Friday 9:34 p.m.
Swing Dancing to Boston’s “Smokin’”
The crowd is a bit more, shall we say, mature than that of many clubs. When cover band Paid in Full hits the stage and starts cranking out the classic-rock chestnuts, it’s clear that many of those on the dance floor danced to these same songs in high school or college—though perhaps not with as many swings and dips in their choreography. Yet the sprawling space allows room both for those twirling revelers and for those who just came to celebrate a birthday, or to belly up to the bar with fellow travelers more ready to have an actual conversation than fire up their smartphones.
9065 S. Monroe St. (150 West), Sandy, 801-566-3254, Club90SLC.com
Friday 9:35 p.m.
The Irresistible Pull of the Piano Man
It sounds questionable: Wannabe Joels and Johns playing lowest-common-denominator requests from drunken bachelorettes for tips. But after a few drinks, I’m scribbling requests. Stumping the piano player is a no-no—they’ll keep the tip and toss the slip—but anyone can find common ground within the players’ repertoires. Just beware of the lulls: no requests means they’ll play LDS Sunday School classics (the Jack Mormon’s kryptonite).
201 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-519-8900, Tavernacle.com
Friday 9:40 p.m.
Party at the Fun Fort
It’s Friday night, and I’m hunkered down in the fortress of fun that is Totem’s. Fort, because the massive drinkery is fortified with pines in an expansive space, which is packed with six bars, pool tables and—on this particular weekend—a pair of poker tables, where, if you’re savvy with your chips, you’ll be making serious points in the Untilted Poker tournament. If Lady Luck doesn’t treat me right, there are cold beers and karaoke on tap to keep me busy the rest of the night in this big and friendly west-side bar.
538 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-975-0401
Friday 9:45 p.m.
The Tap Room
You could call it a dive bar, because if you tripped going down the stairs you’d dive headfirst into this drinking joint. But I make it in on my feet, and am faced with a mouthwatering conundrum of
High West, tequila, scotch and heavy brews (plus taps, of course). On Friday, the big bar is scattered with experienced regulars, while the younger crowd dominates the upstairs patio. The bubbly bartender happily serves everyone and keeps it fresh with free songs on the jukebox. The small space may get wild during Saturday karaoke or Wednesday trivia, but the quiet banter and bar-made hot dogs allow me to drink the night away at my own pace.
2275 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-466-0974
Friday 9:50 p.m.
West Valley Billiards
8-Ball the Night Away
What better way to start the weekend than with a friendly game of pool? The weekly 8-ball tournament starts appropriately at 8 p.m. As the evening progresses, I hang tight and enjoy some affordable drinks and tasty grub, like the establishment’s dynamite patty melt, and while the night away with bank shots and breaks with friends.
4669 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-968-2200
Friday 10 p.m.
Enough Potions to Fill an Apothecary
This DJ knows his crowd, pumping songs from the ’90s that the laid-back group finds smirkingly nostalgic. As Vanilla Ice serenades my vanilla-bean martini, it’s impossible not to drift into the lounge vibe Elixir is going for. Until recently, this spot was Kristauf’s—the menus still bear the old name—but the little urban oasis still delivers a lounge-y good time.
6405 S. 3000 East, Holladay, 801-943-1696, ElixirUtah.com
Friday 10:14 p.m.
Lumpy’s South ^
Beach Party on the Back Deck
On a perfect late-spring night, it’s hard to miss the one girl in the neon-green-striped bikini. But she actually seems appropriately attired for the occasion as patrons congregate on the Lumpy’s South patio. Some sprawl comfortably around the fire pits; others sample whiskeys at a special table. While the DJ’s tunes play to a largely empty inside space—one bartender has plenty of time to practice his impressive Tom Cruise-in-Cocktail bottle-spinning skills—it’s easy to slip into the appeal of weekend revelry under the stars.
8925 Harrison St., Sandy, 801-255-2078, LumpysSouth.com
Friday 10:22 p.m.
Flatscreens As Far As the Eye Can See
I count 34 televisions in this sports bar; it would be impossible to miss the winning shot or touchdown of the big game. Literally, everywhere I look, there’s a glowing flatscreen to meet my gaze.
There’s even a TV in the women’s (and in the men’s, I’m told) bathroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a tiny screen tucked away in a broom closet. But the winning-est TV placement goes to the two located on the rooftop patio. No longer will smokers have to tear their eyes away from the action to go light up. There’s also a bar up there, so a person can experience the ultimate trifecta of sports, beer and free rein to enjoy a cigarette.
3396 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, 801-975-7825, GreenStreetSLC.com
Friday 10:36 p.m.
The Art of the Dance
I’ve moseyed into the city’s boot-scootin’est bar, and there is a lot to take in. This is a bar with a westerner’s sense of space: giant dance floor, private karaoke lounge, five bars. There’s also plenty of spectacle, from the live band fiddling up a storm, to the plethora of women in Daisy Dukes and those with diminished judgment and reaction times wrangling with a mechanical bull. But the most unique thing about this bar is that people here still dance with each other. For all the 10-gallon machismo of this cowboy bar, people hold hands and spin their partners in a style of toe-stepping that seems like a courtship ritual of a bygone era.
3360 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-972-5447
Friday 10:40 p.m.
Keys On Main
Bachelorettes, Britney & Booze
I’m leaning in to hear Benny, my bartender, explain the overwhelming scene here at Keys. The dueling pianos are going full steam. Every table in the joint is filled and, considering this space is 10 times larger than any other downtown bar I’ve been to, that’s really saying something. I finally catch Benny’s words: “It’s like Chuck E. Cheese for adults,” he’s saying. I grimace. “No, that’s a good thing,” he insists as he hands a Britney—the most-ordered house cocktail—to a busty woman in a sequined top.
242 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-3638, KeysOnMain.com
Friday 10:45 p.m.
We’re Bringing Pickles Back
A long work week is being drunk away at Bourbon House with the City Weekly crew. Shot after shot of Jameson doesn’t seem to be taking hold, due to the magical pickle-juice chaser of the Pickle Back shot; it’s like I’m Captain America. What is it about this salty vegetable juice that makes me immune to the alcohol’s intoxicating effect? Is it the seemingly incompatible combination of smoky and tangy flavors? Or do I actually have superpowers? Suddenly, I feel like a seasoned whiskey drinker as I knock back more shots than I could normally handle. But in reality, maybe I’m tipsier than I thought, since eating a whole plate of tater tots by myself for dinner seems like a good idea.
19 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1005, BourbonHouseSLC.com