Relaxing summer drinks are in competition | ParkRecord.com

Relaxing summer drinks are in competition

Alan Maguire, The Park Record

Squatters Roadhouse Grill & Pub's "Garden Hotel" cocktail is an entry in the Park City Area Restaurant Association's Summer Cocktail Contest. (Courtesy of Park City Area Restaurant Association)

What’s the best summer cocktail in town? It’s not a question that would seem to have a clear answer, but the Park City Area Restaurant Association (PCRA) wants one.

The PCRA is running its Park City Cocktail Contest throughout the month of July, featuring the libations of mixologists and bartenders from nine local establishments.

While it’s not the first time PCRA has held a cocktail competition, it is a new format instead of having a one-day competition at a single locale, it is one month long, based online, with the highlighted cocktails served at the individual restaurants competing. Tasters judge the cocktails on the PCRA’s website, ranking them from one to ten stars. The results are updated in real time, and as of Friday, July 18, High West Distillery’s "Mustang Shandy" was in the lead.

"This is the first time we’ve done an online format," said Ginger Ries, PCRA’s executive director. While PCRA used to hold the competition at different establishments, that often proved difficult. "While that was somewhat successful, it had a lot of logistical challenges with it, given our Utah liquor laws."

For instance, "A few years back we hosted it at Red Rock and in order to mix the drink that’s being sold at an establishment, it has to be mixed by employees of that establishment," Ries said. "Well a lot of different folks that were entering the contest wanted to be able to mix their drink the way they envisioned it so that the general public can purchase it and vote on it but that’s not legal."

Thus, the new format.

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"We wanted to try and create an environment where the mixologist or the establishment that created the cocktail could be in control of how the cocktail is being made and presented. We also wanted to create an environment where the general public could be voting on the cocktail. In our past platforms, we had a panel of judges," Ries said. "And that was great. However, the general public was not involved in choosing the cocktails, so that was kind of frustrating to locals and visiting guests. We thought, why not try it online?"

The online format allows anyone to enjoy and judge the competing cocktails at their leisure try one or try them all. "Versus trying them all in one night and then maybe needing a ride home," Ries noted. And while the competition used to be held during the shoulder season, since it required taking over an entire establishment, it can now be held at any time during the year.

The winning mixologist will win $200 and will clearly have local bragging rights, but perhaps more importantly, will boost their profile.

"We’ll feature the winner in our August and September marketing campaign," Ries said, "really driving people to that winning establishment to sample the winning cocktail. So for the winning establishment there’s a lot of publicity that will hopefully come out of it and drive some additional business to their respective restaurant."

If you aren’t able to try out a tasty-looking cocktail before the end of the month, don’t worry the PCRA has asked each participant to keep their competing cocktails on their menus throughout the summer. In fact, you can even try to mix like the pros.

"At any time you can go on the PCRA’s website and not only see pictures of all the cocktails but also find the recipes for all the cocktails," Ries said.

The Park City Restaurant Association’s Summer Cocktail Contest runs throughout the month of July. Nine local establishments are competing (see list below) and judging is done online by the public. Visit parkcityrestaurants.com/specials-events/cocktail-contest for details about the competitors, to see the current standings, and to judge cocktails.

Summer Cocktail Contest entries:

  • Blind Dog Restaurant "The Patpong," featuring Thai chilis and tea, basil and cilantro
  • High West Distillery "Mustang Shandy," featuring spiced honey syrup, whiskey and beer
  • J&G Grill, St. Regis "Jalagin," featuring jalapeno and lime juice
  • Red Rock Junction "Elder Amber," featuring St. Germain and Amber Ale
  • Royal Street Café at Deer Valley "Caipirinha Colada," featuring sage, coconut and key lime marmalade
  • Silver "The Lighter Side #2," featuring tequila, grapefruit and lavender
  • Silver Star Café "The White Mule," featuring Midnight Moon Moonshine and fresh ginger
  • Squatters Roadhouse Grill & Pub "Garden Hotel," featuring gin, cane syrup and IPA
  • Wasatch Brew Pub "Wasatch Mountain Press," featuring grapefruit vodka, basil and blueberries