Voters: Silver Star Café’s cocktail is the (ice) bomb
August 12, 2016
Jeff LaBounty, general manager of the Silver Star Café had a recipe in mind that he thought had a chance to win this summer's Park City Area Restaurant Association cocktail contest.
But then he created a different drink he was certain would win.
"This thing was just amazing," he said. "And it was like, 'This is the one.' There was no doubt it was going to dominate. It was so unique."
It was last winter that he stumbled upon the blog of a European mixologist who had created a kind of cocktail LaBounty had never seen before. It was a typical Manhattan — only it was served inside an ice sphere, then cracked open to serve.
Over the next several months, he developed an ice cocktail of his own. The result was the LaBounty Bourbon Ice Bomb: bourbon, vermouth, port wine, balsamic syrup and peach and black walnut bitters, all served in an ice sphere with a peach wedge sticking out of it. When delivered to the table, a server breaks the sphere with a small hammer, allowing the liquid to escape and the patron to take taste the sweet concoction.
LaBounty describes the process of making the cocktail in about 30 seconds. Jeff Ward, owner of Silver Star Café, said it's much more difficult and labor-intensive than that, however. LaBounty worked studiously to perfect the process for molding the ice spheres and getting the liquor inside. It was so difficult, Ward said, that he worried about the ability to produce the cocktail on a large enough scale.
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"I thought it was a great idea," he said. "My reservation was, 'How are we going to make that logistically?' But staff got behind it, he trained them up. And the response has been amazing. People are just wowed."
The results from the cocktail contest prove the enthusiasm surrounding the LaBounty Bourbon Ice Bomb. The cocktail earned an average 10 out of 10 rating from 265 people who voted online in the contest, which ran through the month of July and featured drinks from some of Park City's most highly regarded establishments.
LaBounty, who has been creating cocktails for decades and won a $200 prize for winning the contest, said the Ice Bomb lived up to his ambitions when he was creating it. He views mixology as a sort of art form — you craft and tinker until you've got a drink that's good enough to put on the menu — or in this case something that's good enough to win.
"Anyone can make a martini — that's a bartender," he said. "But a mixologist is a chef. You just have to look at a spirit and taste it and go 'What's a vanilla going to taste like?' It's just trial and error and finally thinking, 'OK, I like it. Are my guests going to?' I want to raise the bar in Utah on mixology. I want to make it to a point where people are wowed by these drinks."
He added that the response the cocktail as garnered has been gratifying. He thought it would win the contest — and Ward loved it, too — but nothing is ever certain until patrons test it out. He is hopeful it inspires people to try the other drinks on Silver Star's menu.
"We've served hundreds of these so far and it's going to be here until the next contest," he said.
Fresh off his victory, LaBounty is already thinking about defending his title. He's eager to craft the next concoction that Parkites will go crazy for.
"My mind is already going," he said. "I've got something unique in my head right now. I think I set the bar for everybody else."
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