Side Bar: Where Drinks and Stories are on The Menu

Beer & Spirits

Founder of Ogden’s Own Distillery, Tim Smith, laughs while sharing some of the stories behind the cocktails featured at Side Bar, a new, art deco and prohibition-style cocktail bar within Ogden’s Own that opened in Oct. 2021. Since then, Side Bar has been a place of entertainment and storytelling. With around 40 different cocktails and over 20 different vessels that drinks are served in, Side Bar’s specialty cocktails connect patrons and bartenders through their stories, selection and designs. “It really is a reflection of Ogden being the crossroads of the West,” says Smith. “You just see people from all around the world hanging out in Ogden because it was where they got off the train.” He likes how Side Bar gives all kinds of people a place of refuge to come together. Patrons can choose from four categories: sweet and fruity, sour and refreshing, spicy, or spirit-forward. These categories allow people to find a new drink while sticking to the flavor profile that sounds desirable to them.

The Lei It On Me and Basil Dreams are two of Side Bar’s many cocktails that connect patrons and bartenders through their unique look and storied design.
Photo: John Barkiple

“Our goal is to highlight the spirits themselves, as well as using as many products that we can get locally to use in the spirits.”

Along with classic cocktails, Side Bar has many unique choices that the staff has created. “All the rules are off. Our mixologists, or ‘liquid chefs’ as we call them, have full freedom to experiment and make wonderful creations,” Smith says. These specialty cocktails, served in unique vessels, have stories that are eager to be shared. One favorite is Madam’s Hidden Cucumber. The drink was named after Brigham Young’s 35th son, who crossdressed in the 1880s and would and go to bars or nightclubs to sing opera in drag. The sour cocktail contains cucumber juice and gives the bartenders a chance to share a story and a laugh with whoever orders it.

While some cocktails stand out purely for their visual design—such as a drink served in a small porcelain bathtub with a rubber ducky—stories of the prohibition, childhood lunches and drink-building techniques are standard fare at Side Bar. “It literally goes back to the compound gins that were made back during the Prohibition era, where a base spirit like moonshine was not well distilled or well cleaned,” says Smith, “but other ingredients would be compounded into the product and literally, sometimes the available container to mix it would be a bathtub.” This was how the idea for Bathtub Gin was created and added to Side Bar’s menu. Guests can choose to add pink or blue cotton candy flavoring to their porcelain bathtub to add color and sweetness.

Cocktails at Side Bar incorporate spirits made by Ogden’s Own Distillery. These include Five Wives Vodka, Five Husbands Vodka, Porter’s Whiskeys, Madam Pattirini Gin and Underground Herbal Spirit. “Our goal is to highlight the spirits themselves, as well as using as many products that we can get locally to use in the spirits. We’re very much a small family business, and we want to incorporate as many other businesses in the community with our cocktail ingredients,” says Smith.

No matter where else you've enjoyed cocktails before, Side Bar, nestled in Ogden's Own Distillery, is sure to please with their unique drinks.
Photo: John Barkiple

Each drink is exciting to taste and equally exciting to look at. Many guests try a new drink each time they come in, with the goal to eventually try every drink on the menu. Classic cocktails stay year-round, but other drinks change seasonally. Along with seasonal drinks, Side Bar hosts holiday events either indoors or at the distillery’s amphitheater or patio. Guests look forward to “Wonderful Wednesdays,” which offer special entertainment ranging from drag performances to magicians and burlesque. Staff wonders what guests will drink, who they’ll meet and what stories will be shared.

“It really is a reflection of Ogden being the crossroads of the West.”

Aside from all of the fun, Smith highlights that the most important thing Ogden’s Own Distillery wanted to create was a place
where everyone can feel welcome and enjoy themselves. No matter where else guests have had cocktails, they are sure to
be pleased with the unique drinks and experiences offered at Side Bar. Side Bar is a place to try and learn new things—and you might even get a rubber duck out of it. Learn more at ogdensown.com/sidebar.

Check out more pieces on notable Utah Bars:
Scion Cider: Bringing Cider and Education to All
Sip in Style with The Hammered Copper