Few spots in SLC have such a definitive sense of place packed into such a small space as Water Witch bar. From the large-scale reproduction of historic Utah landscape artist Alfred Lambourne’s painting “Cliffs of Promontory,” to the mechanical box near the bathroom that’s turned into a locals’ sticker wall shout-out to all things SLC, this watering hole is a definitely beehive-based must-do.
More than that, the bar’s drinks menu throws the net wide for alcohol appeal, featuring everything from rare spirits and craft cocktails (with prices low enough to inspire cartoon-head exploding GIFs) to wine in a can and local draft beers. But the common denominator of our dedication to The Witch is how welcome we’ve always felt walking in, thanks to the boozy trifecta of co-owners Matt Pfohl, Scott Gardner and Sean Neves.
Here, it's all about the 'hood...
“We wanted it to feel very neighborly,” says Gardner of the bar’s intent. Continues Pfohl, “The bar is intentionally set up so that every person who comes in interacts with a bartender. The bar is the motherboard of the entire place.”
Like many of the best mercurial moments in life, no two visits to Water Witch are the same. We’ve spent lazy Wednesday afternoons tucked into the quiet corner near the bar, raucous Saturday nights bouncing along with a live band, and perhaps our favorite—wacky Sunday afternoons going full-on tiki. Says Sean Neves of their intent, “We wanted The Witch to be a really unique Salt Lake space. A community gathering place that reflects our city.”
Further, Neves says that their priorities of using local craftspeople for all of the built components and construction pays homage to a definitive sense of place. It’s a commitment and concept that the trio are also bringing to their next boozy venture: Congregation Spirits. Says Neves, “A lot of the same artisans that worked on The Witch are involved in this project,” which lies in the westside Euclid neighborhood. The planned 10,000 sq. ft. build includes a craft distillery, a ‘Spirit Garden’ (similar in feel to German beirgartens that serve as neighborhood gathering spots), and a wood-fired bar and grill the gents are calling Standard Candle.
Continues Pfohl, “We’ve got so much gratitude for the community of The Witch. We know it’s a destination spot,” one that sits apart from the main SLC downtown bar scene. They’re hoping to bring that same camaraderie to Congregation Spirits, as well. And that was the goal, says Matt Pfohl, of picking the spot they’d been looking for for going on eight years. “We’re all west side guys at heart,” he says, “but there are few places where people in those neighborhoods can hang out. We want to create a place where everyone will feel welcome.”