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Aug 31, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Drinking

Drink This Weekend Edition: Boozy slushies on tap in Soulard

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

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{From left, the Voo Doo Brew and Brain Freeze at Trops}

 

Some weekends, we long for a perfectly balanced cocktail, a pint of obscure craft beer or a glass of elegant wine. And some weekends, we want neon frozen booze bombs served in plastic cups and sucked through a straw. This is one of those weekends.

Leave the coat and tie at home and sidle up to the bar at Tropical Liqueurs, where any cocktail you order comes boozed up and blended. Trops, as it’s known to University of Missouri students, recently opened at 1800 S. 10th St., in Soulard and serves up more than a dozen varieties of house-mixed, boozy slushies.

Mizzou alums will recognize the Tiger Paw from their Columbia stomping grounds. A riff on a fuzzy navel, peach and orange flavors dominate thanks to peach schnapps, pineapple and orange juices and Bacardi 151. The Voo Doo Brew is a sweet, tangy blast of banana liqueur, vodka, sloe gin, fresh banana puree and lemonade. If it’s a tequila kind of day, the Brain Freeze will oblige with tequila, Puerto Rican rum, gin, blue curaçao and lemonade.

Can’t decide? Mix and match. Combine up to three slushy flavors in one cup. The Silver Bullet, a basic mix of Everclear, lemonade and Sprite gives a tangy punch to any of the menu items like the sweet and fruity Sex on the Beach. Order your custom boozy concoction in a modest 12-ounce cup (holding around two to three shots of booze) to an innocuous-sounding extra-large. In fact, it’s a 44-ounce monster packing of eight to nine shots in one massive cup. If you really don’t want to remember the night, additional shots can be added for $2.

Grab your sunglasses, flip flops and a chair under one of the umbrella-covered patio tables or inside in the 40-seat bar, order a slushy and sip the weekend away pretending you’re at a beachside resort – or back in undergrad.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Caipirinhas, 2 ways

Friday, July 31st, 2015

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I believe no home bar is complete without Brazil’s national spirit, cachaça. Unlike most rums made with molasses, cachaça is made with young sugar cane juice for an earthier, sour funkiness that is unmistakable. These flavors take beautifully to citrus, so it makes sense that Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, is a simple mix of sugar and fresh lime. The recipe originates from an old apothecary remedy that called for lime, garlic and honey. Over time, rum was added and the garlic and honey were replaced with sugar to cut the lime’s acidity.

This cocktail is versatile, too. Don’t have limes? Try a cucumber or a more exotic fruit like cherimoya. You don’t even to use cachaça or rum; swap the spirit for vodka and you have a caipiroska. Try these recipes for a traditional Caipirinha and a riff on the classic with refreshing strawberry and cucumber – both perfect for a hot summer weekend.

 

Caipirinha
1 serving

½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup water
1 lime, quartered, divided
2 oz. cachaça
1 oz. fresh lime juice

• Combine the sugar and water in a saucepot and heat until sugar is dissolved to make a simple syrup.
• Place 3 lime quarters and ½ ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add cachaça and lime juice, fill with ice and shake a few seconds to combine. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with muddled fruit and the remaining lime quarter.

Strawberry Cucumber Caipirinha
1 serving

½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup water
2 strawberries, stemmed
1 1-inch cucumber slice
1½ oz. cachaça
½ oz. fresh lime juice

• Combine the sugar and water in a saucepot and heat until sugar is dissolved to make a simple syrup.
• Place the strawberries, cucumber and ½ ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add cachaça and lime juice, fill with ice and shake a few seconds to combine. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with the muddled fruit.

Kyle Harlan is bar manager at Mission Taco Joint and a member of the St. Louis USBG chapter.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Celebrate St. Louis Craft Beer Week

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

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It’s the most wonderful time of the beer lover’s year: The seventh annual St. Louis Craft Beer Week kicks off Saturday, July 25, a nine-day celebration of the best in the St. Louis-area beer community. This year, more than 130 tastings, festivals, release parties, tappings and pairings are scheduled from Oakville to Alton. It all kicks off Saturday with the sold-out Midwest Belgian Beer Festival, but fear not – there are plenty of other events to jumpstart your week.

The official Midwest Belgian Beer Fest After Party starts at 4 p.m. Saturday at 33 Wine Bar with a draft lineup featuring Perennial’s new Suburban Beverage and standouts like Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA. You can also raise a glass of Bell’s Brewing’s Sparkleberry, Deb’s Red or 2014 Third Coast Ale on The Loop at Three Kings’ opening night celebration Saturday at 6 p.m.

Drink plenty of water Sunday morning in preparation for Cans, Chicken, Cine, Ice Cream at 4 Hands’ new Container Bar outside the brewery. This all-day extravaganza starts and noon and features brews from 4 Hands and Bell’s, hot chicken brats from the Southern and Byrd & Barrel crews and made-to-order ice cream from Ices Plain & Fancy. As for the cine portion of the evening, grab a seat at 9 p.m. for a screening of Wet Hot American Summer. Looking for something indoors that day? Check out Craft Beer Cellar’s Beer Geek Fest from noon to 6 p.m., where a total of 24 breweries will sample, and new offerings debut every two hours.

For a sit-down affair, get tickets for chef Ben Grupe latest installation of his pop-up dinner series, Soigné. This family-style, multi-course meal features dishes like maple-braised bacon with heirloom tomatoes and semolina dumplings all paired with local offerings from 2nd Shift, 4 Hands and Perennial.

The party rolls through Sunday, Aug. 2. Here, some quick highlights of what’s in store throughout next week:

• Monday, July 27: Art Bar hosts Bits ‘n Chips, a night of Tallgrass beer flights paired with the finest Dorito flavors to munch while you play more than 7,000 video games.

• Wednesday, July 29: iTap Central West End hosts Strange Invasion II, when the Strange Donuts crew pairs their creations with some of St. Louis’ best local brews.

• Thursday, July 30: Get your tickets for a six-course Beer and Burger Pairing at Heavy Riff. Southern California food truck Grill ‘Em All will prepare six sliders to enjoy with six brews from Heavy Riff and Excel Brewing.

Check out the full list of St. Louis Craft Beer Week events here.

 

Editor’s note: Eric Hildebrant is vice president of St. Louis Craft Beer Week, and Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

Happy Hour Like a Boss – Part 3

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

When the whistle blows at 5 p.m., there’s nothing like a strong drink to wash away the pains of the workday. You can find happy hours at any neighborhood bar and at watering holes near office buildings and factories. All of them will settle your fix for a cheap drink just fine, but a few get high marks – whether for the top-shelf drink selection, awesome food options or the duration of the deal. Our July issue features 22 places to unwind after work, whatever your reason for grabbing a seat at the bar.

 

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{The Potted Pig at the Block} 

 

For the entire office: The Block
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 5 to 7 p.m.

Schmooze your way to the top at The Block’s happy hour at its Central West End location. Though the workingman’s nirvana is available in the bar, invite your coworkers for drinks on the picturesque back patio, a fenced urban oasis decorated with string lights and fresh herbs from The Block’s garden. House cocktails ($5) are boozy enough to take the edge off a long day without turning you into the topic of office gossip tomorrow. Try the Mint-Basil Lemontini, an herbaceous combination of basil vodka, fresh mint, fresh lemon juice and prosecco that sings of summer. A happy hour menu of starters ($5) provides generous sustenance for sharing, like the Potted Pig, a jar of house-made pork confit served with ample slices of grilled country bread, plenty of sour house-made pickles and sweet apple-raisin chutney. Don’t want to share with Double-Dipping Steve from accounting? Order the ham and cheese panini ($5), perfectly griddled with bacon jam and spicy mustard, and enjoy an early dinner. – C.K.

 

For the wine enthusiast: The Dark Room
Happy hour: Tue. – 4 to 11 p.m., Wed. to Fri. – 4 to 6 p.m.

At this wine bar and photo gallery in Grand Center, you could shell out $195 for a bottle of a benchmark Napa cab, like 2010 Chateau Montelena. Better yet, go to The Dark Room during happy hour, when you can sip contentedly on a glass of select sommelier wines ($5). You might be in store for a 6-ounce pour of a white Bordeaux like the 2013 Chateau Buisson Redon or a Spanish rosé, such as Garnacha de Fuego Rosado. The wine menu, like the engaging exhibits on the wall, changes every two months, but we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the options on this list. Pair that vino with one of the discounted flatbreads ($6) or toasted pita with a dip ($3) of house-made hummus, olive tapenade or Romesco. If conversation lags, walk the room and let the photos speak to you. Currently on display is Chronicle Ferguson by photographer Santiago Bianco. – L.F.

 

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{Fried calamari with chile-lime mayo and a mojito at BC’s Kitchen} 

 

For Sunday funday: BC’s Kitchen
Happy hour: Sun. – 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon. and Tue. – 3 to 9 p.m., Wed. and Thu. – 3 to 6 p.m.

Happy hour occurs almost daily at BC’s Kitchen, but the best day to hit up restaurateur Bill Cardwell’s casual outpost in Lake Saint Louis is Sunday, when the deal lasts from open to close. Take a seat in the bar area or on the patio and have a glass of Vista Point chardonnay or merlot ($3.50). If wine isn’t your wish, order your go-to highball from BC’s talented bar team. Well drinks ($4.50) are not a bad deal, considering that Broker’s gin, Old Forester bourbon, El Dorado 3-year rum and Lismore Speyside single malt – solid products at value prices – are among the rail spirits available. BC’s has a lengthy list of happy hour-only noshes from snacks like house-made Saratoga chips ($5.50) to filling bites such as a trio of mini cheeseburgers served with fries ($6.75) or the standout: fried calamari with chile-lime mayo and cocktail sauce ($6.75). If you haven’t discovered BC’s yet, it’s time to make the trek; there are no excuses – you’ve got all day to get acquainted. – L.F.

 

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 {The open kitchen at Basso}

 

For a first date: Basso
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 4 to 7 p.m.

First dates are rife with pressure. Give yourself and your wallet a break and meet face to face, like in ye olde days, at Basso for happy hour. Craft beers ($4), selected wines ($5), cocktails ($6) and small bites ($7 or less) are reason enough, but the forgiving lighting and hip atmosphere boosts everyone’s kissing potential. We can’t get enough of the truffle fries ($4) and crispy meatballs ($7), both also easy to eat in front of a perfect stranger. We found it difficult to resist the Peter Rabbit, a take on a Mexican mule that mixes Espolón reposado tequila, blood orange liqueur, carrot and lime juices, ginger beer and muddled basil. If all’s going well, you and your date could easily commit to a full, chef Rex Hale-designed meal that doesn’t break the bank. – M.P.

-Basso photo by Jonathan Gayman, The Block and BC’s Kitchen photos by Carmen Troesser

Drink This Weekend Edition: Cucumber Delight at The Gin Room

Friday, July 17th, 2015

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Here’s my list of the best ways to stay cool during this weather. 1. Go to the library. It has books and air conditioning. 2. Lay on a tile or linoleum floor (be aware that Target employees will think you’re nuts). 3. Drink gin.

Hailing from a cave in Parkville, Mo., S.D. Strong Distilling’s Pillar 136 Gin is a citrus-forward spirit that is smooth and bright with characteristic botanical notes. The flavor profile lends itself well to The Gin Room’s Cucumber Delight, a bubbly, summery riff on a classic gimlet – traditionally gin, lime juice and simple syrup.

To start, St. Germain, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and cucumber bits are muddled together. In goes ice for a quick shake, then the Pillar 136 Gin. After another shake, the cocktail is poured right into the glass, ice and all. A splash of club soda and lime wheel garnish later, the simple, clean cocktail is ready to go.

The result is a cool as a cucumber. The bright lime and forward gin pair well with the floral notes of St. Germain, and the smooth cucumber adds just enough sweetness to balance everything out. The Cucumber Delight is a chill, fizzy gin cocktail that takes the edge off the heat and humidity of late July.

Can’t get enough gin? You’re in luck. St Louis Gin Week kicks off this Monday, July 20 and runs through July 25. Stop by The Gin Room Saturday, July 24 and meet S.D. Strong Distilling owner Steve Strong.

 

Editor’s note: Sauce Magazine is sponsor of St. Louis Gin Week.

Happy Hour Like a Boss – Part 2

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

When the whistle blows at 5 p.m., there’s nothing like a strong drink to wash away the pains of the workday. You can find happy hours at any neighborhood bar and at watering holes near office buildings and factories. All of them will settle your fix for a cheap drink just fine, but a few get high marks – whether for the top-shelf drink selection, awesome food options or the duration of the deal. Our July issue features 22 places to unwind after work, whatever your reason for grabbing a seat at the bar.

 

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 { The pear, prosciutto and fontina pizza and local draft beer at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta }

For pizza and beer: Katie’s Pizza & Pasta
Happy hour: Daily – 3 to 5 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m.

Pizza and beer were meant to be together, but you won’t find pounds of Provel and generic suds at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. There are five kinds of 6-inch pizzas, including the pear, prosciutto and fontina, as well as the Margherita drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil ($6). Pair your pie with a local draft, say a 4 Hands ($3), grab a friend and a seat on the sunny patio, and enjoy an elevated yet affordable version of a classic food and drink combo. – K.S.

 

For the all-day drinker: Frazer’s Restaurant & Lounge
Happy hour: Mon. – 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tue. – 3 to 7 p.m., Wed. to Fri. – 3 to 6 p.m.

Whoever said happy hour starts at 5 p.m. hasn’t been to Frazer’s on a weekday. This Benton Park spot has the kind of cozy charm and mustachioed irony that will make you want to ditch your day job and take up residency on one of its leather stools. The neighborhood watering hole has all the makings of a full-day affair with breaks on domestic bottles ($2.50), wells ($4) and vino ($6), and loafer-clad locals who will slap you on the back, order you a beer and convince you to “stay a while.” Behind the bar, hipster bartenders freeze martini glasses with liquid nitrogen, and on Wednesday, check out the vintage cocktail specials ($6). The best day to play hooky at this never-too-crowded hot spot? Thursday, when freshly shucked Blue Points ($1.50) and big-as-your-fist boiled shrimp ($1.50) are served up for hours of happiness. – S.S.

 

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{From top, speciality cocktails , spicy octopus roll and salmon nigiri at Cafe Mochi}

 

For the sushi lover: Cafe Mochi
Happy hour: Tue. to Thu. – 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The half-price happy hour at Cafe Mochi might be one of the worst-kept secrets in St. Louis. Sushi pilgrims flock to the pink neon sign outside this South Grand destination and wait anxiously, hoping to place their orders before the 6:30 p.m. deadline. All 15 non-specialty rolls are half price (less than $10), meaning you can dig into a classic California roll or a spicy octopus roll filled with tender bits of the cephalopod, kaiware (daikon radish sprouts), hot sesame oil and eel sauce, and even Futo Maki, filled with crab, shrimp, cucumber, sprouts, egg and roe. But the real sushi-phile steals are the 15 half-price nigiri options, succulent pieces of raw salmon, ruby-red tuna and more draped across a small mound of rice. Hot sake for two ($6) is available, but on hot summer nights, we unabashedly order specialty cocktails (two for $6) like the lurid Tropical Melon, a fruity sugar bomb of melon liqueur, vodka and orange and lemon juices. No shame, people. – C.K.

-Katie’s Pizza photo by Greg Rannells, Cafe Mochi photo by Elizabeth Maxson

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 Perfect Summer Rosés

Friday, July 10th, 2015

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Summertime and rosé. Trust me on this.

Rosé often gets a bad rap. It’s billed as an insipid, boring wine with little or nothing to it. So often someone tells me, “I prefer a wine with more meat/more oak/more sweetness/more dryness.” In fact, a good rosé can remind us of sunshine, summer and days spent outside with good friends. This weekend, rain or shine, try these three examples of excellent dry, crisp and clean rosés, perfect for an afternoon of backyard grilling.

1. Domaine Font-Mars Dino de Cleménce Rosé
This rosé is made of 100-percent syrah grapes from the Languedoc region of France and tastes crisp and clean with flavors of fresh berries and citrus. One of my best indicators of quality is if my wife and I finish the bottle. We finished this easy-drinking wine so quickly, I didn’t even notice until I reached for another pour and found an empty bottle. The moral of the story: stock up. $12, available at Parker’s Table

2. Calera Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
This rosé, made entirely of pinot noir grapes, holds clean scents of roses and strawberries that continue on the palate with a hint of orange flower and a slightly minty, chalky touch. It’s a dry, beautiful wine that’s enjoyable and affordable, yet it exudes the craftsmanship of a small, artisanal vineyard on California’s central coast. $20, available at Randall’s in St. Louis

3. Chateau Thivin Beaujolais-Villages Rosé
I love Beaujolais. Not that banana, bubble gum stuff that comes out in November, but the family-owned, artisanal bottles created by small wineries in towns north of Lyon, France. This 100-percent gamay rosé, made by those same wineries, is essentially made like a white wine with only 24 hours skin contact. Its fresh, red-fruit flavors and tart finish make it perfect for barbecue and al fresco meals, pairing well with everything from olives to fresh fruit desserts. $18, available at Parker’s Table

Happy Hour Like a Boss – Part 1

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

When the whistle blows at 5 p.m., there’s nothing like a strong drink to wash away the pains of the workday. You can find happy hours at any neighborhood bar and at watering holes near office buildings and factories. All of them will settle your fix for a cheap drink just fine, but a few get high marks – whether for the top-shelf drink selection, awesome food options or the duration of the deal. Our July issue features 22 places to unwind after work, whatever your reason for grabbing a seat at the bar.

 

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{From left, De La Louisiane, mint julep and gin fizz at Taste}

 

For the cocktailian: Taste
Happy hour: Sun. and Mon. – 5 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., Tue. to Fri.  – 5 to 7 p.m.

If you’re a bit like Professor Snape regarding the nuances of your cocktails (he taught potions, people) but don’t have gaelleons to spend on well-crafted drinks, steer yourself to Taste for happy hour. Taste discounts its entire selection of classic cocktails ($6) while taking them to new, labor-intensive heights. With cocktails listed chronologically, one can travel through time, starting with the mint julep in 1790 and eventually ending in the 1980s with the cosmo. Try the De La Louisiane, a bourbon Manhattan with Benedictine that relies on bitters and absinthe for some kick or a perfectly executed sloe gin fizz, frothy and light. Best of all, anyone behind the bar is happy to talk tasting notes and mixing techniques with an eager early-evening drinker.  – M.P.

 

For the beer lover: Three Kings Public House
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 4 to 6 p.m

In a happy-hour world of discounted domestics and longneck buckets, Three Kings Public House offers respite for the weary craft beer nerd. All draft beer is half price during happy hour. Sidle up to the bar and order from one of the 23 rotating drafts perfect for any beer lover’s palate. You could go light and sessionable with something like an easy-drinking Schlafly Hefeweizen or double-down on a bad day with a heavy hitter like a 9.5 percent Double Jack IPA from Firestone Walker. Dig into eight pub grub apps ($5) while you imbibe; we paired our brew with spicy chicken toasted ravioli, which adds a Sriracha kick to an STL classic.  – C.K.

 

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{Hand-rolled gnocchi at YaYa’s Euro Bistro}

 

For the hungry foodie: YaYa’s Euro Bistro
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri. – 4 to 6:30 p.m

Really good, varied food is rare at happy hour. At YaYa’s Euro Bistro, the experience is a prelude to dinner – the service is pleasantly attentive, and the menu is solid from smoked trout to beef carpaccio to mussels. Grab a well cocktail ($3) or glass of wine ($5) and turn your attention to the real deal is easy: Buy one app, get a second app of equal or lesser value for free. Try the hand-rolled gnocchi ($10), pillowy and comforting, served in a gorgonzola cream sauce with roasted chicken, sauteed spinach and spiced walnuts. Next, go for the shrimp a la plancha ($15). Seared shrimp arrive still sizzling on a cast-iron skillet with garlic, a glug of sherry and red chile butter. To top it off, your server will hit this steaming plate with a squeeze of fresh lemon tableside. Now that’s what we call a strong finish.  – M.N.

 

For the broke and unemployed: 5 Star Burgers
Happy hour: Daily – 4 to 6 p.m.

Get a lot for a little at 5 Star Burgers. You will leave feeling full and so will your wallet. Take a seat anywhere and start with a glass of pinot noir; all four house wines ($3.50) are discounted during this window, and a pint of local craft on draft is half price ($2.50). Sliders ($1.50 – insert bugged-out emoji eyes here) are the food to order. We recommend mixing it up with a trio of sliders: the veggie burger with roasted red pepper mayonnaise, the Little 5 Star and the fried chicken slider. And remember to order a basket of fried cheese curds ($2). These little cheese grenades add a burst of salty richness to go with your vino, and if you’re looking to upgrade your slider, pop one on for the perfect bite. Wine, three sliders and a side add up to ten bucks. Time to ask your bartender for another round – you can afford it.  – M.N.

-Taste photo by Emily Suzanne, YaYa’s photo by Elizabeth Maxson

Drink This Weekend Edition: 2nd Shift Technical Ecstasy

Friday, June 19th, 2015

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It wasn’t hard to find area brewery employees at the St. Louis Brewers Guild Heritage Festival last weekend. You just had to walk over to 2nd Shift Brewing’s booth, where a gaggle of brewery workers and beer nerds were all waiting to try owner-brewer Steve Crider’s new Czech-style Pilsner.

You see, a Czech Pils is a very technical beer style. It takes a deft hand not to screw it up. The style’s delicate nature means any flaws in the brewing process stick out like a sore thumb in the finished product. But Crider, who is best known for his top-notch IPAs and foray into Brett beers, was tempted to try this ambitious style after experiencing them on their home turf, Pilsen in the Czech Republic. And so, Technical Ecstasy was born.

Brewed with Bohemian Pils malt and Saaz hops (the standard for a Czech Pils), Technical Ecstasy pours a stunning hazy straw color with an enormous dense white head, the hallmark of a fresh Pilsner. The hops’ floral, slightly spicy aroma immediately lures you in. The medium-bodied mouth feel produces a soft, crackery maltiness immediately followed by spicy, slightly grassy notes. At 5.4 percent ABV, Technical Ecstasy is extremely crisp and refreshing; this beer can stand alone or pair with anything from chicken wings to a delicate pasta.

Technical Ecstasy is now available in 750-milliliter bottles at locations like Bombay Wines & Spirits and Fields Foods, and draft pours will be available at larger craft beer bars in the St. Louis area. Grab a bottle this weekend to see what all the fuss is about before our area brewers drink it all up.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Add fizz to hot summer nights with wine spritzers

Friday, June 12th, 2015

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We all have that friend, the one who means well but is clueless when it comes to wine. So what to do when they proudly gift you a bottle that, well, sucks? Here’s one use for those bottles during a hot, humid St. Louis summer – make a refreshing spritzer. All you need is 4 ounces cheap wine, 2 ounces seltzer and ice. Everything else is optional.

Red wine: Spritzers change subpar reds in the most astounding ways. Light wines become fizzy and fun, and big, overblown wines become drinkable after they’re diluted. You can add some fruit for flavor. I love orange and lemon slices for refreshment and added acidity. Berries work, too; they look spectacular and soak up all that wine for a boozy treat at the end.

White wine: Adding seltzer to whites can dilute any unwelcome oaky flavors and can balance overly sweet notes as well. You can doctor with simple syrup, too, for added sugar, or take a tip from a margarita and rim a glass with salt or amchur, a sour mango powder available at international markets.

So next time you get a bottle of wine you don’t quite love, don’t regift it to the next unsuspecting victim. Invite them over and make spritzers instead

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