What We’re Drinking This Winter
The Best Booze & Brews in the Wasatch
The Beehive State is far from dry—you’ve heard that superlative over and over, often times I’ve sung the same refrain. Now that we know we can get a drink, the question is what to drink, and when and where? From downtown to Park City to the ski hills, here’s what we’ll be sipping on this winter.
Downtown Salt Lake City
Craft Cocktails @ Water Witch
Find Utah’s best booze and cocktails at downtown’s Water Witch
One of the first things you’ll notice upon walking into Water Witch in the Central Ninth district is that there’s no drink menu to speak of. Instead, the bartenders, some of the craftiest mixologists in the City of Salt, ask, “What you are in the mood for? Mezcal, scotch, perhaps barrel-aged gin?” Using everything from obscure spirits to locally distilled bottles can be found here: Sugarhouse Vodka, Beehive Gin(try the barrel-aged version), High West bourbon & rye, and Ogden’s Own—just to name a few.
Their inquisitiveness continues with questions such as: “Would you like it boozy or refreshing?” “Spirit forward?” The back and forth continues until you provide enough information for them to create a unique cocktail specific to your tastes and mood. The experience is different every time, and each bartender has their own approach, so I encourage you to visit “the Witch” more than once.
Beer Me @ Downtown SLC
Much like after Labor Day you should put your “summer whites” in the back of the closet, out come darker and heavier brews like stouts and porters. Beer Bar, the Bayou, and Beerhive in downtown SLC have huge selections, as does Lucky 13, which also means you can polish of the best burger in the state with a heavy beer. Que up the winter food coma.
Epic Brewings’ Big Bad Baptist is one of the most versatile heavy beers to come out of Utah, and a perfect winter brew. The classic version is aged in bourbon barrels with local coffee (look for several roasters in different versions each season) plus cacao nibs. The Baptista, which uses Mexican coffee, and the Double Barrel, where both the coffee and beer are aged in bourbon barrels, are also available. Uinta’s Stompin’ Grounds Coffee Stout is brewed in a similar fashion and can be hard to find, so order one up if you see it on a menu.
Sake @ Yuki Yama
When the first cold snap of the year hits, I instantly crave ramen. And there is no better ramen in the state than at Yuki Yama on Main Street in Park City. (Don’t @ me about that famous-ish place with long lines foodies seem to rave about.)
But, you need something to wash ramen down with, and sake is the best call. Yuki has a great list, with many unique selections—and interesting serving vessels. Chiyomusubi Sake comes in a glass jar with a lid that is as unique as its contents: I tried the Oyaji Gokuraku, Nezemi Otoko Jungin, and Kitaro Jungin over a few visits this fall and cannot choose a favorite; they are each amazing. If you’re not a sake fan, give one of the imported Japanese beers a try. On a recent trip, the Hitachino IPA landed on the rotating list of suds.
The White Bear @ Deer Valley’s Brass Tag
Confession: There have been one or two (ok, maybe more) days I wasn’t quite eager to don my ski gear and head to the hill. Spoiled, I know. More often than not, what kicks my motivation into gear is the thought that “If I go skiing at Deer Valley, I can have lunch at Deer Valley, which means I can get an aprés drink at Brass Tag.” Works like a charm, every time.
This winter my go-to cocktail is going to be the White Bear, which uses one of Utah’s best booze options, Sandy, Utah’s Outlaw Distillery Spiced Rum. Combining spiced rum, Frangelico (which adds its renowned nuttiness) and an ounce of fresh cream, the White Bear looks like a powder day, smells like a winter night, and will no doubt highlight the rosy red in your nose after a day of ripping groomers. Surprisingly easy drinking, even with spiced rum and cream as the main ingredients, these robust flavors maintain a perfect balance – unlike me on a pair of skis.
The Gin Experience @ 350 Main
The Alpine Distilling Gin Experience at 350 Main is for the gin lover—or future gin lover after this event—in your life. A perfect holiday gift (this is why I have my wife “proofread” my articles) is a fun and intimate way to learn about the art of distilling and history of gin, all while expanding your aroma sensory skills.
This isn’t just a gin tasting though, it’s a thorough history of the spirit, distillation, and the science of aroma sensory interspersed throughout the evening. The main attraction is you and your plus one go home with a custom bottle of gin, your very own private label, choosing the botanicals distilled in the batch. If that’s not enough, the event takes place at Alpine’s micro-distilling location on Park City Main Street and includes a four-course dinner.
If you’re looking to pair Utah’s best booze and brews with adventures, check out our winter beer and adventure pairing guide.
The Old World Holiday
More into mixing up cocktails at home? Me too. A relative newcomer to the craft spirit world is Waterpocket Fold Distillery. Focusing on long-lost spirits, owner/distillers Julia and Alan Scott turned me onto their Oread—their adaption of a 19th Century Danzig Liqueur.
According to Waterpocket Fold’s website, this spirit “summons the pure essences of aromatic roots, spices, and flowers…combining Roman Chamomile Galanga, Star Anise, Orange Peel, and eight more herbs and spices to produce an all-botanical liqueur of rare charm.”
Around the holidays last year Waterpocket released this recipe featuring the Oread. I served I on Christmas Day to a group of friends who are not often interested in cocktails and wound up having to make a second batch my guests were so intrigued by the taste and presentation.
The Old World Holiday Recipe
1 oz Robbers Roost Whiskey
.75 Long Lost Oread
.50 Fresh Orange Juice
.50 Cinnamon Simple Syrup
Stir all ingredients over ice. Serve in a rocks glass with large ice cube and garnish with Creminelli salami, rosemary, and green pimento olives.
Slopeside Brews for Skiers
The best on-mountain brews and cocktails at Utah’s ski resorts.
BrewSki Mountain Lager
Bohemian Brewery and Solitude collaborated on the BrewSki Mountain Lager, available at all the resort’s restaurants and bars.
Tram Club’s $5 Beer-and-a-Shot Special
This venerable beer-and-a-bump special is a rite of passage along with first tracks off the Tram. You can also find Wasatch Brewery’s Snowbird IPA at your favorite watering hole.
Ask for the “Alta Bomb” at Goldminer’s Daughter—a double shot of espresso added to a PBR—meant to be chugged. You’ll thank us later.
In addition to stellar nachos, Molly Green’s serves up a hot toddy that has kept me going for a few extra laps night skiing.