Nick Harward/Mortar and Pestle: 2021 Salt Lake Magazine Cocktail Contest

Each year, we ask a selection of Utah’s best bartenders to use local spirits and local ingredients and hit us with their best shot (or shots). So last Sept. 12, bartenders bravely gathered on a Sunday morning after the Saturday night late shift to swizzle up some hair of the dog and present their entries into the 2021 Salt Lake magazine Cocktail Contest. They didn’t disappoint. Through Nov. 30, we invite you to drop in to their bars and try their creations (or mix them up yourself at home). Pick your favorites and click the image below to cast your vote.

How long behind the bar? Six years

What’s your favorite after-shift drink? Lately, I’ve really been liking to do Manhattans but splitting the sweet vermouth with Strega. 

What is the “star ingredient” of your CC entry? I’m doing a beet and tarragon cocktail with barrel-aged gin. 

What’s your favorite drink to make? A shot and a beer. [laughs] I usually go for Old Fashioned or Manhattan variations. I like more spirit-forward drinks. 

What’s a drink that makes you cringe? Anything with a sexual connotation in the name, like a Blow Job shot or Sex on the Beach. They’re greasy club drinks from the ’90s.

Best hangover cure? Corpse Reviver No. 2, baby!

Got a bar joke? Me. I’m the bar joke.

Why do you love bar work? It’s been the first point of my life where I feel like I’ve been able to express myself creatively. I also like interacting with people and giving them a good time.

What is a cocktail/spirit you used to hate but now you love? Why? Anything super bitter, like Fernet or Negronis. Of course, when you get into this industry, you’re forced to learn how to like everything and taste everything. Once I was able to develop a palette for it and figured out the complexities and the nuances behind the bitter flavors, it’s actually now one of my favorite things.

Nick Harward, bartender at Mortar and Pestle, with his cocktail Fire and Earth
Nick Harward/Mortar and Pestle; Photo by Austen Diamond

Fire and Earth

1½ oz Ransom Barrel Gin
⅜ oz beet syrup
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
Holystone Distilling Absinthe rinse

Combine all ingredients and stir down. Large cube ice. Rocks glass.Add candied beet, lemon wheel.

Beet Syrup

32 oz water
32 oz sugar
6 peeled beets
¼ oz tarragon
Zest of 3 lemons
1 cinnamon stick
1 cedar stick

Toast cinnamon and cedar until aromatic (2-4 minutes). Add sugar and water and stir until sugar dissolves. Add beets, lemon zest and tarragon and let simmer on medium low for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with half lemon moon and tarragon.

Salt Lake Magazine
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