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? Seven years
What’s your favorite after-shift drink? A medley of bitters and soda water.
What is the “star ingredient” of your CC entry? Cocktails to me are very narrative-driven. When creating this drink I wanted to tell the story of curling up to watch a good scary movie in the fall. In that sense, the sarsaparilla and butter really shine, because c’mon popcorn, root beer and film go hand in hand.
What’s your favorite drink to make? An Old Fashioned, because someone ordering one has probably had a lot of different variations. So it’s nice to give your own personal flair that surprises the guest.
What’s a drink that makes you cringe? Almost no drinks make me cringe, I think everyone should enjoy a cocktail they want to. But a spirit that makes me cringe is Jeppson’s Malört.
Best hangover cure? The only real hangover cure is time and forgiving yourself for any embarrassing things you might’ve done the night before.
Got a bar joke? My bar joke would be me when I’m flustered in the weeds trying to bartend.
Why do you love bar work? Apart from loving the people that I’m surrounded by, I think bartending is a good way to gauge the whole spectrum of the human experience. You see people that are happy, sad, excited, and in a voyeuristic sense I find it very interesting.
What is a cocktail/spirit you used to hate but now you love? Why? Mezcal. I’ve come to appreciate how the terroir expresses itself within the spirit.
A Good Sarsaparilla
1½ oz Wahaka Mezcal Espadin
½ oz sarsaparilla syrup
Rinse rocks glass
Root beer extract
Sugar shard for garnish
Bar spoon of tarragon vinegar
Combine mezcal, sarsaparilla syrup, and tarragon vinegar in mixing glass, add ice, stir until properly diluted. In rocks glass, add 20 drops butter extract then ice on top, stir to coat glass, dump ice and butter. Add big rock to glass, top with cocktail. Garnish with sugar shard on the rim.
4 tbs sarsaparilla bark
1 cup hot water
1 cup demerara sugar
Combine 2 tbs of sarsaparilla bark with 1 cup of hot water. Set aside to steep for 2 hours. Once steeped, combine with 1 cup demerara sugar and remaining 2 tbs of sarsaparilla bark in a pot on stovetop. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes. Fine strain with cheese cloth and enjoy!