Home Eat & Drink Salt Lake Mag’s 2020 Cocktail Contest

Salt Lake Mag’s 2020 Cocktail Contest

Salt Lake Mag’s 2020 Cocktail Contest

The holidays are a traditional gathering time—families get together, friends reconnect, strangers become friends. That’s what hospitality is all about and this is its high season. Salt Lake City has a talent for kind-heartedness. And despite all the difficulties, we’re going to celebrate that. So Salt Lake magazine has altered its annual cocktail contest to suit the times. Eight of the city’s best bartenders have created special celebratory cocktails in honor of the season.

Be safe, but we encourage you to taste them all, tip big (part of the money goes to charity) and vote on your favorite. If you’re not going out, make the drinks at home. You can still vote on your favorite. In either case, the contest winner gets a big gift, you’ll be doing a good deed and having fun in the process. Yes, it’s a win-win-win situation.

Produced by Libation – Thanks to Sugar House Distillery

Be sure to vote for your favorite cocktail in this years cocktail contest and be of good cheer!


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The 2020 Cocktail Contest Contestants: 

Photos By: Natalie Simpson


  1. Salt Lake Mag Cocktail Contest

Crystal Daniels – Takashi Sushi
Daniels garnished her cocktail with banana leaves and an edible begonia from Red Butte Garden—if you can’t get the begonia, another colorful edible blooms will do. In the September/October issue of Salt Lake magazine, you’ll find an article on using edible flowers.) takashisushi.com

1.5 oz. Amaro Bilaro
.5 oz. Sugar House Distillery Barrel-strength Rye
.75 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. red rice orgeat made with Red Butte Garden botanicals Pinch of Jacobsen Salt
from Caputo’s

2. Salt Lake Mag Cocktail contest

Frank Mealy – The Copper Group
Like many, Mealy says he started bartending to help pay for college. “Then I realized I loved the specialty aspect of making drinks. There is such a wide range of flavors and textures that makes creating an exciting process.” Now he is a full-time bartender for the Copper Group. “Inspiration for this drink came from the expectation that we’re going to be running our outdoor patio season longer because of Covid.” People are more comfortable sitting outside, Mealy says, “So I wanted to make a hot drink for the colder months.” thecopperonion.com

1.5 oz. Sugar House Distillery Bourbon
1.5 oz. pear shrub (Champagne Vinegar/Earl Grey simple 2:1)
.75 oz. lemon juice
Preheat glass with hot water. Mix ingredients, pour into the hot glass, top with hot water and garnish with cinnamon stick, star anise and dried pear.


Clif Reagle – Alibi Bar & Place
“My goal for this drink was to make it with as many local ingredients as possible,” says Reagle, “and seeing as the farm scene is pretty quiet in November I decided to go with a classic method of fruit preservation: the shrub. I think most people forget the luxury that we enjoy now with our produce options during the winter months, and it wasn’t that long ago that your only means to enjoying fruit mid-winter was in the form of a preserve, jam, jelly, or in our case, a shrub. The Akane apples were harvested in September and will be stored in vinegar until November and a batch of apples has been sliced and dehydrated to use as garnish. Both of these techniques will en- sure a genuine Utah “farm to glass” experience incorporating spirits distilled and bottled in the Salt Lake Valley. I started bartending six years ago, and have had the privilege of work- ing with some of the finest food and beverage professionals in Utah. I continue to do it for the same reason I started: you’ll never know everything there is to know about food and drink. My career would not be possible without the people around me and I am blessed because of them.” facebook.com/alibislc/

1.5 oz. Sugar House Bourbon
1.5 oz. Utah Honey and Akane Apple Shrub
.25+ oz. Waterpocket Snow Angel .25 oz. lemon juice
Barspoon of simple syrup
2 dashes Regans Orange Bitters
Combine in shaker over ice, shake and strain into a footed glass. Serve with dried apple garnish.


Christopher Stevenson – Lake Effect Bar
“I’ve been bartending for a little over 15 years in Salt Lake City,” says Stevenson. “I cut my teeth at Squatters Pub downtown when Scott Evans was managing the pub. He really sparked my interest in spirits and wine beyond just my knowledge of beer. Learning the history of wine and spirits from Scott just made me want to learn more. Since then I have made my way into craft cocktails working as head bartender at Avant Groove, Grand America and Ho- tel Monaco. I’m currently behind the beautiful and elaborate Lake Effect bar. Lake Effect encourages originality and creativity—plus we have the largest variety of spirits in the state. I love fall/winter cocktails with spice, cook- ing herbs and an earthy undertone. I chose the Shochu for its nutty rice flavor and funk. The rum helps bump up the proof of this cocktail. Beet brings in an earthy flavor and gives it a really appealing burgundy color. I wanted to keep the cocktail easy to make for the average home bartender. Yet the cocktail still presents complex and well rounded flavors.” lakeeffectslc.com

(Don’t remember who this is? Google it.)
1.5 oz. Holystone Distillery Tsunami Shochu
.5 oz. Sugar House Silver Rum
.5 oz. Toadstool Boxed Death Amaro #3 4 dashes Cry Baby Fruit Punch bitters .75 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. beet simple syrup (equal parts beet juice to simple syrup)
.25 oz. cinnamon simple syrup
4-5 fresh sage leaves
sage bouquet (garnish)
Shake all ingredient together, pour over crushed ice in a large snifter. Garnish with fresh sage bouquet.


Ian Hasselfeld – HSL
Hasselfeld began bartending because a friend of his was doing it. “He started teaching me all these ways and methods of why or how to make drinks and I found it very interesting. Not long after that I got my first bartender gig working with him. I was lucky to get into such a amazing line of work at the age of 21.”  In Utah, peach season is late—early
fall. “Fall has always reminded me of my grandma,” says Hasselfeld. “She had a peach tree when I was growing up.” Before fall winds blew the fruit off the trees, Hasselfeld remembers “a bunch of farmers plucking peaches before the storm wiped them out. That gave me the inspiration for the fallen peach.” hslrestaurant.com

1.5 Sugar House Distillery Silver Rum
.75 peach-coconut simple syrup (Mix coconut simple syrup with peach puree.)
.75 lemon juice
.5 Holystone Shochu
.1 Holystone Oread liqueur
Shake all ingredients together and fine-strain into a rocks glass. Top with pebble ice and smoked salt and garnish with a locally farmed flower.

6. Salt Lake Mag Cocktail Contest

Natalie Hamilton – Under Current
“I began bartending in the city nearly six years ago. I never imagined bartending would turn into a passionate form of art and creativity for me, but six years later, I’m still happy to be learning,” says Hamilton. “My favorite part of bartending is creating a space where people from many walks of life can feel safe and can be brought together over drinks and the fabulous community of this city; I love creating thoughtful and inventive drinks for that experience.
At Under Current, we’ve leaned in to our nautical roots and gone with more inspiration from flavors of the ports across the world. We have many southeast Asian spices and influences, using complex spirits such as agricoles, mezcal, amari, aquavit, Japanese whiskeys, and spirits not fitting into the “classic mold.” The Open Sesame fits the holidays with its deep red color and warm spices. We created a signature syrup using black rice, toasted black sesame, cinnamon, anise and clove. The syrup is the backbone of the cocktail, giving it both a rich texture and exotic flavors. Water Pocket Distillery created Temple of the Moon Gin, and with its hints of ginger and citrus, we found this to be the perfect base spirit. We added locally made Bar Daddy Orgeat to add notes of floral rose and orange blossom and add to the creamy texture of the cocktail. For depth and bitterness, we added Ramazzotti amaro. The cocktail is deep and complex in flavor, color and character. It also highlights one of my favorite local distillers and orgeat by craftsman and friend, Ryan Manning. It’s topped with grated coffee and laphroig to bring out the earthy and smoky notes found in all the ingredients. undercurrentbar.com

1.5 oz. Temple of the Moon Gin
.5 oz. Forbidden Syrup (black rice, black sesame)
.25 oz. Bar Daddy Orgeat
.5 oz. Ramazzotti liqueur
.75 oz. lemon juice
Mix and add two dashes chai bitters. Top with orchid flowers, grated coffee and a laphroig spritz.


Adam “Scoop” Kaessner – Water Witch
“Scoop” says, “My goal was to utilize ingredients in the bar that often went to waste and combine them into a unique twist on a well-established classic cocktail. At Water Witch we are constantly working on reducing food waste and reusing ingredients that haven’t been fully exploited. After a wine is opened, it starts to deteriorate and is no longer servable after only a few days. So I take that dead wine and boil it with spices, add sweeteners like sugar infused with orange and lemon peels, and use that syrup as the sweet element
in a cocktail. For this drink I added spices that I felt added warmth and complemented the Sugar House Bourbon Whiskey. Because we use lots of orange peels to garnish drinks in the bar we are left with quite a bit of orange juice that doesn’t get used so we regularly come up with creative solutions to feature cocktails with orange juice. Adjusting the acid levels in the juice is one way to make it fill the place of another citrus like lemon or lime juice but still get orange flavor without over-diluting the drink. By adding malic and citric acid we achieve a tartness similar to lime juice. Then all the juice is clarified with agar, a jelly-like substance, obtained from red algae. That way the juice keeps for longer and can be carbonated. To carbonate the drink I use the Perlini Cocktail Shaker which makes it so the drink can be carbonated, chilled, and diluted all in the same step.” waterwitchslc.com

1.5 oz. Sugar House Distillery Bourbon Whiskey
2.5 oz. clarified acid-adjusted orange and ginger juice (described above)
.5 oz. Riff Pinot Grigio wine syrup aromatized with Vietnamese black tea, vanilla, coriander, orange peels CO2
Mix the drink and pour over the biggest ice cubes that will fit the glass. Carbonate the drink and garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel, pickled ginger slices and Verjus rouge, ginger and orange caviar (made with agar.)


MaryKate Garland – SLC Eatery
MaryKate started bartending weddings and events at a yacht club before mov- ing to the busy downtown nightlife on the East coast. She moved to SLC two years ago and started flexing her craft cocktail muscles in this blossoming bar and restaurant scene. “SLC Eatery uses a lot of Japanese fusion with our food, so we loved the idea of using the local Holystone Shochu as our main spirit with yuzu behind it. We also loved the idea
of creating a more “elegant” cocktail be- cause although we are a male chef-driven restaurant, we’ve got a lot of girl power behind it as well.” slceatery.com

3:10 TO YUZU
1.5 oz. Holystone Shochu
1 oz. Elena Gin
1 oz. yuzu juice
.75 oz. jasmine flower orgeat Egg white
Bitters Labs Blueberry- Cardomon bitters
Mix in a cocktail shaker over ice and strain into glass.

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