What’s Trending

Rebooting the bar

One of my favorite parts about hosting out-of-town guests is introducing them to Utah’s increasingly cosmopolitan cocktail scene. Within one evening they go from thinking they were never going to find an alcoholic libation in this state (our tee totaling reputation precedes us, still) to raving about the creativity and skill of The Beehive’s slingmasters. Presentation and education are an important part of the job, especially in Utah,” O.P. Rockwell bar manager Michael “Dre” Drennan says. “Customers now, especially women, are very knowledgeable about cocktails.” He’s experienced first-hand that customers like to interact with skilled bartenders, “and we love the opportunity to talk about technique, or our sourcing and ingredients, in an approachable way,” he says. In return, we lucky patrons at the bar learn a little bit more about the craft served up with every cocktail. It’s a win-win. As are these drinks designed with fresh ideas for the new year in mind. Cheers to 2017!

“Mezcal has such a wonderful smoky quality,” Bar-X bartender extraordinaire Marcus MacDonald says. “There’s so much depth and variety within the category of mezcal, and it’s super fun and really delicious to use in cocktails. People are getting really excited about agave spirits.” Much like bourbon is a sub-category of whiskey, tequila is one of a larger group of agave-based spirits referred to as mezcal. Tequila can only be made with blue agave (agave tequilana) and in a limited region including and adjacent to the Mexican state of Jalisco. Mezcal, however, may be made from almost 30 varieties of agave and has a much greater geographical production area. Mezcal’s distinctive sweet-smoky flavor is a direct result of the way it’s made: the agave hearts (called piña) are roasted in stone-lined pits, and as they cook, the agave’s sugars caramelize. MacDonald says his original cocktail, the Sweet Leaf —garnished with a fan of apple slices evoking an agave plant—“combines a lot of great elements, and is super tasty. Rich and balanced without being too sweet.” MacDonald notes that when he makes this drink at Bar-X, he has difficult-to-find ingredients like cocoa-forward Caffe Lolita Mexican coffee liqueur and sotol (a distillate made from the desert spoon plant, a relative of agave) on hand. “But the drink is great even without the sotol, and you can use a different coffee liqueur if that’s what you’ve got to work with.”

drink1The Cocktail
Sweet Leaf

The Trend

The Maker
Marcus MacDonald
155 E. 200 South, SLC


Sweet Leaf
1.5 ounces Wahaka Mezcal
1 ounce fresh apple juice
0.5 ounce sotol
0.75 ounce Caffe Lolita Mexican coffee liqueur

Pour all ingredients over pebbled ice. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg over the surface of the mounded ice. Garnish with a fan of thin apple slices.

While there are only a couple of components to this visually stunning cocktail, each aspect of the drink is prepared with an exacting attention to detail. Hearth on 25th’s co-owner AJ Hubbard’s mission is to give guests a memorable cocktail experience with sophisticated touches like hand-cut crystal-clear ice and more than 70 whiskies from around the world on hand. For this cocktail, Hubbard uses dried fruit wood infused with Cherry Heering liqueur and the customer’s choice of spice blends—currently cherry, chocolate or Cajun spice—and torches the wood just prior to serving for maximum flavor and smoky effect. He coats the interior of a rocks glass with a few dashes of Utah-made Beehive Bitters caramelized orange bitters so that the smoke flavors bond to the bit of liquid in the glass when it is suspended over the wood-smoked spice. Served simply with a shot of overproof whiskey and a gorgeously transparent chunk of hand-hewn ice, the smoke-tinged bitters dissipate slowly into the whiskey and the cocktail changes in complexity the longer it sits. “It’s an amazing aromatic experience,” Hubbard says.


The Cocktail
Smoked Whiskey
The Trend
Memorable Presentation

The Maker
AJ Hubbard
Hearth on 25th
195 25th St., Ogden


“We love having something with wine on the menu, usually in a sangria of some kind,” Zest Kitchen and Bar’s owner Casey Staker says. “And red wine in particular is great in winter drinks.” The heart-healthy benefits of red wine specifically fit well with the award-winning restaurant’s overall mission of clean, fresh and vegan eating all year round. Bar manager Tristan Loughlin developed this wine-based spin on a hot toddy as a warm cocktail made as easily for a crowd as for one person at home. Instead mulling the wine, which often overheats it, thereby changing the flavor and lowering the alcohol content, “We add a bit of hot water to warm it up just before serving,” Loughlin says. “At Zest, we also stay away from processed sugars, so we use a raw sugar cube to sweeten the drink.” Louglin stirs in cognac and Cointreau to balance the natural tannins of the red zinfandel wine, along with a dash of cinnamon and allspice. A touch of absinthe finishes this winter warmer with a subtle anise note, as does the fragrant rosemary garnish. It’s perfect for sipping while snuggled up with a good book at home in your favorite flannel pajamas, or equally appreciated before brunch on a blustery weekend morning (Zest is a 21-and-over venue, so they start serving cocktails at 10 a.m. on weekends). Now that’s a warming trend we can whole-heartedly get behind.

drink3The Cocktail
The Late Winter Reviver
The Trend
Wine Cocktails
The Maker
Tristan Loughlin
Zest Kitchen & Bar
275 S. 200 West, SLC


“We love anything with whiskey in the winter,” Tupelo General Manager Peter Marcy says. Although to be fair, whiskey has had a starring role at Tupelo’s cozy upstairs bar since the restaurant opened in 2015. Marcy says the preference is particularly notable due to owner/chef Matt Harris’ Southern roots and that “we’re all big bourbon fans at Tupelo,” with more than 40 bourbons on the shelf at any one time. Their Untethered cocktail is a cunning combination of two terrific classic cocktails, an old fashioned and a boulevardier. Marcy doesn’t see the popularity of American whiskies, particularly bourbon, slowing down any time soon. “We love the classics, and enjoying making them our own with a little spin at Tupelo,” he says.


The Cocktail
The Trend
Whiskey is still a winner

The Maker
Mimi Reese
Tupelo Park City
508 Main, Park City


1.5 ounces bourbon
0.5 ounce Aperol
0.25 ounce Campari
0.25 ounce bourbon barrel-
aged syrup

Stir over cracked ice and strain over a large ice cube. Garnish with lemon and orange zest.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *