Marmot Basin

Great music, great times at the Astoria Hotel



Lester Quitzau, Canada

The Lester Quitzau Electric Trio has performed in Jasper.
Photo courtesy LESTERQ Website

JASPER, ALTA. — If it's Friday night and you find yourself in the Town of Jasper, you need to be at the De'd Dog Bar & Grill, a funky local's pub housed in the Astoria Hotel on Connaught Drive (main street). 

To say the atmosphere is lively is an understatement. Every time I've paid a visit to the De'd Dog, it's taken me some time to get a drink – and that's not because the service is slow, anything but. It's because I'm usually running into old friends, both from Jasper and others who are in town for the weekend. I'm just too damn busy saying hello!

Even when you know no one, you can be sure someone (and not just the staff) is going to give you a smile and ask how you are doing. Don't be afraid to get into a conversation while you are waiting for your drinks to arrive.

If it's a local, they are often too happy to share some insider tips about Marmot Basin, and if it's an out-of-towner like yourself, you will most likely run into each other again at the hill, so why not make friends early.

Laid back 'tude

The decor is of the tough kind – solid wood tables, chairs and floors that can handle a ski-boot kicking. Combined with plenty of paraphernalia adoring the walls and superb staff, the Dog is anything but pretentious. This is where you head to after the hill, before or after dinner or just for the evening.

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The music is kept to a low roar and there are pool tables and televisions that are permanently tuned to whatever sport may be televised, but honestly, unless it's a big game, I'm not so sure people pay any attention to them. This place, with it's great selection of domestic and imported beers, is all about relaxing and reconnecting.

If you find yourself in the mood to go dancing later in the evening, than head to Pete's on Patricia (Street) where DJs spin out blues and alternative music. 

The night I was there, the large dance floor was packed and I don't think there was room for more than 10 more people after I had arrived. The average age could have been anywhere from 20 to 50 – meaning that the only reason you shouldn't go to Pete's is that you are too old at heart.

Hitting the dance floor

If all this sounds a little too raucous for you, then I suggest a visit to Champs Sports Lounge located in the Sawridge Hotel. It's a relaxing place that boasts over 50 different martinis, comfortable sofas and large plasma screens to watch the big game.

For something completely different, head to Papa George's, also located in the Astoria. It's a fine dining restaurant, but it has a wine bar where you can treat yourself and your mates to some congenial conversation and a glass or two from the extensive wine cellar (in full view) which houses some 1,300 bottles of wine. 

If restaurant manager, Patriee Fortin, is in the house, he's only too happy to share his amazing knowledge of wine and give you a tour of the cellar. In fact, there's nothing he likes better than showcasing the various taste changes a wine can deliver, depending on how you decant it, or when you drink it.

A small group of us joined him for a bit of a wine tasting, and when he offered us up a glass (straight from the bottle) of a particular wine while he was describing it's nuances, one of my mates just wasn't finding what Fortin was describing. In fact, he said it was weak. Fortin then poured the wine into a decanter and let it sit for a while. Then and only then did my mate start appreciating the complexities of the wine.

Fortin's favourite saying is that "Wines are like women," but I leave it to you to make a visit to find out what he means by this.

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