Raise a glass – 2022’s best cocktails

It’s that time of year when best of the year lists abound. 2022 will go down as the re-emerging of Utah, and the world, from the pandemic, with hope for new endeavors and the wish to sustain the things we love. In this vain, we bring you a round up of spirited drinks found at some of Utah’s best local restaurants and bars worthy of raising a glass for, either to salute the memories of yesteryear or celebrate those to come.

The Briny Deep at SLC Eatery

The Briny Deep at SLC Eatery

Leave it to one of Salt Lake’s best restaurants to fashion a cocktail that is both a beautiful beverage and tapa in one. The Briny Deep is the quintessential slurp and sip. It’s a riff on a gin martini that’s topped with a raw oyster on the half shell—straight from the briny deep sea itself. Artisanal Elana Gin is the classic, London dry gin base that marries with Ransom Dry Vermouth. The addition of Lustua Fino Sherry and ginger bring brightness and a bit of richness to the cocktail–particularly when paired with the mollusk. Enjoy it with more oysters from the raw bar menu or something from the cart that makes its way around the restaurant regularly with intriguing bites.

Sea Legs at Under Current

If you like your drinks smoky and peaty, get your Sea Legs under you at Under Current. Located on the Beach Dranks section of the always inventive cocktail menu, this swarthy sailor features iodine-rich Laphroaig 10 year Islay scotch and smoky mezcal with careful measures of lime, bitters and almond-forward orgeat that deliver both salty and sweet notes in one sip. Enjoy it with some of Under Current’s seafood bar bites to make your island experience complete. 

La Ca Chua at The Pearl Bar & Kitchen

La Ca Chua at The Pearl

The newest bar in the Central 9th area, The Pearl lives up to its well-respected owners’ reputations as creative culinary innovators in the bar and kitchen. The menus are Vietnamese inspired with none other than Tommy Nguyen taking the helm of the kitchen while Alibi creators Jacob Hall, Chase Worthen and Mike Askerlund bring this sister bar to life. The cocktail La Ca Chua translates to “tomato leaf” but it might as well be sunshine in a glass. It’s a beautiful spritz variation featuring Cappelletti, a sweet and herbal wine-based Italian red bitter aperitif that tastes like a blend of Aperol and Campari. The Pearl’s bartenders mix it with passion fruit and prosecco for a sweet/tart exotic fruit sipping experience. It’s garnished with plenty of leafy Thai basil for an aromatic and visual wow factor. 

Popcorn Sutton at Beehive Distilling

Head to South Salt Lake to find the home of Beehive Distilling (pictured top) — a working distillery complete with distillery cat Gimlet as well as 4000 sq. ft. of bar and event space. Time your visit around a distillery tour and then belly up to the bar which offers the distillery’s entire line up of spirits (and many others) in addition to a selection of local beers on tap. Daily drink specials and break-even bottles keep things interesting. Seasonal cocktails, such as the Popcorn Sutton, highlight the distillery’s barrel reserve gin paired with Zaya rum as well as a brown-butter hazelnut syrup and burnt hops gin-barreled bitters. It will warm you right up from the inside! Beehive has recently added an affordable and appealing bar food menu to their drink line up as well so everyone can nosh and sip during their visit.

Spank the Monkey at Side Bar, Ogden’s Own Distillery

Spank the Monkey at Side Bar

Keep your spirits high with the whimsical Spank the Monkey, found on the Sweet and Fruity section of the craft cocktail menu at Side Bar. Side Bar is the bar on the side of the Ogden’s Own Distillery in northern Utah, so every drink on the extensive menu is made with spirits crafted just on the other side of the picture window looking into the distillery. Grab your monkey for some  sweet and fruity fun featuring Underground Herbal Spirit—a robust herbal liqueur layered with plum, molasses, baking spices and anise flavors. Pineapple juice, ginger syrup, almondy orgeat, and lime juice all mingle in the jungle juice with a final flourish of Grand Marnier and a head full of fresh mint for a drink that can’t help but make you smile.

Whiskey Flower at Scion Cider Bar

Whiskey Flower at Scion Cider Bar

Back to Central 9th, Scion Cider Bar is mixing things up with cider-based cocktails alongside their far-reaching offerings of ciders via tap, bottles and cans. The Whiskey Flower features the spirit of a local distillery, Dented Brick, with their 100% locally grown rye whiskey paired with black lemon and ginger bitters. Lemon juice and sweet draft cider make a refreshing highball that’s light and refreshing. Enjoy it with bar snacks, charcuterie or conservas.

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