St. Regis bartender Marcel Paramore loves creating new cocktails.
The new mixologist's skill goes far beyond knowing when to shake and when to stir. Infusing, marinating, pickling, foaming, "sphericizing"-all these techniques are used by today's bartender. Everything is made from scratch. Sweet-and-sour mix is a dirty word. Dirty martinis call for imported olives. Many eschew Schweppes and make their own tonic water. Everyone makes infused syrups. Here's a look at how local bartenders are making their mixes modern.
Made by Marcel Paramore at St. Regis Deer Valley
2300 Deer Valley Dr., Park City, 435-940-5700
St. Regis has been famous for its vodka cocktails ever since the 1920s, when the Bloody Mary was created at its King Cole bar in New York City. Now, every St. Regis property has its own signature Bloody Mary. More importantly, St. Regis bartenders are still encouraged to invent. Marcel Paramore has a name like a stripper and a face like a cherub, but he is one of the most creative mixologists in Utah. “Almost every day I invent something new,” he says. “I’ve been tending bar for eight years and after a while you build up experience with ratios and knowing what flavors mix and how they balance.” His secret weapon? Fruit and citrus-flavored bases, which he makes up in the kitchen. He serves up a Whiskey Passion Fizz as an example; he just invented it. To a base of pureed passionfruit seasoned with whole Thai chiles, he added an ounce of Bullitt and topped it with ginger ale. His Ginger Shandy mixes citrus vodka with a ginger-lime syrup base shaken and poured over ice and topped with Stella Artois. Although there are dozens of flavored vodkas out there, with new ones being created every day, not all of them are available in Utah. Paramore says he relies mostly on vanilla, orange and raspberry vodkas, and heads to the kitchen for the rest of his fresh flavorings. His Citrus-Thyme Lemonade is citrus vodka flavored with fresh thyme and lemon syrup and topped off with soda.
Special Ingredient: If you can feed hummingbirds, you can make a flavor base for original cocktails. For a Lemon Thyme Base, heat 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and the zest of one lemon together in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add cup fresh lemon juice and a handful of freshly washed thyme. Let thyme steep until cool, then strain and store in refrigerator.
Blood & Sand
Made by Jimmy Santangelo at Copper Onion
111 E. Broadway, SLC, 801-355-3282
The most storied and sacrosanct of liquors is a specialty of Copper Onion beverage director Jimmy Santangelo, who teaches a class on Scotch whisky (Lesson 1: no “e”) through Lifelong Learning at University of Utah. "Scotch is probably the most strongly flavored spirit,” says Santangelo. “And to some people, it’s sacrilege to mix scotch with anything but a single ice cube or a few drops of water to open it up.” But Santangelo begs to differ. “For a heavy, peaty old scotch, you probably want to mix it with a splash of soda, at most," he says. "But blends, Speyside and Lowland scotches, are mild enough to handle some creative flavor matching." The point is, you need to know your scotch before breaking out the mixers. One classic scotch drink, the Rusty Nail, blends 2 parts scotch to 1 part Drambuie, a sweetened malt whisky liqueur - obviously a match made in heaven. Another classic, Blood & Sand, was invented for the premier of a movie of the same name and consists of equal parts scotch, cherry brandy liqueur, sweet vermouth and fresh orange juice. Santangelo brings it up to date by incorporating crushed, strained cherries, a Utah banner crop.
Special Ingredient: Sweet Vermouth. The name comes from the German word for "wormwood," an essential part of early recipes which were used medicinally. In the early 20th century, wormwood was prohibited but the fortified wine—supplemented with extra alcohol—is infused with aromatic flowers, seeds, herbs, spices and even bark. Vermouth comes in two styles, sweet and dry. Caramel or sugar is added to make vermouth sweet and that's what goes into the original martini. A "dry martini" uses dry vermouth.
The Maple Pumpkin Margarita
Made by Todd Gardiner at Taqueria 27
1615 S. Foothill Dr., 385-259-0712.
The first thing you notice when you enter Taqueria 27 is the wall of tequila. Not real bottles, of course. The DABC wouldn't allow that. These bottles have been painted, chalkboard-style, on the wall, larger than life. Clearly, this is a tequilacentric restaurant. There are beer and wine options on the substantial beverage list, but no other spirits. "We had a customer get really angry because we 'wouldn't' make him a whiskey sour," recalls owner Todd Gardiner. "We couldn't make a whiskey sour—we don't have any whiskey here." What Taqueria 27 does have is 40 different tequilas to taste: 10 anejos (aged in oak at least a year and a day), 16 reposadas (aged at least 2 months) and 14 silvers (aged no more than 30 days). That's not counting the ultra-premium selections. Whether you're a tequila lover or a tequila novice, the best thing about this menu is that besides a neat ounce and a half, you can order a 1/2-ounce tasting portion. Not more than one at a time—this is still Utah watching out for you!—but if a party of four each orders different tastes, you do some pretty serious tequila exploration as a group. Ever try a Bloody Mary made with heirloom tomatoes and tequila? With some breakfast tacos? When it comes to cocktails, Gardiner and his wife Kristi, have their own sao-plant garden of tomatoes and peppers from which to pull tasty drink ingredients. In the fall, Gardiner, whose kitchen-centric approach to tending bar stems from years of experience as a chef, makes the unlikely sounding Pumpkin Maple Margarita with roasted pumpkin and maple syrup.
Special Ingredient: Maple syrup. Traditional bartending calls for simple syrup. Today, mixologists use other sweeteners like maple or agave syrup for another flavor.
The Farmers Market Swizzle
Made by High West bartender Holly Booth, 703
Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8300
It sounds like a dance, but it’s actually the latest creation of High West bartender Holly Booth. She and her co-mixologists are responsible for developing two completely different summer and winter cocktail menus for the distillery/restaurant/bar, in addition to an abbreviated menu for shoulder season. Obviously, she focuses on whiskey-based drinks, although High West makes vodka and her bar stocks other spirits. “People think of whiskey as a heavy flavor and a winter spirit, but combined with the right ingredients, it’s a great mixer year-round,” says Booth. For example, the Tipperary, a take on a classic drink from the 1930s, adds Chartreuse to whiskey to give it a brighter taste. Carthusian monks in France have been making Chartreuse (after which the color is named) for centuries—it’s a secret recipe of 130 herbs mixed in distilled wine, giving an herbaceous, almost grassy quality to the whiskey. For the Farmers Market Swizzle, Booth makes her own falernum syrup, balanced with bitters and garnished heavily with seasonal fruit. In spring, her recipe calls for cherries and blackberries, but features stone fruits and others as the season progresses. It’s a muddled cocktail, made in the glass with an old-fashioned swizzle stick. (Want one? Booth found hers at cocktailkingdom.com.) To a base of High West Son of Boureye, a blend of bourbon and rye, Booth added some Rhum Agricole, a rum made directly from the cane instead of the molasses so it has a grassy, almost earthy flavor.
Special Ingredient: Falernum Syrup. Its name comes from the famous ancient Roman wine called Falernumand, and it’s frequently used in Caribbean and tropical drinks. Booth makes her own by flavoring simple syrup with spices like ginger, cloves and vanilla.
Classic Mai Tai
Made by Matt Pfohl at Pallet
237 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-935-4431
Matt Pfohl’s cocktail menu at Pallet features “classics with a twist.” And, because many modern drinkers aren’t familiar with the classic cocktail, he serves those, too. In fact, Pfohl is a bartender with a twist. Like the archetypal friend behind the bar, he is talkative and interested in chatting with his customers, but Pfohl is most likely to be talking about cocktails, educating his drinkers as he serves them and blurring the lines between cocktail and food experiences. One classic cocktail on Pallet’s menu is a good example of mixology gone awry: The Mai Tai, a tropical rum-based drink invented either by Trader Vic’s or Don the Beachcomber during the heyday of America’s postwar love affair with the islands, is now thought of as a “frou-frou” drink. Neon-colored, garishly garnished with canned fruit and paper parasols, it’s the kind of tipple self-respecting imbibers shun in favor of serious drinks like the Manhattan or the martini. Pfohl takes the Mai Tai back to its rummy respectable roots, serving a whopper of a cocktail made of dark rum, light rum, cointreau and his own orgeat syrup. Like his daiquiri, a similarly potent refresher, Pfohl credits the success of the drink to the shake. “You have to shake it enough to oxidate it the right amount and until tiny ice shards appear on the top when it’s poured,” he says. Garnished simply with a thick slice of lime (so the aromatic oils from the skin seep into the drink), this Mai Tai is manlier than the average Utah martini. No parasol required.
Special Ingredient: Orgeat syrup is a classic flavoring called for in many traditional cocktail recipes.
Made by bartender Cody Frantz at Kristauf's Martini Bar
16 W. Market St., SLC, 801-366-9490
A gin martini is the quintessential cocktail. In fact, saying “ginmartini” used to be a redundancy. Although martinis are made now with everything from vodka to tequila to chocolate liqueur, the word martini refers to an ice-cold mixture of London gin and dry vermouth, stirred, not shaken. Period. Okay, thats the puristic point of view. The rest of us savor all kinds of concoctions in a martini glass. Over the last 40 years, the traditionally pungent, juniper-flavored gin has lost its popularity—just ask Cody Frantz, bartender at Kristauf's, which calls itself a martini bar. “I don't know if it's because of the heavy vodka marketing or because too many people drank cheap gin when they were younger, but about half our drink sales are for vodka. Only maybe 15 percent is gin.” He says that is starting to change with the newer and softer Hendrix rose and cucumber-infused gins, which don't have as strong of a juniper taste. Still, gin drinkers seem to be stuck in the tried and true triad of collins, tonic and martini. True to Trend, Frantz, who changes his cocktail menu annually, has started mixing drinks lately with less sugar and more fresh flavors. Witness the honey jalapeno martini. He is also using softer flavoring liquors to balance the taste of the gin, like his recent blend of 1 ½ oz. Gin, ¼ oz. Amaretto and ¼ oz St. Germain elderberry liqueur. Frantz teaches bartending for the Lifelong Learning Program at the U.
Special Ingredient: Hendrick's gin is made in Scotland. Take a look at the Terry Gilliam-style website and you'll find that this gin is made in ultra-small batches (450 liters), is flavored with rose petals and cucumber and made in two kids of still.