Salt Lake City may not be the first place that comes to mind when considering cocktail innovation hubs, but thanks to well-trained native Utah chef Ryan Lowder’s expertise, that’s changing.
Lowder, Founder of Copper Restaurants, recently opened Copper Kitchen in Holladay, Utah. Just minutes from three ski resorts, it’s now become the premier spot for the perfect après ski drink.
Lowder also recently brought on Bryan Lebehn, a native of the Northwest to tackle the strange laws restricting bartenders in Utah. Because of these restrictions, creativity is key. Without the ability to infuse liquors, Copper Kitchen is restricted to buying what the state carries or special order large quantities of liquors, and has to follow very strict laws governing the amounts of various liquors that go into a cocktail.
Lebehn has found it’s best to work in collaboration with the chefs to come up with ingredients that are non-alcoholic that can also be used to expand their possibilities as a bar.
Lo Tamarindo Cocktail
- 1 1/2 oz. Reposado Tequila
- 1 1/2 oz. Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
- 1 1/2 oz. House Made Tamarind Chili Syrup
- 1/2 oz. Pok Pok Som Thai Basil drinking Vinegar
- 1/2 oz. Cointreau
- 1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
Preparation: Combine ingredients in rocks glass, salted rim, garnish with a hot pepper.
Here’s what Head Bartender Bryen Lebehn says about mixing cocktails in Utah:
I’m originally from Seattle Washington. I worked at corporate jobs in Amazon.com and Starbucks, before I realized I didn’t have any enthusiasm for the desk job environment. I started my second career there working a variety of bartending gigs, from a night club/sports bar in Pioneer Square, a very successful Irish Pub, to the Pyramid Brewery right across the streets from Seattle’s two major sports stadiums.
I moved to Portland about five years ago, and worked at a beer and cocktails oriented gastropub called the EastBurn, where I was the beer buyer and part of the management team. It was while in Portland that I started to develop my love for classic cocktails, and I learned a lot from osmosis, being in the scene and working with so many passionate mixologists.
In the summer of 2014 I married and moved to SLC where my wife started working on her PHD at the University of Utah. I happened to be an acquaintance of Sarah Mavor’s from Portland, and so when I learned that she and Ryan Lowder were opening a new restaurant I was very excited to join them, and I’ve been at the Copper Kitchen since day one, where I started in the bar and shortly thereafter joined the management team. It’s one of the most talented and passionate kitchens I’ve had the privilege to work with, and I really enjoy collaborating with them.
In Utah there are a lot of strange laws restricting bartenders, so we have to get creative. We can’t infuse liquors, we have to buy what the state carries or special order large quantities of liquors if we want something they don’t carry, and we have to follow very strict laws governing the amounts of various liquors that go into a cocktail. As a result I’ve found that it’s best to work in collaboration with our chefs to come up with ingredients that are non-alcoholic that we can use to expand our possibilities as a bar.