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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). 

Under Current, 270 S 300 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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!  

Beehive Distilling, 2245 S W Temple, South Salt Lake, UT 84115

Nerd out about cocktails

Water Witch: Go early for best nerdy conversations

Copper Common: Friendly bartender’s ready to chat   

Water Witch, 163 W 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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

Purgatory Bar, 62 E 700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Purgatory Bar, 62 E 700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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! 

Punchbowl Social, 6 N Rio Grande St Building F2, Level 2, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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)

White Horse Spirits & Kitchen, 325 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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 

Bar George, 327 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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 

AC Hotel Lounge, 225 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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 

Post Office Place, 16 W Market St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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! 

Lake Effect, 155 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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

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