Photo taken by High West Distillery  

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time local, you know there’s no need to travel far for good food and drinks in Park City. With tons of great restaurants and live entertainment lining historic Main Street, it’s easy to find a dining experience to suit any taste. But this winter, there’s a worthy reason to venture beyond the city limits.

Nestled in the mountains of Wanship, just 30 minutes outside Park City, High West Distillery at Blue Sky Ranch will host the High West Supper Club every Thursday this season. The evening features live music by a local artist; a chef-driven, locally sourced menu that changes weekly; and of course plenty of world-class whiskey and hand-crafted cocktails.

Photo taken by Locke Hughes   

While the evening makes a fantastic date-night dining option, it’s also a great option for a family-friendly activity. (The High West Saloon in downtown Park City only allows patrons who are 21 and up, but the refectory — a.k.a. dining hall — is open to guests of all ages.) They also serve a Sunday brunch and lunch Wednesday through Saturday.

 

The Details

What: High West’s weekly winter Supper Club Series

Where: The Refectory at High West Distillery  

When: Every Thursday during the winter season, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Who: All Ages

 

The Experience

On a recent Thursday, I made my way out to Wanship to experience the High West Supper Club first-hand. I’d highly recommend taking an Uber or riding with a designated driver, since the roads are a little dark on the way out there. When we arrived to the parking area, the shuttle up to the refectory, which houses the dining area and general store, was ready and waiting.

As we headed up the hill, our charismatic driver, Mr. Bill, gave us a brief history about High West at Blue Sky Ranch and tales of the surrounding area. We learned that High West was founded in 2006 by David Perkins, a former biochemist, and his wife, Jane. High West became Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870.

Opened in 2015, the Wanship location includes a 30,000-square-foot distillery, visitors’ center, and dining space. In addition to dining and tours, the ranch also hosts private equestrian events, weddings, conventions, and conferences, and a resort will open in 2019.

When we arrived at the refectory, we were greeted by the manager and met our tour guide, Sterling. We arranged for a tour before our dinner reservation, but 30-minute tours are offered on the hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. (Because of ongoing construction, tours currently take place in the education room of the refectory. Distillery tours will begin again in March.)

Our knowledgeable guide gave us more information about High West’s past, present, and future, the history of whiskey in Utah, and an in-depth look the science of distillation. On the tour, whiskey connoisseurs will certainly geek out, while those newer to the spirit (like myself!) will enjoy getting an overlook of the process and the history of the brand.

Photo taken by Locke Hughes

We also learned that in 2016, High West was acquired by Constellation Brands, a leading alcohol company. Since the acquisition, High West has grown exponentially, and the company is currently remodeling the Wanship distillery to drastically increase production. Currently, they produce over 100,000 12 bottle cases per year, while the new bottling line will have the capacity to produce a million cases per year!

After the tour, we went downstairs to the dining area. I immediately felt transported into an old Western saloon — albeit one that’s been modernized and stylishly appointed. The stunning space feels intimate yet airy, with thoughtful details such as used whiskey barrels decorating the hallway ceiling and a beautiful back-lit bar.

To start, I went with the High West Lemonade, a classic cocktail that’s a slightly sweet yet spicy introduction to whiskey for the uninitiated like myself. My friend ordered the Miner’s Experiment, featuring High West’s Rendezvous Rye, rum, port, and Montenegro Peychaud’s. We also opted to do the optional whiskey pairing, which our waiter would bring throughout the meal to pair with the dinner and dessert courses.

Photo taken by Locke Hughes

Our meal began with an amuse bouche to whet our appetites: a bite-size pastrami on rye toast, with Gold Creek asiago cheese and whole-grain mustard sauce. The next course was a fresh Mountain Greens salad with pickled beets, feta, tomatoes, a honey wine reduction and red wine vinaigrette. Every ingredient tasted like it was just picked from the garden, and provided a tasty start to the experience.

As we sipped our cocktails and listened to the live music, our hearty entrées arrived, served family-style and artfully arranged on a wooden board. The nightly specials included elk meatloaf and smoked chicken forestiére with a creamy mushroom gravy sauce, accompanied by mashed Yukon gold potatoes and baked Romanesco with gruyere.

Photo taken by Locke Hughes

I was a little nervous about the elk meatloaf, to be honest, but as soon as I took a bite, I was sold on the spicy, flavorful dish. Juicy and tender, the smoked chicken was a delight, while the creamy, rich mashed potatoes and cheesy veggies served as delicious sides. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’m still dreaming about this meal.

As someone who’s new to whiskey, I loved learning about High West’s different types of whiskey with small tastes throughout the meal. Learning about the process, and sipping the whiskey as we ate the perfectly paired food, definitely helped me develop a newfound appreciation for the liquor.

Photo taken by Locke Hughes

The live music by Shannon Runyon added another special element to the evening. Toward the end of the night, she began soliciting song requests from us and another table, creating a fun and interactive atmosphere. (Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” was a crowd favorite. )

Finally, it was time for dessert — and one more drink. The apple cake with bourbon whipped cream was a sweet and special note to end the meal on, paired with our final whiskey tasting, A Midwinter Night’s Dram.

We then headed to the adjacent bar to try one of the three specialty cocktails that are unique to this location: Lonesome Dove, Pearl Hart, or Little Miss Utah. Since Armando, the bartender on duty that night created the Pearl Heart, I had to try it. It was a frothy, foamy, and flavorful concoction — ideal for whiskey fans and novices alike.

Overall, our night at the High West Supper Club was one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had in Park City – and well worth venturing beyond Main Street.
Make a reservation online or call (435) 649-8300 to book your dinner. For more information and detailed directions, please visit their website.