Sip Trips #79: California Screamin’

Fresh off of our trip to Ireland (seriously, Mrs. Sip returned Wednesday night and we were off again Saturday morning), the Sip Alliance took advantage of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday with a super quick jaunt down to California where a few days at Disneyland was just a warm up to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights!

Upon entering Disneyland’s California Adventure Saturday morning, the Sip Advisor made a bee line to Flo’s Café for a serving of Bear Republic’s Grand-Am Pale Ale. This is my favourite beer in the park and was a perfect way to start the short and sweet vacation. Mrs. Sip and I typically pair the breakfast brew with a cheddar garlic bagel twist, which is as fine and gluttonous as a morning meal can be. We also tried their pumpkin twist dessert for some additional excess.

breakfast-beer

Even before we could hit a single attraction, we were onto our second beers of the morning, visiting the Karl Strauss Beer Truck. Here, I tried one of the newer beers (at least new to me) available in the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, which I found to be quite good and deserving of its awesome name. Mrs. Sip went with their seasonal Oktoberfest beverage, which was also a solid choice.

Finally, we rode a ride, but our thirst was not fully quenched. This resulted in a stop at the Sonoma Terrace Beer Garden, where Mrs. Sip selected the Brother Thelonious Belgian Ale from North Coast Brewing, while the Sip Advisor went with a serving of Bootlegger’s Rustic Rye IPA. My only complaint about the beer garden is that all servings are bottles, so you don’t get the same amount as the draft options and often pay more. That said, the available options are often boozier than their contemporaries.

For a late lunch, we made a reservation at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. With the park typically busy for a Saturday and unseasonably warm for October, we ducked into the Carthay Lounge a little early and enjoyed a round of drinks with Mrs. Sip’s favourite appy, the Queso Fundido dip. I ordered a glass of Anchor Mango Wheat because the server said it was a maple mango beer. While that wasn’t correct, it was still a decent brew. Anchor Brewing does have a Maple Autumn Red, which may have caused the confusion. Our three-course lunch was fantastic as usual, enjoyed with a bottle of chardonnay.

wine-as-fruit

Eating at the Carthay Circle Restaurant gave us a special seating area for the World of Color show that night and the Sip Alliance always comes prepared. While Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip double fisted glasses of bubbly, the Sip Advisor and Cousin Sip’s husband were among the last served at the Beer Garden. My bevvy of choice was the Hopageddon Imperial IPA from Napa Smith Brewing. We wrapped the day with a late visit to McDonald’s, which I brought back to our hotel room to pair with a bottle of Samuel Adams Octoberfest. There was also a serving of Karl Strauss Mosaic Session IPA in the late evening, which deserves mention for being a good brew.

Sunday featured our main reason for doing this frenzied trip to California. Two years ago, Mrs. Sip and I attended Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and had a fantastic time. Part of the festivities, includes drinking our faces off prior to entering the spooky resort. As we did previously, we began our imbibing at the Karl Strauss Brewing location in the City Walk area outside the park. There, amongst a host of shared plates (pretzel bites, pork schnitzel sliders, cheese fondue, etc.), I enjoyed another serving of the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, followed by the Tower 10 IPA. Mrs. Sip got a pair of Windansea Wheat glasses, which were also delicious.

Our last ditch effort to get a suitable buzz before being swarmed by zombies, maniac killers and all other forms of terrifying beings, came courtesy of the Saddle Ranch. Mrs. Sip and I went with double tequila shots, while I also pounded back a double rum and coke. To say I was ready to have the daylights scared out of me would be an understatement. Once inside, our favourite houses were Freddy vs. Jason, American Horror Story (thanks to following the series), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Our front-of-the-line passes helped us get through the park with ease and we completed all attractions within a few hours.

haunted-house

After a quick sleep, we were back at Disneyland for one more half day of fun. It was breakfast time, so you know what that meant: one more Grand Am Pale Ale for the road and a cheddar garlic bagel twist. We were always under the impression that beer wasn’t served until 10-10:30am, but learned at Flo’s, they are served all day, from 9am on. What a wonderful world we live in!

For lunch, we popped into the Cove Bar, which is situated at the entrance to the Paradise Pier area of the park. There, I had one of their secret menu cocktails, the Earthquake (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite, blue curacao and a float of 151 rum), while Mrs. Sip had the Black Pearl (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite and Chambord). Our crew shared a plate of Lobster Nachos over our drinks. Shortly thereafter, it was sadly time to head to the airport.

Normally, my Sip Trips involving vacations to California end there. LAX is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been to for guest amenities, but on this occasion, we ended up in a fantastic wing of the airport, which had a bar and a few other neat looking restaurants. We had dinner at Barney’s Beanery, where I was able to get a buffalo chicken sandwich and a couple pints of Strand 24th Street Pale Ale. Mrs. Sip was in the mood for Mexican, so she had a quesadilla and taco, as well as a serving of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, which was a fantastic drink.

While we don’t have any travel plans for this weekend, we will be attending the BC Beer Awards for the first time, so that should provide some good stories for the next edition of Sip Trips!

November 9 – Mind Eraser

Blackouts: Good or Bad?

Today, the Sip Advisor puts aside all the jokes and funny pictures and gets serious, examining one of the greatest issues facing the drinking world: blackouts.

Alternate Blackouts

Sorry, blacked out about being all serious and stuff!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I am prone to the odd moment of blacking out when on a really heavy drinking bender. Most of Sip Nation jokes about missing scenes and not remembering what we did the night before. Some of these blackouts have been the cause for great stories and laughs later, but they can also be a little scary.

I know the day after one of these moments, I can feel a little off. I’m not sure if it’s from embarrassment over forgetting what happened or the brain having to reboot.

The Disney theme parks have been home to two of my most infamous blackouts. I detailed the first for the Hidden Mickey original recipe and in that post, I promised to share the details of Mrs. Sip and my country crawl at Disneyworld: Epcot, during our honeymoon. Well, little sippers, pack your bags and prepare for another adventure:

Adventure

Our cruise ship (18-day Panama Canal route) arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. at 7am to end that leg of our journey and we were two of the first people off the ship, quickly catching a cab to the airport to grab a rental car, before making the three-hour drive to Lake Buena Vista and the last couple days of our vacation at the Florida theme parks.

While Mrs. Sip enjoyed a little nap, I drove furiously (is there any other way), with the goal of being in the park for 1pm. We arrived at our hotel, checked in, bought our tickets, and hopped on the shuttle to the park, making it into Epcot for just slightly after our target.

We had always hoped to do the Epcot country crawl of enjoying a drink in each showcase and this was our opportunity. We also visited during the park’s Food and Wine Festival, providing ample opportunity to make our dreams a reality. After a wonderful Mexican lunch outside that country’s pavilion, we grabbed our first beers of the day (each ordering a sampler, which contained four half glasses of various styles).

Epcot Checklist

As we started to work our way through the brew, we looked at each other and neither of us was really feeling up to party. We had drank pretty heavily the night before, given it was the final night of our cruise and we had some stock to finish. We chatted about just taking it easy and enjoying the country showcases, perhaps returning to the country crawl idea later in the day… then fate intervened.

Out of nowhere, we started chatting with two brothers and their female friend from Philadelphia. They too were enjoying a beer sampler each, but seemed to be a little deeper into the drinking than we were. Once they heard it was our honeymoon, they decided to crash it and join us for a little bit, frequently announcing to the massive crowd that we were honeymooners.

Mrs. Sip and I played along and decided we’d hang out with these strangers for a little bit before splitting off and doing our own thing. We ended up spending the rest of the day with them, stopping off at each pavilion for drinks, food, and laughs. The two guys were great at poking fun at other guests (isn’t people watching awesome!) and drawing fellow drinkers into our circle. We even left the park briefly to meet their parents.

Epcot Adventurer

This is such an awesome idea… next time!

Given it was our honeymoon, they were also quite generous in buying Mrs. Sip and I a couple drinks and the last thing I remember from the park was downing Irish Car Bombs in the United Kingdom showcase pub. From that point on, things are a little fuzzy and even fuzzier as I write this one year later.

Ever the gentleman, I do remember making sure Mrs. Sip got a seat on the packed shuttle bus we boarded, while I swayed back and forth in the aisle. The rest of the night disappears into a black hole from that point on.

Stage Before Blackout

The next day I awoke to stories that Mrs. Sip had ordered late night cheese bread (a staple of her drinking diet) from Domino’s and that I had insisted on ordering a pizza to go along with it. After eating one slice, I reportedly passed out and was dead to the world until morning.

We visited the Universal Studios parks the next day (by the way, those attractions are not to be missed) and I was thankful I had driven and wouldn’t be inclined to drink. I did have a beer or two over the day, always quick to hop back on the trolley, but was definitely in recovery mode, as my frontal lobe tried to mend itself.

So, blackouts: good or bad? Wait, what was the question?

Drink #313: Mind Eraser

Mind Eraser Shooter

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • Splash of Club Soda
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

What is your opinion on the ominous blackout? Is it something to be enjoyed and marveled at? Or is it something to be feared and avoided at all costs? I await your replies!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This shot was a pleasant surprise. I’m usually not enthralled by Coffee Liqueurs, but there was something about this recipe that made me forget all about my hate for java. Perhaps it was my inclusion of Smores Vodka that made this shooter so palatable. I even made myself a second round of the shot to enjoy it again!

March 27 – Loopberry Splash

You Will Get Wet

I usually try to theme each day’s post in relation to the featured drink. Today’s subject may be a bit of a stretch, but given the word “loop” and “splash” are there, I wanted to discuss my favourite amusement park rides from around the world. So, let’s secure our personal belongings in the seat front pouch and hold on for dear life!

Crush’s Coaster – Disneyland: Paris

When you combine a kid’s movie with a turbulent rollercoaster, you satisfy all of my needs! This attraction takes guests through the East Australian Current, riding on Crush the surfing turtle’s shell. What starts out as a normal coaster turns (literally) into a very memorable one, when your vehicle begins spinning with the gravity and speed created by the ride track, at one point going into a dark room that gives space mountain a run for its money. Mrs. Sip and I are continually surprised the ride hasn’t been picked up by any of the other Disney parks.

Crush's Coaster

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure

This is one of those classic 3-D movie attractions, but with the twist that you move from scene-to-scene in your ride vehicle. You speed, web sling, and plunge through the streets of New York, watching Spidey battle the Sinister Syndicate. Spider-Man rules, so this attraction gets bonus points on that fact alone.

Riddler’s Revenge – Six Flags

I’m not sure why so many attractions are trying to gain revenge on their riders (Montezuma’s Revenge also comes to mind), but this stand-up coaster is a wonderful salute to the Batman franchise and the insanity of Edward Nigma. Highlights of the actions include the pumping techno soundtrack and the vertical loops that wraps around the launch lift.

Jurassic Park – Universal Studios: Hollywood

I never really got the obsession with Jurassic Park until I rode this water ride. Everything starts off all nice and normal as you take a relaxing trip through pens belonging to many herbivore dinos. That all takes a drastic twist when your boat goes off course and you enter raptor cages, with the looming threat of an accidentally released T-Rex. Before you know it, the only route to safety is a dramatic plunge into the cold waters below.

Jurassic Park The Ride

The Four Mountains – Disney Parks

Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Matterhorn Mountain are some of the original amazing E-ticket attractions to exist and are must hit rides for any visit to the Disney Parks that house them. Without these tracks, so many other advancements in theme park technology would not have been possible.

Ghost Rider – Knott’s Berry Farm

When they warn you not to go on rides if you have back or neck problems, they were probably thinking of this attraction. It’s a classic wooden rollercoaster that spans the parks and even crosses over into the parking lot. The wildest part about it is that you’re constantly ducking your head, thinking that it’s going to get sliced off by the beams above.

Toy Story Mania – Disneyland: California Adventure

The rapid advancements in ride technology are amazing. This attraction brings out the competitive spirit in riders as you compete with your mate and all other guests, in fact, to record the highest score possible. Throw on some 3-D glasses, and shoot at as many targets as possible on the screen in front of you before moving on to the next Midway challenge. Each ride experience is different, providing you don’t mind waiting 40 minutes to an hour in line for this popular attraction!

Toy Story Mania

Valhalla – Blackpool Pleasure Beach

I refuse to buy ponchos for water rides… that totally defeats the purpose. But in this case, as we watched ride attendants vacuum water out of each boat that arrived at the loading zone, we were happy we’d taken the advice to grab a couple. I’ve never been so drenched, in my life… even with the damn poncho. Had it not been a dreary English spring day, we would have rode the ride – which featured a ton of special effects, as well as going backwards in a log flume – again, but as it was, we were already chilled to the bone.

Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit – Universal Studios: Florida

Rides that have their own soundtrack are amazing… but how about a ride where you get to pick the song of your choice, which is perfectly edited for the duration of the track. You can pick from rock, rap, country, dance and just about everything else. There are even hidden songs that you can access. That will keep the guests coming back for more, looking for the perfect jam to their experience.

Drink #86: Loopberry Splash

Loopberry Splash Cocktail

While there are many theme parks we have yet to visit, this is a list of some of our favourites thus far. Sadly, I had to leave so many rides I love with all my being off this list. Hopefully I can squeeze them into a future post.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
The final drink in my trilogy of Loopy Vodka recipes was pretty decent. The mix of half Cranberry Juice and half Ginger Ale was good and worked well with the spirit. I should have done more with the garnish, but I guess I got a little lazy.