by TOM FIRTH and LINDA GARSON
with TERRY ANDRYO, STEPHANIE ARSENAULT, and PATRICIA KOYICH
We’ve long held the belief that Alberta has without a doubt the best selection of wine, beer, and spirits in the country. With the access we have to some of the finest liquids to ever grace a bottle (or can), we also have some of the best sommeliers, beverage directors, and restaurateurs in the country. These are the people charged with creating a list to complement the menu, highlight regions, countries, or even styles of drinks, that will help an evening become an event or a meal become a masterpiece. The awards for Alberta’s Finest Drinks Lists were created to highlight those restaurants with world-class lists.
With well over 100 lists submitted, and 11 different categories to be evaluated, we had some very busy days this summer. As well as the best overall list, we wanted to celebrate the small list, beer, and spirit lists, and so on, so that we could find the best lists for when you’re travelling, looking for the best spot for a glass of wine, or even a place for a weeknight.
Special thanks to everyone who submitted their lists, and also to the new East Village Hilton Garden Inn for being a fantastic venue for our judging, and to our sponsor, Alberta Treasury Branches who, among other things, reminded us that with the great selection of local brewers, distillers, and wineries, we really should talk more about Alberta-made.
Co-Chair, Editor in Chief
Since 2005, as the creator of Vine & Dine, Linda has spent more time than most eating, drinking, and studying menus and wine lists. Running her educational wine and food-pairing program for so long has given her such an appreciation of Alberta’s vibrant culinary scene, that she launched Culinaire magazine in 2012 to celebrate the best our province has to offer in the world of food and beverages.
A guy who sees food and beverage from a completely different perspective; his point of view is from the farmers’ side of the table. Engaged in Agricultural Marketing with ATB Financial, he has re-enforced his family values by supporting local; eating seasonal, fresh food; and having an open mind to cultural culinary experiences and diversity.
Well-known and well-respected as a restaurateur in Calgary for many years, Patricia Koyich joined SAIT in 2011, teaching dining room service, bar mixology and wine service. Launching this fall, she is part of the curriculum and development team for the Culinary Entrepreneurship post diploma program.
Co-Chair, Drinks Editor
A 20+ year veteran of the beverage industry, Tom spent several years retailing for two of the best wine stores in the province before moving to the journalism side of a wine bottle. The drinks editor for Culinaire magazine, and the competition director for the Alberta Beverage Awards, he’s spent many a day pouring over wine lists with an eye for exciting bottles that won’t wreck the budget.
As a freelance food and travel writer and photographer, Stephanie has had the chance to experience an assortment of food and drink lists around the world. She is WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) and Prud’homme certified, the author over at globaldish.ca, and an advocate for craft brews and patio pints.