The Pioneer hoopla in Utah means many things to many people. To the writers at City Weekly, it has come to mean that this is the week we publish the annual “Coldest Beer” issue—where we celebrate Utah’s “pioneers of hospitality.”
Now in our third year, to gather the “data” for this issue, 18 of us cruised the highways and byways of Salt Lake Valley, Provo, Orem, Ogden, Park City, Eden, Heber and even Logan, to visit more than 200 bars. We focused primarily on true club establishments but also visited a number of taverns and even a few resort restaurants known as “après” watering holes. While stopping to take the pulse of each assigned bar, we also literally tested the temperature of a glass of beer using a digital thermometer. Our beer “specimen” was a Bud Light—or the cheapest pilsner the bar had.
We’ll be the first to admit, our testing process is not a precise science. It’s more a fun exercise. It gives us a reason to visit new clubs in new parts of town, and we hope this issue will have the same effect on you.
This year, we’ve changed things up a bit. We’re still highlighting beer temperatures, but after revealing the top dozen purveyors of the coldest beer (see winners below), we categorized bars to help direct you to the nightlife adventure you’re seeking, listing bars alphabetically by category. Yes, some bars surely deserve multiple categories, but we had to choose the one that stood out above the others. Your experience may differ—leave us a comment below.
• Naughty & Nice: Bars featuring exotic dancing
• Resort Bars/Eateries that cater to imbibers of booze.
The Coolest Dozen
Tied for No. 1: 30.6° Corner Pocket, Tooele
Tied for No. 1: 30.6° Lamplite Lounge, Ogden
No. 2: 31.1° Aerie, Snowbird
No. 3: 31.6° Legends Bar & Grill, Park City
No. 4: 31.8° Bourbon House, SLC
No. 5: 32.0° All Star Sports Bar, Tooele
No. 6: 32.0° Granite Club, SLC
No. 7: 32.1° Batters Up, SLC
No. 8: 32.1° Bill’s Lounge, Magna
No. 9: 32.3° The Paper Moon, SLC
Tied for No. 10: 32.4° Mulligan’s, Logan
Tied for No. 10: 32.4° The Leprechaun Inn, SLC
A Bar Named Sue
Johnny Cash fans will know the score as soon as they hear the name. Cash is indeed king here, but not to the extent that it’s a full-on theme. What you get is everything you want from a dive bar: a jukebox, cheap booze, a feeling that it’s your secret hang and a kinda-grimy vibe so you feel tough. However, this cellar dweller is as clean as it is cool. Its colorful history as a bar is palpable; it’s still the go-to bar of this part of town. Pool is always free, and you can play in weekly poker tournaments, enjoy darts on actual bristle boards and feast on superlative bar food, including a monster bacon cheeseburger. A shared patio (with neighboring Mexican restaurant El Chihuahua) should be ready to roll any day now. 3928 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-274-5578, A-Bar-Named-Sue.com
Although Scottish in essence, Piper Down is known to rake the green on all things Irish—like St. Patrick’s Day, when it becomes party central. Piper Down (subtitled “An Olde World Pub”) is one of SLC’s classiest full-service clubs: pool, live bands, karaoke, food, ball games on the screens, poker and geek trivia nights, plus a cozy bar/dining room/patio extension nicknamed “The Temple Bar.” (It’s a nod to the original name of Piper Down that our always misinformed state officials would not allow.) Knock back a cold one with an authentic Irish app like the “Beeg as Yer Heed” nachos. 1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com
What could be better than this? You buy a movie ticket, put in an order for some drinks and snacks like chicken strips and sweet-potato fries (with housemade fry sauce) and kick back on a comfy couch or seat in the theater to enjoy one of the best combinations in the world—watching a movie on the big screen with booze that you didn’t have to sneak in. To show your support for SLC’s only cinema pub, sport one of the clever Brewvies T-shirts designed by bartender Robby Petrich, with references to movie favorites like A Clockwork Orange, Back to the Future and The Godfather. 677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5500, Brewvies.com
How many other bars double as bona fide museums? City Club is home to both a $1 million Beatles memorabilia collection and one of the best atmospheres in Ogden. The bartenders are friendly but not overbearing, and the clientele are mellow but cheerful as they sip on beer or Beatles-themed cocktails like the Magical Mystery Tour. City Club also offers a free ride service on weekends—both to and from the bar. 264 25th St., Ogden, 801-392-4447, TheCityClubOnline.net
Huka Bar & Grill/Huka Lounge
If you haven’t made the Huka scene lately, you’re missing out on the last of indoor huka smoking (the Legislature gave the bar a short reprieve from the Utah Clean Air Act). Keep in mind, there are two bars here: Huka Bar is the rowdier sister, featuring huka-adorned tables, sexy barkeeps and servers, go-go dancers and DJs Tuesday through Saturday. Next door is the very chill Huka Lounge, a hangout with live bands Wednesday and Saturday, pool tables, shuffleboard and a photobooth/jukebox that posts photos directly to Facebook. With Huka Bar’s ample draft beer and cider selection, specialty drinks like Ruby Duby Doo and The Chronic, and a diverse menu featuring the ever-popular Huka pulled pork, this is the place for a relaxing date night. Top your evening off at Huka Lounge (open till 3 a.m.) with a cup of Marley Coffee, specially roasted by Bob Marley’s son. 151 E. 6100 South/139 E. 6100 South, Murray, 801-281-4852, TheHukaBar.com
Shooting Star Saloon
From Ogden, you reach the Shooting Star after a gorgeous drive up Ogden Canyon. Or from Salt Lake City, you can take an equally gorgeous drive up Weber Canyon past Snowbasin. At first glance, the Shooting Star looks like the best a little town like Huntsville could do, but step inside and the notion dissipates as you talk to a bartender, regular or someone who came from Germany, Ireland or some other far-off land just to drink here beneath huge mounted moose, elk and a (formerly) 298-pound St. Bernard. This is one of the country’s oldest continuously operating bars, having opened in 1879 and run right through Prohibition—it’s been well-documented on the Travel Channel and the Food Network. Speakin’ of grub: The Star burger is legendary. 7345 E. 200 South, Huntsville, 801-745-2002
Two words: mechanical bull. You need more info than that? Seriously? OK, this Redwood Road mainstay is rife with entertainment, from the designated soundproof karaoke room, the region’s biggest dance floor to live local and touring bands on Saturday. If there were any doubts that country is alive and well in Utah, just stop by to witness the up to 1,500 boot-scootin’ boogiers who come through the door each weekend—and have done so for generations. 3360 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-972-5447