For a November wedding, Melissa Diaz made vanilla cupcakes flavored with strawberries — and with Rosé Hard Seltzer from Grid City Beer Works.
The Day of the Dead cupcakes she shared on Facebook were infused with chocolate, cayenne pepper, cinnamon — and with Imperial Mole Porter from Bewilder Brewing Co.
Besides being a bartender at Bewilder, Diaz owns Sweet Vinyl Bakeshop, where her “remixed cupcakes” often feature locally brewed craft beers. Diaz bolstered her income during the pandemic by selling both boozy and alcohol-free cupcakes to six or seven breweries in Salt Lake and Utah counties, including stocking a fridge at Bewilder, and by filling private orders.
“At least people were still indulging in alcohol and sweets,” she said, “so it was kind of the perfect marriage.”
She’s still supplying Bewilder and four other breweries with sweets now that in-person dining has returned. And she’s bringing her custom cupcakes to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Salt City Best Fest on Dec. 4 at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City, where Utahns can sample and celebrate the best food and drink from around the Wasatch Front.
For Red Rock Brewing’s launch of Double White Rainbow earlier this year, Diaz used the double dry-hopped Imperial White India Pale Ale in vanilla cupcakes with lemon zest, and topped them with lemon cream cheese frosting with a rainbow sour belt.
Her more recent creations include forensic, slightly gruesome treats to celebrate the return of murderous Dexter Morgan, in “Dexter: New Blood” on Showtime. The vanilla cupcakes, made with barrel-aged bourbon from Silver Reef Brewing Co. in St. George, are topped with “glass” slides made of sugar and spattered with cherry bourbon blood.
She juggles her baking with slinging beer at Bewilder, which will serve its signature handmade sausages at Salt City Best Fest. Customers have returned to the Salt Lake City brewery, she said.
“It’s been awesome,” said Diaz, a 14-year veteran of the service industry who tended bar on the Las Vegas Strip for seven of those years. “Business has definitely come back.”
She attributes the rebound to the return of sports — Utah Jazz’s Vivint Arena is just a few blocks north of the brewery — and Bewilder’s weekly events, like Monday movie nights and $7 beer stein deals on game days, whether the basketball team is home or away.
But the pandemic has been hard on everyone, brewery staff included, she added. “We’ve all had a really rough go at it and the amount of rudeness that is coming across is kind of bewildering,” Diaz mused. “Just be nice. We’re here for you!”
SALT CITY BEST FEST
The Salt Lake Tribune’s first Salt City Best Fest will celebrate food and drink from around the Wasatch Front, with offerings from restaurants, distilleries, breweries and other vendors, along with live music.
When • Saturday, Dec. 4, in two sessions — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 4 to 8 p.m.
Where • The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City.
Live music • Performances by “The Voice” alumnus Blaine Long, R&B singer Jay Warren, singer-songwriter Bri Ray, and country-crossover artist Maddie Wilson.
Tickets • General admission tickets are $18 in advance, $25 on the day of the event; those tickets do not include tokens (at $4 each) for food and drinks.
VIP tickets • $55 in advance, $75 on the day of the show. The VIP package includes $20 in tokens, private show with meet-and-greet with the music acts, premium wine tasting, fine dining restaurants, and VIP bar with premium liquor.
Rules • Must be 21 or older. COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended; masks are encouraged.
Details • Go to saltcitybestfest.com.
Sponsors • Smith’s is the presenting sponsor. Produced by R Entertainment. Other sponsors include: La Caille, Dented Brick Distillery, Salt Flats Spirits, Maverick Gaming, Shades Brewing/Proper Brewing Co., DoTerra, Prohibition Refined Cocktails & Cuisine, Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club, Green Mountain Grills and Vida Tequila.