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Nov 28, 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: I Don’t Want No Shrubs

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

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One of the most exciting things about creating cocktails is rediscovering old techniques and ingredients. Shrubs have been around since the Colonial period and were enjoyed by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Martha Washington.

Consisting of vinegar, sugar and fruit, shrubs were originally used to preserve and incorporate fresh ingredients in the days before refrigeration. Now they add excellent flavor and dimension to cocktails. I Don’t Want No Shrubs combines a homemade apple shrub with rye whiskey, Benedictine and Velvet Falernum to create a sweet-yet-tangy, boozy, smooth drink that’s perfect to warm you on a chilly day – and it makes dealing with your crazy uncle just a little bit easier during the holidays.

 
I Don’t Want No Shrubs
1 serving

2 oz. Rittenhouse rye whiskey
½ oz. Benedictine
½ oz. Velvet Falernum
½ oz. apple shrub (recipe follows)
2 dashes Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
Orange twist to garnish

• Combine the whiskey, Benedictine, Velvet Falernum, apple shrub and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until cold and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Apple Shrub

4 to 5 apples, cored and sliced
Sugar to coat
Apple cider vinegar

• Toss the apple slices in a bowl with enough sugar to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 day.
• Strain the sugar syrup into a measuring cup. Reserve the sweetened apples for another use or discard. Add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to the sugar syrup, pour into a resealable jar and let sit 1 day. Apple shrub will keep up to 1 year.

 

Drew Lucido is a member of USBG St. Louis and bar manager at Juniper.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Mother’s Winter Grind

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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St. Louis loves its craft breweries, but the state of Missouri has more to delicious brews to offer outside the county lines. Take, for instance, Mother’s Brewing Company in Springfield. Mother’s opened just four years ago inside an old bakery and has grown at a rapid pace ever since. Mother’s isn’t available in St. Louis city or county (yet!), but the 20-minute drive south on Interstate 55 is well worth the trip to find out what the rest of the state is talking about.

November brings one of Mother’s best-known seasonals. Winter Grind is a delicious coffee stout made with a cold brew-espresso blend from another Springfield anchor, Mudhouse Coffee. The result is a wintery treat to please lovers of both coffee and beer. Winter Grind pours jet black with a beautiful light brown head, and the aroma packs a big espresso punch with hints of malt and smoke. The first sip hits the palate with big black coffee notes, and if you dig deeper, you’ll detect cocoa and chocolate. The medium-bodied mouth feel means this beer is rich without cloying, and at 6 percent ABV, this is smooth and easy to drink.

Winter Grind is a perfect beer to sip as the temperatures drop, but St. Louis city and county residents will have to travel a bit to find it. It’s available bottled at most grocery stores in Arnold, Imperial and much of Jefferson County, and Weber’s Front Row in Arnold pours draft Winter Grind as long as the season allows. Until Mother’s expands its distribution, take the short drive and see what the (coffee) buzz is about.

 

Eric Hildebrandt is the moderator and ambassador for STL Hops. Find him on Twitter at @EricSTL6.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Cielo Rojo Bacanora and Ocho Cientos Blanco Sotol

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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In All the Pretty Horses, one of Cormac McCarthy’s crepuscular Western novels, the storyline is set in motion by a few gulps of the Mexican spirit called sotol: By evening they’d bought a canteenful of sotol and were passing it back and forth among themselves as they rode and soon they were quite drunk.

I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes: three Texas boys are riding south of the border when they buy said canteen from a caravan of migrant traders. Predictably, one of the boys lurches off the side of his horse, which runs away and is collected by bandits. The youngsters go on to find trouble, fall in love, go to jail and barely make it back alive.

Thankfully, you need neither be an expat nor fugitive to lasso yourself a bottle of one of the little-known Mexican liquors making their way north. Beginning this weekend, sotol and bacanora are the latest spirits in the mezcal family tree to find their way to St. Louis.

You know the adage: All tequilas are mezcal, just not the other way around. Or, more precisely, mezcal is the top tier of the agave-based spirits. “It’s the iconic spirit of Mexico,” said Craig Stancliff of Pueblo Partners, which imports small-batch mezcal varieties to the United States. “They’ve literally been distilling (it) in Mexico, fermenting, for a thousand years.”

The narrative of bacanora is one of class struggle and political repression. Named for the Mexican town of Bacanora in the western state of Sonora, the production and sale of Sonoran mezcal was outlawed in 1910 during a land dispute with the government. The ban remained on the books until 1992, when bacanora production became legitimate again. Several years later, it received an official denomination of origin (think Neapolitan pizza or Champagne). In the U.S., Pueblo’s Cielo Rojo bacanora debuted in Tucson, Arizona, and several other brands have made sporadic appearances in avant-garde bar programs from New York to San Diego.

The ghostly, aromatic Cielo Rojo is astonishingly smooth, subtle on the agave and smoky – like a hybrid of mezcal and Islay single malt. According to Stancliff, that’s the flavor of the agave piña (core) at work, the result of a small batch, artisanal production process by a single family of Sonoran mescaleros. The 8- to 10-year-old agave plants (known as espadin) are trimmed, hauled away by burro, roasted, shredded and crushed with millstones, fermented and distilled. Espadin piñas are harvested wild, meaning their flavor is chiefly dependent on the landscape.

“It’s terroir-based … that’s the big thing,” Stancliff said. “It’s determined by the dirt the plant’s stuck in.”

Look next door to the state of Chihuahua to find sotol, a close cousin to mezcal. Instead of agave, distillers use its relative, the desert spoon plant. When fermented and distilled, desert spoon registers on the palate as a near-smokeless, grassier mezcal cousin. Though it’s very agreeably sipped neat, sotol’s floral notes and thick mouthfeel make it an ideal base spirit for cocktails.

Pueblo’s label, Ocho Cientos, pays homage to the 800-year history of sotol production. Also managed by a single family – working under the constant threat of cartel violence in the region – the desert spoon is harvested over 45,000 acres and aged in pine vats before distillation. The final product smacks of bisongrass vodka – with a more robust, peppery character. We sipped (and thoroughly enjoyed) Ocho Cientos Blanco, though resposado and añejo varieties, aged in George Dickel whiskey barrels, are also available.

Just remember not to drink and ride.

Cielo Rojo bacanora and Ocho Cientos sotol, distributed through Lohr Distributing Co., can be ordered from Randall’s Wine & Spirits and The Wine & Cheese Place.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 8 fall cocktails to shake on Halloween night

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

The jack-o’-lanterns are carved, your costume is ready, and the candy bowl is stocked. Time to kick off Halloween with a toast. We’ve got eight perfect sippers for All Hallows Eve, whether you’re dressing for a ghoulish night out or hosting a spooky soiree of your own.

 

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{Odd McIntosh}

Apples and fall go together like pumpkin and pie. Shake up a round of Apple Cider Martinis with cider and rum, or Odd McIntoshes with ginger and applejack. Of course, you can always combine bourbon, cider and ginger beer and declare yourself Mr. Autumn Man (or Ms. Autumn Woman).

Sick of cider? Try a boozy, apple-free Fallspice Cocktail with bourbon, Aperol, orange juice and grapefruit bitters.

 

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{Pumpkin Buttered Rum}

 

If your Halloween night  means traipsing through the neighborhood monitoring a pack of trick-or-treaters, warm your bones and regain your sanity with hot Spiced Cider or Pumpkin Buttered Rum.

 

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{Amsterdam Punch}

Hosting this year’s costumed festivities? Pull out a big bowl and fill it with bloody red Vampire’s Punch or the less gruesome but equally delicious Amsterdam Punch, loaded with baking spices like allspice, cloves, anise and cinnamon.

If cocktails aren’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with a St. Louis favorite: pumpkin beer, and we’ve got 17 local options to choose from.

Looking for more fun Halloween ideas? Click here to find out how to make your own taffy ghosts and candy bars, and click here for some of our favorite pumpkin desserts from Pumpkin Mousse Shortbread Bars to gluten-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 -Odd McIntosh photo by Brian Fagnani; pumpkin buttered rum photo by Jonathan S. Pollack; Amsterdam Punch photo by Jeff Cardin

Drink This Weekend Edition: It Doesn’t Get Better

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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The Bee’s Knees is a classic gin cocktail with origins in Prohibition, when booze was terrible (yes, even gin) and extra ingredients were added to cover up the taste of the inferior spirit. The result included a deliciously easy cocktail called The Bee’s Knees. I winterized it with barrel-aged gin (I use Smooth Ambler), which mellows out the cocktail and adds a malty component. You can find whiskey-barreled Woodside honey and gin barrel-aged bitters at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton.

It Doesn’t Get Better
1 serving

½ cup whiskey-barreled Woodside honey
¼ cup hot water
2 oz. barrel-aged gin
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Fee Brothers gin barrel-aged bitters
Lemon twist for garnish

• In a small bowl, stir together the honey and hot water until dissolved to create a honey syrup.
• Fill a Boston shaker with ½ ounce honey syrup, the gin, lemon juice and bitters. Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with lemon twist.

Natasha Bahrami is a member of USBG St. Louis and co-owner of Natasha’s Cafe and The Gin Room.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Perennial and New Belgium’s Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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Collaboration beers between St. Louis brewers are nothing new, and we’ve been fortunate enough to try a number of tasty beverages brewed between friends. However, Perennial Artisan Ales recently took collaboration to a new level by partnering with craft beer industry veteran, New Belgium Brewing.

This brew came about thanks to the friendship between the Perennial crew and New Belgium’s Lauren Salazar, who happens to be a fan of Perennial’s stouts. It makes sense, then, that the partnership resulted in the Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout, part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series. To put the craft beer giant’s size – and the collaboration’s significance – into perspective, New Belgium produced more of this one beer than all the beer Perennial makes in a year.

Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout pours as a rich, pitch-black masterpiece with a head that puts off the delicious aroma of baker’s chocolate and dark fruit esters. The creamy mouth feel makes this beer a decadent treat, and the slight salty touch complements the sweet chocolate, a combination that sets your taste buds firing. Weighing in at 9 percent ABV, this one is sure to keep you warm this fall and winter.

Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout can be found at most beer bars and bottle shops, along with the tasting room at Perennial. In addition, you can hang out with the fine folks who collaborated on this beer tonight, Oct. 16 at SoHa from 4 to 6 p.m. and at Bridge from 7:30 to 9 p.m., where they’ll pair small plates with beers from both breweries. Tomorrow, Oct. 17, Salazar and Perennial brewmaster Phil Wymore will hang out at iTap’s Central West End location from 3 to 6 p.m.; join them to try a number of New Belgium and Perennial beers, including this fantastic new collaboration.

Eric Hildebrandt is the moderator and ambassador for STL Hops. Find him on Twitter at @EricSTL6.

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 2013 Hugl Grüner Veltliner

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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As the weather gets cooler, many wine drinkers opt for richer, redder wines than they’ve imbibed in the last months of summer. Yet some days – and drinkers – still call for white. On unseasonably warm autumn afternoons, we reach for Grüner Veltliner.

Grüner is a white grape variety native to Austria. It can produce wines that range from light and flirty to rounder and more serious. It’s an ideal white for cool-weather drinking, as it pairs well with the heartier fare consumed during chilly months.

Although there are many fantastic producers out there, the Hugl family makes one of the best values available. Husband-and-wife team Martin and Sylvia Hugl practice green harvesting, the act of harvesting immature grapes before the official harvest to encourage the vines to develop the higher-quality grapes still on the vine. They also use cold fermentation, usually fermenting the wine around 50 to 60 degrees, which preserves the aromatics of the wines more effectively. The result is a complex, intense white that’s infinitely food friendly.

On the nose, the Grüner Veltliner holds lime curd, white pepper and notes of tart pear. On the palate, it is silky with refined acid. Yellow plum, lemon zest, melon and intense mineral make this wine a no-brainer for rich or spicy dishes.

The 2013 Hugl Grüner Veltliner is available at The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton and Creve Coeur.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Co-pilot

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Co-pilot at Eclipse Restaurant

Sitting next to him in a stool at Eclipse Restaurant’s bar, it wasn’t hard to get bar manager Seth Wahlman to chat about drink-making, especially the delicate strokes involved in making seasonal cocktails. For one thing, the ingredient list is constantly evolving: in vogue this fall are sage, rosemary, dark rum and anything that can be mulled. Wahlman and his team suffer no shortage of ideas on this stuff, and you can trace their thinking by perusing Eclipse’s fall cocktail menu.

If every good bartender has a theory (see the Kilgore method), Wahlman’s is a three-tiered rubric for a balanced beverage: At the bottom are dark, robust flavors – baking spices, honey and the like; those in the middle are bright and fruit-forward; floral and citrus flavors pop at the top.

“If you can fill in all three of these, you’ve got an interesting drink,” Wahlman explained. I strained to imagine what it looks like when the three flavor profiles work together. The rungs of a ladder, perhaps? A pyramid? A symphony?

The best illustration of Wahlman’s philosophy might be the Co-pilot, a variation of the sidecar. Shake together Aperol-flavored falernum, Calvados (apple brandy) and lemon juice, then garnish with a St. Germain-infused apple slice, which floats on top like a kind of capstone.

While Wahlman mixed one up he recited the lore surrounding the Calvados sidecar, an easy variant of the classic cocktail that is often “discovered” by novice bartenders taking their first steps with creative mixing.

“With newer bartenders, they always add Calvados and say, ‘Look what I made!’” Wahlman said. He wasn’t being condescending – another barkeep next to him even nodded knowingly. But it’s become a bit of an old saw in the industry, the bartender’s equivalent to, say, a guitarist’s learning to play “Stairway to Heaven” – not exactly a stroke of genius anymore, but a personal milestone, a leap forward.

The Co-pilot, then, is a stylized homage to the sidecar and the journeyman’s apple-brandied rendering of it. Take a taste, and here’s what happens: the moody notes of anise and molasses clash, then harmonize with the bright apple flavors of Calvados. The shrill taste of lemon arrives last, at the back of the tongue, to provide a bracing wave of tartness that refreshes the palate for the next sip. If it isn’t quite music, it’s certainly a pageant of unalike flavors that have reordered themselves, shrugged off their differences and linked elbows. Plus, the combination of apple and rum is a dead ringer for autumn.

Elsewhere on the menu, similarly odd couplings abound – like gin and coffee, which are deftly united in The Ironic Tonic. The cocktail combines local Pinckney Bend gin with house-made coffee syrup, infused lemon juice and tonic water. The truly adventurous should observe the interplay between Amaro Nonino and a rolled slice of coppa (a meat garnish!) in the Chaz.

Can we call this fine lineup of reinvented drinks a symphony? Maybe. You’ll have to face the music and decide.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Oregon’s Bounty

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

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As summer berries turn to fall apples and pears, I like to adjust simple, classic cocktails to introduce fall’s best flavors. This Oregon’s Bounty is a take on a classic Tom Collins. I’ve adapted the recipe to use Ransom Old Tom gin; it’s malty base and crisp herbal notes create a richer mouth feel than its sister, London Dry. It also pairs well with pear liqueur and a homemade honey syrup. This cocktail gets its name from the use of Ransom and Clear Creek spirits, two Oregon-based distilleries; both the gin and the pear liqueur are available at Lukas Liquor.

Oregon’s Bounty
1 serving

1 cup honey
½ cup hot water
1 oz. Ransom Old Tom gin
1 oz. Clear Creek Pear Liqueur
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
Lemon twist for garnish
Thyme sprig for garnish

•In a small bowl, stir together the honey and hot water until dissolved to create a honey syrup.
• To a Boston shaker, add ½ ounce honey syrup, the gin, pear liqueur and lemon juice. Add ice and shake briefly. Strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the lemon twist and thyme sprig.
• Store the remaining honey syrup, refrigerated, up to 1 month.

Justin Cardwell is a member of USBG St. Louis and general manager at BC’s Kitchen.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Oktoberfest St. Louis at UCBC

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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One of the world’s biggest beer parties kicks off this weekend in Munich as the Germans begin their annual Oktoberfest celebration. Lucky for St. Louisans, there is one among us who knows a thing or two about throwing an authentic Munich-style party: Urban Chestnut brewmaster Florian Kuplent, who hails from Munich. Urban Chestnut and Schlafly team up for Oktoberfest St. Louis 2014 this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20 and 21, at UCBC’s Midtown Brewery.

Oktoberfest St. Louis is two days of German food, music, and, of course, beer. Fill your stomach with bratwurst, currywurst and pretzels, then dance to music provided by the likes of Über Cool, The Deutschmeister Brass Band, Larry Hallar and more. UCBC Oktoberfest will also have some fun traditional Oktoberfest games. Flex your muscles (or your thumbs) and prepare for a round of Masskrüge (stein holding, pictured), Fingerhackeln (finger wrestling) and Baumstamm sägen (log sawing).

But this is Oktoberfest, and when hosted by two of our city’s best breweries, it’s all about the beer. Imbibe with at least six styles of German beers from UCBC and Schlafly, including Oktoberfest, Kölsch, Schwarzbier, Fest Bier (Oachkatzlschwoaf), Weissebier (Schnickelfritz), Zwickel and dunkel (Dorfbier).

No tickets needed for this awesome party, but buy a commemorative glass stein for $8 in advance or $10 the day of the event. Refills are $8 for a whole liter during the entire festival. Bring cash to cut down on wait times; UCBC will only have one stand accepting credit cards.

This is always one heck of a party– don’t miss it. Prost!

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

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