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Best of Whistler 2016: Bars, pubs and clubs

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Best Après: Garibaldi Lift Company

Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC) won the Best Après accolades this year, which links in with its win as best venue to see live performances.

"I've always thought that it's a culmination of everything we offer," says GLC manager Mike Wilson. "I believe we offer really good food and our staff is always a huge part of our success. And the entertainment — whether it's a DJ, The Hairfarmers or Ruckus Deluxe — it adds to everything."

Being family-friendly also helps, Wilson says, with children allowed at après to create a fun environment. The location, in Whistler Village at the foot of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains doesn't hurt either, he laughs.

Dusty's and the Longhorn Saloon came second and third, respectively.

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Best Club/Late Night Bar: Garfinkel's

Garfinkel's takes the honours this year for Best Club in Whistler.

"I'm super excited, that's amazing!" says Garf's general manager, Paul Stoker.

Garf's has been a staple in the resort's nightclub scene since 1991.

"It went through a couple of different stages, but for the last three years we've tried to take it back to a Whistler ski and snowboard bar and nightclub. No frills, just lots of fun and good events — nothing pretentious — just understanding who we are; understanding that 19-to-35 demographic," Stoker says.

They've also focused on community events such as the Art Throwdown, which pits the talents of local artists against each other in knockoff rounds.

"Just having that community behind it is great for us," he adds. "It's been really well received."

Asked what's planned for 2017, Stoker says there are a few big gigs on the way, including Peking Duk returning to Whistler for a two-day stay over Australia Day (Jan. 26).

"And we have Adventure Club, who is one of Canadian EDM's (electronic dance music) biggest exports, in February," he says.

Moe Joe's came second, and Brandy's placed third.

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Best Bartender: George Skoupas, The Beacon Pub

George Skoupas at The Beacon Pub knows how to pour it; he has leapfrogged from third-best bartender in Whistler in 2015 to take first place this year. He has won before, in 2006.

"This is my third season at the Beacon," Skoupas says. "I think that maybe so many things come together. It's a cleaned-up, new place for people who want that. But the most important thing is that it's right in the middle of the village and it has great specials, but it has top-shelf drinks, too. They cater to everyone along the spectrum."

Customers come into a place that he thinks has grown into a kind of welcoming locals' living room.

"It's part of my job to sell the town to visitors, but the locals also do it so well. Everyone ends up in the Beacon hanging around and having a good time together," Skoupas says.

Brahm Stoker at Brickworks came second, while Drew Carlson at El Furniture Warehouse came third.

Best bartender: George Skoupas, The Beacon Pub - BRAD KASSELMAN/COASTPHOTO.COM
  • Brad Kasselman/coastphoto.com
  • Best bartender: George Skoupas, The Beacon Pub
Best cocktail: Oso Sour, Bar Oso - BRAD KASSELMAN/COASTPHOTO.COM
  • Brad Kasselman/coastphoto.com
  • Best cocktail: Oso Sour, Bar Oso

Best Martini/Cocktail: Oso Sour, Bar Oso

Bar Oso's eponymous Oso Sour cocktail got the voters going this year.

If you've never had one, it's pretty unforgettable: a cocktail with a Canadian twist in the form of maple syrup, and it hits a few points in terms of protein, too. Along with the sweet stuff, it uses bacon-infused bourbon, lemon juice, egg white, a dash of chartreuse and is topped by a candied-bacon rasher.

Bar Oso's sister establishment, Araxi, takes second place with it's Trophy Wife (which is also on the Bar Oso menu), and Mexican Corner's margaritas came third.

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Best Beer Selection: The Dubh Linn Gate

Whistler's Irish pub The Dubh Linn Gate is first among equals this year when it comes to having the Best Beer Selection. Not for the first time, either.

Assistant manager Jonathan Dobie says that with 24 beers on tap, they try to keep up with developments in B.C. craft brewing as well as the usual suspects.

"Gordie Auld, our barman, is amazing. A lot of our beer is craft and we keep it seasonal with wheat beers in the summer and chestnut and IPAs in the winter," Dobie says.

"And we have a lot of Irish beers on tap, obviously. Guinness and Kilkenny, Smithwick's and Harp. But I'd say the majority of our collection is B.C. craft."

Whistler Brewing Company and The Brickworks Public House came second and third, respectively.

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Best Local DJ: Ace MackAy-Smith

Who came first, Ace Mackay-Smith or her DJ alter ego Foxy Moron? She has been in Whistler for 30 years, and DJing throughout. Her popularity has remained steady in this time, as well as winning Best Local DJ this year, she says she has won it one before and placed in the top 3 several times.

Asked what her favourite part of the job is, she laughs and says: "Music! And people shaking their bums."

Some of her highlights this year have included a gig on a glacial lake during Pemby Fest with a fun bunch of friends right before a rainstorm rolled in. One of the funniest, she adds, was when a group of friends showed up in all different costumes on the mountain up at Glacier Creek Lodge.

"We had a crazy little dance party in the afternoon on the patio. Sharks were breakdancing!  That is the best sound system in town and skiing to your DJ gig is pretty sweet," she says.

"The Old School Hip Hop Nights have all been great too.  Oh! And Bass Coast and Shambhala are always highlights."

Billy the Kid came second this year, while DJ Peacefrog came third.

Best local DJ: Ace Mackay-Smith - BRAD KASSELMAN/COASTPHOTO.COM
  • Brad Kasselman/coastphoto.com
  • Best local DJ: Ace Mackay-Smith

Favourite Locals' Hangout: Tapley's Pub

Tapley's Pub is Whistler's Favourite Locals' Hangout once more, and manager Peter Lawrence says they've taken the honour four times in the past five years.

"Our guests and our staff are the best. We go through trials and tribulations and they help us through it. We just had our heat fail for a week in the cold snap, and our guests were still in every day. They could have gone anywhere else. They complained and wore their parkas, and decided to stay with us," Lawrence says.

That kind of loyalty is something a neighbourhood pub depends on.

"It's the tried and true. We don't have the fanciest venue, the building definitely has some character, but we have the depth. That's speaks volumes for our staff," he says.

"We develop the rapport with our repeat customers. We get tourism, too, but 90 per cent of our business is from people who live here, whether that's a year or 20 years."

The plan to keep up with their popular sports coverage in 2017, Lawrence adds.

Roland's Creekside Pub and Brandy's came second and third, respectively.

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