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Aug 30, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Teetotaler

Teetotaler: Schlafly’s birch brew

Monday, October 4th, 2010

100410_birchbeerWelcome to Teetotaler, a new online column geared at showing you the amazing non-alcoholic drink options around the city. You’ve seen our recommendations for where to get the best brews, booze and bubbly around town. Now it’s time to show you that you don’t have to get tipsy to taste the best this city has to offer. Here’s to the teetotalers in all of us.

In addition to locally brewing dozens of delicious beers, Schlafly also brews a line of non-alcoholic soft drinks named after co-founder Dan Kopman’s great, great grandfather Lewis Osterweis, a cigar manufacturer from 1860’s Connecticut. “I figure that I’m not going into the cigar business,” said Kopman, “so the name lives on with the traditional sodas.”

The three sodas – root, ginger and birch – are all notable and all carry the Lewis Osterweis & Sons label, but the rarity of the birch beer makes it the obvious highlight. Crimson in color, this birch beer is the hue of a watered down, bubbly red wine. While most sugary, carbonated beverages can be overly sweet and dry, this treat is full-bodied and balanced, equally sweet and creamy-flavored, made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Although not quite as filling, birch beer is a close cousin to both root beer and cream soda, though the red color and clean finish set it apart.

So as to not taint the immaculate beer lines, Schlafly brews and bottles the sodas (all are Kopman’s recipes) with the help of Fitz’s American Grill and Bottling Works (as noted by the caps on each bottle), and distributes it to a few places in town, including the Four Seasons and The Royale. Both Schlafly brewpubs offer all three sodas on their menus for $2.75 per bottle and for purchase in their gift shops. At the Schlafly Tap Room, you can taste the sodas in the form of a Lewis Float: your choice of soda topped off with vanilla ice cream for $6.

Teetotaler: A virgin cocktail to be proud of

Monday, September 27th, 2010

092710_sagedrinkWelcome to Teetotaler, a new online column geared at showing you the amazing non-alcoholic drink options around the city. You’ve seen our recommendations for where to get the best brews, booze and bubbly around town. Now it’s time to show you that you don’t have to get tipsy to taste the best this city has to offer. Here’s to the teetotalers in all of us.

For those who don’t wish to imbibe but long to be part of the social atmosphere that so often revolves around telling the bartender to “give me another,” one overlooked option is the virgin cocktail. While people often neglect these drinks fearing they’ll end up sipping on a Shirley Temple (and that, god forbid, someone will notice), one local bartender is making virgin cocktails anyone would  be proud to order.

When I asked Franco bar manager T.J. Vytlacil for some recommendations on a virgin cocktail, I asked for something sweet but not too tart. He threw together some lime juice, simple syrup, a few dashes of bitters (Angostura and Molé), and an ounce of grapefruit. He garnished it with a sage leaf and topped it with just a splash of club soda. While the bitters do contain alcohol, the level is so low it’s nearly undetectable. The lime and grapefruit make for a tart combination, while the sage creates a potency that’s both subtle and unique.

All of our coverage on T.J. Vytlacil

Teetotaler: Local options abound for bubble tea

Monday, September 20th, 2010

092010_bubbleteaWelcome to Teetotaler, a new online column geared at showing you the amazing non-alcoholic drink options around the city. You’ve seen our recommendations for where to get the best brews, booze and bubbly around town. Now it’s time to show you that you don’t have to get tipsy to taste the best this city has to offer. Here’s to the teetotalers in all of us.

The concept of bubble tea may seem foreign, as it originated in Taiwan only a few decades ago. However, bubble tea is actually quite accessible here in landlocked St. Louis. Not always containing actual tea, the term “bubble tea” is quite broad and can include beverages made from fruit, syrup, ice, milk or even flavored powder. If kumquat, plum, lychee or avocado sound intimidating, stick to more familiar flavors like green tea, mango, coconut and strawberry. The drink is always sweet and often delicious.

When most people think of bubble tea, they also think of boba – small, gummy orbs made of tapioca. While boba are not necessary to enjoy this beverage, they certainly enhance the experience, creating a texture that’s slightly disorienting. An oddity at first, boba are pleasantly, sweetly subtle and give you something to look forward to with each sip.

At OR Juice and Smoothie in Richmond Heights and the Central West End, the winners are the mango and honeydew bubble teas. Sweet and refreshing, they are made with a flavored powder blended with water, ice and creamer. The hot milk and black tea version is also a great option. You may want to leave the boba out of this one, though, since they melt a bit and become chewier than normal when added to a hot drink.

Of the 154-plus options for bubble tea here in town, St. Louis Bubble Tea in Creve Coeur and The Loop has the most extensive menu, serving as any liquid-lover’s dream. This place touches all the bases in terms of variety and offers not only boba but also coconut jelly (among other things) to add to your drink. Once your drink is prepared, the server then shrink-wraps the top of the cup with a plastic cover decorated with Asian characters through which to poke your oversized straw that’s just wide enough to suck up the boba at the bottom.

Teetotaler: House-made root beer at Monarch

Monday, September 13th, 2010

091310_rootbeerWelcome to Teetotaler, a new online column geared at showing you the amazing non-alcoholic drink options around the city. You’ve seen our recommendations for where to get the best brews, booze and bubbly around town. Now it’s time to show you that you don’t have to get tipsy to taste the best this city has to offer. Here’s to the teetotalers in all of us.

Served in a pint glass with a thick, foamy head, at first glance you’d think it’s a beer. Maybe a stout – a cloudy, full, heavy milk stout. But as soon as you get a whiff of that sarsaparilla-filled aroma, it’s obvious that this is something much different.

The root beer made in-house by Monarch Restaurant and Wine Bar’s executive chef Josh Galliano is a perfect alternative to an ice cold beer, though its flavor and aroma is equally intoxicating. Heavy on the spice (cinnamon, ginger, anise), zests of orange and licorice root make this soda reminiscent of an unfiltered apple cider that’s been both carbonated and fermented. Vanilla bean, cane syrup and turbinado sugar round out the drink’s spiciness, without making it overly sweet. It’s cloudy but not thick, surprisingly crisp and light, and satisfyingly refreshing.

“I use sarsaparilla because birch bark is too tannic [and] sassafras is considered illegal/carcinogenic,” Galliano said. “Sarsaparilla has a rounded, medicinal and herbaceous flavor. In a lot of old recipes, they used tinctures, different extracts and hard-to-find dried roots. I adapted with the ingredients I could get.”

Galliano has been fermenting non-alcoholic brew for a few years now. So when Monarch “decided to go Southern,” reopening this summer with a brand new Southern bistro menu that celebrated Galliano’s New Olreans roots, he figured it was time to begin kegging these tasty drinks. Why root beer? Because “rootbeer’s f–king tasty,” he stated simply.

Just $3 will buy you a frosty pint of this sweet-spicy concoction to sip while you nosh on the crawfish bread, boudin balls and praline bacon on the new menu. Those looking for something sweet after their meal, meanwhile, can also order a good old-fashioned root beer float – for just $5, the tasty dessert comes complete with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

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