Alta Bistro Cocktail Competition – Cornucopia Festival 2013

For the third year in a row I was graciously invited up to Whistler by the guys at Alta Bistro to judge their cocktail competition, a part of Whistler’s Cornucopia Festival. Drinking and judging people you say? I’ll do it! This year the event took the main stage at the Whistler Convention Centre and grew from 8 competitors in 2012 to 10 this year.



The competitors came from Whistler and Greater Vancouver and are some of the top drink slingers around. The event was sponsored by Flor De Cana 5 year old Rum which was the feature ingredient in each drink. Everyone had 5 minutes to prepare their bar and 5 minutes to create their original cocktails to be served to the 4 eager judges. There was $2000 up for grabs to whoever crafted the best cocktail and I’m happy to say there wasn’t a bad drink out of the 10 that I sampled.


The top three were, from 3rd to 1st, Tia from The Mix in Whistler, Keenan from The Keefer Bar in Vancouver, and your champion for the second year in a row… Scot Curry from Alta Bistro with his Five Alarm Fizz. You might be sceptical of the host bartender winning 2 years running but Scot has had an amazing 2013 winning awards all over Whistler and Canada. Well done Scot!

The 7th place cocktail from Eloyn, head barman at Whistler's The Mexican Corner
The 7th place cocktail from Eloyn, head barman at Whistler’s The Mexican Corner

After the competition the judges and competitors were treated to a “bartenders dinner” at Alta Bistro. 3 courses of simple, local and amazing food. The first course was a beautiful charcuterie board with assorted meats, pickles, and grainy mustard.

Charcuterie board


Our main course was braised beef shank with roasted potatoes, kale and chipolinni onions. The beautiful simplicity of this kind of food is everything that I love about Alta Bistro. The beef is local and was braised to a rich, melt in your mouth perfection. This dish is me on a plate, I can’t say enough good things about it.

Braised beef shank
Braised beef shank

The 3rd course was dessert, but not the usual sweet kind. A simple cheese board with green apple slices and crusty bread. I was way to deep into Alta’s single malt Scotch selection at this point to recall exactly what cheeses we had but 2 of them were soft, stinky and delicious and the other was harder and less funky. I’m pretty sure it was a raw cow’s milk cheese, so good.

Cheese board
Cheese board

From there some of the bartenders/judges and I headed out into the village for a bit of an after party. It’ll probably make it into my biography one day…

Thanks to Ed, Eric and the team at Alta for feeding me drinks and food all day. I’m already looking forward to 2014.

Karma stuff. My judging skills were provided free of charge and my meal at Alta was on the house. I paid for all of my ten hundred drinks after the competition as well as my hotel.



Canadian Club + Mad Men = Good Times

What’s the best way to celebrate the launch of the latest season of Mad Men on Blu-Ray? Have an event at Vancouver’s swanky Terminal City Club, invite Canadian Club along to make some cocktails, give a tasting of their products and give away a beautiful Hamilton watch. Add some of Vancouver’s finest folks dressed in 1960’s era clothing and good times are a sure thing.

Surprised they let me in such an upper crust establishment? Me too, and it’s my second time there! The Terminal City Club is a great place for an event and a lot of other folks thought the same thing as the turnout was very good. All three Canadian Club cocktails were great but my favourite was the Old Fashioned. The whisky tasting was fun and the Canadian Club brand ambassador gave us a lot of great details about CC’s three different Rye Whisky’s which were all very different. I’m a Scotch man and my palate for Rye isn’t nearly as refined, something I’m going to have to improve!

Thanks again to Dunn PR for putting on another great event!





Alta Bistro, Round 2

Alta Bistro oozes cool. A super hip cocktail list, craft brewed beer and a selection of hand-picked wines compliment a focused menu featuring dishes made from local and/or organic ingredients. Owners Eric Griffith and Edward Dangerfield have brought something truly unique to Whistler. Located at #104-4319 Main Street in Whistler, part of the Pinnacle Hotel building, Alta Bistro feels like somewhere that would work in Gastown or Yaletown and gives Whistler’s restaurant scene a modern kick in the ass.

I’ve been to Alta Bistro a few times now and every visit has been fantastic. “Cocktail Technician” Scot Curry and Co-Owner Edward are always willing to suggest drinks to a willing participant and Eric seems to be everywhere at once ensuring that customers are looked after and that Scot and Edward are trying to get me drunk, which I’m totally fine with by the way. On my most recent visit I enjoyed some Bison Carpaccio with juniper berry dressing and alpine cheese and on two occasions I had the BBQ Duck Confit flatbread with Salsa Verde. The flatbread is a special that runs after 10pm and is only $5!!! This is the best food bargain in Whistler, period. It doesn’t hurt that it’s delicious as well as affordable.

The cocktails are made with premium spirits and house made bitters, syrups and infusions such as the Flor de Cana 4 year old rum infused with vanilla pod, clove, ginger, cinnamon & cardamon which I gladly finished off! Their Old Fashioned is also a force to be reckoned with along with the Painkiller. Also, being a Scotch lover, having Ardbeg  on hand is a one way ticket into my good books.

This is the kind of place that I will visit every time I return to Whistler, it’s that good. Eric, Edward, Scot and the rest of the staff are fantastic people and make Alta Bistro a memorable experience. Going to Whistler without going to Alta Bistro is a mistake you just can’t make.