Ah, the drinks! I tried a Banana Split ($8.50), while one friend tried the Pin-Up Girl ($8.50), a selection from the Top 10 list. Later we split a Crisp Pear ($8.50). All were outstanding. My male guest went for a top-shelf classic: Bombay Gin with vermouth, dry ($9 for an ounce-and-a-half), which he declared to be perfectly concocted. The bartender also whipped up a fruity concoction ($3) for a friend who doesn't drink.
Those perfectly mixed drinks are one reason Justin Nelson-Carruth enjoys Kristauf's. She also finds the bar enjoyable and welcoming without being pretentious.
Sisters Jill and Lisa Christoffersen, who opened the bar 13 years ago, say the original idea came while vacationing in San Diego.
"While there we visited the Martini Ranch; we had such a good time and were impressed with the theme of the bar," said Jill, who noted that at the time Salt Lake had few upscale conversation bars somewhere to go for a drink before or after dinner or the theater. "Most bars at the time were either large dance clubs or dinner clubs."
After returning from vacation, the siblings hunted for a location and opened one year later. They opened a second location in Park City in 2006 but sold it in 2009. In 2011, they expanded to Holladay and sold that location in February of this year. It is still being operated under the Kristauf's name.
The Christoffersens say their original downtown location is really "two bars in one."
On most evenings, the bar offers a low-key lounge vibe, where guests can relax and converse while enjoying a cocktail. On Fridays and Saturdays, starting about 9:30 p.m., the vibe kicks up a notch as Salt Lake DJs spin old-school soul, funk and Top 40 dance music.
The Christoffersens pride themselves on excellent customer service and their ability to host large groups. They've had engagement parties, bachelorette and bachelor parties, birthdays, wakes. … "We have even hosted two weddings for couples that met here," Jill said.
The bar offers private martini classes and has teamed with two Salt Lake City businesses, AmberMay and Mystical Match, to offer monthly dating and relationship advice as well as mystical-themed events. The next event is May 9.
"The events are different every month and Jill and I usually try to come up with a fun and new themes with a mystical twist, of course," said Pamela Michael, creator of Mystical Match. Past themes have included Psychic Dating, Mystical Mojo and Psychic Stoplight Party.
Baya Voce, co-founder of AmberMay, wanted to work with Kristauf's because of its appeal to the 30-plus age group and its classic ambience.
"The atmosphere is mellow and fun," she said. "You can come with a group of friends and scope out the hotties or come on your own and have a great time mingling with new people."
Kristauf's Martini Bar
The cocktail menu includes more than 80 drinks. There are DJs on weekends, plus special dating and mystical-themed events.
Where • 16 W. Market St., Salt Lake City; 801-366-9490
Open • Monday through Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Online • martinibarslc.com