British Columbia – Vancouver Cocktail

Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also featuring a drink the area is known for. Today, we are in British Columbia, where the Sip Advisor resides. Although we lack large egos (in this humble writer’s opinion), the province once called itself “The Best Place on Earth”. Let’s see what life is like on the Left Coast:

Nicknames: ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ is the slogan that appears on licence plates in the province after being adopted as an official motto in 1964. Another common catchphrase used here, particularly by the local tourism industry, is ‘Super, Natural, British Columbia’. No matter what moniker folks want to tag onto the place, I prefer to simply call it home.

Motto: “Splendor without diminishment” – Ooh la la, tres fancy!

Food: The Nanaimo Bar – a sweet treat consisting of layers of a crumb base, icing middle and chocolate top – was invented in Nanaimo in the 1950’s. The bar’s popularity grew when it was featured at Expo 86 and efforts have been made to see the Nanaimo Bar named ‘Canada’s Favourite Confection’. The dessert even got the stamp treatment in 2019, but I’d rather lick the real thing.

Drink: British Columbia has amazing craft beer, wine and distillery industries, making the Sip Advisor a very happy man. A nostalgic entry here is Clearly Canadian, which was founded in B.C. in 1987. The flavoured sparkling waters grew wildly popular quickly, being featured in movies and TV shows such as Jerry Maguire, Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex and the City.

Nanaimo Bar

Site to See: Having travelled a fair bit of the province, there’s really not many bad choices to explore. If I had to pick a favourite place, it would probably be Whistler, which provides an amazing escape in both winter and summer. Situated in the mountains, Whistler offers picturesque landscapes, while the has village a number of great dining and entertainment options.

Street: The Downtown Vancouver portion of Granville Street is lined with much of the city’s entertainment district and can be a very interesting place to traverse at night. The street was once illuminated with numerous neon light signs, reminiscent to Las Vegas, but many have been removed. Granville Street is the second most expensive property in Canadian Monopoly.

TV Show: While B.C. is sometimes referred to as Hollywood North, thanks to the film and TV industries that do so much shooting here, not many project are actually set in the province. The most enduring series was The Beachcombers, running for 19 seasons and 387 episodes. The Sip Family recently stayed in Gibsons, where the show was set, seeing the boat (Persephone) and café (Molly’s Reach) used in the show.

Movie: No movie takes place entirely in B.C., but a couple films have the majority of their plots occur in the province. Of these, I really enjoyed The Hunted, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. del Toro plays a former armed forces operative, while Jones, his former mentor, is tasked with tracking his student down. The movie mostly uses hand-to-hand combat fight scenes.

Granville Street

Book/Author: Environmental activist David Suzuki was born in Vancouver in 1936. He has authored 52 books, including 19 for children, mostly on scientific topics. Suzuki is also known for his long-running TV series The Nature of Things and the David Suzuki Foundation, which is dedicated “to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that does sustain us”.

Fictional Character: Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother, is played by Vancouverite Cobie Smulders. She is a true Canadian girl, best shown through her love of hockey and the Vancouver Canucks. Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed How I Met Your Mother even more with the touch of Canadiana and our hometown being involved. I’ll even forgive Scherbatsky for her time as teen pop idol Robin Sparkles.

Fictional City: Edgemont, a made up suburb of Vancouver, was the setting for a teen drama series of the same name. The show ran for five seasons and 70 episodes, centered on the young love and break ups of students at McKinley High School. A couple cast members went on to more recognized projects, such as Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang on Smallville) and Grace Park (Kono Kalakaua on Hawaii Five-0).

Actor/Actress: This is a tough category. First, there’s universally-beloved movie star Ryan Reynolds. Then, there’s stoner comedy icon Seth Rogen. And, who could forget the legendary Michael J. Fox. A sentimental nod also has to go to Raymond Burr for his iconic role as lawyer Perry Mason. All are from Vancouver or its surrounding suburbs and have represented the province quite well.

Ryan Reynolds

Song: British Columbia is certainly not the easiest name to turn into lyrics, but on New Year’s Eve 1965, Jewel of the West (Beautiful B.C.) was made the official theme song of the province. It was composed by musician Machelle Shapira. Another song worthy of mention is Home for a Rest by Spirit of the West. That home the North Vancouver-based band is longing for is B.C.

Band/Musician: Bryan Adams is one of the most successful musicians of all-time, selling close to 100 million records and singles worldwide. He is best known for songs such as (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, Summer of ’69 and Heaven. Also deserving of mention is crooner Michael Bublé, who has had a number of chart-topping songs and albums, to go along with four Grammy Awards.

People: Terry Fox is a national hero. With one leg amputated due to cancer, Fox was only 21 when he embarked on a cross-country trek to raise awareness about the disease. Sadly, Fox didn’t achieve his goal of going coast-to-coast, as his deteriorating health forced him off the road. His legacy exists to this day thanks to all he inspired with his courage. Terry Fox Runs are done annually around the world, raising an estimated $800 million for cancer research.

Animal: The Great Bear Rainforest is home to the rare Kermode Bear (aka Spirit Bear), which is recognized as B.C.’s Provincial Animal. The bear was named after Frank Kermode, who helped discover the animal. Spotting a Spirit Bear is said to bring good luck. One bear, nicknamed Clover, is believed to be the first in captivity, after the cub was abandoned and not suitable for release into the wild.

Spirit Bear

Invention: In 1911, the modern Egg Carton was invented by Joseph Coyle, a newspaper editor and publisher in Smithers. Coyle developed the device to help settle a disagreement between a farmer and hotel owner over deliveries often resulting in numerous broken eggs. Eggs were previously transported in baskets. Coyle turned the creation into a successful business venture.

Crime: B.C. has a sordid history, with criminals such as Robert Pickton and Clifford Olsen part of our unfortunate past. Pickton confessed to 49 murders, following the discovery of various remains on his family pig farm in 2002. Olsen, known as the Beast of British Columbia, killed 11 kids and teens in the early 1980’s. There’s also the Highway of Tears in Northern B.C., where at least 80 women have gone missing or been murdered from.

Sports Team: The Vancouver sports scene features three teams, the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), B.C. Lions (CFL) and Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS). From 1995 to 2001, there used to also be the Vancouver Grizzlies (NBA), but after six dreadful seasons, the franchise relocated to Memphis. Despite their short existence, the Grizzlies still have a cult following in the province and outside it.

Athlete: Two Burnaby-born icons fill this category. Hockey star Joe Sakic (commonly referred to as ‘Burnaby Joe’) and Christine Sinclair, perhaps the greatest female soccer player of all-time, both come from the Vancouver suburb. In Burnaby, a street has been named after Sakic, while Sinclair’s name is attached to a community centre located near Joe Sakic Way.

Grizzlies

Famous Home: Because so much filming is done in B.C., many recognizable homes from TV and movies can be found. This includes Archie’s house from Riverdale, the home Happy Gilmore is trying to save for his grandma, and Jacob’s property from the Twilight franchise. For something a little more historical, there’s Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1992.

Urban Legend: B.C. is home to some legendary mythical creatures, including the Sasquatch – was even used as one of the 2010 Olympics mascots, named Quatchi – and Ogopogo, a water monster said to inhabit Okanagan Lake. There have also been various sightings of mermaids, sometimes made along B.C. Ferry routes. It’s almost as if they want to be seen.

Museum: The Revelstoke Railway Museum is home to the Last Spike at Craigellachie, which completed the Canadian Pacific Railway’s cross-country expansion in 1885. This construction made the line the first transcontinental railway in Canada. The spike was driven into the ground by financier Donald Smith, then removed and turned into a souvenir for some of the wives of Craigellachie.

Firsts: Kim Campbell, born in Port Alberni, became the first female Prime Minister of Canada in 1993. Although her term only lasted 132 days (the third shortest in the country’s history), it was still a gender barrier-breaking moment. Canadian women’s magazine Chatelaine named Campbell its Woman of the Year for 1993. To date, she is the only Prime Minister to come from B.C.

Mermaids

Company: A family-favourite dining spot for the Sip Family is White Spot, famous for their comfort food. The company, founded almost 100 years ago in 1928, has branched out to offering their wares in fast food settings, with those locations known as Triple-O’s (named after the restaurant’s popular burger sauce). Mrs. Sip and I had part of our first-ever date at a White Spot, so I will always be fond of the chain.

Events: Two events put the province on the world stage: Expo 86 and the 2010 Olympics. Expo 86 marked only the second time a Canadian city hosted a World’s Fair, with the theme being “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch”. At the 2010 Olympics, Canada set a new record for gold medals at an Olympics, capped by winning the hockey tournament on Sidney Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal’.

Miscellaneous: Ladysmith’s own Pamela Anderson, recognized for her role on TV show Baywatch and appearances in Playboy Magazine, was actually famous from the day she was born. Born on July 1, 1967, the 100th anniversary of Canada’s official founding, Anderson was Canada’s Centennial Baby… at least from British Columbia. It’s like she was destined to be a star.

Vancouver Cocktail

Vancouver Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 0.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Benedictine
  • Dashes of Orange Bitters
  • Garnish with a Cucumber Slice

This drink was created in 1954 at the renowned Sylvia Hotel. Apparently, the recipe was lost until it was rediscovered by bartender and cocktail historian Steve Da Cruz in 2006. The beverage can now be found at various locations around Vancouver. I subbed my Jagermeister Spice for Benedictine, as I can’t justify buying a new bottle of something for a 0.25 oz serving.

Sip Trips #205: Dome Dining

Well, the first month of 2022 is in the books and it was a pretty good one. Even with Mrs. Sip trying out a keto diet, we managed to have a lot of fun, especially since Mrs. Sip enjoyed a cheat day for her mid-month birthday. Here’s what we got up to in Januray:

To welcome 2022, on New Year’s Day, the Sip Family had a delicious meal at The Keg. My beverage of the Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA combined very well with my Keg Burger with Fries. I had stopped ordering the Keg Burger a few years back when they sadly changed the beef blend the burger was made with. I’m glad I finally gave it another shot because although I still miss how the burger was done when I originally fell in love with it, it’s still a pretty damn good meal.

The next day, we met up with a friend at 3 Dogs Brewing in White Rock. I enjoyed servings of their I Like Big Mutts Hazy Tangerine IPA and K-Nein Mandarin Kolsch, as well as the walk I took with Boy Sip between the two brews, so he could stretch his legs and see the cars and trucks he has become obsessed with as he enters the toddler stage of life.

Toddler

The next weekend, Mrs. Sip and I were offered a childless night from Ma and Pa Sip. We took advantage of the occasion with a visit to Piva Modern Italian, where we used some of the gift card Ma and Pa Sip gave us for Christmas. Mrs. Sip and I split the Calamari Steak, which was very tasty with olive tapenade on top. To drink, I had the Viola cocktail (Empress Gin float, Cointreau, lemon, mango syrup, guava, soda), which was very refreshing thanks to the citrus and soda blend.

Afterwards, as Mrs. Sip did some shopping for snacks for her new diet, I went to the 8th Street Liquor Store, where I bought a single tall can of Stanley Park Deck the Malts Holiday Ale. I hadn’t had the chance to try the seasonal release prior to this and the brew came at a slightly discounted price, so how could I refuse the offer.

Another liquor shopping trip resulted in Mrs. Sip picking up two flavours of Nude Vodka Soda (Strawberry Kiwi and Watermelon), as well as Pyur Coconut Vodka Soda. I’ve enjoyed all three variations and it always feels good to get your drink on and know you’re not sacrificing too much in the calorie intake category.

Calories

Stocking up for a guys’ drinking night the next weekend, I visited the Clayton Liquor Store. There, I bought tall can four-packs of Steel and Oak Throw Blanket West Coast IPA and Boombox Paradise City Passionfruit Coconut IPA, along with a single can of Dead Frog Field Tripper Hazy Rye IPA. The Paradise City was particularly good, with a hint of coconut at the back end of each sip.

As for the guys’ night, our first stop of the evening was Farm Country Brewing. I’ve always liked Farm Country’s set up and enjoyed this stay too, with orders of the Last Call Cocktail Inspired Ale and Hoppy Tonk 2.0 Azacca Fresh Hop IPA.

Next up, was Camp Brewing. I love that Camp sticks with their theming, offering smokies and s’mores on their food menu. I took advantage of that, eating the Ranger Danger Smokie (Korean BBQ sauce, mayo, honey mustard, cilantro, sesame seeds), which really hit the spot. We stayed here for a while, enjoying the fire pit spot that opened up shortly after we arrived, with the Sip Advisor downing pints of Kodiak West Coast Brown Ale, Fall Camp Smoked Amber Ale and Winter Camp Gingersnap Ale. The only downside of the evening was a random woman coming up to us as she was leaving, informing us we had stolen their spot at the fire pit. This, after we asked a server for permission to move and had been sitting at the spot for an hour and a half before being approached. Had the woman come up to us earlier, we would have happily given up the spot in the name of good liquor karma.

Karma

Later that week, we celebrated Mrs. Sip’s birthday with the extravagant Winterlust dome dining experience at H Tasting Lounge. We began with an arrival bottle of bubbly and cheese and meat charcuterie plates. My cocktails consumed during our 2.5-hour reservation, included the Balrog’s Demise (Ardbeg Wee Beastie Scotch, Goslings Black Seal Rum, Lemon Hart 151, Cherry Heering, Averna, pineapple, lime, coconut, tiki bitters, spice), Cut The Chit Chat (Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Cynar, Campari, Apricot Liqueur, antica formula, hellfire bitters) and Isle of Man (Copper Spirits White Rye, Esquimalt Dry Vermouth, Boomsma Genever, Maraschino Liqueur, Sombra Mezcal). I also had tastes of some of Mrs. Sip’s beverages, including Bobby’s A Cinephile (ghee washed Lemon Hart 151 Rum, Angostura 5yr Rum, roasted corn lemon, vegan foamer, popcorn) and Like, Basically (strawberry jacked Absolut Vodka, O5 Elderflower Soda, Chambord, Galliano, lemon). Each cocktail was delicious and presented uniquely. This included my Balrog’s Demise being lit on fire and the Cut the Chit Chat coming in it’s own hand-painted flask, while Mrs. Sip’s Bobby’s A Cinephile was served in a popcorn bag, with caramel corn. To eat, I ordered the HTL Smash Burger and also enjoyed shared plates of Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Wings and Bread & Oil. The meal wrapped with the restaurant serving up some slices of birthday cake, which we all shared. The experience was well worth it and we had no problem surpassing the $300 minimum order, even though our group was only four people, instead of the six we had originally planned.

With the Sipplings staying over at Ma and Pa Sip’s for the night, we also managed to hit the House of Comedy for a show. As if we needed more food, upon arriving, we ordered the Chicken Tenders and Chips & Guac. To drink, I enjoyed the Dark Humor cocktail, which is their version of a Dark N’ Stormy.

We wrapped the month with a Vancouver Canucks game. Prior to heading to the arena, I needed some dinner and went to White Spot for my meal. I paired a pint of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale with a Legendary Burger Platter. It was a fantastic meal and set me up nicely for the hockey ahead.

Burger and Beer

At the game, I got a large-size Parkside Dreamboat IPA. It was nice to have the arena at 50 per cent capacity, for ease of moving around, emptier bathrooms and bar line ups, as well as using transit home. Of course, a packed stadium is good too, but I will enjoy the limited crowd while it lasts.

February promises to be a very interesting month, as the Sip Family goes on their first international vacation since November 2019. We’ll be staying at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, so that will surely provide some good material for next month’s Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #181: Tidings of Joy

The last few weeks of December have been filled with a bunch of events, usually geared around Christmas and family time together. Here’s what we’ve been up to during the marathon holiday season:

Earlier this month, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs contest, which may be the closest I ever come to a playoff atmosphere live. I had also circled this game on the calendar, as the perfect opportunity to use my member gift card, of which I used nearly all of the $50 total on two tasty 24oz Postmark Juicy Pale Ales and a BLT from the Bacon food stand, which really hit the spot. Sadly, this is the first time we’ve attended this rivalry meeting where the Canucks lost, but the night was still fun.

TML

A couple nights later, we were out at Glow: Abbotsford, which had the same food menu as the Vancouver location, but a better selection of beers. I went with a Parallel 49 Filthy Dirty IPA to pair with my Buffalo Chicken Fries and half Philly Cheesesteak (split with Ma Sip). The fries were a little too spicy for my liking, but the meal overall was good. We finished off with a bucket of Mini Donuts to compliment everything. My Fried Chicken Burger, enjoyed when we revisited Glow: Vancouver later in the month was tremendous.

That weekend, while in the area to do the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park Christmas Train, Mrs. Sip and I visited Stanley Park Brewing. My Fried Chicken and Waffles was perhaps the best serving I’ve ever had of this favoured dish. Meanwhile, my Big Jan IPA paired very well with the meal. Following the train, we enjoyed our annual family dinner at White Spot, where I enjoyed a few glasses of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale from a pitcher ordered for the table.

Christmas Day brought a number of liquor-themed gifts, including Cocktail Balls, Orgeat Syrup, a bomber of Steamworks Salted Chocolate Porter and mini bottle of Ole Smokey Moonshine Butter Pecan from Mrs. Sip. From the Sip-in-Laws, I also received a $50 gift card to Liquor Depot, which I can’t wait to use and look forward to a different selection than that of BC Liquor Stores, which I’ve become accustomed to.

TP.jpg

For our family’s Christmas dinner, I concocted a handful of cocktails to serve. These included the Jingle Juice (Gin, Club Soda, Cranberry-Lemonade Juice, Lemon Juice); Mele Kalikimaka (Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice); Yule Mule (Candy Cane Vodka, Ginger Beer, Lime Juice); Snowflake (Tarantula Azul Tequila, Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, Coconut Flakes); and Winter Comfort Shooter (Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack and Southern Comfort Gingerbread). Once again, the cocktails went over really well with the crew.

On Boxing Day, we met up with friends for a beer at the newly-opened Five Roads Brewing. I ordered the Christmas Staycation Red IPA (collab with Farm Country and Camp), to go along with a Margherita Pizza shared with Mrs. Sip. This was Baby Sip’s 80th brewery visited, a stat which I’m very proud of!

What a way to end the year and the decade, as well. Our New Year’s Eve will be spent with a quiet night in and we greatly look forward to what 2020 has to offer including a calendar that is quickly filling up and a baby boy on the way!

Sip Trips #179: November Rain

Now that we’ve truly entered the chaos of the Christmas season, I thought it best to wrap up the end of November for the Sip Family. Here what we got up to upon returning from our Hawaiian getaway:

We spent a fair portion of November staying at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, so treated them to dinner at White Spot one evening. I ordered my usual Legendary Burger and paired it with a pint of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale, my first winter ale of the season. Hopefully, there will be many more in December.

snowman beer

A couple weekends back, a friend and I converged on Port Moody’s Brewers Row for an afternoon of drinking. We hit all five breweries (Moody Ales, The Bakery, Parkside, Yellow Dog and Twin Sails) along Murray Street, the first time I’ve done the entire strip since a fifth location was added earlier this year. The highlights for me was a neat flight at The Bakery (Marzen Kellerbier, Irish Whiskey Barrel Stout, South African IPA, Raspberry Stout) and the Lights Out Imperial Stout with Coconut at Twin Sails, which came in at a whopping 15.1% ABV. I can attest, it did actually knock my lights out!

Following Mrs. Sip’s most recent midwife appointment, and prior to taking Toddler Sip to her first Disney on Ice spectacle, we ate dinner at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. The place had a great $5 beer special, so I selected the Strange Fellows Talisman West Coast Pale Ale. The brew paired nicely with our Bacon & Potato Pizza and Cheesy Flatbread, as well as our Irish Crème Cheesecake for dessert.

Mrs. Sip’s office Christmas party was held this past Friday at El Santo in New West. The set menu included tortilla chips and trio of salsas and guacamole, ceviche, grilled salad, a soft tacos dish with mushrooms and almond mole, and main courses of salmon and steak. There were also churros for dessert. As for drinks, I began with a serving of Strange Fellows Krampus Belgian Abbey Dubbel, before moving onto their expansive cocktail menu. I had servings of the El Campechano (Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, watermelon, mint, lime, soda) and Suenos de Coco (Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Mezcal, pineapple, toasted coconut syrup, nutmeg), while also trying sip of other people’s beverages. It was a good night out with the work crew.

aftermath-office-christmas-party

To finish the weekend, we attended Glow: Vancouver, which we found to be a great place for Toddler Sip. While Glow: Langley had more drink options, I did have a Spiced Rum and Coke on this occasion, but will probably not order drinks on future visits with our “year pass”. There was only one beer to choose from and it wasn’t even on tap. We did have a nice slice of Peanut Butter Cream Pie at the food area, another drastic change from the convoy of food trucks that served their wares in Langley. The Glow team is doing a good job with their available space in Vancouver, but I still curse whoever made an issue of the event being in Langley.

This weekend, we’re off to celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday in Leavenworth, Washington. I can’t wait to return to this winter wonderland and watch Toddler Sip experience it (and snow) for the very first time!

Sip Trips #176: Oktoberfesting

The month of October should be spent celebrating the harvest with good food and drinks. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing and the yield has been quite bountiful. Here’s what the crew has been up to over the last few weeks:

The Sip Family recently attended Another Brewing Company’s (ABC Brewing) Oktoberfest event and what a time it was. ABC put together a collection of 11 German-style beers – four of their own, with others coming from brewery friends – for guests to enjoy. I paid about $50 for a limited edition stein and fill (24oz), as well as five additional tokens for 12oz pours or to be used on culinary items. Free tickets were also available to those who just wanted to attend and perhaps buy a few tokens for food and drink.

oktoberfest-driver

My stein fill was used on Sundown Brewing Hefeweizen, which was a fantastic start to the day. I then moved on to ABC Brewing Altbier, before going the experimental route with Ravens Brewing Lingonberry Lime Gose. A-Frame Brewing Kolsch was up next, followed by Main Street Brewing Dunkel. I also tried some of Chuckanut Brewing Altbier, from Bellingham, Washington.

The only shade I can throw the event’s way was the pretzel I spent a token on was cold. This was probably due to the pretzels arriving late and the ABC folks trying to get them out as quickly as possible, to satiate the many guests who had been inquiring as to their whereabouts. I also overheard some complain about a lack of salt on the pretzels and I agree with this criticism.

To celebrate a recent family birthday, we gathered for dinner at Elisabeth’s Chalet in Cloverdale. My beverage of choice at the German-themed restaurant was a pint of Krombacher Dark, while my meal was the Schnitzel Four Season, featuring vegetables such as tomatoes, red and green peppers, and mushrooms. The combo was very good and filling.

schnitzel

Prior to our Vancouver Canucks game last Saturday, we ate at the nearby Boston Pizza, which has a number of new specialty pizzas on their menu, making my choice quite difficult. I settled on the Royal Hawaiian, attracted by the sweet Thai honey garlic sauce, smoked prosciutto, bacon, and grilled pineapple. I’d also love to try the Mad Mac, which sounds like a pizza version of the McDonald’s Big Mac. Since individual pizzas seem to be getting smaller and smaller every time I eat at the restaurant, we still had room for a slice of Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake, which was simply decadent. Add in a pint of Stella Artois to wash it all down and we walked away ready for some hockey action.

Wrapping up this Sip Trips cycle, yesterday, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at White Spot, to celebrate the first anniversary of them providing Toddler Sip (formerly Baby Sip) with childcare. There, I ordered my usual Legendary Burger with side Caesar Salad (gotta go healthy on some occasions), joined by a pint of Granville Island Oktoberfest Lager. Thank you again to Ma and Pa Sip for their hard work and amazing dedication.

We now move into Halloween season with parties and other festive gatherings on the horizon. All should make for an interesting couple of weeks and you’ll hear about soon; same bat time, same bat channel!

Sip Trips #118: Pucks and Parties

This week has been a busy one as the Christmas season ramps up and Mrs. Sip and I have three Vancouver Canucks games on the schedule to attend. Thank god for our grandparent babysitters! Let’s get right to the action:

Late last week, with Ma and Pa Sip over, we grabbed dinner at the new Johnny Rockets location in Downtown Vancouver. I had their Original burger, which was pretty good. What I liked best was their half fries/half rings, allowing eaters to enjoy both side dishes. More restaurants need to adopt this concept. While we didn’t order them, the chain also offers a number of tasty milkshake options. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

Close Enough Cat.jpg

On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I had our first Christmas party of the season, through her office. The meal took place at Piva Modern Italian Restaurant, where we tried a number of great menu items. For appies, I particularly liked the Polenta Fries, while my main course of Duck & Fig Pizza was terrific. The meal provided a perfect balance of sweet and savoury and while Mrs. Sip’s Prosciutto Pizza was good, we were both raving about my selection.  For beverages, I enjoyed the Terra Saison and Red Pilsner, both from Steel & Oak Brewing, and for dessert, I tried the Bagpipes in my Ferrari (Glenmorangie, Disaronno, smoke and oak bitters), which was a solid nightcap.

The next day, we had our first Canucks game of the week and this is one we’ve had circled for some time. With the dastardly Toronto Maple Leafs in town, I swapped some of our other half-season tickets in order to attend this game. With a 2-1 victory for the home side, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Shock Top Wheat Ale and Goose Island Honkers Ale throughout the game, which helped with the intensity and anxiety of the matchup.

The weekend wrapped with our annual family visit to the Bright Nights in Stanley Park and Christmas Train. This was Baby Sip’s first time riding the Christmas Train, although we did take her on the Halloween Train when she was only just over a month old. As is tradition, we followed the park visit with dinner at the nearby White Spot location. Here, Cousin Sip, her husband, Sis-in-Law Sip and I split a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale, while I ordered my usual Legendary Burger. The two pair quite nicely with each other and made for a delicious meal.

Man Sized Mug

Lastly, on Tuesday, we celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday at The Keg. I, once again, selected the Prime Rib Sliders with side of fries for my meal, which was very good. Unfortunately, Mrs. Sip and I had to eat fast to get to another Canucks game, as food took a while to be served thanks to the kitchen being backed up by a private party. My Sliders were only $13 during happy hour, down from their usual $18 price tag. For dessert, Ma Sip saved her slice of wonderful Billy Miner Pie for Mrs. Sip and I, which we consumed in quick order following yet another Canucks triumph.

The weekend is full of scheduled activities and doesn’t let up at all. ‘Tis the season, after all!

Sip Trips #84: Christmas Crunch

Well, my little sippers, the Christmas season is in full swing and Mrs. Sip and I have been busy with various events with friends and family. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to:

On Sunday, we checked out the Stanley Park Christmas Train. While the ride was enjoyable as usual, Mrs. Sip was hoping there would be more of a theme, as there has been in past years. Still, the lights were beautiful and the music was festive, so I’ll give it a passing grade.

Following the train, we had our traditional family meal at White Spot. To pair with my typical Legendary Burger order, we selected a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale. There’s something about this beer on tap that takes it to a whole ‘nutha level!

chips-and-beer

The next evening, Mrs. Sip and I got a rare date night, visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market. The new location does provide more room, but some of the lineups need to be better organized, such as the beer booth’s queue bleeding into another nearby line and causing confusion and blockages. Mrs. Sip enjoyed her spiced rum mulled wine, while I downed a serving of Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel. The price for each beverage was $8, leaving little cash leftover for two folks who largely use cards for payment. It seems odd that many vendors selling merchandise were able to offer a charge card payment option, but most food and drink stalls could not. Oh well, that’s money saved from the expensive event that we really only attend because Mrs. Sip gets free tickets each year.

That saved money was quickly put to use as we popped into the Earl’s Kitchen + Bar in Yaletown. Their Man en Fuego cocktail (Mezcal, El Jimador Tequila, Mango juice, green Tabasco, lime juice) was on special and it’s a very good drink. So good, Mrs. Sip and I each ordered a second. For our meals, Mrs. Sip selected the Avocado Super Toast, while I went with the Hunan Kung Pao noodle dish. Both dinners were very good.

This weekend, we have even more on the schedule, so it will be another whirlwind. ‘Tis the season, am I right!?

Sip Trips #81: Restaurant Roundup

While the Sip Advisor hasn’t posted a Sip Trips article for a couple weeks, that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept up my typical level of social activities. I was just saving up a few outings and before I knew it, there was almost too much to report on.

Dressed as my own inner child – seriously, I just couldn’t get inspired to come up with a costume for this Halloween season, so this was a last minute idea that actually worked out fairly well – we attended a friend’s fundraiser at Rusty’s Neighbourhood Pub in Cloverdale. The burger and beer deal didn’t leave much to the imagination, especially as far as beverages went, but through a technicality, we were able to upsize our burgers and I really enjoyed my Doc Holliday variation. Much of their menu looked really good, so next time we’re in the area, we’ll have to drop in again.

bacon-cheeseburger

The next day, we intended to check out Abbotsford’s Craft Beer Corn Maze, before a storm decimated the attraction. Instead, we used the occasion of being out in the Fraser Valley to visit Old Abbey Ales. Here, the Sip Alliance each constructed their own flight of beer and with so many options available at the tasting room, no two boards were the same. I really like that Old Abbey Ales has the customer fill out there selections, rather than recite them. This gives you more time to round out a perfect cross section of brews and decreases the chances your order will get mixed up.

A couple days later, as Mrs. Sip prepared for her ongoing trip to India, we visited Patron Tacos & Cantina for a meal. We typically order their Queso Fundido dish and then use the cheese and sauces it comes with on our tacos. This makes for quite the feast and Mrs. Sip and I both left with overly full tummies.

That weekend, after recently receiving a flyer advertising Milestones new Epic Eats menu, Mrs. Sip and I were looking forward to testing out some of the new additions. While Mrs. Sip ordered the Jiffy Pop Popcorn Shrimp, I had my eyes – and stomach – set on the Hottest Club in Town. This Sriracha chicken and waffles club sandwich was absolutely fantastic and I look forward to crossing paths with it again shortly. We also noted that the restaurant now has a Beers & Bros deal (a pitcher of beer and four appies for $40) to accompany their Girls’ Night Out Bellini promotion.

waffles-pancakes-with-abs

To celebrate Halloween, we decided to check out the Day of the Dead-themed Stanley Park Train. Following that, Mrs. Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and myself made our way back downtown and popped into Steamworks Brewpub for a bite and beverage. With a $15 pitcher deal on Mondays, we settled on their Pumpkin Ale, while splitting their massive House Baked Pretzel. This was probably the best way to wrap up Oktoberfest festivities, through the month.

Come Friday, I was on the road again. Mrs. Sip and I are members of the Langley-based Backyard Vineyards and as such, are invited to their semi-annual customer appreciation nights. Mrs. Sip always seems to be on vacation when they occur, but that doesn’t stop the Sip Advisor from enjoying. With great live music filing the air, guests were treated to a fantastic meal and other goodies. Prior to arriving at the winery, we had made great time from Vancouver, so decided to pop into Trading Post Brewing for a beer. I liked my serving of their Dear James S.M.A.S.H. Saison and it was a good start to the evening’s entertainment.

beer-and-wine-consumption

The weekend was wrapped up with a visit to White Spot, where I was able to try a pint of Granville Island Harvest Ale. The beer, exclusively brewed for the restaurant chain, was a solid accompaniment to one of my all-time favourites, the Legendary Burger. You are not a true British Columbian if you have never tried this entrée.

Well, I ended up with much more to discuss than I first thought. With Mrs. Sip away in India for the next two weeks, it kind of feels like the calm before the Christmas season storm. I better enjoy my “downtime” while it lasts!

BC Beer Baron #166 – Granville Island Nat Bailey Pale Ale

Available exclusively at White Spot restaurants (and enjoyed by the Sip Advisor over the weekend), this Granville Island Brewing release brings two British Columbia icons together, in the form of the eatery and the brewery.

The Nat Bailey Pale Ale is actually quite good for a “house beer”. The 5% ABV American Pale Ale pairs wonderfully with White Spot’s Legendary Burger, which has been an edible symbol of the province for decades. With strong flavour and refreshing taste, the brew will not disappoint.

Granville Island Nat Bailey Pale Ale

Granville Island has brewed two beers (the Pale Ale and Nat Bailey Lager) exclusively for White Spot for a number of years. Nat Bailey was the founder of White Spot restaurants all the way back in 1934. He is also credited with building Canada’s first drive-in restaurant in 1928 and creating the first car hop tray.

I’ve experienced many great moments at White Spot restaurants, from the birthdays of friends and post-wedding brunches to graduation celebrations and everything in between. Most notably, Mrs. Sip and I visited the restaurant as part of our very first date and we will forever have a soft spot in our hearts for the diner.

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…

December 9 – Angel’s Delight

One for the Ages

For most, it would be hard to pick a favourite Christmas. What pushed that particular Dec. 25th over the edge? Was it a gift? How you celebrated? Who you celebrated with? All of them seem so good, but for the ol’ Sip Advisor, it’s a pretty easy choice. Not to take anything away from any other Christmas I’ve enjoyed over my 30 years on this planet, but bar none, my 2010 Christmas was the best… that’s when I popped the big question to Mrs. Sip! Here’s our story:

best-christmas

Mrs. Sip and I had been together for over eight years when the fall of 2010 rolled around and had been through a lot together. Having dated since we were both 18, we’d practically grown up together. While the road was generally quite smooth, there was the odd bump, as one would expect when you’re coming into your own as a person and going through all the steps of adulthood, such as school, work, friendships, etc.

We had also spent quite a bit of time doing the dreaded long distance relationship thing. Mrs. Sip took off for England just six months into our courtship (does that even happen anymore?) and she was there for much of the first year of our dating. A couple years later, I was off to England for my own exchange program, followed by Miss Sip going to Australia for a term and shortly thereafter, me taking off again, this time for a full year living in Toronto.

We’d done things the right way (I believe) and not rushed into our relationship, allowing each other to grow and expand our horizons at our own pace. Our relationship matured magically as a result.

One day at work, a radio ad came on and it dawned on me that it was time to go ring shopping. I hadn’t been thinking too much of taking our relationship to the next level, but at that moment, everything just seemed right about the idea.

engagement-ring

I bought Miss Sip’s engagement ring (a spectacular piece of jewelry, if I don’t say so myself) in September of 2010, sans any help from friends or family. I wanted to do this all on my own and keep it a secret from as much of the world as possible. This caused some crazy thoughts to run through my head, such as “What if something happens to me before I ask Miss Sip to marry me and no one ever knows I have this ring purchased?”

It was a long wait from late September to late December, as I planned to propose to Miss Sip on Christmas Day and then be able to share it will all of our family and friends throughout Christmas dinners and get-togethers. Periodically, I’d take a quick peek at the beaming diamond ring buried in my dresser drawer, awed by the step I was about to take and the journey that would surely ignite.

The only person in the world I told of my intentions was Miss Sip’s dad. I had always intended to ask permission for her hand, but I did worry my secret would get around. True to his word, my future father-in-law kept my secret… and later paid for doing do!

Christmas Eve finally came and I was beyond excited. The one downside was that both Miss Sip and I were currently suffering through pretty serious colds. We had a meal out together before heading back to our apartment to enjoy our first Christmas just the two of us. Sadly, instead of enjoying drinks, while making gingerbread houses and watching a movie, we were sucking back Neo-Citron, hacking and wheezing, and giving up on gingerbread houses, settling for a gingerbread shanty town. We also put on the god awful Babes in Toyland film before both passing out from our medication.

christmas eve

The next morning, I was feeling a little better, but Miss Sip was still having issues. I briefly considered postponing my marriage proposal, but decided that I just couldn’t wait any longer and with both our families hosting Christmas dinners, there may not be a better opportunity to have everyone gathered.

Under the guise that I wanted to capture our first Christmas morning for prosperity, I had borrowed Pa Sip’s video camera and had it set to perfectly capture our engagement. It was hard to conceal my excitement, as we started opening our stockings.

After our stockings were emptied, I made sure Mrs. Sip went first for exchanging gifts. She got me a Nintendo Wii, which would normally have stolen the show as far as Christmas gifts go, but I knew what we’d really be talking about all day. Finally, after three months of planning and waiting, it was my turn to blow her mind.

Things started off slowly. I gave her a set of different hot chocolate toppings and a digital photo frame – I had to have something under the tree for her to throw off the scent of what I was planning. Ironically, Mrs. Sip had done the same thing for me using random DVDs (the Wii was hidden underneath a pillow).  After the photo frame and hot chocolate toppings came my “set-up piece” – a simple silver bracelet that came with the engagement ring. As Miss Sip examined the bracelet, probably thinking that she should return the amazing Wii she had given me, I dropped to one knee and trying to keep my voice from cracking said, “I know that’s not the jewellery you deserve, so I also got you this!”…

Christmas-gift-diamonds

Miss Sip was shocked. I don’t think she had any idea this was coming down the pipeline. We’d talked about a future together, but I don’t think she expected this at all. She quickly responded with a resounding “YES!” and what a relief that was. I kept thinking of TV shows and movies where a marriage proposal is met with rejection. Thankfully this didn’t go in that direction.

The rest of the morning was a blur. We celebrated, planned how we would tell everyone and cursed our colds. The ring was three sizes too big and shortly after I proposed Miss Sip completely lost her voice, but nothing could take that day away from us… we were now engaged to be married!

Our first stop was Miss Sip’s parents to open gifts. We brought over cinnamon buns, but I couldn’t eat with all the anticipation. Mrs. Sip was able to talk long enough to let her parents and sister know we had gotten engaged that morning and we had another little celebration.

I left after a couple hours to go to my parents. After opening gifts there, we were all relaxing when Ma Sip inquired about what I’d got Miss Sip for Christmas. I told her about all the items, leaving out the engagement ring for later. I could feel Ma Sip glaring at me as I continued to aloofly watch TV. She was not happy with my choice of gifts, which was all the more hysterical given what had actually transpired. I couldn’t help but let a wicked smile cross my face as I left the room.

Lying Parents

That evening, I left my family dinner to return to Miss Sip’s parent’s place where I announced to the rest of her family that we had taken the next step in our relationship. Miss Sip couldn’t do it thanks to her voice giving out on her. Another celebration ensued before we were able to slip away and return together to Ma and Pa Sip’s home, where my family had gathered.

After settling in, I once again made the big announcement and (I bet you know where this is going) more celebrating was to be had. Ma Sip got her wish in that Miss Sip’s Christmas gift was more than a bracelet.

The rest of the next month was spent telling our friends about the engagement before revealing to the world via Facebook that we were set to be married in 2012!

Drink #343: Angel’s Delight

Angel's Delight Drink Recipe

  • 0.75 oz Gin
  • 0.75 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Milk
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Candy Cane

Do you have a particular Christmas that you could call your favourite? Please share your story with Sip Nation!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This martini was a bit of a surprise.  I wasn’t sure how it would all come together and it ended up being a perfectly sweet and smooth drink. The colour and garnish were nice and it was simply an all-around good cocktail.