To say we're fans of craft cocktails would be an understatement. Their emergence throughout the Utah food scene has been meteoritic, and when good craft cocktails arrive on the scene you better expect good things to follow. We've often talked about the craft cocktail scene in Utah, especially on episodes with Bar X, Handle + HSL, Zest, and Beehive Distilling. The last 10 years has been a craft cocktail renaissance (of sorts), and the emerging popularity of these beverages has taken a firm hold of our quickly growing state.
When you interview over 50 different food, coffee, and beverage entrepreneurs over a year, you begin to notice certain trends. They’re all passionate about their craft, feel a calling to create, and want to contribute to a growing community. The aspiration to put Utah on the foodie map can be found in ways big and small. For Briar Handly, the co-owner of Handle and HSL, developing a hyper-local, hyper-seasonal restaurant was one way to help Utah take one giant step forward.
Prior to 2010, if you mentioned Bar X to a Salt Lake City resident, a very particular image came to mind: dive bar, cheap beer, no women allowed (until 1986, that is). It wouldn’t necessarily be considered a downtown hot spot that locals and visitors flocked to. But when Bar X went up for sale, a very ambitious group had a vision for what Downtown Salt Lake City could be, and knew that a revamped Bar X was the starting point.
This new group of owners, with Richard Noel and Duncan Burrell at the forefront, were inspired by the craft beer and cocktail communities growing in New York City and Los Angeles, and wanted to bring the Portland feel to the growing Salt Lake City community. This marriage of ideas led to Bar X opening as one of the first hand crafted cocktail bars in Salt Lake City. Immediately locals flocked to the new bar, and word spread quickly. With a staff full of cocktail connoisseurs and a creative energy that flows throughout the entire space, Bar X threw down the gauntlet for all future development downtown.
After an incredibly successful launch and initial few years, Richard and Duncan’s love for craft brewing developed into Beer Bar, a beer centric bar that offers the widest beer selection in the state, perfectly paired with a sausage menu that is locally made and bursting with flavor. With very distinct vibes and different offerings, Bar X and Beer Bar work in tandem to provide a variety of experiences all within close proximity.
Six years later, Bar X and it’s attached sister, Beer Bar, have introduced a new vibe and quality of nightlife that was a first in Salt Lake City. With hand-crafted cocktails made of high-quality ingredients and fresh squeezed juice, these two downtown staples jumpstarted a revitalization for the cocktail and beer scene in Salt Lake City.
Join us as we sit down with Richard Noel, Duncan Burrell, and Jeff Barnard as they tell us the fascinating story behind these two popular destinations, and how their vision and passion led to the creation of these unique bars.
Welcome to The Utah Foodie! On today’s episode we bring in two of our state's top food writers and critics to help us craft a perfect night out on the town exploring Salt Lake City's food scene.
This is our third installment in our monthly "Food Tips With Foodies" series where we bring in local food experts and talk food for an hour on a pre-selected topic. Last month, we explored Breakfast & Brunch in Utah with Chris Holified of I Am Salt Lake and Chelsea Nelson of Heartbeat Nosh. In October, we brought in Amanda Rock of Amanda Eats SLC and Jeffrey Steadman from Yelp.com to talk Fine Dining options around the state.
Today we’re on with Kathy Stephenson and Heather King:
Kathy Stephenson has been The Tribune food writer since 2000, covering all aspects of eating including dining, alcohol and agriculture. A Utah native, she began working at The Tribune in 1982 while a student at the University of Utah. She honed her journalism skills covering various topics including communities, education and (fun fact) Figure Skating during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Heather King is a food writer and restaurant critic for The Salt Lake Tribune, Devour Utah, Downtown SLC magazine and Examiner.com. She is the co-founder of The Utah Review where she writes about arts, culture, food and travel. She is the founder of Utah's Ladies Who Lunch groups, a member of the Association of Food Journalists and a proud Great Dane owner.
In early 2014, James Fowler introduced Sugar House Distillery and became Utah’s very first "grain-to-glass” small-batch spirits distillery — where the entire production, from the raw ingredients all the way to the bottle, is done in-house using their own still. And it all happens in their warehouse in South Salt Lake that just so happens to be South Salt Lake's first privately-owned liquor store since prohibition.
Needless to say, Sugar House Distillery is a pioneer. Which is the very attitude you need if you want to start a liquor distillery in Utah. There were permit and license issues, questions about how to deliver quality spirits without expensive stills, and an uphill battle to convince people in Utah that good liquor was worth paying extra for.
Fortunately, Sugar House Distillery is a part of a burgeoning movement, not unlike the craft beer movement. James Fowler says the small batch distillery trend is just as large as craft brewing, but a mere 10 years behind — and we’re just seeing the crest of the wave of a trend that will result in a lot more local distilleries across America, and here in Utah.
On today’s episode we talk with Sugar House Distillery’s owner, James Fowler, and his assistant distiller Jake Wood to learn about their distilling process, their liquor, and how they got started.
Sugar House Distillery
2212 West Temple, #14, Salt Lake City
Today we interview two of the gentlemen behind Whiskey Street: owner and proprietor Jason LeCates, and executive chef Matt Crandall. After launching Bourbon House in 2011, Matt and Jason set out to do it again. But this time they had more funding, a better location, and a drive to create an upscale whiskey bar that boasts a great drink menu and a strong food offering.
On opening day, Matt and Jason were scrambling to find plates and make sure they were prepared for the a crowd they hoped would come. And boy, did the crowd come. The response was explsoive, and today Whiskey Street is one of Salt Lake's busiest bars and whether it's lunch time, happy hour, or late-night drinks, there's always a crowd looking to sample their appetizers or try one of their craft cocktails and 130+ whiskies.
In this episode we talk about Whiskey Street's first name ("Order 44"), how they created their menu, and what it's like to run a bar in Utah. We discuss UT liquor laws, Whiskey Street's "ahi tartini" appetizer, and their future plans for growth.
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