Bottom’s Up! How to Ace Your Wedding Bar Menu
POP, FIZZ, CLINK
If there’s an occasion that calls for popping bottles, your wedding is surely it. Nothing says “Cheers!” quite like a glass of celebratory bubbly. But what to pop? Local wine broker Francis Fecteau, proprietor of Libation—or as his business card states, “Chief Wine Pimp”—suggests Adami Prosecco Garbel 13, Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, and Cavas El Cep Marqués de Gelida. All three bottles are priced under $20 and are available at the Utah Wine Store at 1605 South 300 West in Salt Lake City.
Fecteau likes his bubblies best with “popcorn, crunchy green stuff, and dead birds.” Grilled kale and quail, anyone? Mary Crafts-Homer of Culinary Crafts suggests greeting guests with a glass of prosecco and an hors d’oeuvre like a slice of grilled peach topped with goat cheese and pistachio brittle. “If the toasting is happening at the start of dinner, I like to set an amuse-bouche of a mascarpone-filled fresh strawberry to have as a bite with the Champagne,” she says.
RAISE THE BAR
We called upon Clifton Reagle, bar manager at HSL Restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City (see and read more about this hot spot here), to create two signature cocktails for local celebrations. His mixology masterpieces? Beehive Old Fashioned: 1.5 ounces Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, 3 drops salt water, 2 dashes Honest John Bitters Co aromatic bitters and 1 dash Honest John orange bitters, garnished with an orange twist. Beehive Tea Sour: 1.5 ounces Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin, 3/4 ounce cardamom and berry tea syrup (made with tea from SLC’s Tea Grotto), 1/4 ounce lime juice, 3 drops salt water, garnished with herbs.
Reagle says HSL’s General Tso–style cauliflower is a match for the Beehive Tea Sour, while the restaurant’s spread of farmstead cheeses and Creminelli Varzi, Iberico Lardo, and Olympia Provisions Etna salami go well with the Beehive Old Fashioned. Sara Lund, owner of Honest John Bitters Co and Salt Lake’s speakeasy-style bar/restaurant The Rest, adds that, “Honest John Aromatic Bitters in an Old Fashioned pairs really well with heavier meat dishes such as steak and pork,” while “Honest John Orange Bitters in a Martinez cocktail—made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Luxardo—tastes great alongside seafood dishes.”
FROM THE VINE
When it comes to wine, Francis Fecteau recommends offering red and white vino plus bubbly, if your budget allows. But he notes, “There’s no magic formula—serve what you want.” He says you can find good wine from anywhere in the world, and you don’t need to break the bank. “If your budget is less than $15 a bottle, I’d make a beeline toward Spain—best-value wines in the world.” He also recommends these four vinos, all priced around $20: Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay, Skylark Red Belly red blend, Conundrum red table wine, and Aia Vecchia Solidio Rosato. “Like I am fond of saying, the great wines are the ones that make me not want to talk about wine,” he says. “The sooner I can get on to pleasant distractions like art, music, food, and love, well, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?”
Crafts-Homer likes crisp white wine served in mini wine glasses alongside a slice of fresh pear topped with brie and honey, and rosé served with a crisp apple slice and artisan cheddar drizzled with honey and salt. But when wine is really important to a couple, “I always recommend pairing the wines with each course of a formal plated dinner,” she says. “Guests will remember a special glass of red wine poured specifically to enhance a winning beef, bison, or elk entrée.”
Salt Lake and Park City are home to numerous award-winning breweries, and local caterers love to sip and serve their topnotch hops. “One of my favorite combos is Wasatch Apricot Hefeweizen and Squatters Chasing Tail Golden Ale,” says Nina Pearson of mobile bar Jack Rose Caravan. “I like to mix half and half of each beer, and we call it a Chasing-Ape! Mixing the two takes some of the sweetness out of the apricot and gives it a nice refreshing balance.” Some of her and her husband Devin’s other go-to beers are Uinta’s Detour Double IPA and Wyld Extra Pale Ale, which she says appeals to beer lovers but is smooth enough for people who aren’t craft beer connoisseurs. “It’s important to have a mellow and more complex option at a wedding, but limit it to 2 to 3 beers so guests aren’t overwhelmed,” she advises.
For gluten-free guests or for something refreshing and new, try Park City’s Ruby Hard Cider, a natural, traditional cider made with apples from Utah orchards. “It’s dry and crisp and just as bubbly and cheerful as Champagne,” says Mountain West Cider’s Laci Brown.
Chef Tom Grant of The Blended Table suggests serving Uinta Hop Nosh IPA with spicy jambalaya with Andouille sausage galette, Proper Brewing Hopspital IPA with Korean barbecue pork sliders with crispy sweet onions and kimchi, and Epic Brewing Spiral Jetty IPA with braised beef short ribs with grain mustard-roasted winter vegetables.