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Judge recommends shooter drink ban in Alberta

Nadia Moharib, QMI Agency
Bartender pouring shots. (Shutterstock)

Bartender pouring shots. (Shutterstock)


The accidental death of an intoxicated British soldier at a Medicine Hat pub has led a judge to recommend the province “restrict or eliminate” the sale of shooters.


Stewart James McAllister died October 2008 after tripping down steep, concrete stairs leading into Gringo’s Night Club.

The 20-year-old British solider, stationed in Suffield, was about two-thirds of the way down when he “lost his balance and fell down the stairs,” the fatality report released this week states.

“He struggled to regain his balance but ultimately struck the far corner wall with his head,” it said.

The injuries proved fatal.

It was later learned McAllister had a blood alcohol content about 3.5 times higher than the legal limit for driving, although his friends told the inquiry they didn’t believe he was very drunk.

Provincial judge Gordon Krinke’s recommendations include the province restricting or eliminating the sale of shooters at licenced premises and to continue with programs such as ProServe to ensure servers and managers recognize intoxicated people and have strategies to deal with them.

People at the club that night could buy drinks from circulating waitresses, bartenders and up to four beers at a time from a beer tub.

Shooters were also available by the tray-full from shooter waitresses.

“There was little communication between the servers with respect to individual patron’s alcohol consumption,” Krinke wrote.

”Given the number of locations within that bar that a patron could purchase alcohol ... it would be virtually impossible to monitor an individual patron’s alcohol consumption.”

The judge stated while “the amount of alcohol an individual consume is first and foremost the responsibilty of an individual,” an “obligation also lies with licensees to ensure a patron is not over served.”
“Gringo’s failed in its obligations to McAllister,” he wrote.

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission spokeswoman, Jody Korchinski, said it has trained more than 160,000 servers in recent years to recognize intoxicated patrons and how to deal with them.

While the province will be assessing the recommendation regarding shooters, it could prove challenging to restrict or eliminate selling them given shooters are mixed drinks, not unlike cocktails, and it would be tough to define what exactly constitutes one.

The spirit of the inquiry, she said, is to ensure the province meets its mandate to ensure licenced establishments serve liquor responsibly — something it takes seriously along with a review of Krinke’s findings.

“It is our mandate to ensure licensees (serve) with integrity and a socially responsible manner,” Korchinski said.

On Twitter @SUNNadiaMoharib