BOOZE & PUBS

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Athenians! Let’s gather round and celebrate Best of Food and Drink with a round of ale! Which you don’t really have, so let me ferment some of your wheat and go from there. No, keep your amphoras of wine. You need that for your bread. /Chiron Batchlett

Best After-Work Drinking

Gold
Victoria’s Tavern
1965 Hamilton St. 306-352-8427 victoriastavern.ca.

Silver Leopold’s Tavern & Bushwakker (tie) Honorable Mention O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub, The Fat Badger, Malt City, The Capitol

Loosen the tie (shirt and shoes stay on, please). With places like The Fat Badger, The Capitol, Malt City and perennial contender O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub all within walking distance of Victoria’s Tavern, there was some stiff competition for top place to get a bevie after your nine-to-five. The gold winner is Victoria’s Tavern — a sweet conversion of the 1923 Canada Loan and Trust Company Building. Vic’s is a leader in what has felt like a mini-renaissance of better booze hubs to get casually soused downtown, and is a great choice here. /McDuck

Best Happy Hour

Gold
Victoria’s Tavern
1965 Hamilton St. 306-352-8427 victoriastavern.ca.

Silver Leopold’s Tavern Bronze Bushwakker Honorable Mention O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub, The Capitol, The Fat Badger, Malt City

The first thing people think about when it comes to happy hour is price. The break you get on booze for a couple hours is a much appreciated benefit obviously, whether you’re looking to relax a bit after a hard day at work, or lay some solid early groundwork for a late-night “corker”. But price is only one part of the happy hour equation. You also need quality booze, a decent menu for anyone who’s feeling peckish, and a fun and friendly atmosphere. And while I’m sure all seven finalists in this category give good happy hour, voters picked Victoria’s Tavern as their favourite. /Gregory Beatty

Best Place for a Wicked Bender

Gold
O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub  

1947 Scarth St.  306-566-4094 ohanlons.ca

Silver The Fat Badger Bronze McNally’s Tavern

If you’re looking for the best spot in town for a night, or day, of overindulgence, O’Hanlon’s has you covered. Not only do they have a big enough beer selection (including Saskie brews from Nokomis, Rebellion, Black Bridge and Malty National) to keep everyone happy, they have a wide range of events through the week to put a little variety into your boozefests. There’s the “I-Can’t-Sing-Unless-I’m-Drunk” karaoke bender, the “It’s-A-Little-Hot-For-Spring-Whatever-Let’s-Hit-The-Patio” bender, your standard dance party and live music benders, and, of course, the ever popular “We’re-Losing-At-Trivia-Let’s-Just-Drink” bender. The one upside of downtown emptying out at night is ample parking for your designated driver, along with a fleet of cabs ready to take you home safely at the end of your wild night out. /Amy Couzens

Best Beer Menu

Gold
Beer Bros. Gastropub & Deli
1821 Scarth St. 306-586-2337 beerbros.ca

Silver Rebellion Brewing Bronze Bushwakker Honorable Mention O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub

It’s no surprise that a place called Beer Bros. has the best beer menu in Regina. But they are more than that. Beer Bros. are beer educators, and still push the SLGA to increase the imports selection. To simply list some of the highlights of their beer menu is futile. Beer is more about personal taste. Start by asking for something light or dark; an ale or stout; and maybe an import, domestic or a local craft beer. It’s all there. So the next time you visit Beer Bros. and aren’t sure what to order start by telling the server, with as much detail as possible, what you like in a beer. Guaranteed they have something either on tap, in the bottle, or in a can that will be the perfect fit. /Mike Shiplack

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Best Microbrewery

Gold
Rebellion Brewing
1901 Dewdney Ave. 306-522-4666 rebellionbrewing.ca

Silver Bushwakker Bronze Malty National

Regina and Saskatchewan are becoming beery good places as more pubs bring in craft taps and local breweries sprout up all over the province. It’s great! One thing we have to work on, though, is our beer purveyor terminology. Fortunately, we’ve got Bushwakker’s Grant Frew to help us out.

A while back, Grant contacted us to flag Bushwakker’s appearance in the Best Microbrewery category. He said his business has no business being in it. “We are not a microbrewery,” says Grant. “Bushwakker is a brewpub, as are the three Regina Brewsters locations, the Last Straw, the Barley Mill, Bonzinni’s, Four Seasons, etc.”

So what’s the difference between a brewpub and a microbrewery?

“A brewpub is essentially a restaurant with its own attached, in-house brewery,” says Grant.

“A microbrewery is a small industrial facility that is very much focused on the wholesale and distribution of its beers to licensees, liquor stores and offsales throughout the city, province and even into neighbouring provinces.”

A note of this has been made.

We’re going to insist Bushwakker keep its silver prize, even though Grant’s right — it wasn’t technically eligible. We also insist Malty National hold on to their bronze award, even though they weren’t open during the voting period. They can work on earning it throughout their first year of business.

As for Rebellion, I guess their blurb got a little hijacked by a terminology lesson. But don’t despair: you can find their beer at taps all over Regina, not to mention at Rebellion’s own taproom on Dewdney. Thirsty for a great amber ale? Craving an oatmeal stout? How about a Glacier pale ale, double IPA or lentil cream ale? My friends, Regina’s best microbrewery has you covered. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Wine List

Gold
The Willow On Wascana
3000 Wascana Dr. 306-585-3663 willowonwascana

Silver La Bodega Bronze Crave Honorable Mention The Diplomat

The Willow On Wascana’s Prairie vibe nicely balances its worldly love affair with fine wine. David Burke, owner and sommelier, is constantly on the hunt to bring in a new vintage from a vineyard thousands of miles away — or he might surprise you with something made right here at home. Always trust in the food and wine pairing. It can (though doesn’t have to ) be an expensive evening but it never disappoints. The experts in the kitchen and the sommeliers at the front of house work together to deliver an evening of wine and food usually found in large metropolitan areas. Wine enthusiasts can even sign-up for the Wine Club. Membership includes quarterly wine-tastings, meetings with wine-makers from around the world, and access to vintages that rarely enter the Saskatchewan market. /Mike Shiplack

Best Cocktails

Gold
The Capitol Restaurant + Cocktail Bar
1843 Hamilton St. 306-570-2323 thecapitol.club

Silver Birmingham’s Vodka & Ale House Bronze Malt City Honorable Mention Earls Kitchen + Bar, Flip Eatery & Drink

A martini done right and a little live jazz, shaken together in a candle-lit gin-joint. The Capitol’s a savvy choice to get half-seas over in style for the discerning drinker — right down to their use of a single ice sphere instead of little cubes so you don’t get ice bits floating in your chilled cocktail. If you’re in the mood for an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, or a Vesper, The Capitol’s the cat’s meow. /McDuck

Best Pub Food

Gold
Victoria’s Tavern
1965 Hamilton St. 306-352-8427 victoriastavern.ca.

Silver Bushwakker Bronze Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern Honorable Mention O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub

Victoria’s Tavern has a selection of house-made tater-tots covered in delicious. Like short-ribs-various-cheeses-and-gravy delicious. That, right there, is a big finger flipping off other competitors in the pub food category. And the finger is covered in queso. If I had my way — and the editor assures me that’s not how this contest works — the biggest trophy in this made-up fork-battle-royale would go to Victoria’s for its grilled cheese of the day genius. Check out #GC365 on Twitter to see how Victoria’s has elevated cheese and carbs by matching it with indulgences like avocado, heirloom tomatoes and salted meats with fancy names. /McDuck

Best Nachos

Gold
Bushwakker
2206 Dewdney Ave. 306-359-7276 bushwakker.com

Silver Leopold’s Tavern Bronze Nacho Fiesta Honorable Mention Lancaster Taphouse, Knotted Thistle, The Fat Badger and Fireside Bistro (tie), Press Box

Let’s be honest, everyone does nachos: the new franchised restaurant in the suburbs, the modern up-scale steakhouse, the family-owned diner, your drunk roommate at 1 a.m. Amid such mediocrity, one wicker basket of nachos towers supreme over all others: Bushwakker. The brewpub portions the delectable tortilla chips as small, medium and large. They ought to be classified as pile, hill and mountain. Each delectable serving is meticulously layered and textured with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, jalapenos, black olives and cheese. Salsa and sour cream come standard and saintly. Add fresh guacamole for $3 extra, and you’ll experience nirvana in your mouth. /Evan Radford

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Best Wings

Gold
Bonzzini’s Brew Pub
4634 Albert St. 306-586-3553 bonzzinisregina.com

Silver Barley Mill Bronze The Tap Honorable Mention O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub

Some weirdo who edits an independent Regina magazine insists that his wings be thrown on the grill so they’re crispier and less goopy. Sure, that’s okay once in awhile, and Bonzzini’s is happy to oblige. But true sauce connoisseurs will appreciate the ungrilled drippy goodness of regular chicken appendages once they choose from the dizzying array of 20-plus options. If you want to try a variety of sauces, the extremely popular Tuesday half-price wing night is your best bet, especially if you take a few friends and you each order a different type to share. The wing menu underwent a flavour shake-up last year, but there’s always something that will satisfy your tastes, including the sweet mustardy Gold Fever, your basic Buffalo Ranch, the fiery Screaming Hot, the tangy Lemon Pepper or my favourites: Sweet Thai and Orange Ginger. Just don’t feel like you always have to have them grilled. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Have your Bonzzini’s wings grilled. Always.] /Carolyn Rebeyka

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