Perfect Pairings

Words by Sarah Betts 


Snowbasin Resort’s Dining Discoveries


Biking and beer, breakfast burritos and pow days, carefully cultivated beards and flannel—those of us with an affinity for mountain town living have come to understand that there are a few things in life that are better paired together. But let’s be honest, for some of us, expertise in pairings often stops at the trailhead. When it comes to picking a bottle of wine to pair with pot roast, or dress shoes to pair with slacks, some of our mountain-town compatriots might find themselves in foreign territory.

Snowbasin Resort knows their market well. By coupling peak mountain experiences, great food, and craft cocktails, they’ve upped the aprés ante and dropped a new level of sophistication on the classic pairings we know so well.

Called their “Dining Discovery” series, the Snowbasin Resort Culinary Team partners up with local breweries, distilleries, and cocktail experts to present five-course meals, mountaintop brunches, cooking classes, and culinary expeditions, all expertly paired with spirits to suit.

Take their Whiskey Dinner. Spending an evening going beyond the Bulleit couldn’t hurt right? As part of the Dining Discovery series, the Whiskey Dinner brought in Jim Santangelo, the founder of the Wine Academy of Utah and expert on all things whiskey, to help chef Scott Sniggs pair a decadent five-course meal with whiskey in many forms.

We sat down family-style at grand banquet tables that spanned the great hall in Snowbasin’s base lodge. Think Harry Potter with bourbon—an elegant and ornate setting with tasting after tasting of whiskeys of dark, light, smokey, aged, and blended variety.

We began, not with a taste, but a lesson from Santangelo on how to smell the spirit. “Bring the glass up to your chin or near the bottom lip,” Santangelo instructed. The instinctual “stick your nose in it and sniff” isn’t the way to do it with spirits (can you tell I am a rookie?) because the high alcohol content will burn your senses. After a whiff and a small sip, Santangelo had us add just a drop or two of water to the glass. Santangelo explained that some whiskeys want just a drop of water added to open up their scent and flavor profile. The Bird Dog bourbon that kicked off the evening took on an earthy floral scent and bright citrusy flavor. Aged over 20 years, the Barter House Kentucky Bourbon transformed on the palate to offer smooth, spiced caramel notes and just the right amount of warmth on the way down.

As the last few sips of the tasting round went down, the first course—gulf white shrimp smoked in tobacco leaves and served with mascarpone chipotle cream—arrived paired with a traditional  old fashioned whose citrusy aroma cut through the smoky cream of the dish quite nicely.

The rest of the night? Pumpkin bisque, Coke-braised pork shank served over polenta and parsnip chips, a whiskey Manhattan, a baked apple coffee cake, and a warm spiced whiskey coffee topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Admittedly I didn’t make it to the bottom of every cocktail or clean every dish, but I made it far enough into each to develop a new respect for selecting just the right cocktail to serve at my next dinner party. And to know that Snowbasin’s chef Sniggs can work magic in the kitchen.

The good news? In addition to the monthly Dining Discovery dinners held year-round at Snowbasin, Chef Sniggs just launched a weekly Dining Discovery held at their Cinnabar at the base of the resort. Inviting you to step out of your average ski day PB & J, this series will offer special weekly pairings from beer and chicken wings to Creole and cocktails.

Learn more about Snowbasin’s Dining Discovery series at