By Chelsea Nelson | @RitualandCraft
If you haven’t noticed, Salt Lake City seems to be expanding at a high rate of speed when it comes to food and beverage options. So much so, that asking someone to name their favorite watering hole can be an overwhelming request.
How does one choose? Can the atmosphere take the panache of your custom suit? What mood are you in? Are you new to Salt Lake and looking to explore some stylish places to drink?
As a craft cocktail nerd who is always looking to find a beautiful background for ‘instadrink’ shots—I get this question often.
Inevitably, I have to break it down into categories because there’s a huge number of incredible spots for not only a great cocktail, but a killer atmosphere, mouthwatering food and and just an all-around-good-time (especially if you’re dressed to impress).
Here’s a top hits list of some of my personal favorites, so next time you’re trying to decide where to make a showing, you can narrow down your options quickly.
(And if you’re anything like me, when you’re ready for a cocktail—time is of the essence!)
My favorite spot to…
Dress to impress a special someone
The Ruin: Little nooks for conversation and you can hear what your date is actually saying
The Rest \ Bodega: Dark and moody, and dare I say, romantic? Plus, old fashioned flights!
Nerd out about cocktails
Water Witch: Go early for best nerdy conversations
Copper Common: Friendly bartender’s ready to chat
Enjoy the bites
Purgatory: Affordable and delicious for brunch, lunch or dinner
Pallet: Worth every penny, every time — dress up and enjoy some of the best craft cocktails in the city
Take a group of my most fashionable friends
Undercurrent: Lovely private room upstairs ready for you to reserve and quite possibly the largest and most comprehensive cocktail menu in the state
Lake Effect: So much space! Everywhere!
Post Office Place: Amazing cocktails and tasty bites that incorporate everything you love about Takashi. Also, the decor is to die for.
Enjoy some refined (or just plain fun) activities
Punchbowl Social: Board games, bowling, darts and really great food and drink
Quarters Arcade Bar: Pinball forever, creative cocktails and so many video games
Tinwell: Weekend dance parties…and shhhh! There’s a secret Tiki room upstairs!
Pretend I’m on vacation with hotel lounge vibes
AC Lounge: Killer cocktails, modern atmosphere
The Vault at Bambara: Constantly upping its cocktail game, and you can feel kind of fancy
Swanky pregame before a show/concert
White Horse: Bites and drinks before the after-hours crowd is always a favorite
Alibi: Start your night off right with pristine cocktails, and plants galore (which I dig)
Pair a cocktail with a dashing custom suit
Beehive Distillery Bar: Everything about it is gorgeous, and…Jack Rabbit Gin
Bar George: Maybe my favorite bar backdrop for cocktail photos
Eat elegantly plant-based
Boltcutter: You might not even notice it’s vegan, PLUS great cocktails
Ice Haus: Bar food, but an abundance of vegan options
Zest: My favorite part about this SLC raw food/vegan staple spot are the cocktails
Explore a little outside of downtown
Seabird Draper: Cocktails and vinyl…in Draper. Thank God.
High West: Predictable, I know. But always worth a drive to Park City
Copper Kitchen: My go-to, in-between spot for cocktails, dinner or brunch
Enjoy a swish of craft beer
Fisher: The beet beer keeps me going back, and the food trucks don’t hurt
SaltFire: Feels like a bar, good brews, AND they serve Beehive canned cocktails in case you want more drink options
Kiitos: Can you say coconut stout? #drool
Indulge in a taste of vino
BTG Wine Bar: New, beautiful space and over 75 wines by the glass
Stanza Italian Bistro and Wine Bar: Extensive list by the bottle and glass, big fan of the food too
Pago: Award-winning wine list focused on family growers and natural wines
Feel the dive vibe
Twilte: Cash only, but with charm
Bongo Lounge: The weirdest little spot, but keeps me going back for cheap drinks and chill vibes
Leprechaun Inn: I asked for an old fashioned and got told “no”, but if you want really great dive bar food, might I suggest the burger and fries
To get relaxed
My home bar: And yours should be too!
Chelsea Nelson is a writer and cocktail nerd dedicated to the ritual and craft of home bartending. You can follow her cocktail adventures on Instagram at @RitualandCraft.