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Aug 22, 2014
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Drink This Weekend Edition

Drink This Weekend Edition: 2nd Shift Brewing’s Hibiscus Wit

Friday, August 15th, 2014



2nd Shift Brewing brews can be divisive among hop aficionados and hop haters; the New Haven brewery has long been recognized as the one that makes “all those hoppy beers.” But in fact, head brewer Steve Crider has a knack for a broad array of styles, such as Hibiscus Wit, 2nd Shift’s take on a classic witbier.

Also known as white beer, witbier is a classic Belgian style known for its cloudy appearance and use of spices like coriander and orange peel in the brewing process. This practice actually comes from a much older method of brewing practiced before the widespread use of hops. The cloudy appearance comes from the large amount of unmalted wheat used in brewing.

2nd Shift’s unorthodox use of hibiscus flowers sets its witbier apart. You immediately notice the hibiscus’ signature pink hue when you pour the beer, along with a fluffy off-white head. Lively carbonation and a high level of wheat add a touch of tart crispness with gentle notes of lemongrass, coriander and citrus. Hibiscus Wit is a refreshing summertime beverage to pair with a mild, delicate cheese like Edam or a bright summer salad.

Hibiscus Wit can often be found on tap at St. Louis area beer bars like Bailey’s Range and Bridge; 750-milliliter bottles are available at better bottle shops.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Sundowner

Friday, August 8th, 2014



We’ll take any excuse to pour ourselves a drink on a Friday, but when you declare a holiday to honor a spirit, well, that’s cause for at least two. National Rum Day is Aug. 16, and we’re testing new sippers this weekend to be adequately prepared for any upcoming festivities. While we have several rummy picks at hand in the Sauce Recipe Database, we’re always up for something new, and the crew at Butler’s Pantry obliged us with its Sundowner.

This spiced, fruity sipper is best served with lots of ice in a tall glass. The Sundowner gets its name for the British term used to describe drinks imbibed at sunset, typically to reward a long day of work. Granted, sundown isn’t until 8:05 p.m. today, but since we clock out at 5 p.m. (or a tad earlier), don’t judge if we indulge a little closer to the American happy hour.

Recipe courtesy of Butler’s Pantry chef Greg Ziegenfuss
2 servings

2 oz. ginger beer
2 oz. agave nectar
4 oz. Cruzan black strap rum
Juice of 1 lime
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Fresh grated nutmeg for garnish
Smoked paprika for garnish
2 lime wheels for garnish

• Combine the ginger beer, agave nectar, rum, lime juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, cover and shake vigorously about 20 times.
• Fill two tall glasses with ice. Strain into the glasses and garnish each with the nutmeg, smoked paprika and a lime wheel.

- Photo courtesy of Sara Ketterer/Butler’s Pantry

Drink This Weekend Edition: Jaffurs 2013 Viognier

Friday, August 1st, 2014



The viognier grape can be quite troublesome. In fact, it was nearly extinct in 1965; only 8 to 30 acres were planted in the Rhone during that time. It has a notoriously low yield. It’s risky to plant at all; it’s more susceptible to powdery mildew than many other grape varietals. If harvested before the fruit is at its ripest, the grape produces low-acid wines with no character. But wait too long and winemakers have a hot, flabby, oily, off-kilter mess on their hands. So why would anyone gamble on viognier?

One whiff of the storied viognier from Château-Grillet should be enough to answer that question. It is the epitome of every viognier tasting note: not just white flower, but also lush gardenia and dewy honeysuckle. Not just orchard fruit, but also ripe peaches picked after a summer storm. It’s full-bodied but has lively acid, and the long finish lingers until the sun goes down. However, not everyone has the $100-plus that bottle can run. Thankfully, there are plenty of good viognier alternatives from the Rhone, Australia and the U.S.

We particularly like the wine coming from Jaffrus Wine Cellars in California’s Santa Maria Valley. Owner Craig Jaffurs makes just 850 cases of viognier, grown in his 159-year-old Bien Nacido Vineyard, and his winemaking style includes fermenting and aging the wine in a combination of stainless-steel and neutral French oak barrels.

The nose on this wine has bright, white peach character with subtle underlying tones of honeysuckle and lilac. The front palate is silky soft with hints of spicy herb and white pepper. This wine is incredibly balanced with flavors of apricot, honeydew melon and gardenia mingling with earth and garrigue. Although it’s fairly full bodied and lush, there’s ample acid on the incredibly long finish. Pair this one with hearty seafood dishes or spicier fare with an Asian flourish. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton.



Drink This Weekend Edition: 5 can’t-miss events to kick off St. Louis Craft Beer Week

Friday, July 25th, 2014



It’s the most wonderful time of the year for local craft beer aficionados. St. Louis Craft Beer Week kicks off this Saturday, July 26 and culminates Sunday, Aug. 23. The sixth annual event celebrates the thriving beer community in St. Louis, and dozens of local breweries, beer bars, restaurants, distributors and retail shops are in on the action.

There are more than 80 events lined up for this year’s week of St. Louis beer love, including tap takeovers, beer dinners, a pop culture comedy/trivia mashup, keep-the-glass nights and even a beer-centric yoga session. There’s something for everyone, from the hardcore hophead to inquisitive beer nerd to the occasional sipper. This weekend alone features nearly a dozen events; here, your itinerary to get you in the STLCBW spirit.

1. The week starts where it does every year: 33 Wine Bar in Lafayette Square. The wine bar switches its focus to brews Saturday at 11 a.m. for B33r and Brats, with bratwurst from Mac’s Local Buys alongside a draft list we’re told will have a few must-taste surprises.

2. At noon, head to Six Row Brewing Co., for its Srawberry Braggot release. Braggot is an ancient drink that brews spices, barley malt and local honey with beer and mead. This is a limited release, so be sure to get there early.

3. Then, make your way to Three Kings Pub for dinner at 6 p.m. and sip a sour during the New Belgium Brewing Sour Saturday. Some of the best sour beers come out of this Fort Collins, Colorado brewery, and many of them will be on tap Saturday night, such as a 2014 La Folie, 2014 Transatlantique Kreik and 2013 Tart Lychee.

4. Once you’ve recovered from Saturday, get your barbecue on at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s monthly UCBC Blues and Q, starting at noon at its Midtown brewery and Biergarten. This event features liter and half-liter specials, live music and barbecue from UCBC chef Andy Fair.

5. Finish your craft brew weekend at the aptly named Epic Beer Tasting at Craft Beer Cellar. Starting at 1 p.m., there will be 20 different beers to taste every two hours, including a special 4 Hands brew.  While you’re there, nosh on Strange Donuts, pretzels from Pretzel Boys and brownies from Pint Size Bakery.

And that’s is just the beginning. Click here for a full schedule of the week’s events and make  plans to enjoy some of the most creative, interesting beers in St. Louis.

Sauce contributing writer Eric Hildebrandt is also a member of the STLCBW planning committee.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Build-your-own mojito (a Boogaloo redux)

Friday, July 18th, 2014



It’s mid-afternoon on a Friday, I’m sitting in one of the swings tethered around the bar at Boogaloo, and I’ve got major déjà vu. A sudden memory of a slim little title called Jungle Safari enters my head, one of those books in the Choose Your Own Adventure young adult series pioneered by Ed Packard. Boogaloo’s new mojito menu, unveiled earlier this month, demands a similar degree of reader participation, and there’s a nagging sense that we’ve seen something like this before…

Assuming you follow our Drink This Weekend Edition column religiously (c’mon, admit it), you’ll remember that Boogaloo rolled out the novel “build-your-own Manhattan” menu late last fall. This summer, they’ve shifted focus to the mojito.

“We like to keep to a very classic mojito style,” said bar manager Justin Mills as he mixed one up for me. If you’re yenning for the purist’s version of the drink, you can find it here, or you can branch out as wildly as you desire. The menu format is exceedingly minimalist (reminiscent, say, of Web 2.0 platforms), easy to navigate and forgiving of experimentation. Allow us to walk you through the steps:

Step 1: Pick your rum.
The most exigent decision here, naturally. Eleven rums are laid out in order of price and quality, starting with the well ($7), all the way to the venerable-sounding Plantation 20th Anniversary ($15). Possessing a middling acumen for rum at best, I went with the Plantation Grenada 2004 for $10.

Step 2: Pick your flavor.
This is where things get interesting. Choose from six flavor modifiers, all of which are combined with lime and thrown into the mix. (The default “Traditional” option is lime and lime.) Admittedly not a fan of cucumbers, I took a gamble on cucumber-lime for that refreshing botanical effect. Other options include ginger, orange, cherry and lemon.

Step 3: Pick your sugar.
Personal preference here: choose either granulated, raw cane or agave nectar as a sweetener, or a combination of all three, as Mills advised me.

Step 4: Pick your herb.
An aromatic garnish goes a long way, and the options are plentiful; the menu offers mint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, purple basil and pineapple sage. The purple basil, which Mills slipped into my finished glass, offered a lovely flash of deep violet for visual and gustatory appeal.

If my mojito safari were in choose-your-own-adventure format, I’ve ducked the crocodiles, tiger traps and headhunters and plumbed the inner sanctum of the mojito gods’ temple. Those notes of cucumber and basil are nasal, light and pleasingly brisk, even for someone who shies away from botanical flavors. Here’s a cocktail I could make short work of all summer.

True, not much can go wrong here – you’re combining sugar, lime, the burnt-molasses flavor of rum and fragrant herbs, all of which make delicious ingredients. Still, it’s fun to mix and match to your heart’s content, or, having quenched your mojito wanderlust, return again to the original recipe. And unlike those adventure books, no mistakes can be made, nor are fate or consequence any concern. Of the 990 possible mojito permutations available to you at the bar, you’re on track to select a winner. Give yourself a pat on the back, sip and enjoy.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rested Rye

Friday, July 11th, 2014



I recently had the chance to talk – and taste – Tennessee whiskey with Chris Fletcher, the first assistant master distiller for Jack Daniel’s. Fletcher has his own family history with the storied No. 7 brand (his grandfather was Jack Daniel’s master distiller for more than 30 years), but he also shared the history of Jack Daniel’s and its newest offering.

What makes Tennessee whiskey unique from its bourbon cousins is what is known as the Lincoln County Process. The whiskey is passed through charcoal filters, which results in pronounced fruit flavors and minimal graininess. Fletcher said Jack Daniel’s produces its own toasted, charred barrels in which to age its products, and it claims to be the only whiskey maker to control this aspect of the process.

Jack Daniel’s also has a long history in St. Louis, dating back to its first gold medal awarded in the 1904 World’s Fair. It’s even rumored that the iconic Old No. 7 on the label pays homage to the No. 7 train that transported Tennessee whiskey from St. Louis to the Western frontier.

Today, Jack Daniel’s offers several limited and special-edition products in addition to its original spirit, including its just-released Tennessee Rested Rye. After its charcoal filtering, the 70-percent rye rests in new white oak barrels for two years. The result is a solid rested whiskey that pulls strong banana flavors with hints of black pepper. While it can be sipped neat or on ice, it’s best appreciated in a classic rye cocktail like a Manhattan (recipe here) or a Sazerac (recipe here).

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rested Rye is available at Randall’s Wines & Spirits in St. Louis, North County and Fairview Heights, Illinois, locations.

-Image courtesy of drinkspirits.com

Drink This Weekend Edition: Syrah and albariño from Bonny Doon

Friday, July 4th, 2014



Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm is a man of terroir. When he speaks about the land in central California where his grapes grow, it’s as if he’s possessed by it. There’s reverence and reserve in his voice. He chuckles when he recalls starting out in the early 1980s, naively thinking he would produce pinot noir (or, as he refers to it, “the heartbreak grape” for its notably fickle nature) before deciding to run with Rhone varieties instead. It’s these wines that made Bonny Doon into the producer it is today and that earned him the nickname “Rhone Deranger.”

Grahm focuses on the earth, the difficult climate and what the grapes and terroir are trying to express. His grapes speak loud and clear, conduits for the sun and soil where they thrived before becoming wine. Here, our two picks from Bonny Doon to drink this weekend:

Bonny Doon Le Pousseur 2012 Syrah
This medium- to full-bodied syrah possesses a smoky bouquet of mint, herb and dark black cherry. On the palate, you’ll find notes of fig and black plum, more mint and sandalwood. Le Pousseur has more vibrancy that often seen in New World syrahs, with a nice balance of fruit and earth. Enjoy with grilled game or braised pork. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Rock Hill.

Bonny Doon 2013 Albariño
This wine begins with lemon and sage on the nose and continues on the palate with lime, melon, herbs and lots of salinity. It’s a very dry white with precise acid. Drink this with light shellfish dishes or grilled chicken and summer vegetables. Available at Parker’s Table.




Drink This Weekend Edition: 8-Bit Pale Ale

Friday, June 27th, 2014



Great beer label design is its own art form today, meant to intrigue and entice you from shelves filled with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of brews. Some you just can’t ignore, like the pixelated, video game-style graphics on a bright orange can of 8-Bit Pale Ale from Kansas’ Tallgrass Brewing – and you shouldn’t ignore the brew inside, either.

Tallgrass bills 8-Bit as a “Hop Rocketed pale ale.”  This method sees brewers cycle a batch of beer through a stainless-steel vessel filled with their choice of hops just before canning to extract extra hop oils, which add to the aroma and flavor profiles. 8-Bit’s spin in the Hop Rocket with Galaxy hops creates a unique American Pale Ale with a tropical melon note. Pair that with a malty, almost honey-like body, and you have a truly balanced beer.

If pouring, 8-Bit is a slightly golden amber color with a thick, frothy white head; if no glass is allowed at your venue, 8-Bit is great straight from the can, too (See more great craft beers in cans here.). At 5.2 percent ABV, drink this one with a burger off the grill and prepare for a great night. 8-Bit is available at most craft beer shops and many grocery stores.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Emilia Spritz at Bar Italia

Friday, June 20th, 2014

St. Louis is in the heady grip of World Cup fever, but if you can unglue yourself from the tube for a spell, sneak a midafternoon, European-style repose on the patio at Bar Italia in the Central West End.

Bar Italia beverage director Brandon Kerne has a sound read on the fluctuating trends in the drinking world, particularly the latest backward glance at amaro and other herbal liqueurs. Returning to Bar Italia after directing the wine program at 33 Wine Shop & Bar – and, prior to that, working as a member of the beverage team at Elaia and Olio – Kerne has turned his sights to augmenting the puro Italiano choices on the restaurant’s already formidable wine, beer and cocktail menu, starting with the spritz.

A spritz is a classic northern Italian drink that combines amaro with prosecco. Assimilated by the Italians from occupying Hapsburg soldiers in the early 20th century, the historical spritz undercut the ABV of wine with soda water for a bracing tipple that wouldn’t send you three sheets to the wind. These days, most bars mix both amaro and prosecco for a boozier, but no less refreshing spritz.

Those just getting started on the botanical notes of aperitivos will find the new Emilia Spritz ($9) at Bar Italia a good introductory cocktail. Expect the forward-leaning flavors of strawberry and orange, and don’t forget to exhale contentedly after downing each and every sip of this bubbly, easygoing pick-me-up.

Once you’ve become a convert, come back in a month when Kerne rolls out “5 O’clock Spritz,” a happy hour featuring a build-your-own spritz menu. Unlike typical happy hours, “5 O’clock Spritz” drinks aren’t priced at a discount, but they do include complimentary plates of antipasti – bruschetta, olives and other small bites of Mediterranean fare.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 World Cup beers from St. Louis breweries

Friday, June 13th, 2014


{2nd Shift Brewing’s iBallz}

The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off yesterday, June 12, giving soccer-loving St. Louisans and even casual fans reason to celebrate. Our city’s passion for The Beautiful Game and our love of beer collide more than ever before this year; three local breweries have created beers specifically for the tournament. Whether you’re part of St. Louis’ “Soccer Mafia” or just along for the ride in Brazil, these beers are sure to have you raising a pint to your favorite national team.

The Civil Life Brewing Co.’s Goal!Den Ale: It’s fitting that our city’s first “soccer beer,” Goal!Den Ale, was first brewed for one of our city’s best soccer bars, Amsterdam Tavern in 2012. At 5 percent ABV, this easy-drinking golden ale is a perfect complement to the game. The light-bodied, straw-colored brew has nice bready malts, a touch of spicy hops and a fluffy head. Goal!Den Ale is available exclusively at Amsterdam Tavern and at The Civil Life.

4 Hands Brewery’s Nelson Sauvin APA: Every year, International Tap House embraces the homebrewing community by hosting a competition at its Chesterfield location. This year’s winner, Patrick Strohmayer, had the opportunity to collaborate with 4 Hands Brewery to brew a beer for iTap’s World Cup festivities. The result was Nelson Sauvin APA. The hops give the brew a tropical note – think grapefruit, passion fruit or tangerines.  But a nice malt characteristic gives this American pale ale balance and plenty of dimension. You can find this 5.2 percent ABV brew at all iTap locations, Amsterdam Tavern and at 4 Hands Brewery.

2nd Shift Brewing’s iBallz: If there’s one thing you need to know about 2nd Shift Brewing’s head brewer Steve Crider, it’s that he loves hops. But the folks over at iTap wanted something hoppy, yet sessionable, something hopheads could drink a few of while they enjoyed the game. Enter iBallz, what Crider calls a “bisected IPA.” At 4.3 percent ABV, this brew showcases hops in all of their glory. Unlike some session IPAs that lack body, iBallz, won’t leave you feeling as though you’re sipping hop water. Try this brew at any of iTap’s St. Louis locations.

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