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Voters savor the 2022 cocktail contest and chose the winners

‘Sweet Agony’ and ‘Midsomer’ take home the honors

'Sweet Agony'

Mixologist: Julio Chavarria, High West

Ingredients

  • 75 oz High West Double Rye
  • .50 oz Jamaican Rum
  • .50 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • .25 oz Amontillado Sherry
  • .75 oz Cucumber & Basil Syrup
  • .75 oz Pineapple Juice
  • .75 oz Lime Juice
  • 3 Dashes Hop Tincture Club Soda
 

Method 

Combine all ingredients except Club Soda in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into Collins glass with pebble ice. Top with Club Soda. Garnish with basil leaves. Best served in a Collins glass.

 

'Midsomer'

Mixologist: Zack Rhoades, Après Pendry

Ingredients 

  • 1 Halved Strawberry
  • 6 Mint Leaves
  • 0.75oz Lemon Juice
  • 1oz Honeydew Shrub Club Soda

Method

Muddle strawberry, mint, and lemon juice. Hard shake and dirty dump over rocks. Top with club soda. Garnish with mint bouquet and dehydrated strawberry. Best served in a rocks glass.

‘Sweet Agony’ by High West mixologist Julio Chavarria was voted the No. 1 cocktail in the Park City Area Restaurant Association’s 2022 Savor the Cocktail contest that ran July 1-31.
Courtesy of the Park City Area Restaurant Association

The numbers are in, and the Park City Area Restaurant Association has named Julio Chavarria and Zack Rhoades as the winners of the 2022 summer’s Savor the Cocktail Contest.

Chavarria’s “Sweet Agony” took top honors in the cocktail category and Rhoades’ “Midsomer” rose to the No. 1 spot in the first-ever mocktail list of the contest that ran from July 1 through July 31.

Seventeen participating PCARA member restaurants and their mixologists crafted their most creative cocktails and mocktails that were voted for by Park City locals and visitors throughout the month of July, said Ginger Wicks, PCARA executive director.



“What an exciting month it was for Park City’s mixology scene as PCARA members served up some of their most inventive sippers yet,” she said in a release. “A huge thanks to the community who supported the contest with every beverage ordered.”

Chavarria and Rhoades were eachawarded a $500 cash prize, city-wide recognition, and they will be featured in a marketing campaign leading into PCARA’s popular fall “Dine About” event. 



Chavarria was surprised that “Sweet Agony” tickled voters’ tastebuds.

“I was shocked when I heard the news,” he said. “I’ve made cocktails before, but I’ve never entered a competition with so many other great places and great-looking cocktails.”

Chavarria, who has been with High West since 2013, and a bartender since 2017, said a Thai-basil cocktail he tasted in Oregon served as the inspiration for “Sweet Agony.” 

Thai basil is native to Southeast Asia and has a sort of anise flavor.

“Being a bartender, I want to visit other bars to see how their process of doing stuff is,” he said. “The cocktail I had in Oregon was so delicious, and I wanted to make something like it with my own take. I wanted to make a light, refreshing cocktail that everyone can enjoy.”

Chavarria played around with some ideas that included adding club soda and turning his basil into a syrup.

“I got a lot of feedback from my coworkers, and lead and head bartenders,” he said. “They helped out a lot, and I’m thankful to them.”

Chavarria didn’t know he was going to enter the mix into Savor the Cocktail until High West released its summer menu, a few weeks ago.

“When I found out, I knew I had to start pushing my cocktail a little bit more and try to sell it to more people and get them to vote,” he said.

Having “Sweet Agony” named the top cocktail of 2022 marks how far Chavarria has come as a bartender, he said.

“It also shows how far our company and our bar program has come,” he said. “It’s great to see all the different creative minds that come together and create the great cocktails we have at High West.”

Like Chavarria, Rhoades, a mixologist for the Apres Bar Kita at the Pendry Hotel at Canyons Village, is honored that “Midsomer” was a hit with Savor the Cocktail voters.

He is also taken aback that the drink won the first-ever mocktail category.

“It’s super awesome,” he said. “I’m extremely proud, especially this year, because there has been a large trend in the bartending world for lower-alcohol content cocktails.”

Zack Rhoades “Midsomer” took the the No. 1 slot of the first-ever mocktail category in the Park City Area Restaurant Association’s 2022 Savor the Cocktail contest.
Courtesy of the Park City Area Restaurant Association

“Midsomer” was inspired by a sober couple who recently visited the hotel for a surprise proposal dinner, Rhoades said.

“So, I wanted to create a drink that was romantic and refreshing, but not too sweet,” he said. “Sometimes simpler is better, and I wanted to make this a nice little pre-meal drink.”

As he thought about the concoction, Rhoades leaned into his mixing style.

“I like to use garden-fresh ingredients, like fresh fruits and vegetables, in my drinks,” he said. “And I already had a honeydew shrub on hand, because it was used for a previous cocktail menu.”

A shrub is a non-alcoholic mixing syrup made from water, fruit, sugar and vinegar, according to Rhoades.

“Strawberry and melon is an iconic combination, but the honeydew shrub, specifically, added a nice savory component to it,” he said. “It’s like a flair on a seltzer.”

The other ingredients — lemon juice and mint leaves — added the finishing touches.

“It’s a light and refreshing mocktail and perfect for the heatwave we’re in,” he said.

After making the cocktail for the newly betrothed couple, he made one for his chef and restaurant servers to get some feedback.

“It just took off and became one of our unspoken menu mocktails,” he said.

The Best Mocktail title feels good to Rhoades, who started his mixologist career a year-and-a-half ago.

“I learned how to bartend in Atlanta, and went to New York to tend bar for 10 months before coming to Park City at the end of December to help open the hotel,” he said. “So winning the first mocktail competition not only says something about my mixology methods, but it is also great exposure for the hotel.”


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