Log Haven kicked off its popular Dog Days of Summer with a canine cocktail contest Sunday night: Four mixologists, formerly known as bartenders, dreamed up their best doggie-themed cocktail in front of an audience of dog-owners–and their dogs–on a hillside behind the Mill Creek restaurant.
Great Danes, Westies, miniature Australian shepherds, Shih Tsus and an amassing of mongrels (the dogs, not the owners) gathered to watch the competition, drink wine and eat.
Chef Dave Jones put on the dog with a menu of, okay, what else, hot dogs; dogs were given their own water bowls, dog cookies and organic poop bags. (Humans did not receive favor bags. No one mentioned cats. Or ferrets.)
First bartender at bat was Todd Gardiner, owner of Taqueria 27 on Foothill and in Holladay. He played the sympathy card right away, showing off a picture of a vegan, carrot-loving dog named Wilson before he even touched a shaker. Awwww, was the unanimous response.
The "Wilson" cocktail was based on Vida anjejo tequila and carrot juice, with a shot of ginger liqueur and a garnish of grilled pepper and cinnamon-glazed carrot.
Next up, the team from BTG retrieved a childhood memory for canine inspiration: the "151 Dalmatians" cocktail was a complicated dessert concoction. Bacardi 151, coconut milk, fresh orange juice, saffron-cinnamon syrup and a dash of Frangelica, garnished with tapioca pearls (those were the spots) and a complicated cap of coconut meringue.
Log Haven itself, the team of Ian and Ian, presented the most beautiful cocktail garnished with a sprig of spruce from the woods where we were sitting and a vanilla wafer shaped like a Milkbone. The drink was a mix of High West vodka, vanilla black tea, pine syrup and vanilla simple syrup. Called "Timberwolf," it may have lost a few points by not being strictly dog-themed, although the rationale of canine kinship was the defense.
Finally, Scott Gardner of Finca/Pago presented the "Spuds McKenzie," a mix of tequila, Aperol, lime and Demerara syrup topped off with Squatters Off-Duty IPA.
Judges Ted Scheffler of City Weekly, Scott Beck of Visit Salt Lake and myself took only minutes to reach a unanimous conclusion and Wilson won the day.
It will be served during Log Haven's Dog Days from now through August, when guests with reservations can dine with their dogs on the terrace behind the restaurant.