Adam “Scoop” Kaessner/Water Witch: 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-work drink? A shot of Cynar and beer, something to wash the bad taste of Friday’s last call out of your mouth. 

What is the “star ingredient” of your CC entry? The gardenia syrup. It’s basically honey and butter, so it adds a rich velvety mouth feel that goes well with chocolate. 

What’s your favorite drink to make? A Margarita. Mostly because it’s such a perfectly balanced drink that is made so wrong so often. 

What’s a drink that makes you cringe? I’m not one to judge, but one common order that we get at the Witch is “vodka not-too-sweet.” I used to get bothered by people asking for it, but now we’ve leaned into it and offer it as a special. 

Best hangover cure? Any flavor of hair of the dog, or my personal favorite: Soccer and water. 

Why do you love bar work? Having an instant kinship with other bartenders and providing a special experience for customers. On top of that, being in a small craft bar is really important. 

What is a cocktail/spirit you used to hate but now you love? Why? I’ve always chased the obscure things, so there really aren’t any offensive flavors that I haven’t tried to work with or enjoy. But I will say I’ve come around to vodka.

Adam “Scoop” Kaessner, bartender at Water Witch, with his cocktail Seething Song
Adam “Scoop” Kaessner/Water Witch; Photo by Austen Diamond

Seething Song

1 oz Neisson Rum
1 oz Pisco Logia 
1 oz Cappelletti
1 oz strawberry gardenia mix (below)
¾ oz lemon
Top with Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco 
Pair with Caputo’s presents Wild Jura chocolate 
Strawberry cappelletti powder (below)

Strawberry Gardenia Mix

115 grams butter
115 grams Hollow Tree wildflower honey
20 grams freeze-dried strawberries
25 grams Cappelletti
5 grams salt 

Simmer all except strawberries over low heat. Stir to combine. Add and macerate strawberries for 10 minutes. Strain and keep at room temperature.

Cappelletti Powder 

Pour a few ounces of Cappelletti on a baking tray dehydrate or set in the sun until liquid has evaporated. Scrape off the sheet and blend with salt and freeze-dried strawberries.

Salt Lake Magazine
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