Spirit Guide 2019 | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

October 16, 2019 News » Cover Story

Spirit Guide 2019 

Our fourth annual guide to all things booze in the Beehive.

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click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Four years ago, I cheerfully took on the task of writing an A-to-Z cocktail compendium after City Weekly's intrepid editor, Enrique Limón, and I hashed out a rough outline of the project over coffee. If this were a made-for-TV plot, we'd have sketched it out on napkins, but we're both goddamn professionals, so I had a notebook in my purse and borrowed his pen. In those halcyon days before the 2016 election, it seemed entirely reasonable to take up a big-ass chunk of column inches to dive deep into the world and workings of all things booze-related. You know, in the name of research. For the people.

Oh, the naivety! We live amid a national political dumpster fire where a typical Tuesday on Twitter just might end in World War III. So spending time writing about my usual boozy exploits—here and for my regular "Spirit Guide" features in CW's sister publication, Devour magazine—sometimes seems akin to the band playing "Nearer, My God, to Thee" on the RMS Titanic's stern. But the upside of fretting over another year of alcoholic analogies starring the letters "K," "Q," "X" and "Z" (it ain't easy, y'all) has been the opportunity to recognize that really rad shit is happening right here, in the home bars and bustling watering holes of the ever-industrious Beehive State. From the bartending community coming together to support co-workers going through tough times to distillers reducing the waste cycle of production, there's a lot of heart and soul in our Salty City's cocktail scene. Here's a hearty cheers to good times ahead!

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

A is for Aspic
Like many instances in life, adding a generous glug of booze makes everything a bit more festive. Case in point: the recent reboot of that last-century concoction, the gelatin mold. Call it an aspic (if it's made with animal-based gelatin or has a beef broth component) or good ol' green Jell-O, and count on a boozy shot to make every get-together a bit more fabulous. Go retro by gel-ifying your gin and tonic or adding some jiggle to your bloody mary. Need some great local spirits to throw in the mix? Try Holystone Distilling's Bosun's Navy Strength Gin or Hammer Spring Distillers' Habanero Vodka. Added October bonus: Did you know that quinine glows in the dark? Yes, my friends, this means fluorescent gin and tonic shots for all your Halloween black light raves.

KORI LAUREL
  • Kori Laurel

Big Dip Energy
Whether it's the salt rim on a margarita or a spicy swath on a bloody mary, a swooshed and swirled rim can make a cocktail's character sing. Take, for example, the delicious sugar swirl on Good Grammar Bar's concoction called Breakfast at Tiffany's, as invented by bartender Sydney Inks. 69 Gallivan Ave., 385-415-5002, goodgrammar.bar

Breakfast at Tiffany's
1 ½ ounces Absolut pear vodka
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
¼ ounce limoncello
¼ ounce blue curaçao
1 clove
Method: Add the clove to a tin shaker and crush with a muddler. Add all ingredients in tin with ice, shake well, double strain into a small rocks glass with a generous sugar rim.

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

Canned Cocktails
Beehive's Distilling's Desolation Distilling project and a group called Splendid Spirits were neck and neck this summer to be the first in Utah to launch a downright delightful invention: canned cocktails. That's right; pick up a gin rickey, Moscow mule or gin and tonic pre-measured and ready to go. Drink 'em chilled straight from the serving vessel or fancy it up with cracked ice and some fragrant garnishes. This just might be the best tailgating solution of the season. It certainly made our summer picnicking plans easy-peasy. Just in! The distillery has opened its own bar for business featuring canned cocktails and otherwise. Beehive Distilling, 2245 S. West Temple, 801-326-3913, beehivedistilling.com

DABC "Don't Call It a Lottery"
Well, we can say one thing for the state monopoly: it's never boring. Back in May, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) announced a new program to distribute rare liquors, featuring limited release Pappy Van Winkle bourbon as the crash-test dummy for the new system. On the plus side of liquor purchasing for Utahns, state laws cap sales at cost plus an 88% markup (that means a bit over $100 for Pappy), so in other regions, demand for this particular bottle pushes sales to $1,500 and beyond. In past years, word of mouth led to lines around the corner for suspected Pappy release days at not-so-secret DABC store locations, leading to big-time consumer frustration. To make the distribution process more equitable, the DABC set up a random drawing system—which they can't call a lottery, because morality/gambling—for customers. Winners then pick up and pay for their bottle at their designated liquor store. Go ahead and speculate on what happens to some of those bottles in the after-market (also illegal in Utah) after they leave the store.

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  • Courtesy Photo

Eau-De-Vie
That's French for "Water of Life." I asked local Waterpocket Distillery owner and spirits resurrectionist Alan Scott to share the fascinating history of the phrase that's now synonymous with French fruit brandy. Says Scott: The term comes "from the Latin 'aqua vitae,' [and] we also find it expressed as akvavit in Scandinavia referring to their ubiquitous warming caraway spirit." He continues: "It's found at the root of our word for whiskey—coming from the old Gaelic uisce beatha, then into Scottish Gaelic uisge-beatha, which morphed into usquebaugh, which became 'whiskey,'—but also applied to a British liqueur based on spirits made with saffron and dried fruit." Whew. Waterpocket has two upcoming releases that illustrate these delicious traditions: a Robbers Roost Campsite Cordial based on the usquebaugh liqueur, and a plum brandy made in the French eau-de-vie style. "But the Water of Life, my friends, is where you find it," Scott concludes. Waterpocket Distillery, 2084 W. 2200 South, 385-202-5725, waterpocket.co

Food Waste Reduction
Going back to the point of production, more distilleries are following in the ancient footsteps of their savvy agricultural forefathers and recycling their production stream. Says Sugar House Distillery (SHD) founder and distiller James Fowler of their mash up-cycling program: "If we put it down the drain, it is a huge cost for the water departments to clean it up." Instead, SHD looked into completing the agricultural cycle. "We sent off samples to Utah State University for testing," Fowler says of the spent alcohol-free mash, "and it actually has more nutritional value after we have mashed and distilled it—perfect feed for the pigs, donkeys and cows." Farmers pick up the feed mash by the truckload from the distillery a few times a month. "It is really hard for us to collect and do it (right) but it is the best thing for the environment," Fowler says. Sugar House Distillery, 2212 S. West Temple, Ste. 14, 801-726-0403, sugarhousedistillery.net

Meanwhile, Wild Harvest Farms (wildharvest.farm) in Peoa collects bins of compostable food waste from a slew of Summit County bars and restaurants, which in turn fuels the farm's activities. Closer to SLC, AC Hotel bar manager (and Utah Bartenders' Guild officer) Tracy Gomez notes that the hospitality industry is super-aware of the environmental and community costs of food waste. Her observations: 1. There's a general trend away from "ginormous plates of food in favor of small or shared plates," 2. Drinks and plate garnishes are moving away from big gratuitous gimmicks, 3. More collaboration between kitchen and bar, for example Gomez notes, "not just juicing zested citrus but also turning 'ugly' produce into syrups, shrubs, etc." and 4. Integrating longer-term storage techniques like dehydration, preserving and candying instead of having over-ripe produce end up in the waste bin. Win-win. AC Hotel, 225 W. 200 South, 385-722-9600

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

Glow Cubes
They fit right into the retro gamer geek vibe of Quarters Arcade Bar. Bar owners Michael Eccleston and Katy Wills have designed a few drinks garnished with glow cubes for their self-described "playful and approachable" menu, which booze newbies and cocktail aficionados alike can appreciate. Pictured above is their Falcon Punch, but you can get any drink at Quarters served with a bit of festive glow for an extra buck or two. "Just ask! We'll put a glow cube in your beer and it looks awesome," Eccleston says with a grin. Quarters Arcade Bar, 5 E. 400 South, quartersslc.com

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Hangover cures
If there's one thing journalists are good at, it's drinking. (Well, that, and compelling storytelling, of course.) So, when it came time to compile a list of DIY hangover cures, we didn't need to look further than our very own newsroom. Looking to recover from a bender like a pro? Bust out the Aleve and nuke up some Velveeta.

"I'm no stranger to that feeling, so heed my words: Keep an emergency bottle of Gatorade Pepino Limón (no relation) in the ice chest, pop a couple of ibuprofen without even thinking about it and drive, walk, scoot or crawl to Rancherito's Mexican Food in South Salt Lake (3450 S. State) for a sports bottle-sized chorizo and egg burrito. The Technicolor orange chorizo grease will drip down your face as you devour that bad boy, leaving a coat that's hard to scrub. (ProTip: Use the time you're branded with the Mexi-scarlet letter to nap or, you know, reconsider your life choices.)"

—Enrique Limón, editor

"I'm a professional beer journalist and we don't get hangovers. However, on those rare occasions when I'm feeling a wee bit mortal and a little 'hair of the dog' is called for, I reach for a light lager, a can of Spicy V8 and three Aleve tablets. Boing! It's like magic."

—Mike Riedel, beer columnist

"I haven't had a hangover in many years, sooo, my thoughts are this: Practice. It's like exercise. The more you drink, the better you are at it. That's not to say become an alcoholic—just drink more than other people in your group of friends. Drink two glasses of wine to their one glass. This practice technique also works well with getting by the .05% rule and driving like a pro. If you feel like you're getting drunk, stop before it's too late. A nice buzz and happy feeling is good to go."

—Kathy Biele, columnist

"It's been many years since I really had to worry about a hangover—parenting and trying to turn into a responsible citizen will do that to a guy—but it's easy for me to remember the worst one I ever had. And it happened to be the day of my college graduation ceremony, when the celebratory revels of the night before caught up with me, I had to put on a smiley face for my proud parents (and grandparents), and it was 90 degrees for the outdoor commencement walk. How did I deal with it? I don't ever remember drinking so much water in my life, and I could neither tell you anything our commencement speaker said, nor how I made it through two hours without peeing."

—Scott Renshaw, A&E editor

"My favorite hangover cure generally starts with a deep regret of lack of water consumption. What follows is my attempt to be healthy (salads, veggies, the works) ending with carb-filled entrées including, but not limited to, Velveeta Mac & Cheese (the microwave cups ONLY). Drink water, kids."

—Kara Rhodes, contributor

"An overnight stay in Drunktown must always end with a couple glasses of water. The morning after, the first thing I'm dying for is coffee, more water and some kind of food nutrient that will ideally stay in my stomach. Vietnamese pho is the ultimate go-to. I order the biggest size bowl on the menu with beef flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe, and let the broth and rice noodles heal my wounded soul."

—Peter Holslin, staff writer

"A liquid diet is what gets me going again after a night of imbibing too many liquids of the toxic variety. If I'm hungry, a sweet, sour Thai soup does the trick for me, but more frequently, if I'm on the go and don't have time to dine, my go-to is another cocktail of sorts. I like stopping at the Harmons by my house to pick up my holy trio of coconut water, refreshing ginger or lavender kombucha and cold brew. Yep, all three, back to back. Coconut water does what Gatorade does with electrolytes, but better, and zaps a headache while also rehydrating my poor, dried up veins. Kombucha settles an upset stomach and restores appetite. And the coffee? Well, coffee is coffee and it does what it does, but I always save it for last, when my body feels almost normal again."

—Erin Moore, music editor

"Well, if you don't have too many responsibilities the next day, sometimes it's best to keep the party going. The first beer might be hard to get through, but it's smooth-sailing after that. Call it rollover minutes or a shampoo party. Why? Wash, rinse, repeat—you don't need as much the second time around. Ever heard of Sunday Funday? So I guess I'm just saying put off the hangover ... sigh."

—Ray Howze, editorial assistant

"I trek over to the Ice Haüs (7 E. 4800 South, Murray) and order a bloody mary from barkeep Andrew Burt. Served with pickled asparagus spears (and bacon, if you request it), olives and a lemon wedge and, of course, 1 ½ ounces of Tito's vodka—the headache-banishing beverage isn't too bland or too spicy ... it's just right. If you need more zest, Andrew's always sassy commentary fills the bill. Did I mention the bar's open at 10 a.m. on weekends?"

—Lance Gudmundsen, proofreader

Intent to Order
For the longest time, I thought the terminology was "intent to dine" for the state requirement that a customer pledges that they'll eat at a restaurant before they can be served alcohol. Our favorite liquor lawyer, Tanner Lenart, gently set me straight: "Actually, the technical language isn't 'Intent to Dine,' but rather 'Intent to Order.'" Per state law, she continues, "You can't have more than one drink unless there's confirmation that the patron 'intends to order food' at a restaurant. They can make us order, but they can't make us eat," she says with her usual wry humor.

Where it really gets complicated (and frankly, ridiculous) is interpreting the minimum food requirement to meet the law, for nosh which has to be "prepared, sold and furnished at the licensed premises." Explains Lenart: "So, popcorn that's popped on site works, but not a bag of PopSmart you have in a dispensing machine. Chips and salsa that you poured out of a bag [or] jar and plated is OK, but not a Luna Bar you just hand a customer, and not warm gooey cookies you ordered from a delivery service." Damn. I love a warm gooey Ruby Snap cookie.

But back to the thirsty denizens of Deseret searching for a drink. "The minimum the restaurant can do to confirm someone has an intent to order food is a very, very thin line," Lenart says of the interpretation. "Restaurants would like to think that a person's presence in a restaurant, as opposed to a bar, indicates the person wants to have food," but that's not always the case. Lenart says interpretations vary. "Stricter people would say waiters actually need to say, 'Are you planning on dining with us?' and receiving a positive response. A safe space is in the middle, where the (seated) patron is given a menu and the waiter says, 'I can take a drink order while you're deciding what you'd like to eat.' If the patron says she wasn't planning on eating, don't serve alcohol. If the patron tries to order a second drink, the waiter needs to take a food order before serving a second drink." Good lord. Y'all could've sucked down a couple of Sazeracs (and a few gooey cookies) by the time we got through all that state-mandated nonsense. Thank goodness the gracious Ms. Lenart, Esq., is willing to fight those battles on our behalf.

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  • Courtesy Photo

Jícara
This traditional Oaxacan serving cup is made from a halved, dried gourd and is used for a multitude of purposes. The fine folks at Water Witch have integrated the unique serving vessel in their drinks program with a different cocktail interpretation every week, usually with tequila and mezcal playing starring roles. "It's an ode to the beautiful distillates, endless agricultural diversity, craftsmanship and thousands of years of tradition that shape Mexico," co-owner Scott Gardner says. It's all topped with a bit of the Witch's house tajín for a hit of spice. Water Witch Bar, 163 W. 900 South, 801-462-0967, waterwitchbar.com

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Karaoke
You don't have to have a few drinks in your system to start publicly belting out ballads. But in our experience, it certainly doesn't hurt. Legendary downtown SLC piano bars Tavernacle Social Club and Keys on Main have been keeping patrons perky with nightly renditions of "All the Single Ladies" for ages. Lots of bars have dedicated karaoke nights drawing big (and seriously talented) crowds at spots like Piper Down Olde World Pub, the Green Pig and Twist Bar (billed as "karaoke that doesn't suck, really it doesn't"). Thistle & Thyme executive chef Jason Talcott recommends grabbing a group of friends and heading to the VFW Ben Russo 3586 Hall (2920 S. Highland Drive) for classic karaoke: "Support old-ass veterans like me! Drink Coors, do Fireball shots and have a great time. You can never go wrong with ice cold beer in a dive bar." For the more microphone-shy (c'est moi), Punch Bowl Social in The Gateway has a charming Great Salt Lake mascot Floyd the Flamingo-themed private karaoke lounge that can be booked for groups up to 14 people. No guarantee it'll be soundproof, but you'll be able to sing "Baby Shark" to your heart's content, clutching a beautiful beverage. Punch Bowl Social, 6 N. Rio Grande St., 801-948-2989, punchbowlsocial.com

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

Lychee Martini
A fruit native to southern China and popular in Asian cuisine, lychee trees can now be found growing in tropical climates all over the world. If you buy them fresh, remove the tough, inedible dark pink peel of the fruit and remove the pit before eating. They're also available canned year-round and make for a subtle addition to cocktails like a juiced fruit element or memorable garnish. Tanuki sake makes an appearance in Kyoto's most popular cocktail on the menu, the Lychee Nut Martini. Says Kyoto sushi chef Peggi Ince-Whiting: "The delicate flavors go well with sushi. It's relatively mild, so it doesn't compete with the subtle flavors of fish." Kyoto, 1080 E. 1300 South, 801-487-3525, kyotoslc.com

Kyoto Lychee Nut Martini
3 ounces Hakushika Tanuki Junmai sake
2 ounces lychee syrup
1 ounce simple syrup
1-2 drops fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients well with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish with a skewered lychee nut.

Malting
A little Booze-mongering 101: Beer and distillates gain significant flavor and character benefits from malting the grains they're made with—such as barley, corn, rye, wheat, oats, etc. Malting is the process of steeping and germinating grains to get them to sprout and then heating (called kilning) to halt growing and give the grains a toasty flavor profile. It also jump-starts grains' ability to convert food energy into alcohol when mixed with yeast. The method of malting used can produce a wide range of colors, flavors and textures in the resulting beer or whiskey. There's a whole world of food science and professionally guarded techniques to back this shit up, but long story short: you get what you pay for with quality. Back in the day, most communities had their own malting houses to support the work of local distillers and brewers, keeping the agricultural footprint of all of these industries pretty compact. Utah's last malting company closed in the 1960s.

Until now. In 2015, maltster James Weed had the idea of bringing together his background in finance with a passion for the labor-intensive craft of floor malting. Most modern malting is automated in huge silos, but at Soltice Malt, Weed uses a combination of vintage equipment, old-fashioned elbow grease and modern know-how to create truly craft malts. He really got cooking in June 2018 and now dozens of Utah distillers, breweries and home brewers rely on Solstice Malt for traditionally floor-malted products ranging from Sonoran white wheat to an ancient variety of purple barley. See what they're up to on Instagram @solstice_malt

Neat or not?
Just say "no" to booze bullies: Drink your whiskey (or rum, or gin) the way you like it. I'm particularly partial to sipping barrel proof high-ABV bombs with a titch of filtered water or over a big-ass ice cube. #sorrynotsorry

On Tap
If you haven't signed onto the local microbrew revolution, it's time to wake up, smell the hops and head to your nearest brewery tasting room. I'll let Beer Nerd columnist Mike Riedel be your compass, but with City Weekly's annual Beer Fest turning 10 this year and five local brews honored at this month's Great American Beer Festival held in Denver—including Park City's Shades Brewing—chances are you can't go wrong.

Patios FTW
Don't let a little chill in the air detract from enjoying some al fresco sipping! We polled food and beverage writers from CW's sister dining publication, Devour, for their top patio picks.

Aimee L. Cook: "My favorite patios to enjoy an adult beverage are Harbor Seafood and Steak and Tuscany. Both offer a lovely shaded and secluded space along with an extensive cocktail and wine list."

Chelsea Nelson: "Purgatory's patio is chill and large; cocktails are good and reasonably priced. Also, Trestle Tavern = Magic."

Alex Springer: "My absolute fave is the rooftop patio at Gracie's during the summer. It's an awesome downtown location for people watching, and they have a peach vodka mule that is superb. Also, the patio at Nuch's makes you feel like you're in a little café in Florence, Italy." Diane Hartford and Amanda Rock both vote for Oasis Café. "Plenty of vegan food options, wine, and their hanging flower baskets are gorgeous," Hartford says. Rock especially likes that, "there's a bookstore on the other side of the patio." Heather L. King picked some Park City patios of note: "Glitretind and Troll Hallen Lounge's wrap-around deck at Stein Eriksen Lodge. Try the Sage 75 featuring Alpine Distilling's Summit gin while taking in the breathtaking vistas of the slopes of Deer Valley and cotton candy sunset views on the wrap-around deck at this mid-mountain resort. Royal Street Café is tucked slopeside of Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley Resort; you'll find some stunning deck dining in both covered and shaded and al fresco options where you can enjoy a chili mango margarita featuring Royal Street's own five chili blend margarita mix. At the Boneyard Saloon & Kitchen and Wine Dive rooftop patio, enjoy the mule menu (four options including the Boneyard, Utah, jalapeño and blueberry-lemon) or eight wines on tap from the rooftop patio of Boneyard alongside live music and fresh mountain air."

Rebecca Ory Hernandez: "Em's. Quaint and quiet."

Darby Doyle: "Lucky 13 has legend-level bourbon-and-brews day-drinking down pat for a reason, and my favorite reason is enjoying their fab patio before a Bee's baseball game. For viewing wildlife of the four-legged sort, I'm a fan of lingering on Silver Fork Lodge's patio in Big Cottonwood Canyon with a pitcher of beer."

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

Quality Over Quantity
This is a maxim that seems to have escaped the thought process of the state of late. Case in point: DABC outlets don't store or sell beer cold, and the new allocation priorities squeeze out small craft distillers, some high-end spirits and indie wines in preference to stuff that moves quickly off the shelf (read: national, big PR booze brands and vodka in plastic bottles). And don't get me started on the times I've had to special order a full case of product that in other states I could easily buy by the bottle at most big liquor stores; here, it takes weeks to get delivered and then I'm stuck with the expense of buying a full case. (Cue sad violins.) It's as if moderate drinkers of quality spirits with higher price points were penalized for their preferences.

OK, rant over. Many customers who actually give a shit about the quality of their alcohol take the extra time to buy Utah-produced bottles right at the source from local brewers and distillers. The benefit? When local spirits producers bottle unique products, they often sell them first to their loyal customers at their on-site package stores. Utah Beer News blogger Tim Haran suggests joining all of the local beer and distillery email newsletter lists you can find to stay in the loop for coveted release dates. "Many locals are doing limited-release stuff nowadays. Especially Shades Brewing with their Kveik beers," rumored to have sold out the first day of release. Following up on Haran's great recs, I've very happily scored limited offerings like Sugar House Distillery Boilermaker whiskey/beer collaborations, New World Distillery Uncharted Series barrel-rested gin, SaltFire Brewing's barrel-aged Baltic Porter and a potent 2 Row Brewing bourbon-barrel aged Belgian Quad aptly called Divine Lunacy. "It's a perfect fire pit sipper," Haran says of the SaltFire brew.

ELENI SALTAS
  • Eleni Saltas

Retsina
... is a traditional Greek white or rosé wine that has been produced with the same unique pine-tree resin treatment for more than 3,000 years. Legendarily, it was served as a treat for Greeks and a rite of passage of sorts for the palates (and livers) of outsiders, having a rather bracing, acquired taste. I asked CW's resident expert on all things Greek, Eleni Saltas, about her experiences with retsina, but since I was pestering her while she was vacationing in Greece with her family, the answers were understandably short. Once considered a young, strident "house wine" of the Greek islands, modern producers are coming back in force to remind drinkers that this vino has staying power, even if that's enforced with a little less resin in the profile nowadays. Saltas shared one of her favorite wine-soaked Grecian patio photos, with our thanks.

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

Stogies
Yes, there are purists among us who prefer to enjoy their spirits unadulterated by conflicting palate introductions from food or a fine cigar. I am not one of those people. Unlike the admittedly sub-par stogies I smoked in my 20s, selecting a fine cigar from the walk-in humidor at Beehive Cigar (1564 S. 300 West, beehivecigars.com) evokes the sultry drama of Havana nights and breezy Caribbean beaches. Match up a mellow torpedo Dominican Maduro Beehive House Cigar with a snifter of gorgeous Foursquare 2004 Barbados rum and expect revelations. And porch smokin' has never been better with a medium-strength yet complex La Galera Habano Churchill—recommended by Beehive Cigars shop manager Brandon Oveson—which I enjoyed thoroughly with a Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum old fashioned. (Sorry, all of these rums are, ahem DABC, only available by special order). For those dipping their toes in the figurative waters of fine cigars and quality libations, look no further than the tutelage of local spirits expert and Wine Academy of Utah sommelier Jim Santangelo (wineacademyofutah.com). He's recently teamed up with Beehive Cigars to host cigars and spirits tastings for private events. Panama hat, optional.

TinTiki
Tinwell's secret upstairs Tiki bar. If you didn't know, now you know. Check it out on Tuesday and Friday nights for a truly stellar tropical experience. 837 S. Main, 801-953-1769, tinwellbar.com

DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle

Umeboshi
A common condiment in Japan, umeboshi, are small plums, salt-pickled or brined for preservation. They're widely available, sold whole packed in brine or preserved like jam squeeze bottles. In any storage method, they're singularly delicious. The fine folks at legendary Takashi and (newer) Post Office Place use umeboshi for a tart and salty hit of savory satisfaction; great with rice dishes and in cocktails. Post Office Place bar manager Crystal Daniels shared her recipe for this umeboshi and gin cocktail-slash-Mean Girls-homage called "On Wednesdays We Wear Pink." Post Office Place, 16 W. Market St. On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

By Post Office Place bar manager
Crystal Daniels
1 small blob umeboshi
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce Waterpocket Oread
½ ounce simple syrup
1 ½ ounces Roku gin

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe glass.

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¡VIVA LA FIESTA!
With Cerveza Zólupez. In 2017, Javier Chávez Jr. merged his family craft-brewing heritage with his personal passion for preserving traditional Mexican cerveza styles. With some serious business chops under his belt (he's a lawyer with an MBA), Chávez started the Ogden super-micro brewery with the look and feel of his grandfather's cerveza artesanal shop in Mexico. The dynamic craft beer movement centered in Monterrey, Mexico, and Baja California inspires Zólupez' brews. Chávez creates each five-gallon batch using traditional Mexican recipes and natural bottle conditioning, with a lot of creative ingredient spin. Each limited bottle release is sold directly to customers only at the Ogden shop (limited hours). Cerveza Zólupez Beer Co., 205 W. 29th St., Ste. 2, Ogden, 801-917-2319, zolupez.com

Wine Spectator Winners
Every year, the delightful selection of vino and overall quality of Utah spots serving the good grape keep getting better and better. Here's raising a glass to the continued commitment of these fine establishments to making better bottle options available in the Beehive.

As awarded by the sommeliers and experts at Wine Spectator, 2019 Utah winners include highest honors for Tupelo Park City (508 Main, Park City, tupeloparkcity.com) and Veneto Ristorante Italiano (370 E. 900 South, venetoslc.com). Additional kudos go to wine lists at SLC dining spots BTG Wine Bar, Cucina Toscana, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Spencer's for Steaks & Chops. Longtime Salt Lake Valley favorites La Caille at Quail Run and Log Haven, along with Snowbird's Aerie and The Steak Pit also made top WS selections. As usual, Deer Valley outlets and Park City spots had a super-strong showing, including: Bangkok Thai on Main, Cena Ristorante, Edge Steakhouse at Westgate, Fireside Dining Deer Valley, Stein Eriksen Lodge's Glitretind Restaurant, J&G Grill at St. Regis Deer Valley, The Mariposa and Seafood Buffet (both at Deer Valley Resort), Riverhorse on Main and 350 Main Brasserie. And I had no idea that St. George's Painted Pony Restaurant and the Spotted Dog Café in Springdale had such lauded wine lists as now acknowledged nationally. Time for a road trip?

JACKELIN SLACK
  • Jackelin Slack

Xylitol
With all the buzz about going keto, I turned to my favorite sugar-free booze slingers Lisa Clark and Erika Radford of boozyketones.com for some advice (that I probably won't heed) on slimming down my favorite cocktails. I had some leading questions about substitutes like xylitol in mind. They replied, "We don't typically use xylitol for a few reasons. If you consume too much or if you aren't used to it, it can cause severe and 'exploding' gastric side effects." Holy shit, literally. And it gets worse: It is also toxic to dogs. They do have some other recommendations, however. "The natural sweeteners that we use include monkfruit (extract of the lo han guo fruit from China), erythritol (a sugar alcohol made from fermented sugar cane) and stevia (extracted from the stevia plant and 200 times sweeter than sugar). All of these are indigestible and have zero effect on blood sugar. The brand Swerve is erythritol blended with oligosaccarides (no digestible short-chain fructose molecules) that measures cup for cup like sugar." I like where this is going. As followers of their light-hearted and hilarious Instagram feed know, the Boozy Ketones gals take their mixology (but not themselves) seriously. "Substituting out sugar in cocktails makes us feel a little better about our imbibing." They conclude: "If we can make our cocktails a little bit healthier, then we can have more cocktails! It's simple math." Follow their alcohol adventures on Instagram @boozyketones

Yeast
"To a brewer, yeast is everything," says Roosters Brewing Co. head brewer and all-around badass Jacquie King. "It holds the power to make or break your final product. It's a magical little single cell that works in conjunction with your efforts to produce the most amazing beer." After spending years working with the miracle of yeast, she's developed some definite opinions. "I personally enjoy kveik yeast. It enjoys hot fermentation temperatures and fully ferments amazingly fast. I see a kindred spirit in this wild little yeast," King concludes. Roosters Brewing Co. locations and distribution: roostersbrewingco.com

COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo

Zero-proof drinks
For those who choose to abstain altogether, the options for booze-free imbibing have never been better. SLC's favorite watering holes have recognized that there are myriad reasons for providing customers festive and flavorful beverages sans ABV. And after thorough taste-testing, this booze hound can attest that they are no less spirited in their enjoyment. The biggest trend in the bar world this year just might be not having anything to do with alcohol at all.

What was once a sad list of industrial soda gun-squirted soulless carbonation posted as an afterthought on the back of the menu is now at many places a smorgasbord of sensational zero-ABV choices. Case in point? Spots like Punch Bowl Social and Post Office Place (both mentioned earlier in this story) and Under Current Bar have developed some seriously thoughtful mixological solutions to their no-alcohol bartender's roulette roster. And check out Seabird Bar & Vinyl Room offerings in Draper and The Gateway for thoughtful no-ABV options like Fentiman's craft sodas (pictured above) and savory Lagunitas hoppy refresher. 13811 Sprague Lane, Draper, 385-255-5473; The Gateway, 7 S. Rio Grande St., 801-456-1223, seabirdutah.com 

As every year, cheers to booze in the Beehive!

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