Utah?s High West Expands, and DCR Supports Local

I just returned from a wonderful Independence Day weekend in the merely-double-digit-heat of Park City, Utah, where I heard a rumor (it?s kind of a small town) that High West—Utah?s first legal distillery since Prohibition—is planning another expansion. Owner David Perkins confirms that he has purchased a neighboring confectionery two doors up the street in Park City?s Old Town, and plans to open it by the end of the year as a private events space to take some of the pressure off the world?s only ski-in gastro-distillery?s always-packed restaurant. On the menu: whiskey, natch, and small plates. This comes in addition to plans for a second distillery and corporate retreat on a Utah ranch, ?Hopefully open next spring,? Perkins says, adding that the hotel is likely to be run by a luxury hotel operator. ?It will be a doozy.? Forget trust falls with your cube mates and imagine group distilling sessions!

Closer to home, Nevada?s first legal distillery since Prohibition, Las Vegas Distillery, is now making private-label vodka, gin and rum for Downtown Cocktail Room, a project six months in the making. DCR owner Michael Cornthwaite and managing partner Jeremy Merritt will use the well spirits ($7 per drink at DCR) in all of their present and forthcoming projects. Cornthwaite and Merritt have three new venues in the works that Merritt says will open by late September or October. ?We found that [distillery owner George Racz?s] ideals were in line with ours, and saw the opportunity to grow a relationship together,? Merritt says. ?Both of us have pushed the boundaries in our respective professions. Support local!?

More good news: In addition to lots of cat pics, I saw an interesting Facebook post on July 2 by former Cosmopolitan mixologist and Chandelier bar GM Mariena Mercer. ?Miss Wizard? is returning to the Cosmopolitan to once again wow us with her boozy dry-ice wonders and to keep the Verbenas flowing. (Incidentally, if you haven?t had that off-menu oddity, the one with the Szechuan button, you?re missing out.) I was actually at the Cosmopolitan when I saw the post, at Blue Ribbon?s awesome Domain de Canton pairing dinner with Vesper GM Chris Hopkins and former Vesper GM (now a Wirtz Beverage Nevada beverage development specialist) Andrew Pollard as well as a number of Las Vegas bar stars. Talk about getting the band back together!

Finally, a save the date: Henderson?s Gaetano?s Ristorante will host its first beer-pairing dinner on July 26, featuring American craft beers from North Coast, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Brewing and others. Tickets are $70 per person; call 361-1661 to reserve your seats.

For more scene stirrings and shake-ups, visit VegasSeven.com/Cocktail-Culture.