). Mrs. Sip had a tasty Pineapple Strawberry Mojito. To eat, I selected the Big Spenny Burger with Curry Aioli for my scrumptious fries. Other sauces we enjoyed, as each dish comes with one free cup, included Bacon Aioli and Truffle Aioli.

Our final Kelowna destination was Barn Owl Brewing, where I had the Passionfruit Paradise IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with a flight consisting of the Genesis Raspberry Wheat Ale, A Whittle Orange Witbier, Headturner Hazy IPA and Escape – The Pina Colada Sour. The brewery had a really neat upstairs area and visitors can bring food in from outside, particularly from the bakery next door. Prior to leaving, Mrs. Sip also ordered a Night Owl Porter Float, while the kids played shuffleboard.

As the calendar turned over from June to July, we were relocating from Kelowna to Penticton, to continue our Okanagan getaway. That portion of the vacation and much more will be documented in the next Sip Trips.

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 #206: Mexico Musings

February has come and gone and when you spend close to half the month on vacation, that can never be a bad thing. How did the Sip Family’s first international travel in over two years go? Let’s find out:

To begin the month, we finalized the purchase of our first ever new vehicle. After picking it up, we went for a late dinner at Montana’s in Langley. There, I took advantage of their $4.99 Rickard’s Red  special, pairing it with a Southern-Fried Chicken Sandwich. We also had a coupon for a free appy, using it on their Loaded Garlic and Cheese Pull-Apart Bread. The beer hit the spot, while all the food was tasty. This was my first time to Montana’s for some time and I hope we can return soon for more comfort food goodness.

Comfort Food

Next up, was our long-awaited family trip to Cancun, Mexico. We had booked this vacation all the way back in January 2021, thinking the world would be back to normal by February 2022. Well, it isn’t quite back to normal yet, but we weighed all the pros and cons and decided to still go ahead with the trip, despite pandemic concerns, having to take tests to return home, having to quarantine once we returned, and some of our fellow travel group deciding against travelling.

First, a couple quick notes about Vancouver International Airport and our flight to Mexico. Prior to our flight boarding, I noticed a Whistler Brewing Lodge was coming soon. I greatly look forward to this dining/drinking option at the airport and hope I get to enjoy it at some point. As for our flight, while we were saving our drinking for the all-inclusive resort, I was dismayed to hear flight attendants turn down drink orders and end drink service early because they didn’t have enough stock for the return trip. I mean, come on, people are starting their vacation and may want to get into the festive spirit or make their trip more relaxed. How could they not stock up properly for the round trip or why can’t they restock once in Mexico?

Upon arriving in Cancun, we boarded our private transport to the resort, with our drvier providing us with some of the most satisfying Coronas I’ve ever enjoyed. After a 1.5-hour journey, our long travel day was finally complete and we could begin relaxing and enjoying. Here are my notes about out resort, the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya:

All-Inclusive

Our bar set up was supposed to included two bottles of our choice, but we were thrilled to hear upon arrival that we would now get to select five bottles. In a bit of a panic, I quickly chose Stolichnaya Vodka, Havana Club 7 Rum, Jim Beam Bourbon, Bombay Sapphire Gin, and Don Julio Reposado Tequila. When looking into my selections, our bottles would have cost me close to $300 if purchased at a BC Liquor Store, so I was very satisfied with that. With free drinks across the resort, we planned to bring three of the bottles home and only opened two in the room.

Speaking of those drinks around the resort, my orders largely consisted of Margaritas, Palomas, Dos Equis Amber beers, Rum and Cokes, Gin & Tonics (using the delightful Tanqueray Rangpur whenever possible), and Jameson & Ginger Ale with lime juice. I also enjoyed the many “make your own” drink stations. There was ones for Mojitos, G&Ts, Bloody Marys and Mimosas.

As for food, it was mostly very good. I can’t say we had a single bad meal at any of the dinner restaurants and we enjoyed the various themes, including steakhouse, Thai, Japanese teppanyaki, family barbecue, Mexican, etc. We didn’t get a chance to hit them all, though, and particularly would have like to have tried their beach-set seafood and Spanish tapas options.

Resort Food

Okay, now for some negatives and areas where the resort can improve. I felt the resort was too big, comparing it to my opinions of rather being at Disneyland than Disney World, for manageability. Next, their computer system was atrocious with communication between different departments being almost non-existent. Add in some typical language barrier issues and there was a few problems we had to unfortunately work through, when we should have been relaxing without a care in the world. Lastly, I never got to try any of the resort craft beers, as they were only free in one part of the place, although they were on display everywhere. That said, I wasn’t thrilled with the varieties offered anyway.

My Top 5 experiences at the resort were:

  1. Playing with the Sipplings at the water slides
  2. Watching the kids dance at a couple of the parties
  3. Seeing Girl Sip perform live on stage for first time, through the Kid’s Club
  4. My night out with Mrs. Sip to watch the Chic Cabaret performance
  5. Our infinity pool getaways at the adult-only portion of the resort

We left the resort twice, once to see a friend’s mother in Puerto Venturas and a couple days later to Playa del Carmen to visit that same friend’s sister and her family. In Puerto Venturas, we had a late lunch at Café Ole International. There, I tried a Chamoy Michelada and scarfed down a delicious Baconnator Burger. The Chicken Strips for the Sipplings were also quite good, as I just had to try one. We also had a drink at the Beach Club & Hotel, where I had a Mai Tai.

Mexico

In Playa del Carmen, we ate at the Sonora Prime steakhouse, where I ordered the Skull Rabbit cocktail. For food, we shared a number of menu items, including the Calimari and Cheese Dip and Chips. For a main course, Mrs. Sip and I shared the Wellington Burger, which was injected with hot cheese. The burger was spectacular, but sadly, Girl Sip was dealing with a bout of heat/sun stroke and that put a damper on this outing, as we were concerned with her illness and recovery.

On our return trip home, at the Cancun Airport, we wanted to eat at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen Bar, but it inexplicably closed at 6. This, during a dinner rush with many weary travellers looking for a good meal before boarding their long flights home or to their own vacation destinations. We ended up getting some eats in the food court area, but I was disappointed with not getting to try Guy Fieri’s.

That wraps the shortest month of the year. In the end, I’m glad we took the risk and went on this vacation. It provided a chance to have some wonderful family time together and experience some new things. March will be fun, as we have a number of Canucks games, other events and we celebrate my and Mrs. Sip’s 20-year dating anniversary!

Sip Trips #203: November Nostalgia

Another month is in the books and with two trips to Whistler and the celebration of two friends turning 40, there was a fair bit going on. Here’s what the Sip Family got up to throughout November:

The month began with me and a friend meeting up for a Vancouver Canucks game. Our night started at Original Joe’s, where we took advantage of their Tuesday 49-cent Wings special. I enjoyed servings of their Teriyaki and Salt & Vinegar varieties, paired with a couple of their own Red Ales. I liked that the wings at Original Joe’s were quite meaty, which you sometimes don’t get, especially when the item is on special.

Wings

As for the game, the Canucks pushed the Anaheim Ducks to overtime, but eventually lost. Over the course of the contest, I enjoyed a large Parkside Dreamboat IPA upon arrival, followed by a Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and Coke picked up during each intermission.

Not content to head home just yet – and happy to let the Skytrain rush dissipate – my evening finished with a visit to Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. Here, I ordered a guest tap pint of Container Three Legged Mare English Brown Ale, which was very good.

Our first trip to Whistler of the month was a family expedition. Our adventure started with having a late lunch at Howe Sound Brewpub in Squamish. I paired my delicious Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich with a pint of Howe Sound’s Habanero Fudge Robust Porter. I would have welcomed a little more heat with this beer, but I understand not going overboard on the spice makes the brew easier for some to handle.

Hot Chicken

Once in Whistler, we had one meal each day in the village. First up, was the infamous Longhorn Saloon, where despite a DJ being on site and blasting loud music, Boy Sip managed to sleep through the visit. I ordered The Cowboy Brisket Wrap and a Deep Cove Hazy IPA, which provided a good meal. That said, I was disappointed by Longhorn’s beer and cocktail offerings and their prices are a little tough to swallow, seemingly inflated so people will buy a membership to the Gibbons network of restaurants there, allowing them discounts on food and drink purchases.

The next day, we enjoyed dinner at High Mountain Brewhouse. I began the feast with a tasty (and fragrant) Pomegranate Basil Smash cocktail. For food, I went with the Wild Sockeye Salmon Burger, which was very good. I had originally glossed right over the menu item, but a second look revealed a number of components that piqued my interest: spicy teriyaki glaze, tempura vegetables and wasabi mayo. I was very satisfied with the order, which went quite well with my 5 Rings IPA.

The following weekend was highlighted by a friend’s 40th birthday bash, which he planned more extravagantly than some weddings I’ve attended. Before we get to that, though, Mrs. Sip and I decided to stay overnight at Downtown Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront for the night. We began our stay with cocktails at the hotel’s Arc Restaurant. There, Mrs. Sip and I split a trio of cocktails, including the Rum & Winter Spice (winter spice-infused Bacardi 8, Grand Marnier, orange juice, lemon juice, simple syrup); Blackberry Mule (Grey Goose Vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, simple syrup, blackberries) and Rosemary Gimlet (Wayward/Waterfront Gin, Green Chartreuse, honey syrup, lime juice, sprig of rosemary).

Mini Bar

Those built a good base buzz for the events of the evening, which included ordering room service from Arc. For this dinner, I had a delicious Char-Grilled Angus Cheeseburger and Caesar Salad. Their fries were also very good, which Mrs. Sip had with her enormous Smoked Turkey Sandwich serving (like seriously, there was two full sandwiches part of this platter).

The birthday was held at the Croatian Cultural Centre, with about 160 guests in attendance. Along with an open bar, entertainment included dueling pianos, followed by karaoke. Mrs. Sip and I had a fantastic night, returning to our accommodation at 3am. Thank god for the Fairmont’s late checkout!

The month wrapped with another visit to Whistler. After settling into our Airbnb condo, we ventured to Joe Fortes for après hour. Mrs. Sip and I split the Joe’s Chilled Seafood Platter, along with an order of Truffle Parmesan Fries. The fries were scrumptious and consuming the platter (filled with oysters, mussels, clams, prawns, two types of tuna, and scallop ceviche) felt decadent. To drink, I had a pair of Coast Mountain Hope You’re Happy IPAs.

Seafood

As we paid the bill, our server suggested checking out The Raven Room cocktail bar. That advice did not disappoint, as we split a trio of libations, comprised of: the Paper Crane (gin, sake, Aperol, lemon juice, yuzu, sesame oil); Mom Wants the Pool Boy (sugar snap pea-infused tequila, cucumber liqueur, lime juice, agave syrup); and I Want S’more (graham cracker-infused bourbon, Frangelico, Crème de Cacao, espresso, salted chocolate). Of the three, I liked the Mom Wants the Pool Boy best, thanks to the cucumber liqueur.

Later that night, we met up with the rest of our group, including the birthday girl, at Tapley’s Pub. There, we shared a few pitchers of beer, but Mrs. Sip and I weren’t up to eating anything, following our indulgence at Joe Fortes earlier.

The next afternoon, we all finally reconvened at Caramba!, taking advantage of their happy hour. Mrs. Sip got the Jumbo Caesar, which came with two sliders and some other goodies mixed in, while I had two Strange Fellows Pale Ales.

Caesar

Up next, was El Furniture Warehouse across the way, for their Power Hour. This gives customers one hour to buy 8-ounce beers for $1.95. Over the hour, I downed six Dam Amber beers, while we also partook in a round of shots, with Mrs. Sip and I choosing to do Burt Reynolds (Spiced Rum and Butterscotch Schnapps) shooters. For eats, I went with the Fingers & Fries, which while tasty, was more fries than fingers. What can you expect, though, for the low price of $5.95? All menu items here are between $5.95-$7.95, thus making it a very popular place.

That was it for the month. December promises to be its usual insane sprint to the finish. The calendar is already filled with outings – both adult and family-friendly alike – with Mrs. Sip always finding space to shoehorn in another activity!

Sip Trips #201: September Celebrations

Well, September was a busy month, as it usually is, filled with numerous birthdays and other activities as the summer comes to a close and we try to eke out the last bits of outdoor fun. Let’s see what the Sip Family did to wrap up the season:

September began with a visit to the Great Canadian Brewhouse in Abbotsford, as we returned home from a day with the kids at Cultus Lake Adventure Park. We may have been pushing our luck after a really good but long day, as both young’uns were in no mood for us to enjoy a restaurant meal. We tried to make the best of it, but the restaurant was also out of a few of the Feature Menu items Mrs. Sip wanted to try and a beer I had hoped to have. Mrs. Sip did join their app/rewards club, which gave us access to a free order of Golden Garlic Fingers, which were very good. She also ordered the Triple Eh! Peppered Angus Steak Bites, along with a Same Team Soda, while I paired the Brewhouse Hoser Club with a Stanley Park Windstorm Pale Ale. Despite any of the issues, we returned to their Richmond location later in the month to try more of their menu.

Club Sandwich

The next week, we popped into Steel & Oak Brewing, since they had food and drink Mrs. Sip was interested in trying. While I enjoyed my Turned Out Spruce Tip Ale, Mrs. Sip finally got to try the Berliner Weisse flight with three different syrups (orange and saffron, ginger and turmeric, and spruce tip) she had been curious about for much of the summer. The Mr. Arancino food truck was also on site, so we grabbed a set of Risotto Balls from it, Arancini being one of Mrs. Sip’s favourite appetizers.

En route to visit some friends in Langley, I popped into the Clayton Liquor Store and picked up tall can four-packs of Vancouver Island Watermelon Hibiscus Blonde (Tidal Series) and Russell Strawberry & Kiwi Milkshake IPA. Both beers were perfect for a late summer outing. I had originally stopped at the store, hoping to track down the Phillips Twenty Point Buck (Barrel-Aged Blue Buck) 20th Anniversary Gift Set with commemorative glass. I was unlucky here, but did eventually find the product at the Central City Bridgeview Liquor Store.

The next day, after taking advantage of advanced voting in the Canadian federal election, we celebrated with dinner at Brown’s Social House in Sapperton. We took advantage of a few Social Hour deals, including Parmesan Garlic Fries, Crispy Cauliflower and beverages including the Social Palmer for me and Summer Social Soda for Mrs. Sip. For my meal, I went with the Florida Special (crispy chicken, avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, tomato, and coleslaw on a toasted baguette) with Caesar Salad. For Girl Sip, we ordered a Kids Dragon Bowl, the leftovers of which became my yummy lunch the next day.

Leftovers

That weekend, The Bakery Brewing was advertising Nitro Pumpkin Spice Porter Floats, which caught the attention of Mrs. Sip. Since we were gathering with friends at a park in the area anyway, we decided to pop in for the float. We also ordered taster glasses of their Amber Ale, Strawberry Farmhouse Ale and Bavarian Hefeweizen. Once again, though, the kids were not into the prospect of hanging out at a brewery… at least until we bribed them with some ice cream!

To celebrate my birthday, we started with lunch at Kelly O’Bryan’s, taking advantage of their free birthday meal offer. I went with the Chicken Lips N’ Fries, with a Black Currant Mojito and Fernie Hit the Deck Hazy IPA to wash the food down. It was a great start to the celebrations, which would also include a Chinese dinner feast with family in the evening.

I received a number of alcohol-based gifts for my birthday, including four-can tall packs of Camp Fall Camp Smoked Amber Ale and Lazy River Watermelon Gose from Cousin Sip; the Central City Summer Weekender 24 Pack from Ma and Pa Sip; a bottle Havana Club Añejo Rum from the Sip-in-Laws; and a bomber of Barnside Heavy Horse Blueberry Milkshake IPA from Mrs. Sip and the Sipplings.

Birthday Gifts

The next day was Girl Sip’s birthday and with a My Little Pony theme, I compiled a cocktail menu for the occasion (for the adults, of course). Drinks included: Twilight Sparkle (Crème de Violette, Bubbly); Pinkie Pie (White Rum, Peach Schnapps, Pink Lemonade, Whip Cream, Garnished with Sprinkles); Applejack (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniel’s Winter Apple, Iced Tea); and Rainbow Dash (Arctic Grape Rum, Blue Curacao, Club Soda).

We continued my birthday celebrations on the weekend, getting together with a group of friends for an evening out. The expedition started with gathering at ABC Brewing for some bevvies. Between Mrs. Sip and myself, I tried their Festbier, Water Frolic Small IPA, Fest IPA and Imperial Stout. Next up, was a couple hours at the Industry Arcade next door. Here, we could play a host of pinball and arcade games, as well as Skee Ball. It was a lot of fun, with highlights for me being playing The Simpsons and Bubble Bobble arcade games.

From there, we moved onto the Sapperton District Taphouse, where I had a pair of beers, consisting of the Parkside Dreamboat IPA and Tin House High Knoll Hazy IPA. I also took the time to refuel a little, with an order of the Chicken Sliders. My night gets a little foggy here, as one would expect after drinking all afternoon, but I remember having fun with what was left of our group.

Arcade Games

With our friends all done for the evening, returning to their respective kids, but with Mrs. Sip and I free of such obligations, thanks to Ma and Pa Sip, we decided to try to take in a movie at the New West Landmark Cinemas. I say try, because the Sip Advisor ended up crashing and sleeping throughout our viewing of Free Guy. What can I say, dark theatres are my kryptonite. Thankfully, the movie has since made its way onto Disney+, allowing my to absolve the guilt I felt for missing out.

The next morning, after picking up the Sipplings, we ventured out to Richmond and the Great Canadian Brewhouse there for our aforementioned return to the chain. Meeting up with a friend, we shared an order of the Birthday Nachos we were offered through their app. I paired the giant order with a tankard of Central City Super Solar IPA, which my friend picked up the tab for, so all in all, it was a pretty inexpensive meal.

The following weekend, we travelled to the Sunshine Coast to spend four nights at a beautiful Airbnb home in Gibsons. On our first day, we had lunch at Tapworks Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I split servings of the One Sailing Wait IPA and Backwoods Hazy Pale Ale. To eat, I selected the Crispy Chicken Bao, which was overflowing with delicious hoisin-drizzled fried chicken.

Nachos

Our next outing was a late lunch at The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery. We had a nice outdoor table, which allowed the kids to roam a little bit, as we ate and drank and supervised… well, mostly supervised! Split between our trio of parents, we ordered the Poutine, Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich and Chicken Quesadillas, which provided quite the spread. To drink, I had the Tall Faller Hazy IPA. As The 101 is also a distillery, Mrs. Sip made a point of trying one of their cocktails, selecting the 101 Coast Sour (gin, bourbon, lemon juice, mint, simple syrup, bitters, topped with Brickers Cider).

Afterwards, we hit the Persephone Brewing farm where Mrs. Sip and I had servings of the Brett Saison and Oktoberfest Lager. If not for our collection of kids, I could have stayed at the location longer, enjoying another pint or two. Even the occasional whiff of typical farm smells wouldn’t have deterred us!

For our last full day, we journeyed to Sechelt, to visit Batch 44 Brewery & Kitchen. Mrs. Sip put together a flight of their Lonely Giant IPA, The Village Altbier, Happy Wanderer Hefeweizen and an Earl Grey Cider, so I elected to go with a brew she didn’t choose, in the Frosty Morning Scottish Ale. My only complaint about the beer is it came in at a 4% ABV and I would have liked that a little higher.

Farm

The only Sunshine Coast brewery we weren’t able to visit was Powell River’s Townsite Brewing, so I picked up a tall can four-pack of their Savary Beaches Wheat Ale (Shoreline Series) from a BC Liquor Store. It helped me complete the Brewers Coast collection.

That was a wrap on a wild and eventful month. October has already started out busy and with a trip to Osoyoos in the cards, along with a number of Halloween events on the calendar, there will surely be much to write about!

Sip Trips #188: Sea to Sky

Taking the last week of August off to celebrate my and Mrs. Sip’s wedding anniversary and make a short getaway to Whistler with the Sip Family, was a perfect way to end the summer. We crammed a lot of stuff into a limited time, so let’s get right to the action:

Prior to our little vacation, we had a bit of activity that should be documented. A couple recent purchases included a six-pack of Spectrum Strawberry Ice Cream Pale Ale, which may be the best beer I’ve had all summer. It’s not too strong on the strawberry flavour, but just enough that you can enjoy it. I also picked up the Nude Vodka Soda Pride Pack for Mrs. Sip to try. It included six flavous (Cran Raspberry, Raspberry Lemon, Lime, Black Cherry, Mango, Peach), giving her a chance to sample a good variety of the brand’s offerings and decide if she wants to do more vodka soda products in the future.

Vodka Soda

We also dropped into Steamworks Brewing in Burnaby one evening. There, I had a delicious Imperial Red Ale, while Mrs. Sip ordered a flight, which included their Refresh Raspberry and Lemon Ale, Killer Cucumber Ale, Hazy Pale Ale and Black Angel IPA. We both particularly liked the Cucumber Ale, which I’ve had before, but never on tap.

The first portion of my week off was a night without kids, enjoying an overnight stay in Downtown Vancouver. We began with some happy hour snacks at 131 Water Kitchen & Bar. Our food included Crispy Chicken Bites and Veggie Spring Roll, which I paired with a 131 Lager. The beer went down like juice, while the food was good and enough to tide me over for our upcoming dinner.

To stock our hotel room, we picked up a tall can four-pack of Barkerville Sluice Juice Hazy Pale Ale, a bomber of Fuggles & Warlock Valkyrie Belgian Vineyard Ale and a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, our room’s fridge wasn’t really much of a cooling device, so we didn’t get to enjoy our treats as we had originally hoped.

Hotel Fridge

For dinner, we went to Lift Bar Grill View in Coal Harbour. Arriving just in time for a quick happy hour order, we each got a glass of house rosé, an appetizer of Humboldt Squid and an Oyster each (for aphrodisiacal reasons!). Mrs. Sip then went with the Halibut for dinner, while I elected to have the Burger. With my meal, I had a pint of Parkside Dusk Pale Ale. The restaurant also kindly gave us each a glass of dessert wines on the house, as a little anniversary delight.

The next morning, we had brunch at Bellaggio Cafe, where Mrs. Sip had Eggs Benedict and I went with the Chicken & Brussels Waffle. I also enjoyed a 3-ounce Caesar, which got the day off to a good start. Our activities while in the area, included the Dimensions Art Gallery, where visitors can become part of the art installations and solving a cold murder case with Vancouver Mysteries. I would recommend both to anyone looking for something to do in Vancouver.

After a brief respite, we were on the road to Whistler, which I hadn’t visited since New Year’s 2012-2013. On our way up, we stopped at the Howe Sound Brewpub in Squamish for lunch. There, I ordered the Hopraiser West Coast IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Alpine Traverse New World Tripel. To eat, we shared the Brewer’s Select Pizza, topped with pepperoni, bacon, and chorizo. We also received a taster of the Pamplemousse Pale Ale and grabbed tall cans of King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen and Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale to go.

Summer Vacation

Before leaving Squamish, we also went to A-Frame Brewing, which only had a few of their own beers on tap. We put together a flight of their Okanagan Lake Cream Ale, Sproat Lake Pale Ale, Shuswap Lake West Coast IPA and finished the set with guest tap House of Funk Atomic Jam. The brewery had a food truck onsite, which allowed us to get Toddler Sip a Churro treat for dessert.

Our dinner that night was at The Keg, since we desired a slice of Billy Miner Pie. Our food selections included Prime Rib Sliders for me and a Lobster Tail for Mrs. Sip. I paired my meal with a Chili Mango Margarita that really hit the spot. Of course, that decadent Billy Miner Pie capped the meal, which the restaurant generously comped since it was our anniversary.

Our main event for the night was checking out the Vallea Lumina Light Walk. Words and photos can’t really describe how neat of an attraction this is. Set on a dark mountainous trail, you travel through some amazing light and sound experiences that make you feel connected to the surrounding nature. I’d love to revisit in the winter, if possible.

The next day, we left the village to explore a couple nearby breweries. First up, was Whistler Brewing, where we put together a flight of their The Blonde Spruce Goose, Wayside Apricot Wit, Chestnut Ale and Black Tusk Ale. It was a solidly built flight, if I don’t say so myself. The Sunny Daze Yuzu IPA, which I had wanted to try, wasn’t on tap, so I grabbed a tall can of it for the road and really enjoyed as a breakfast beer the next day.

Coast Mountain Brewing was our second stop and we ordered two flights to be able to try eight of their 11 brews. Our boards consisted of the Day Dream IPA, The Surveyor IPA, Forecast Pale Ale, Green Run Session IPA, Vanilla Bean Stout, Woodnutt Brown Ale, Sunbreak Saison, and Drink the Rainbow (made with Skittles). I feel like doing flights is a great way to try as much as possible, but a full serving is the best way to truly appreciate a beer, as palate fatigue seems to set in when we go the flight route.

Day three was my negotiated “don’t have to drive anywhere day”, so we spent the day exploring the village. For lunch, we ate at the High Mountain BrewHouse, where between Mrs. Sip and I, we had pints of their Belgian Tripel, Belgian Wit, Alta Lake Ale and Grizzly Brown Ale. Food seemed like a good idea with all those drinks, so we ordered the Four Cheese Pizza.

Pizza

Sadly, our stay in Whistler came to an end, but we weren’t ready to go home yet. We journeyed to Pemberton to hit a couple breweries there, starting with The Beer Farmers. Following our flight, made up of the Locals Only Lager, Farmers Daughter Biere de Table, Cover Crop Hazy IPA and Dunkelweizen, we completed the farm’s sunflower maze, which was a lot of fun, particularly for Toddler Sip.

Next up, was Pemberton Brewing, for a quick flight (U-Pick Strawberry Pale Ale, Cream Puff NE Pale Ale, Upside Down Brut IPA, Barb’s Nice Pear Rhubarb Pear Sour). We also brought home a bomber of Cream Puff NE Pale Ale, which will be a nice way to bring up memories of the journey, when we finally get around to enjoy it.

Road Trip

On our drive home, we stopped in Squamish again, to hit Backcountry Brewing. There, we had a fantastic Fig & Prosciutto Pizza (as well as an appetizer of Hushpuppies), to go along with a flight of beers. The flight included the Go Get Yourself Some Cheap Sunglasses IPA, Living in a Van Down By the River ISA, I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop Peach Sour and Patches O’Houlihan Porter. To go, Mrs. Sip grabbed a tall can four-pack of I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop Peach Sour and single tall can of Case of the Mondays Peach-Pineapple-Guava Sour.

Eight breweries over four days, completes to checklist for Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. The expedition brought Toddler Sip’s number up to 96 breweries visited and Baby Sip up to 27. Parenting done right!

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 #175: Coastal Cruising

The September birthday blitz has come and gone for another year and it was fairly busy. It began with Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday, where I concocted four relatively easy drinks to go along with the treats of autumn/fall theme. These cocktails utilized spirits such as Pumpkin Pie Vodka, Roasted Pecan Whiskey, Cranberry Liqueur, Apple-Cinnamon Vodka, and Cinnamon Whiskey. Mixers included Ginger Beer, Hibiscus Iced Tea and Chocolate Milk. Overall, the beverages went over very well with guests in attendance.

The next evening, we ventured to Maple Ridge for a meal at the Billy Miner Pub. While enjoying a pint of R&B Brewing’s delicious Orange Negroni Saison, I partook in an order of Teriyaki Fries, while also stealing a few nibbles of Mrs. Sip’s Cornbread. The meal was very good and the pub has become our go-to option when out that way.

To celebrate my birthday, as well as Baby Sip’s (we are one day apart), we booked a Princess Cruises itinerary from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with one day at Disneyland scheduled as well. The cruise featured its typical level of booziness, but I didn’t expect some of the treats that came my way (bucket of beers pre-ordered by Ma and Pa Sip and a pair of complimentary cocktails from the ship) and given I was drinking solo, I think I made quite an effort. That’s right folks, Mrs. Sip is pregnant with our second child – a boy this time – so Baby Sip will from this post forward be referred to as Toddler Sip.

second child

My goal for this cruise, was to not buy a single drink. After all, I had a bottle each of red and white wine, a couple mini bottles and the previously mentioned bucket of beers and cocktails to go through on my own. I used my two cocktail vouchers on Long Island Iced Tea variations, including the Georgia Tea (vodka, gin, rum, peach schnapps, Cranberry Juice, sour mix) and Italian Tea (vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, cola, sour mix). Both were strong and tasty, just the way I prefer libations to be.

I did crack on my “don’t buy a drink” credo, as we celebrated my birthday dinner at the ship’s Salty Dog Gastropub, where I ordered the Salty Dog Smash (whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint). The drink paired well with our food, as each diner gets to pick two main courses. We went with the Grilled Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Calamari Frites, and Ernesto Burger. The meal was quite decadent and was finished with desserts of Strawberries & Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Our day at Disneyland was a lot of fun, with Toddler Sip getting to meet her hero Minnie Mouse and experience attractions such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, King Arthur Carrousel and the Mad Tea Party. We also tried a bunch of the specialty Halloween treats around the park, including the Toasted Salsa Roja Chicken Sandwich with Tortilla Soup, Blackberry Midnight Julep and Frozen Abuelita Horchata (mixing Mexican hot chocolate and horchata). Toddler Sip really liked the horchata.

tired disneyland

Admittedly, the day was exhausting and a bit of a bust, as far as my drinking goals were concerned. We were unable to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina (the only place to get a boozy drink in the park) in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area and were too drained at the end of the night to journey to Ballast Point’s new location in Downtown Disney. These will both have to be saved for next year’s return to the resort.

After flying back to Seattle and being picked up by Ma and Pa Sip, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There, I ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich and a pint of Mac & Jack’s Brewing African Amber Ale. We also took home a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which was so damn good when we finally got around to eating it the next night.

It should also be noted that I was gifted from the Sip-In-Laws a bottle of Swear Jar Whiskey, which can be used as a swear jar/piggy bank after being consumed. On the horizon is Oktoberfest, which we will be indulging in to celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday. Time to get the lederhosen ready!