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March 30, 2016 News » Cover Story

Eating Well 

Dining Guide 2016

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Sip Well
Raise your glass to some of the best cocktails Salt Lake City has to offer.
By Darby Doyle
comments@cityweekly.net

Step behind the Zion curtain to explore Salt Lake City's flourishing 21-plus bar options, and you'll see there's some advanced alcoholic alchemy going down. But more than just the quantity of recently available libation locations, it's the increasingly top-notch quality of cocktails crafted by Utah's cadre of talented and passionate boozeslingers that's raising the beverage service bar across our fair city and beyond. The perennial question, "Where can a gal get a drink in this town?" is getting easier to answer all the time.

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Bitter Thief @Bar X
(155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287)
No list of top spots for engaging in a little intemperance would be complete without Bar X, as, starting in 2010, it was arguably the first bar in town to elevate the craft cocktail scene to bi-coastal levels of hipness. Classics like Sazeracs and Manhattans are served up with equal parts skill and panache. But it's the quality and attention to details on Bar X's ever-changing original cocktail menu that keeps drinks aficionados coming back. Example? Check out barman Jacob Sloan Hall's "Bitter Thief," stirred up with internationally sourced abandon: rye whiskey, Smith & Cross Jamaican Navy-Strength rum, Cynar (an artichoke-based amaro), Génépy des Alpes, orange bitters, a hint of lemon and presumably the sparkly tears of baby unicorns.

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Absinthe Service
@Under Current
(270 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-574-2556, UnderCurrentClub.com)
Called "the green fairy" by artists like Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso and others in late 19th-century Paris, absinthe is a chartreuse-colored booze famous back in the day for getting people both messed up and kinda crazy. In addition to one of the most dependably stellar cocktail programs in the city under the direction of Amy Eldredge, UCB brings back the romance of Parisian drinks service with two- and four-spout absinthe fountains, allowing guests to control drips of chilled water (usually over a sugar cube resting on a flat slotted spoon) into glasses of absinthe. This combo releases characteristic licorice and fennel flavors and creates a mesmerizing cloudy suspension called louche ("shady" in French). Oh-la-la!

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Bloody Mary@Lucky 13
(135 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com)
If your idea of "outdoorsy" means you like drinking on patios, the al fresco scene at Lucky 13 can't be beat. The bountiful Bloodys ($4) here are all about spicy, boozy balance. No need for outrageous garnish gimmicks like a whole deep-fried chicken at Lucky 13, though we highly recommend getting the big ol' house-smoked bacon slab upgrade for just a buck extra to snuggle up alongside that crunchy cornucopia of veg atop this sassy beverage. Think of it as a meal in a glass. Lucky 13 also sports an impressive (and inexpensive) selection of beer on tap, whiskey and phenomenal burgers.

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Wine Flights
BTG Wine Bar
(63 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2814, BTGWineBar.com)
Caffé Molise chef/owner Fred Moesinger and sommelier Louis Koppel have cranked Utah's oenophilia excellence level to 11 at BTG. Offering pours from around 75 bottles total of reds, whites and fortified wines at any one time, BTG (By the Glass) excels at all levels of wine education, quality and service in an elegant and intimate space. Koppel also curates a changing menu of a dozen or so wine flights—usually three different wines offered as a trio of 2-ounce pours—comparatively highlighting wines by region, varietal or other notable characteristics. In addition to the superlative selection of vino, BTG offers clever cocktails, local beers and a selected Italian-forward menu from next-door sister spot Molise.

Classic Daiquiri
O.P. Rockwell
(268 Main, downstairs, Park City 435-615-7000, OPRockwell.com)
Named after one of Utah's most famously hirsute guns-for-hire, O.P. Rockwell corners the market on craft cocktails served with style. This Park City venue's dark velvet speakeasy-like space hosts major musical talents like Poor Man's Whiskey, Colin Hay and the Brothers Comatose. But even on nights without scheduled performances, locals in the know head to the upper-level bar to order truly exceptional cocktails crafted by drinks diviner and classic cocktail revivalist Christopher Panarelli and the talented slate of drinks slingers at O.P. In addition to a very nice selection of tequila, rum, whiskies and wine, the bar menu is filled with impeccably balanced standards like this delightful three-rum Daiquiri ($10) and other clever creations.

Green Juice Mimosa
Zest Kitchen & Bar
(275 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-433-0589, ZestSLC.com)
For those of us who like to feel nominally healthy while getting our buzz on, Casey Staker, owner and bar guru at Zest's vegan dining, dancing and drinking emporium has us covered. His solution? Super-fresh cold-pressed fruit and veggie juices, Mamachari kombucha and top-shelf liquor brands featured in seasonally inspired cocktail options that are equal parts refreshing and delicious. Whether they're fuel to keep us dancing well into the wee hours of the night or jump-starting recovery mode come 10 a.m. weekend brunch, Zest's bright bevvies come in a rainbow of tasty options. Think berry-packed margaritas, High West whiskey sours and brunch Mimosas zapped with beet-apple-ginger, orange-basil or fresh-pressed green juice ($5).

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