Utah Stories

What Should You Drink Now? Here Is What Salt Lake’s Five Exceptional Mixologists Recommend

I chatted with a few of Salt Lake’s best mixologists about their favorite cocktails. The answers were personal and heartfelt. 


Maddy Schmidt of Alibi. Photos by Dung Hoang.

Stop me if you’ve heard this; what’s the difference between a bartender and a mixologist? About 10 minutes per cocktail. 

Jokes aside, there’s a cocktail renaissance afoot in the big Salty, fueled by a brood of committed alchemists with eclectic palates excited by the dimensions of taste texture and aroma.  I’ve wandered large cities and asked bartenders for favorite classics only to see bartenders googling away and “Last Words” that look like Nyquil without the charming punch.  

Salt Lake? I can hit 10 spots in two blocks and get impeccable renditions of my favorite classics. No googling needed. Salt Lake is a cocktail Brigadoon, and no, not just the bars, it’s the restaurants, too.

I chatted with a few of these dynamic personalities, curious to see what they reach for and what fuels their craft. The answers were personal and heartfelt. 

Mackenzie Wallace of Oquirrh credits her Louisiana heritage with shaping her palate and her cocktail instincts. She likes framing primary spirits with a sense of grace and balance.  She has a tender spot for Ransom Dry Gin framed in a classic Last Word (equal parts Luxardo, lime, Dolin Genepy/Chartreuse and Gin). Why? “It’s the perfect all season sipper; a refreshing chill in summer and palate warmer in winter. Why, it’s a year round answer.”

Maddy Schmidt of Alibi loves “Nostalgia Bombs” comfy fuss-free cocktails sparked by fond family memories like eating pineapple upside down cake on Grandma’s porch. She’s a fan of big, boozy, layered cocktails balanced with acidity. A go-to for her? The Classic Navy Grog a high-octane blend of rums from around the Caribbean framed by fresh citrus juices and pimento dram.  Hamilton’s new Navy Grog rum blend provides a perfect shortcut as it combines the rums called for in the classic recipe.

Michael Edwards of Island Time and Water Witch.

For Michael Edwards of Island Time and Water Witch, it’s an odd mélange of Rum culture and Parisian nostalgia. While bartending in Paris, he became enamored of the classic Ti Punch a simple assemblage of lime peel, a drip of cane syrup, ice and the national spirit of Martinique, Neisson Rhum Agricole. It was his coming-of-age sip, his “go-to”, it made him feel classy, and as he says, “not like a schmuck” that and it was simple enough that anyone could make one.     

Crystal Daniels at Post Office Place opts for clean balanced and pure spirits. She’s an unabashed fan of Waterpockets Minthe and Wahaka Mezcal (the botaniko bottling).  While she’s happy to drink either neat, a go-to is a 50-50 gin martini laced with Dolin Dry or Ransom Dry Vermouth or a Vesper variation with Mezcal. 

Arianna Cicely, bartending nomad last seen at High West and Post Office Place, answered in seconds. Favorite cocktail? “The Negroni, because it’s always delicious and a chameleon with Whiskey or Mezcal variants,” and it contains something called “The Red Angel”, or, as she put it, Italian red bitter liqueur think Cappelletti/Campari or Aperol.


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