Joel Aoyagi/Stoneground: 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? Five years.

What’s your favorite after-shift drink? Probably have to be a mezcal on a big rock. Something to sip on to warm me up and calm the anger. 

What is the “star ingredient” of your CC entry? The roasted parsnip juice. We started by roasting the parsnips with olive oil and salt in our pizza oven.

What’s your favorite drink to make? Margarita with dirty ice. 

What’s the secret to the perfect margarita? I make it a little different. 2:1 with orange liqueur, lime juice, tequila, and a whisper of simple syrup. With the dirty ice, you just take the whole contents of the shaker and dump it into the glass without straining it. 

What’s a drink that makes you cringe?  Eggwhite sours. It takes twice the shaking. I love the cocktail, but it’s just time consuming when you are in the middle of the rush.

Best hangover cure? Shot of tequila in the morning. 

Why do you love bar work? I’ve been in the industry for 15 years, and being behind the bar is more casual, more fun. There’s an energy, buzz, an electricity behind any bar, and if you can tap into that energy, it’s really special.

What is a cocktail/spirit you used to hate but now you love? Why? Tequila. I’d always been adverse because I’d only had tequila that wasn’t real tequila. Then I had some actual agave distilled spirits and it changed my mind. 

Joel Aoyagi, bartender at Stoneground, with his cocktail The Malouf
Joel Aoyagi/Stoneground; Photo by Austen Diamond

The Malouf

¼ oz lemon juice
¼ oz dry Curacao
1½ oz roasted parsnip juice
¾ oz cinnamon simple
¾ oz spiced rum
¾ oz vodka
2 dashes of black walnut bitters
Orange swath (expressed)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Salt Lake editor Mary Malouf used to joke about the possibility of a parsnip cocktail. Now it’s happened, and it’s named for her. We’re sure she’d be tickled.

Salt Lake Magazine
Salt Lake Magazine
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