Rum, Don’t Walk to ACME Bar Co.’s Tropical Paradise
Beer & Spirits
At first, most patrons of ACME Bar Co.—previously known as Campfire Lounge— may have assumed the winter holiday-themed pop-up was a temporary spectacle to be dissolved with the rest of the holidays’ common embellishments. What visitors may not have anticipated is what makes the ACME experience continue year-round. The ceiling covered in Christmas lights and walls drenched in wrapping paper was memorable, but it is the co-owners’ Mikey Edwards and Sam Miller’s commitment to offering SLC a true and thoroughly curated form of escapism that keeps visitors coming back, no matter the season.
While ACME advertises themselves as a seasonal bar, there have only been two actual themes: “Season’s Drinking,” their winter holiday pop-up, and “Suckerfish,” a more tropical-forward theme running since January 2023. “The whole idea behind a seasonal bar was to create this moveable shell where we change the theme, menu, etc.,” Edwards says. “We decided that our efforts were best spent on diversifying our programming and opening our patio bar, ‘Cabana Nights,’ to add another element to the escapism.”
“We really want to dive into the world of escapism but separate ourselves from themes that are culturally appropriative.”
After purchasing Campfire Lounge in October 2022, the duo spent the following two months training what used to be the Campfire staff on a whole new world of cocktails, food and tropical drink culture. “Mikey managed a Tiki bar in Paris called Dirty Dick, and at the same time I was opening a couple of Tiki bars in San Francisco,” Miller says. “Once you get into the world of rum and classic Tiki cocktails, there’s nothing else in the bar world that really scratches that itch.”
At its origin, “Tiki” means “the first man” in Māori, who is known as the god or idol of the people of New Zealand. The first Tiki bar opened in Los Angeles in the ‘30s, and Tiki culture soon became a way for folks feeling stuck to momentarily step away from their lives and experience a tropical paradise. ACME hopes to carry on the traditions of Tiki and what they call “tropical drink culture” in a way that doesn’t tokenize its Polynesian roots. “We are trying to usher ‘Tiki’ into the modern era as something that was created in the mid-century,” Edwards says. “[With ACME] we really want to dive into the world of escapism but separate ourselves from themes that are culturally appropriative.”
“Once you get into the world of rum and classic Tiki cocktails, there’s nothing else in the bar world that really scratches that itch.”
ACME’s lush, tropical environment is a solid form of escapism, but there’s nothing like a stiff drink to really transport you to a better place. ACME carries about 60 different types of rum along with their main tropical cocktails such as the Cobra’s Kiss ($16) that includes lilikoi, lemon, orange juice and both absinthe and rum, or the Black Magic ($18) that simply has “all the rum, all the citrus, all the spices.” Through ACME, Edwards and Miller hope to show SLC and the world how incredible the rum spirit category is. “I special order rum almost weekly to keep the bar stocked,” Miller says. ACME mainly focuses on sourcing rum from the islands of Jamaica, Martinique, Haiti, Barbados and St. Lucia. ACME also offers a weekly rum tasting on Thursdays to educate and share their knowledge within this spirit category. “Our favorite is Neisson Distillery in Martinique who makes rum agricole, which is a fresh-pressed sugarcane juice distillate. They cut sugarcane fresh from the field and ferment it immediately,” Miller says.
Miller and Edwards note that ACME’s existence as of this year is only a test project. After their upcoming Christmas pop-up in December, ACME will go through a remodel and a rebrand, eventually resurfacing as Remora. While there aren’t many details yet on what Remora will be, the focus on escapism will stay at the forefront. So, whether you are visiting ACME for their weekly Monday Night Motown, Wednesday Karaoke, Thursday Rum Tasting or Sunday Supper Club, know that you aren’t just going to any bar, but a different world. Visit ACME at 837 East 2100 South in SLC or check out their menu online at acmebarcompany.com and on Instagram @acmebarco.
Read more about local bars:
Horns Up! Bottoms Up! Aces High! SLC’s Punk & Metal Bar
Side Bar: Where Drinks and Stories are on the Menu