Thrillist — Look, any city can be a fantastic place to drink if you have a sunny day and enough money for a 40. But the fact of the matter is, some cities enjoy more prominent reputations as drinking destinations than others, whether you’re talking about New York’s aversion to sleep or New Orleans’ legendary cocktail culture.
This is not about those cities. Instead, we’re here to celebrate places that probably aren’t always on your shortlist for a booze-augmented getaway, but should be. These cities boast navigable layouts, fantastic bar scenes, and beer and cocktail games that outpace their national reputation. But, more importantly, they’re full of people who know how to enjoy themselves. Start updating your travel itinerary.
Salt Lake City, Utah
You probably wouldn't think it -- and honestly, given the fact that the city is nearly half Mormon and the state’s residents put up with notoriously wonky liquor laws, we can't blame you – but Salt Lake City, Utah is one of America's most overlooked and underrated drinking cities. Easily dismissed as the Latter Day Bible Button of the West, Salt Lake isn’t popping up on anyone's radar for its excellent breweries, distilleries, and craft beer/cocktail bars – though it should be. As the saying goes, it's the quiet ones you have to watch.
Let's start with Whiskey Street, a gastropub with an excellent craft beer and cocktail game and an extensive whiskey list as you might expect given the name. That name itself is actually an homage to SLC's history: before Main Street (where Whiskey Street is located) was Main Street, it was christened "Whiskey Street" by LDS leader Brigham Young, to allow a place for the "gentiles" to still drink and cavort. Thoughtful! Beerhive Pub is another great beer bar to include in your booze rounds, and The Bayou features more than 300 beers on its menu, making it the largest beer selection in the state. For exquisite cocktails, hit the Copper Onion (for lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner) or Copper Common next door (dinner only).
SLC's brewing scene is bangin', with excellent breweries like Uinta and Epic putting it on the national map. Wasatch Brewery's main brewhouse is actually in Park City, but there is a brewpub in Salt Lake City's Sugarhouse 'hood. There's also Squatters Brew Pub, a popular local brewpub chain with a Downtown SLC location in a renovated historic hotel. Also check out teeny-tiny operations like Avenues Proper -- the first brewery in the state to also offer beer from other local breweries -- and Roosters Brewing Company for $1 beer tasters and $2 brunch drinks. And there's also Red Rock Brewery, Desert Edge Brewery, and Bohemian Brewery, if you haven’t quite had your local beer fill.
Salt Lake is also making advancements on the craft spirits side of things, with promising young distilleries like Sugar House and Dented Brick, as well as an outpost of Whisky Advocate's 2016 "Distiller of the Year" High West Distillery inside the SLC airport, which is a mighty fine way to start or end your visit.
Important bonus information: The place is STUPID cheap, and one of the most likely heirs to the Portland hipster throne.