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Eat & Drink » Wine

Tippling With Tapas



There is a distinct “We’re not in Kansas anymore” feeling about Zola, the new small-plates restaurant located above Squatters on 300 South (see Dining, p. 34). Not only does the place look and feel different than most restaurants, with its high-energy buzz and spiffy trappings, but the beverages offered at Zola add to the excitement'and probably to the buzz as well.

Early reports are that female customers in particular seem to be enjoying and exploring the unique cocktails available at Zola. And why not? There’s something for every palate. While the boys seem to be sticking mostly to Squatters beers'Provo Girl Pilsner, I.P.A., Full Suspension Pale Ale, etc.'the gals are venturing into the uncharted territory of drinks like the Thai Ginger Bang Bang Shooter, Sarticious Soul Elevator, Yin Yang, Lemon Love and, of course, the Girlie martini.

Of course, it’s a generalization to suggest that Zola is especially equipped to juice the gals. I’ve even enjoyed the Girlie martini myself: a pink valentine of a cocktail made with Champagne, Absolut vodka, pomegranate-cherry juice and Pama pomegranate liqueur. Not the most “manly” drink I’ve ever ingested, but screw macho mixology. I drink what I like, and I really like that martini.

And what’s not to like about the tropical flavors of the Monkey’s Rum Run at Zola? A sunny blend of Bacardi Silver rum, Bailey’s Irish Cream, banana liqueur, fresh cream and bananas, the only thing missing from this tropical paradise is the palm tree. For an especially decadent venture, order your Monkey with a Vanilla-Tangerine sidecar: Courvoisier VS cognac, Cointreau, house-made sweet and sour, vanilla and tangerine fruit infusion. Luscious.

Jennifer Jensen, a former partner at Em’s restaurant, was one of the creative forces behind Zola’s booze selection, and what a ripping good one it is. Not only did she whip up a terrific assortment of cocktails, but the wine list is also splendid, an eclectic mélange of wines from every corner of the globe. I especially appreciate that Jensen includes some pink wines on the Zola wine list, since many of the small-plate selections at Zola are terrific pink wine partners. Seafood paella, spiced shrimp and Bell Farms roasted beets with chevre especially seem like Rosé-friendly foods.

Jensen’s wine list offers about a dozen each of red and whites by the glass, priced from $6 (Heron Chardonnay, Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon) to about $10 for Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc and Boillot Montagny Burgundy. A glass of Domaine Chandon Riche Extra Dry bubbly from California runs $9 and is splendid with Zola’s haut herb fries. Bottles of wine, meanwhile, run the gamut from a fruity, cherry-bomb Spanish wine called Castell Del Remei Gotim Bru ($28) to the yummy Far Niente Chardonnay and silky Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at $115 and $125, respectively.

The bulk of Zola’s wines, however, are bottles in the $25-$40 range. Especially good options are the food-friendly Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet from Argentina ($30), a wonderful unoaked Chardonnay from Willamette Valley called Chehalem INOX Chardonnay ($36), the grapefruit-flavor infused Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc ($29 and especially good with heirloom tomatoes and chevre), and a rich, lovely Serra da Estrella Albarino from Spain ($32).

And in case it hadn’t occurred to you, a table at Zola is a particularly good location to sip wine, cocktails or a wine flight since the “must order food while drinking” rule unique to Utah is so easily conformed to. After all, a $3 order of marinated olives would do the trick, right? This, by the way, is merely my observation, and not something that Zola promotes'or the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control necessarily wants you thinking about.