Bartender, pour me another
Before sisters Lisa and Jill Christoffersen opened their first Kristauf’s Martini Bar in Salt Lake City six years ago, one worked as a branch manager for a credit union and the other owned a chain of snow cone stands where the talk of selling liquor started.
"People used to ask all the time if we could put alcohol in their snow cones," Jill said. "I guess I’m all about drinks I just moved from one age to the next."
The pair, who just opened a bar on Lower Main Street in Park City, shortened their last name to come up with Kristauf’s, but had to change the spelling.
"Christopher’s Steakhouse was around the corner and people were getting Christopher’s and Christoff’s mixed up so we knew we had to have a completely different spelling because they were a block away from us," Lisa said. "Cab drivers were confused, everybody was confused, so we knew we had to change it up."
So they put the name in a martini shaker and Kristauf’s was the result.
Currently open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., or until midnight on Sundays, customers can start their night off with a James Bond Vesper with blue cheese olives, follow that with a Kristauf Cosmo to go with some rainbow sushi from The Flying Sumo next door, and then have a nightcap with a Pin-Up Girl.
Lisa said they brought the concept to Park City to fill a void in the night scene.
"There was nothing in Park City or anywhere that offered an eclectic atmosphere with big windows, but was small and intimate," she said. "You either had to go to a dinner club or a dance hall club. So we brought a bar that anyone would feel comfortable coming to. It’s a bar you pop in before the theater, after the theater, first date, second date, whenever. It’s not a dinner club or a dance club, but we do have dancing and excellent music."
The sisters got the idea for the bar from a vacation to San Diego where, Jill said, they realized how versatile and fun the martini is.
"It’s a drink you can do a lot of things with," she said. "People think you can’t get a real drink in Utah, well you can. We have a full-service bar, so you can make any drink you want."
With 85 martinis on the menu, there are choices to be made. There is the TNT, the Nuts and Berries with a Kiss, or even the Panty Dropper, all named by Lisa, Jill, a Kristauf’s bartender, or the customer who created it.
"If someone comes in and invents a drink then we let them name it," Jill said. "We change parts of our menu every six months, so if it’s good enough, you’ll see your drink there."
Lisa said it’s the variety of the drinks and the laidback but classy atmosphere that will please young and old.
"I think we can support every age group, every single age group," she said. "Your older crowd comes out early because it’s a nice place to get a good drink, because we have a totally different menu than any other bar in town. Then the next level up is the group of people who aren’t ready to go home after dinner, and then we have the young crew kick it up late at night. The crowd we get in earlier is older, I think, than the crowd we get in Salt Lake. It’s just a multi-level group with what we get here. We get a lot of visitors, too."
The bar includes a pool table, dance floor, DJ station and plenty of lounge space, which, the pair said, was what they were trying to do when changing the inside of the building from a beach-themed Rum Bunnies to a more tame black, tan and brown decor. That way, they said, the focus is on the drinks, the people and "shaking up the nightlife."
"When you have those shakers going off all night, it is this sound you don’t hear anywhere else because all three bartenders are all shaking for all they’re worth," Lisa said. "And the drinks are vibrant they’re blue, they’re red, they’re orange. They’re neon colored drinks. They’re vibrant and beautiful and you just want to drink them.
"If you’re a true martini drinker you’ll come in a order a classic every time, but if you want to have fun and you’re not a true martini drinker, but just want to get your feet wet, that’s when you go to the designers. All of them look and taste great."
But the drinks aren’t the only items that look good. Artist Michael Godard has a gallery in the bar. Jill and Lisa saw his work in California and decided to try to get him to show his pieces in the bar, but before they found his number, he found theirs.
"He heard we were opening and he actually called us first," Lisa said. "It was great."
Besides drinks and painting of drinks, the dance floor is always open and the music mixes from "crooner tunes early" to "old school funk and dance."
Food is available from The Flying Sumo, which is next door, as well as many of restaurants in the area.
"You can’t take liquor off the premises, but you can take food anywhere," Jill said. "We don’t care what you bring in and eat. We actually need to go out and round up more menus."
Jill, who will continue to run the Salt Lake City location, said she and Jill will both be "mixing it up in Park City," but that her sister is planning to move to Park City to run the bar full-time. Kristauf’s is currently open, but will have a grand opening on Sept. 23.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.