A Seat at the Bar: Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake in May 2013

It was a Wednesday afternoon at my desk with two classic French whites: Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fumé 2011 (a famed Loire Valley sauvignon blanc) and Christian Moreau Chablis 2011 (an equally esteemed chardonnay from Burgundy). Chef Lou Rook had the great idea to send some beautiful oysters from Prince Edward Island to challenge these two wines. Pouilly-Fumé was stunning with the simple oyster, and the Chablis was dead-on amazing when the oyster was dipped in mignonette. The bivalve’s aroma combined perfectly with the fragrance of both wines. There is a reason why classic pairings become classic. It was certainly a great day at the office. — Glenn Bardgett, member of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and wine director at Annie Gunn’s

May is the month of the Kentucky Derby, which always makes us thirsty for mint juleps. This boozy beauty is concocted quite simply of bourbon, mint and sugar and is traditionally served in a silver julep cup. Feel free to settle for a glass, and let your inner cocktail geek experiment by using other quality spirits in place of bourbon (Think aged rum, brandy, etc.). Grab 6 to 8 hearty mint sprigs, and muddle them lightly in your drinking vessel with ½ oz. simple syrup. Add 2 oz. of bourbon (or other if you dare!) and top with crushed ice. Stir till your glass starts to frost, then top with more ice and a generous amount of mint sprigs to garnish, so you’ll get a nice big nose-ful while enjoying your julep. — Ted and Jamie Kilgore, USBG, B.A.R. Ready, BarSmart and co-owners/bartenders at Planter’s House (opening soon)

No one can say that craft beer drinkers don’t love hops. This love has not only helped evolve some styles, it has also helped create several new ones. The classic IPA started as an English Ale that was highly hopped to help preserve it during long shipments. This mindset, however, goes against everything we know today, as hoppy beers are best when consumed fresh. Though we now have white, black, red, brown, double, session, American, Belgian and English IPA’s, several characteristics are common throughout these different expressions: bold, hoppy aromatics; a balanced to forward bitterness; and a dryness that accentuates the hops. Try Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Firestone Walker Wookey Jack for different, yet fantastic takes on the delicious IPA. – Cory King, Certified Cicerone, head brewer at Perennial Artisan Ales and founder of Side Project Brewing