High West Distillery & Saloon | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

High West Distillery & Saloon 

Let’s Get High: Park City distillery offers whiskey, high-altitude food and more.

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Park City’s High West Distillery & Saloon isn’t so much a restaurant, bar and distillery as it is a compound—a fun zone for lovers of good food and great whiskey, not to mention wine, beer, cocktails and more.

A bit of history: The buildings that are now High West’s home—listed in the National Register of Historic Places—were houses built in 1914 by master carpenter and Philadelphian Ellsworth J. Beggs. During the compound’s history, in addition to featuring one of only two Victorian-style pyramid houses in Park City, High West was once the National Garage, a livery stable that serviced the workhorses pulling the heavy ore carts up to the Park City mines.

What is especially impressive, today, is that 80 percent of the two buildings housing High West Distillery & Saloon was kept in its original state. The sprawling labyrinth contains numerous dining rooms, bars, private nooks and crannies, a souvenir shop and a distillery, in addition to the “livery,” which can host up to 180 people for private functions.

None of this would exist without “Whiskey Dave” Perkins, a former biochemist who created High West, Utah’s first distillery since the 1870s. In 2008, his Rendezvous Rye was name one of Malt Advocate’s “Top 10 Whiskies” of the year, with the distinction of being the least expensive ($40) product among other winners, whose price tags ranged from $100 to $6,000. But, not one to rest on his laurels, Whiskey Dave also makes vodka and Bourye, a blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys. And now, he can add restaurateur and saloon owner to his résumé.

This whiskey theme park can be a tad overwhelming—it’s tricky to pick a spot to land. I suggest starting out at the cozy upstairs bar, adjacent to a 10-person wine library that contains a 35-bottle Cruvinet system supplying an excellent selection of wines by the glass. Belly up to the bar to sample High West whiskeys and vodkas straight, mixed into classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned ($9) or Vodka Gimlet ($9), or try a unique cocktail like the Horse’s Neck: High West Rendezvous Rye, ginger beer and a lemon twist ($8). The cozy upstairs and downstairs bars—as well as the restaurant dining rooms—offer a wide range of beers, spirits, liqueurs and everything else you could need to get your drink on. Probably the best way to enjoy High West products is to order up one of their whiskey flights, which run $14-$23.

With all that booze, you’re gonna need food. And, High West has it, in spades. Whiskey Dave enlisted one of Park City’s most talented chefs to cook for him: James Dumas, who, since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, has run restaurants in New York City, St. Moritz and, more recently, Deer Valley. So, grab a table and share some tapas-size small plates ($7-$12) or dig into entrée-scale larger plates ($14-$29). A salad of frisée and julienned pear ($8) with toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, purple grape halves and white balsamic vinaigrette is a nice starter. I also can heartily recommend maple-glazed roasted duck ($12), which, like many of Dumas’ dishes, incorporates High West whiskey; it comes with distiller’s grain spaetzle and cherry-whiskey bordelaise. Another good small plate option is smoked, dry-rubbed tri tip ($12) with spicy coleslaw and the house-specialty barbecue chutney, made with High West’s 16-year-old Rocky Mountain Rye. One more, and this is crazy good: applewood smoked salmon (smoked in-house) and wilted Southern greens with a light drizzle of whiskey-leek butter ($12).

One of the things I find appealing about High West Distillery & Saloon is that it’s built to accommodate anything from solo diners to the aforementioned group of 180. So, for example, for $1,500 you can reserve the distiller’s private dining room and enjoy a customized whiskey dinner for 10 people. Chef James Dumas typically hosts these dinners himself—and, trust me, whether it’s him or Perkins hosting, you’ll learn more than you ever dreamt you needed to know about all things whiskey!

Some of the best fries I’ve tasted are Dumas’ “dusted” fries. They’re hand-cut spuds, sliced not too thin and not too thick—perfectly sized, really—dusted with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. You can order them as a side dish ($5), but I suggest having them with High West’s rockin’ rib eye ($26). This is a bone-in, 12-ounce, 21-day aged bison rib eye, grilled to order and served with a tart huckleberry whiskey sauce, haricot vertes and those delicious dusted fries. Along with that sublime bison rib eye, I suggest pulling out the stops and springing for a bottle of Park City’s own Parallel Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. A more satisfying meal in Park City you may not find.

I recently popped in to High West for lunch and was very happy with Chef Dumas’ simple but sensational lentil soup ($7). It was al dente brown lentils in a mirepoix of perfectly minced celery, onion and carrot (someone spends a lot of time in the kitchen mincing carrots to a size smaller than a lentil) in a hearty-but-not-heavy broth; just wonderful. I also enjoyed the comfort-food flavors of High West’s mac & cheese: macaroni smothered in a creamy coating of white cheddar and Gruyere cheeses and topped with crispy Parmesan-infused bread crumbs. My only complaint was that I thought the one-cup serving size was a bit skimpy for the $9 price. Glad I had the soup to go with it.

High West describes itself as “the only ski-in/stagger-out distillery in the world.” And maybe that’s all you really need to know. 

703 Park Ave.
Park City


Ted Scheffler:

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