City in a Glass: Park City, Utah

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City in a Glass: Park City, Utah

Thirsty? You’re in luck. In Paste’s drinking-and-traveling series, City in a Glass, we mix up a city’s signature swills and slide them down the bar to readers. Grab a stool. This round—in Park City, Utah—is on us.

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Many people think you can’t get a good drink in Park City, Utah. Sure, the state has some strict liquor laws that limit base spirits to 1½ ounces per glass. But just because you can’t order a double doesn’t mean all of the drinks are weak. If you go to the right place, you’ll find that bartenders get away with adding more alcohol to cocktails (up to 2½ ounces total) with secondary spirits, liqueurs and bitters they refer to as “flavorings.” Park City’s clever nightlife scene is making the ski resort town—and Sundance Film Festival home—a formidable après ski destination, one that harkens back to the city’s colorful past. (For what it’s worth, Utah cast the deciding vote in 1933 to repeal Prohibition.)

In the Old West, saloons served as community centers, restaurants and, of course, bars, and were often the first places of business to open in newly established towns. Park City was founded by prospectors in the 1860s and quickly became known for its abundance of silver miners and watering holes that serve them. Today the city’s bars may not be as famous, but they’re surely as pervasive. You’ve got everything from beer-and-shot hangouts like No Name Saloon to craft cocktail-slinging music venues such as O.P. Rockwell to Americana restaurants like Handle, whose drinks programs don’t nearly get the ballyhoo they deserve.

On this city drinks tour, we’re going to introduce you to three Park City-only cocktails featuring local spirits and Western history. Here’s where to find these elusive bug juices and even how to replicate them at home.

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1. Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Elixir
Where to order: High West Saloon

Mrs Winslows.jpeg
Photo by Shelby Caret for High West Distillery

High West Distillery and Saloon is the only ski-in gastro-distillery in the world. Utah’s first distillery (opened in 1870) still uses traditional copper pot stills to make whiskey and vodka on-site. To honor High West’s rich heritage, all of the cocktails on the saloon’s bar menu reference the West in some way. Take for instance Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Elixir, a cocktail named for a nefarious medical product of the 19th Century.

The mid-1800s were the Wild West of medicine. Dangerous snake oils were pedaled for their healing powers even though many of them led to death. One such concoction was Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, created in 1849 to quiet teething babies. The pain reliever’s formula included morphine, sodium carbonate, ammonia and alcohol. Sixty years later Mrs. Winslow’s was withdrawn from sale in the U.S. when the American Medical Association referred to it as a “baby killer.” “Obviously that formula was a lot different than what ours is,” says High West co-bar manager Steve Walton. One of his bartenders, Kambrin Thorne, came up with the saloon’s version and while it doesn’t include morphine, it certainly includes some other fun stuff.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Elixir is a mix between a hot toddy, a buttered rum and a bulletproof coffee. The drink combines High West (obviously) double rye whiskey with a bunch of warm flavors such as Applejack, allspice liqueur, maple syrup, cinnamon and butter. “When you’re coming in out of the cold from being out on the mountain all day, you’re looking for a great hot cocktail,” Walton says. “This one is going to revive you. And the butter gives you a little energy to keep you going.”

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Elixir

1½ oz. High West Double Rye
¾ oz. Applejack
¼ oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
¾ oz. buttered maple syrup (recipe below)
Lemon juice
Cloves, for garnish

Make syrup: Combine butter, maple syrup and cinnamon in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring until ingredients dissolve. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Store in a hot pot.

Make drink: Warm a goblet glass. Add syrup, spirits and a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with hot water. Stir. Garnish with two dried cloves.

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2. High Plains Drifter
Where to order: Wasatch Brewpub

Like High West Distillery, Wasatch Brewery has a place in Utah booze history. Opened in 1986, Wasatch was the very first beer brewery in the state. Two years later, the brewery’s owner convinced Utah’s legislature to legalize brewpubs. Wasatch Brewpub has been open on Main Street ever since. In the spirit of the rebellious owner, all of the brewery’s in-house beers have rather cheeky names. There’s the Provo Girl, which is described as a “fun, frolicky pilsner that’s sure to please.” And of course the popular Polygamy Porter, a nitrogenated brown porter that teases: “Why have just one?”

Bartenders employ many methods to stretch the boundaries of Utah’s liquor laws, and one newly popular way is with beer-tails, or cocktails made with beer. One such drink is the brewpub’s High Plains Drifter (pictured at top), a floral beer-tail made with Wasatch’s crisp Ghostrider IPA, Beehive Jackrabbit gin (which is distilled in nearby Salt Lake City) and violet flower liqueur. “Ghostrider is a Belgian White-style India Pale Ale,” says general manager Bill Saxton. “It’s unfiltered and pours a ghostly kind of yellow color, mostly opaque.” The IPA also includes a bit of coriander and has a pine and citrus nature, which all works well with gin. And the drink’s flower liqueur gives the whole thing a pretty, light purple color.

High Plains Drifter

1½ oz. Beehive Gin
1½ oz. Ghostrider White IPA
¾ oz. Crème de Violette
¾ oz. lime juice
½ oz. cane syrup

Combine all ingredients, except beer, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a tulip glass. Top with beer. Garnish with a cherry a lime wedge.

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3. 7452 Bloody Mary
Where to order: The St. Regis Deer Valley

7452 Bloody Mary.jpeg
Photo courtesy of St Regis Deer Valley

The Bloody Mary was supposedly invented at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 1934. Today every St. Regis property around the world makes its own signature Bloody Mary. Marcel Paramore, head bartender at the St. Regis Deer Valley resort, says that “some people” think the Deer Valley version is the best of them all. It certainly may be the most complicated of them all. “There’s a lot of production with this Bloody Mary,” he says.

The 7452 Bloody Mary—named for the altitude of the bar—starts with the original St. Regis Bloody Mary mix (tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cornichon juice, horseradish and Sriracha chili sauce) and then gets a shot of vodka made by our friend High West Distillery. The drink is topped with a wasabi-celery espuma (Italian for “foam”) and the glass is rimmed with coal-black lava salt. “The espuma symbolizes snow on the peaks of the nearby mountains,” Paramore says. “The black lava salt is used to symbolize the miners who started Park City in the 1800s.” The lavish space even has a mural dedicated to the miners behind the bar.

Paramore also serves the drink with a little pipette filled with Tabasco, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. So if you want the drink spicier, you can just squeeze the pipette into it. “This way, you’re in control of how much spice is in your drink,” he says. If you’ve been keeping track, this means the 7452 Bloody Mary includes cayenne, Tabasco, wasabi, horseradish and Sriracha. “It’s not supposed to be an easy drink to swallow,” Paramore says. “Bloody Marys are supposed to kick your butt.”

The drink must be doing something right, because every morning the bar is filled with hungover ski bums. “I don’t know if it’s the actual Bloody Mary or if it’s just the placebo affect, but drinking it definitely makes them feel better,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll see them a couple of hours later and as long as they haven’t been drinking that whole time, they’re on top of the world.”

7452 Bloody Mary

Makes 4

6 oz. High West Vodka 7000’
Lime wedge
Hawaiian black lava salt
A few dashes cayenne pepper

Bloody Mix:
16 oz. tomato juice
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup cornichon juice
2 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
½ tsp. finely ground black pepper
1 tsp. celery salt

Wasabi-Celery Espuma:
60 gm. celery juice
30 gm. green apple juice
2 gm. wasabi powder
1 Tbsp. lime juice
A few parsley leaves
Dash of salt
Dash of xanthan

Make espuma: Add all ingredients to a blender. Mix until frothy. Strain. Pour into a whipped cream dispenser.

Make drink: Combine second set of ingredients to make the Bloody mix. Set aside. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of each glass. Dip the rims into a plate sprinkled with black lava salt. Fill glasses with ice and add 1½ ounces of vodka to each. Fill glasses ¾ of the way up with Bloody mix. Fill the rest of the glass with the foamy, wasabi-celery espuma and a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Garnish with a tiny pipette filled with Tabasco, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

City in a Glass columnist Alyson Sheppard writes about travel and hangovers for Playboy.com. She currently resides in the great state of Texas.

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