Top Shelf plans to smoke competition with Traeger Grills partnership
Most people would not think of a grill as a necessary appliance while making a cocktail. But then again, Casey Metzger and Grayson West are not like most people.
The two, who own and operate the mobile bartending service, Top Shelf, in Park City, recently formed a partnership with Salt Lake City-based Traeger Grills to tap into the cocktail business to create specialty products. The companies have since created a cocktail recipe book and two simple syrups together, and say there are more innovations on the way.
Metzger, founder of Top Shelf, first started experimenting with the grills while serving at one of Traeger’s parties in Salt Lake City in 2015. He spotted the grills and knew that he wanted to incorporate them into the party somehow.
“The approach that we always try to have is a creative approach,” he said. “So, the question was, ‘How do we tie in Traeger to what we’re doing?’ Otherwise we’re just pouring wine and beer and making cocktails.”
So, he threw some fruit on the grill and served smoked Manhattans and Old Fashioned drinks with smoked cherries, oranges and bitters.
“It was a really quirky attempt at finding something different,” he said.
The experiment caught the attention of Denny Bruce, executive vice president of Traeger Grills. He saw the passion behind Metzger and West’s work and asked if he wanted to pursue the experiments further. Metzger and West dove in, not sure what they would find.
“I was drunk for, like, two months,” Metzger said. “It was hard.”
But, after feeling like “drunken mad scientists” in their shop, they came up with more than 100 recipes.
“It was a thin line between having a tasty cocktail and having a cocktail that, after you drank it, made you feel like you had just got done smoking a cigarette,” West said.
While they were pouring out recipes for syrups and a blog on the Traeger site, Bruce thought it would be a good idea to document the experiments and collect them in a book.
The resulting cocktail recipe book features 30 recipes. Top Shelf also helped create a smoked simple syrup and a smoked Bloody Mary syrup. They are continuing to invent new syrups and recipes that will be available soon.
Metzger said that the partnership is helpful to Top Shelf because it is providing them with work and they are able to expand and hire people. But, being around a business that is constantly experimenting has also taught him to apply that philosophy to Top Shelf.
“It inspires us as a business to push the limits,” he said “Don’t stop, go.”
11 Hauz, which opened last summer, serves traditional Jamaican food such as jerk chicken and shrimp, beef patties and fried plantains.