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Jul 29, 2014
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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: 5 can’t-miss events to kick off St. Louis Craft Beer Week

Friday, July 25th, 2014

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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: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rested Rye

Friday, July 11th, 2014

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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 albariño

Friday, July 4th, 2014

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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 Rhône varieties instead. It’s these wines that made Bonny Doon into the producer it is today and that earned him the nickname “Rhône Deranger.”

At a recent master class, Grahm explained that there are two types of wine: wines of terroir, which express their sense of place, and wines of effort, which express the whims of the winemaker. Bonny Doon’s wines are most definitely the former; 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

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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: 3 World Cup beers from St. Louis breweries

Friday, June 13th, 2014

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{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.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Fox Run Riesling

Friday, June 6th, 2014

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{Fox Run Vineyards in New York’s Finger Lakes region}

 

As more people come around to the wonder that is riesling, their gazes fall not just on Germany and Austria for drinking options, but also on the U.S. And though upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region might not first strike one as America’s Middle Mosel, both riesling neophytes and grizzled Pfalz fanatics do themselves a disservice if they ignore this region. Simply put, nowhere else in the U.S. produces better riesling than the Finger Lakes.

Scott and Ruth Osborne, owners of Fox Run Vineyards in the Finger Lakes, recently paid a visit to St. Louis. After working at several winemaking facilities in California, including Byron in Santa Barbara, Scott Osborne found that his oenological dispositions skewed toward cool-climate wines, and he made the move east.

Fox Run produces six rieslings, two chardonnays, a cabernet Franc and a lemberger, all grapes that benefit from cool climate conditions at the Finger Lakes. Of all the wines we tasted, the Lake Dana Vineyard “12” 2010 Riesling (available at Vom Fass) stole the show. It displayed exceptional balance and proportion with notes of spiced pear and hard apple, as well as a whiff of vanilla custard. The finish was long, crisp and citrusy. For those familiar with German riesling, the “12” displayed the sweetness of a Kabinett, and the acidity kept it clean and fresh. We know some people run screaming from the notion of sweetness in wine; however, many big name California chardonnays have substantially more sweetness than this riesling.

While “12” was our favorite, each wine we tasted displayed balance and precision, as well as purity of fruit and minerality, particularly in the whites. All had moderate levels of alcohol. We recommend Fox Run wines across the board, but keep your eyes peeled for “12” and these two other rieslings, as well:

Fox Run 2013 Dry Riesling
Spicy white fruit on the nose plus some white flowers, peach and nectarine pit on the palate, and finishes with an impression of sappy extract. Available at Parker’s Table

Fox Run 2012 Semi-dry Riesling
Tart green apple and wet stone on the nose, firm but not overpowering acidity on the core-fruit and tangerine-driven palate, and finishes with more crushed stone tones and citrus hints. Available at Extra Virgin, an Olive Ovation

Drink This Weekend Edition: The Mission Paloma, featuring Stiegl Radler at Mission Taco Joint

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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The first radler I ever drank was poured into a humongous one-liter glass and passed across the table to me at a biergarten in Bavaria by my late cousin Otto. He spoke sparse English and had cycled some 40 kilometers from Munich to sit with me in his Lycra jersey and graying, mussed-up helmet hair. I mention this last part because “radler” – a half-half mix of beer and German lemonade, not unlike a shandy – actually means “cyclist,” owing doubtlessly to the beer’s aptness as a thirst quencher after long rides. I was there on a get-to-know-the-family visit, exhibiting my clumsy German and trying to keep the conversation fluid. Mostly we just sipped in silence. But weltering there in the August heat, contending with the discomfort of all things lost in translation, there was no better refreshment for us.

Here in St. Louis, Stiegl’s Radler (Goldbrau and grapefruit soda) now has a tap handle at Mission Taco Joint on the Loop, and with a $5 price tag, is an easy way to squelch the impending oppression of summer. You might also try it in the Mission Paloma, one addition to the new summer cocktail menu the bar program is rolling out Tuesday, June 2. (A few change-ups to the food menu are also in store.)

Replacing pure grapefruit soda for sweet, citrus-inflected beer, Mission’s twist on the familiar cocktail is subtle, and a bit revelatory.  The recipe combines two ounces of Sauza Blue Reposado tequila and half-ounce of agave simple syrup over ice in a salt-rimmed pint glass, which is then filled with Stiegl Radler. The result is a pale yellow, frothy libation that begins with a trace of smoke and skims onward to its bright, citrusy denouement – a little like a margarita, only cheerier.

“This was almost a gimme from our distributor (of Stiegl),” said Jimmy Menousek, bar manager at Mission. “We heard ‘grapefruit’ and ‘beer’ and instantly thought, Paloma!

The Mission Paloma is quick to assemble and a worthy antidote to muggy afternoons in June, so don’t be shy about ordering a sneak peek for yourself this weekend, before the official unveiling. We’ve got it on good authority that the bartenders will happily oblige.

“Radler’s taking baby steps here (in St. Louis),” Menousek said. “But I’m confident once people start trying it, it will catch on.” I’ll raise my glass to that, and to Otto, peace be with him.

 

 

Raise a glass to National Negroni Week with an Americano

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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It’s National Negroni week, which means bartenders all over St. Louis , including me, is most likely throwing their own spins on this Italian cafe classic. But before we recreate a staple in the bartender’s arsenal, let’s stop and appreciate the origins of this beloved cocktail.

The Negroni and its lesser-known siblings, the Boulevardier and Old Pal, are all derived from the 1860s Italian cooler Americano, a favorite of many cocktail connoisseurs. “I’ve always been enamored with the sorts of long drinks you find in European cafes,” wrote bar manager and beverage blogger Jeffrey Morganthaler. “They’re light, palate cleansers, appetite awakeners and thirst quenchers.” The Americano is no different. Bitter, citrusy, fizzy and refreshing as hell, it’s perfect for a spring afternoon.

Americano
Courtesy of The Libertine’s Ben Bauer
1 serving

1½ oz. Campari
1½ oz. Cinzano sweet vermouth
Soda water
Orange slice to garnish

• Pour the Campari and sweet vermouth into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with the soda water and stir. Garnish with the orange slice.

Ben Bauer is a member of USBG St. Louis and a bartender at The Libertine.

Just Five: Quick Strawberry Balsamic Shrub

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

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Alert: This will be the summer of the shrub. These fruit syrups preserved with vinegar are popping up in bars all over St. Louis, and they are simple to make at home, too. When it comes to spirit combinations, the sky is the limit. Choose your base flavor from stone fruit, berries, citrus or herbs, add a tart vinegar (cider, champagne, balsamic, red wine, etc.) and sugar. A true shrub is a day-long process akin to canning or preserving, but this recipe gets you from berry to beverage in less than 30 minutes.

I love the combination of berries and balsamic vinegar, and since strawberries are everywhere right now, this was an easy choice. I used it as the base in four cocktails, each with a different spirit: gin, bourbon, vodka or dark rum. The vodka drink tasted like regret; it reminded me that I just don’t like vodka. The bourbon was too strong for this variety, but it would be wonderful with a peach shrub. The dark rum was a bit too sweet for me, but I managed to drink it all – in the name of research. But the gin? Well, Baby Bear, the gin was just right. If you’re not a drinker, shrubs also make sweet-tart, refreshing sodas.

Quick Strawberry Balsamic Shrub
Makes 1½ cups shrub

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and quartered
½ cup sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Gin (optional)
Soda water (optional)

• Place the strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons water into a saucepan over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the berries with a spoon.
• Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the mixture, pressing the fruit with a spoon and scraping the bottom of the sieve to remove all the juice. Discard the solids. You should have about 1½ cups. Shrub will keep refrigerated 7 to 10 days.
• For a cocktail: Pour 1½ ounces of strawberry shrub into a tall glass with ice. Add 2 ounces gin and stir well.
• For a nonalcoholic beverage: Pour 1½ ounces of strawberry shrub into a tall glass with ice. Add ½ cup soda water and stir to combine.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Local spirits shine at Three Flags Tavern

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

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At newly-opened bar and restaurant Three Flags Tavern, located in the heart of Southwest Garden neighborhood, local spirits are taking center stage.

We recommend trying the whole cocktail menu, but if you must be responsible, start with the 314, an unaged Manhattan featuring Pinckney Bend white corn whiskey, Mad Buffalo Thunderbeast Storm Moonshine, Benedictine, Dolin Blanc and Boston Bittahs. Three Flags bar manager Nicholas Crow, creator of the 314, loves that Mad Buffalo Distillery, located in Union, Missouri, makes its own mash for its moonshine, which he thinks sets the liquor apart.

For your second drink, look no further than Chouteau’s Funeral. We loved this light but not too-sweet-whiskey drink so much that we begged Crow for his recipe.

Chouteau’s Funeral
Recipe courtesy of Three Flags Tavern’s Nicholas Crow
1 Serving

1¾ oz. Still 630 Rally Point Rye Whiskey
¾ oz. Yellow Chartreuse
¼ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram
Luxardo cherry to garnish

• In a cocktail shaker, build the whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice and allspice dram over ice and shake 8 seconds. Fine strain into a coupe or fluted chalice, garnish with the cherry and serve.

 

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