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Apr 21, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Drink This Weekend Edition

Drink This Weekend Edition: Hoppy Spring at iTap

Friday, April 18th, 2014

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Spring finally looks as though like it’s here to stay. Celebrate its arrival Saturday at International Tap House‘s Hoppy Spring. Beginning at noon, iTap’s locations in Chesterfield, Central West End and Soulard offer up a variety of hoppy libations, including some on cask.

Cask beer has a gentler carbonation level and usually shows a more complex flavor and aromatic profile. Many beers will be available at all locations, but some are specific to each bar. Odds are you won’t safely be able to make it to all three bars in one day, so I’ve tapped a must-try pick from each.

iTap Central West End: Charleville Brewing‘s Ale Mucho Hoppo on cask

A medium-bodied Imperial IPA, Ale Mucho Hoppo weighs in at 9 percent and is a hazy orange color. Upon smelling this beer, you’ll definitely pick up citrus fruit and herbal notes. Serving this on cask nicely rounds out the mouth feel. The earthy, sweeter notes balance out the intensity of the hops. The best part about this beer is that even at 9 percent, it doesn’t come across boozy.

iTap Chesterfield: 2nd Shift Brewing‘s Brew Cocky on cask

I really can’t say enough about the IPAs 2nd Shift puts out, and Brew Cocky is one of its best. This Imperial IPA is a sneaky 9.5 percent thing of beauty. With big aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and mango, along with some caramel sweetness, this one begs you to drink it. Served on cask, the softer carbonation brings out slightly more bitter grapefruit notes and some pine resin.

iTap Soulard: 4 Hands’ Brewing Co.‘s Contact High on cask

Leading the charge as one of my favorite spring releases is Contact High. A 5 percent, hopped-up wheat beer, this one is accessible to both IPA lovers and those who don’t like over-the-top hops. This is not your typical wheat beer. Brewed with orange zest and just the right amount of hops, it’s a citrus lover’s dream.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Three cocktails with a new view

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Like everyone else in town, we’ve caught a strong strain of the patio bug. This weekend when the weather is beckoning you to sip a fruity drink al fresco, look no further than Herbie’s Vintage ’72. Along with a new spring food and cocktail menu, this weekend the restaurant will have patio seating for the first time.

According to Amanda Wilgus, Herbie’s beverage director and floor manager, whenever the restaurant changes its cocktail menu, the whole staff participates. Each bartender comes up with an original concoction, and then with the help of friends and Herbie’s regulars, everyone blindly tastes the cocktails and decides on the best. This year, seven signature cocktails made the spring menu. While patio drinking calls for many adult beverages between friends, to start you off, here are three of our favorites.

 

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1. To truly invoke some easy living, warm weather vibes, start with the Kentucky Tropic. With Basil Hayden’s bourbon, lemon juice, mango purée and simple syrup, this martini goes down sweet and smooth but packs a punch. If you like your drinks with a bit more acid, a squeeze from the lemon wedge garnish does the trick.

 

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2. Not to be missed is this week’s featured sangria. Red wine, orange liquor, brandy and fruit juices combine for a wonderfully balanced Spanish sipper. Not too sweet and with notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, we recommend ordering this one by the pitcher.

 

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3. Yes, we know, Summertime Blues looks like something your mother or 21-year-old niece orders on vacation in Florida. But despite its neon blue color, this drink is really great. With Don Q rum, simple syrup, Yellow Chartreuse, citrus, mint and blue curaçao, this tart, floral cocktail has subtle hints of anise and a flavor that is entirely fresh.

Not a booze drinker? Herbie’s new menu also features two carefully crafted mocktails. After all, when it comes to patio drinking, alcohol or not, everyone needs something cold and delicious.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: The manifold misunderstandings of muscadet

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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Perhaps it’s our longing for warmer weather, our yen for coastal flavors or maybe we’ve just been drinking too many stout beers, but lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about muscadet.

First, a few clarifications: Muscadet is not muscat, Moscato, moscatel or muscadelle. In fact, it is nothing like wines made from those grapes. Moreover, muscadet is not a grape, but it does come from just one grape – melon de Bourgogne. And no, it is not from Burgundy. Muscadet is from the western Loire Valley, from a region called Pays de la Loire. And to make things a little more confusing, muscadet wine comes from any one of four appellations, the largest of which is – you guessed it –muscadet!

Perhaps the most unfortunate feature of muscadet is that it sounds like muscat, a grape that is generally vinified sweet with a relatively low acidity. Muscadet, on the other hand, is very dry with a refreshing acidity. It tends to be aged on the dead yeast cells (called lees) used for fermentation. This adds a creamy, nutty richness that rounds out what can be a rather linear, aromatic, gustatory profile when not handled correctly.

If your eyes have glazed over and you are thinking, These jerks really revel in pure pedantry. I’m gonna go get a glass of Cali chard and suck down a dozen freshly shucked Duxburys, please wait. You see, muscadet might just be the world’s best oyster wine. The wine’s vigorous acidity provides a counterbalance to the sweet melon flavors of west coast oysters, and the nutty, briny notes of Muscadet harmonize with the brine of east coast oysters, while the citrus notes provide a piquant counterpoint.

That said, muscadet pairs with a great number of foods, though we think seafood, particularly shellfish and crustaceans, are ideal matches. Of course, we also enjoy it on its own, and with a maximum allowed alcohol level of 12 percent alcohol leve and a light-to-medium body, muscadet is a perfect spring and summer wine. Drink this every day above 79 degrees (or any day you desire affordable pleasure).

Our pick: Pierre Luneau-Papin (Domaine Pierre de La Grange), 2012 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Val de Loire, France

On the nose: peanut skin due to nine months spent on the lees, plus briny lemon and ocean air

On the palate: crushed seashell, honeydew melon rind, Anjou pear, and pleasantly prickly acidity

Vintage is important here; be sure to seek out the 2012, which is available by the glass at De Mun Oyster Bar and will soon be on shelves at Parker’s Table, Lukas Liquor, The Wine and Cheese Place and The Wine Merchant.

Drink This Weekend Edition: A hopped-up cocktail

Friday, March 28th, 2014

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This March, in honor of Sauce’s Guide to Beer, our focus has been on all beer everything – how to cook with beer, what brews are best for aging, where every brewery in town is located and distributed, and more.

With the end of March approaching, I wasn’t quite ready to break up with beer, but I was certainly ready for something new – something that didn’t come from a bottle, can or tap handle. I found what might be the perfect compromise: Tony’s 29 Hour IPA.

Created by Eclipse bar manager Tony Saputo, this cocktail involves Espolón Blanco tequila, Cocchi Americano Rosso, a cordial made from citra hops, lime juice, celery bitters and house-made ginger beer made with a touch of the wild yeast Brettanomyces. “If we added whiskey to it [to add barley], it would have the same ingredients as a beer,” Saputo said. “It’s a deconstructed, reconstructed beer.”

Why call it a 29-hour IPA? To make the citra hop cordial, Saputo infuses dried hops with Everclear and water for 29 hours. Once infused, he adds more water and sugar to make it a cordial. On its own, the cordial smells and tastes like an IPA reduction … in a this-taste-will-never-leave-my-mouth way. Combined with the rest of the ingredients, though? Just right.

 

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Tony’s 29 Hour IPA’s looks are deceiving. At first glace, the light pink drink garnished with a cucumber and a lime wheel looks like some sort of gin or Pimm’s Cup summer sipper. Yet it smells a little bit like a beer. Initially, it tastes like a margarita because of the first hits of tequila and the brightness and acid from the vermouth and lime juice. Yet, a second later, there is a subtle spice from the ginger and just a bit of funk from the Brett. If I didn’t know better, I never have guessed the drink including Brett, but it adds another layer to this rich, refreshing (and strong) springtime drink.

Cheers to beer, cocktails and spring!

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: O’Fallon Brewery’s Zeke’s Pale Ale

Friday, March 21st, 2014

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O’Fallon Brewery thrilled local beer fans last month with the announcement of its upcoming expansion plans that include a new brewery and tasting room in Maryland Heights. Around the same time, O’Fallon released its first new year-round offering since 2010: Zeke’s Pale Ale.

While many local pale ales are more English in style with notes of caramel and toffee, Zeke’s is an American pale ale. APA’s usually have a nice hop aroma, and Zeke’s definitely doesn’t disappoint with huge notes of pineapple and passion fruit. Head brewer Brian Owens added Galaxy hops to the end of the boil (a technique called “burst hopping” or “hop bursting”), bringing out big grapefruit hop flavors with a nice balance of bitterness. The use of honey malt adds a kiss of that sweet nectar to the flavor profile, too. Weighing in at 5.1 percent ABV, Zeke’s is smooth and easy to drink with a light body, and while the citrusy hop notes are big, they won’t overwhelm your senses.

Zeke’s pairs terrifically with tacos; the citrus notes play off the heat, and the hops help temper the spiciness. Vietnamese and spicy Thai dishes also would work well, as the bitterness lifts through the heat of the dishes and the citrus plays with the spices. As O’Fallon’s newest full-time beer, Zeke’s can be found widely around town in six-packs or on tap.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Hiro Asian Kitchen’s brunch cocktails

Friday, March 14th, 2014

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{From left: The Bloody Tokyo, The Bloody Hiro}

Now that I have a kid (who wakes up at 6 a.m. almost every day), brunch has taken on a whole new meaning. Bringing a baby isn’t entirely frowned upon, we still get to see friends, and we can go to bed at 8 p.m. without feeling lame.

This Sunday, March 16, Hiro Asian Kitchen debuts its brunch menu, which will be served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Until now, this chic Asian fusion restaurant and lounge, located at 1405 Washington Ave., has only served lunch and dinner, but its inventive and delicious Sunday brunch offerings are not to be missed, especially its cocktails. Not too mention Hiro’s stylish décor and hip vibe will make you feel like you’re having a raging night on the town, even at 11:30 Sunday morning.

Among cocktails, Hiro’s brunch menu features two bloody marys. If you were carousing late the night before, I recommend drinking both. The Bloody Hiro is made with Sriracha vodka, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper salt and garnished with a thick piece of house-cured bacon. Continuing Hiro’s Asian fusion concept, Bloody Tokyo has a sake base, is garnished with spicy wasabi-coated peas, and the glass is rimmed with wasabi salt.

 

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{From left: Sunshine, Lychee-Tini}

On the sweeter – but not too sweet side – Hiro has several great options. “These are happy drinks. These speak to what we do here,” said owner Bernie Lee. Try Sunshine, a cocktail loaded with Wild Tea vodka, elderflower liquor, Aperol and blood orange bitters.

Another subtly sweet cocktail, the Lychee-Tini is a must. Seriously. It’s my new favorite cocktail. I don’t know why we haven’t been drinking this take on a bellini forever. It’s so simple: Champagne with lychee puree, and the flavors are perfectly balanced.

 

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{Green tea waffle}

Not in the mood for a cocktail? You can’t really go wrong with any of the new brunch items, but the green tea waffle is just out of control. With light hints of green tea, the waffle is topped with vanilla ice cream, house-made coconut cream, fresh fruit and then drizzled with a syrup made with sake.

 

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines at the supermarket to rescue your evening

Friday, March 7th, 2014

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{There’s no need to fear the supermarket wine aisle.}

It’s 9:30 p.m. You just finished dinner, and everyone is having a blast. You go to the pantry for another bottle of wine, only to confront an echoing chasm where the bottles used to be. You break out in a cold sweat. Dizziness… Somebody, please, catch you.

But no, you can solve this problem. Breathe in the nose, out the mouth… And then the answer slams to the front of your mind. No wine shop is open at this hour. You’ve got to go to the supermarket.

We’ve all been there. That’s why, this month we’d like to present three wines found at the local supermarkets that serve as exceptionally satisfying spokes in the ever-turning wheel of your evening. We are well aware that the term “supermarket wine” has a pejorative connotation; however, we’ve done our due diligence so you aren’t duly disappointed. Moreover, we’ve kept budget in mind, so you can make sure you don’t run out!

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1. Gundlach-Bundschu Mountain Cuvée 2011 merlot blend

This wine has notes of ripe black plum and dried fig. Baking spice and cigar box mid-palate are tempered with food-friendly acid. Touches of salinity dot the tongue through to the exceptionally long, black tea-inflected finish. This bottle’s price point belies its sagacity. Available at Dierbergs

2. DeLoach Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir

Got a pinot noir snob in the house?  Blind him with this. Is he going to call it Volnay? Probably not. But he will flip out when he sees how drinkable it is. This California wine has bright, ripe strawberry and cranberry notes with a structural complexity not usually associated with the price point. This is for slamming with burnt ends or honestly, any food at all. Available at Schnucks

3. Pine Ridge 2013 Chenin Blanc + Viognier

On the nose, it’s as if someone has juiced a peppered pear. The California chenin rears its head with subtle, welcome wool notes. Firm yet silky on the tongue, this wine finishes apple crisp. It’s a wine to drink while picking at leftovers. Buy it by the case. Available at select Dierbergs and Schnucks

Drink This Weekend Edition: Sip berries in booze while pining for summertime fruits

Friday, February 28th, 2014

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This winter has lasted so long, I can barely remember what a plump, sun-kissed beefsteak tomato tastes like. Or a peach that’s so ripe, the juice runs down my chin from first bite to last. Or a strawberry so sweet, it would be sinful to add a single granule of sugar. As we get set to face the next round of frigid temps, I’ll settle my fix for all the fresh fruit (and warm temperatures) by sipping berries in booze form.

Deep, dark berries dominate the flavor and aroma of Bilberry Black Hearts Gin, an organic, small-batch spirit by Journeyman Distillery in Michigan. A bilberry is a fruit related to the huckleberry and blueberry and indigenous to the UK and northern Europe. Haven’t tasted a bilberry? Me either, which is probably why my taste buds want to identify those fruity notes as mulberry and blackberry. The gin, which holds nine botanicals, is hardly a juniper-in-your-face gin. Rather, it’s bright, fruity and lively with hints of black licorice and black pepper.

This super-smooth, 90-proof spirit passed the G&T test, but where it really shined was in a martini and in a French 75; the subtle dark fruit flavor and aroma lent another dimension to both these classic gin cocktails. The Journeyman website suggests using Bilberry Black Hearts gin in a Bee’s Knees and a gimlet. I plan to walk those paths next.

The market is overflowing with gins that range in style from London Dry and Old Tom to a boatload of new American gins that offer an array of botanicals. Journeyman was founded only three years ago (and its gin arrived on the local scene last year), yet the distillery is making a name for itself as a true grain-to-bottle distillery that can claim high-quality, certified organic, small-batch spirits. There’s room on the liquor shelf for that.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 2014 Perennial Sump

Friday, February 21st, 2014

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About this time last year, on the heels of its wildly attended barrel-aged Abraxas release, the folks at Perennial Artisan Ales quietly tweeted the details of its next barrel-aged beer: the barrel-aged Sump, an Imperial stout collaboration with South City’s Sump Coffee aged in Rittenhouse rye barrels.

Despite the low-profile announcement via Facebook and Twitter, the beer sold out in less than 24 hours, received rave reviews, and eventually won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in October. The success of that release prompted the Perennial brewers to consider a non-barrel aged version for wider distribution this year.

Enter the 2014 Perennial Sump, released yesterday, Feb. 20. The Perennial team worked with Sump owner Scott Carey to select a coffee bean that best plays off of the base beer’s rich chocolate notes. After many trials, the team chose a light roast of Colombia Los Pinos. Known for its smooth, slightly sweet, chocolate characteristics, the bean works harmoniously with the Imperial Stout beer. The coffee was brewed using the cold toddy method, then pumped into the bright tank.

The result is an Imperial stout with huge coffee and chocolate aromas and a rich, velvety mouth feel. The Colombia Los Pinos bean adds a sweetness reminiscent of berries. Weighing in at 10.5 percent ABV, this beer is one to be sipped, not gulped. This will also bring some of the more interesting coffee characteristics as the beer warms.

In addition to Perennial’s Tasting Room, Perennial Sump also will be available in 750-milliliter bottles at better St. Louis-area bottle shops.

Drink This Weekend Edition: An ode to a dive bar

Friday, February 14th, 2014

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“Dive bar.” I didn’t even know there was such a term until my mid-20s when I lived near Dive Bar in New York City. This sleek Upper West Side haunt featured a lengthy menu, including seven salads, a growler program and more than 20 wines by the glass.

While I knew Dive Bar was a blasphemous misnomer, I didn’t actually know how to define a real dive bar  because, as it turns out, that was all I knew. Prior to my time in NYC, I had spent most of my drinking years in Kirksville, Mo. There, what I thought were just bars, most people would consider dives.

Since Kirksville – and 10 years of being legal drinking age – I’ve frequented plenty of bars, from the pinnacle of swanky to the epitome of trashy. But whether you call it nostalgia, rose-tinted glasses, or the amazing early-20s ability to never get hangovers, Kirksville bars (and, consequently, dive bars in general), will always have my heart.

Here, my catalog of why I love dive bars, compiled with the help of some seasoned friends. On this commercialized day of love, add your own odes as we celebrate what we truly adore.

The smell. Tomes could be written about that aroma, and the description still wouldn’t get it quite right, but I’ll try: a perfect blend of spilled Schlitz, vomit, fried food (even when the bar doesn’t serve food), cigarette butts, Southern Comfort and a hamster cage.

The hallowed walls. There are outlines where art or memorabilia used to hang because of cigarette smoke stains.

• Speaking of cigarettes, the laws, or lack thereof. Somehow there is smoking, even if the city or town abolished smoking two decades ago.

The hours. The bar opens before the grocery store and is populated by a crowd of regulars who bring the bartender breakfast.

The regulars. They make the bar. They also make fun of those who call themselves regulars.

The wine list. There isn’t one. There are only three wine options, none are written down, and all taste like vinegar.

The lighting. No matter the time of day, it’s dim enough so that even if there was a wine list, you couldn’t read it.

The karaoke. There is no schedule as to when it happens, but you can always count on at least one couple slow dancing when it does.

The jukebox. It’s the real-deal – none of that digital crap. Under the sticky, cloudy glass, there are also mixes available for play created by the bar’s owner and staff.

The random animals. Maybe it’s a dog, or a cat or bird on a shoulder. Or if you’re in Kirksville, it just might be a horse drinking his own pitcher of beer.

The bartender. There is no stereotype. He might be a 90-year-old gunslinger; she might be a 22-year-old hottie. Either way, they’ll probably wait until a commercial to get you a drink. Unless the TV is playing porn.

The stuff. There’s a weird collection of objects on or behind the bar, all of which have stories, most of which are bullshit.

The bathrooms. Even if they have doors, your friend can still talk to you while she’s in there and you’re at the bar.

The popcorn. Nobody knows or cares if it’s free.

The knowledge. The bartender knows who wants to keep his old ice in his next drink because it’s been marinating in Canadian whiskey all afternoon.

The taps. They haven’t been cleaned, ever. Perhaps part of the smell?

The drinks. Stiff is an understatement. There also are no actual instruments to measure a pour.

And lastly, this bar, wherever it’s located, isn’t trying to be a dive bar. And that’s why we love it the most.

 

 

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