Restaurant Awards 2022: Introducing Our Bartender of the Year

Introducing VanMag's 2022 Bartender of the Year, Jeff Savage of Botanist.

Introducing Our 2022 Bartender of the Year

Jeff Savage, Botanist, 1038 Canada Pl., Vancouver

When we established this award in 2006, the goal was modest: try to figure out who is the top bartender in town. But what we didn’t appreciate at the time was that Vancouver was having a cocktail moment such that the winner of BOTY that year—and many years after—was not only the best bartender in town, but likely in the country… and, some might argue, the world.

Even more amazingly, as the mixology revolution grew, so did Vancouver’s standing—so when a young Albertan studying political theory and religious studies suddenly caught the barkeep bug, he was able to hop on a short flight and receive encouragement from luminaries like Jay Jones, Shaun Layton and Lauren Mote, all giants in the industry and also working bartenders in town, always willing to help out a visiting colleague. The mentorship paid off: by the time Jeff Savage took up Grant Sceney’s offer to move to Vancouver and work at Botanist, he had been racking up accolades and competition wins in our provincial neighbour to the east for years.

jeff savage and christina hartigan pose in vancouver restaurant Botanist
Photo: Tanya Goehring. Bartender of the Year Jeff Savage (left) and Sommelier of the Year Christina Hartigan (right) pose in Savage’s Botanist home base.

But once ensconced in the mad scientist lab in the Pac Rim, things really took off. In 2019 he won World Class Canada (the Super Bowl of bar competitions), then finished second in the world by an insanely close margin—and, in doing so, played his own key role in keeping Vancouver perched as one of the world’s cocktail capitals. And like those who came before him, he’s always happy to mentor a newbie or lead a patron through the genesis of a cocktail that might have as many literary references as it has ingredients.

Want More Restaurant Award Winners? Read Them All Here