The Desert’s Well: Lake Effect

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What goes into your cocktail goes beyond gin and juice. Here in Salt Lake City, we’ve been given an opportunity to explore this craft lifestyle in the form of locally owned bars bent on bringing our community the luxury of the liquor spreading out from the cultural capitals of the world. In the booming and only somewhat metaphorical oasis that is this city, there’s something everyone can agree on: When at the watering hole, it’s time to drink! It may not be Prague, but if you walk into any of these bars—Copper Common, Lake Effect, Water Witch and White Horse—and forget that fact, you’d be forgiven.


Nick Chachas, founder and owner of the brand-new Lake Effect, wants his customers to think big: big-city vibes, big menu, big open arms to carry you in. The selection of specialty liquors is almost daunting in its scope with over 20 different mezcals available as well as a substantial library of scotches and wines. The varieties of mezcal alone are enough reason to stop in—it’s fairly unique in the state of Utah to see so many mezcal options, as nearly all of them need to be special-ordered. In particular, the Bozal distillery has substantiated the shelf with varietals including their Ancestral and Coyote. Mezcal can seem foreboding to some due to its exotic nature, but if there were ever a time to take a chance to try the adventurous side of booze, this is as good a one as you’ll ever find. Try the Bruichladdich Black Art scotch for something truly inspiring.

If you find yourself getting cozy against the bar or sidling into a booth, take advantage of the ways Lake Effect has made these premium spirits available. With any type of spirit, there is an option to get a glass in three different sizes: an ounce and a half for a spirit you plan to sip for some time, an ounce if you want to savor the flavor but try more than one, or a quarter ounce if you’re going for the full tour of the bar without handing over your wallet’s contents.

When walking in through the heavy-set door, which opens into the main room with a décor balancing between gothic library and vaulted cellar, the first thing to greet you is the rack of wine tucked between the bar and the patio. From California alone, there are options from both the Opus One and the Altamura wineries, which aren’t available at any store in the city.

At first glance, the menu’s pricing can be intimidating, but the range of drinks is the real key. There are cocktails and spirits available in a spectrum comparable to other bars in the city, but if you are looking for something unique and just out of reach Lake Effect is beyond capable of satisfying a more potent palette. Don’t miss the Latin-inspired kitchen, which can satisfy both vegetarian and paleo diets. There’s something here for everyone.