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Jul 05, 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: 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

Drink This Weekend Edition: Negroni Week

Friday, June 5th, 2015

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It’s that time of year again; bars the world over have stocked up on the Campari for Negroni Week, a celebration of that classic cocktail that also benefits the community. A Negroni – equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari garnished with an orange twist – makes for a satisfying start to any meal, and they’re made all the more so when you know that a portion of the proceeds from your cocktail are donated to a local nonprofit.

You still have through Sunday, June 7, to imbibe for a cause at more than a dozen St. Louis area bars and restaurants, many of which offer their own spins on this traditional aperitif in addition to the classic sipper. Enjoy Negroni Week specials at:

Absolutli Goosed

Brasserie

Cleveland-Heath

Death In The Afternoon

Eclipse Restaurant At The Moonrise Hotel

Element

Franco

Frazers

Layla

Juniper

Niche

Pastaria

Planter’s House

Sasha’s on Shaw

Small Batch

Taste

The Dark Room

The Gin Room at Cafe Natasha

The Good Pie

The Libertine

 

Have you already indulged in a Negroni Week cocktail or two? Where did you go and what did you try? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Negroni by Gary Regan.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Something for the Fire

Friday, May 29th, 2015

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Mezcal and sherry are as appropriate a pairing as Missouri float trips and inordinate quantities of alcohol. With that in mind, I present a fantastic campfire cocktail that can be prepared and enjoyed in a Solo cup. (Of course in less rustic circumstances, the drink can be made as shown.)

First, make a large batch before you leave for camp minus the lime juice. Citrus will lose its bite over time, so if it will be more than a few hours before the festivities begin, I’d leave it out of the batch and squeeze some limes as your friends start the campfire.

Once the drink is concocted, add the desired amount to your cup, throw in some crushed ice and use a locally foraged twig (now it’s a craft cocktail!) to agitate the drink. Hold the stick between your palms and move your hands back and forth as if you were a Scout starting a fire. This is essentially how you swizzle a drink. There is some science behind how long to swizzle, but in this situation just give it a good swig after a few seconds. If it is too boozy or sweet, swizzle more. If it tastes like the last watery sip of a nearly empty whiskey and soda, you’ve gone too far. Drink it quickly and try again.

 

Something for the Fire
1 serving

½ oz. lime juice
1½ oz. Pedro Ximénez sherry
2 oz. mezcal (I recommend El Buho and Del Maguey Mezcal Vida.)
3 dashes Angostura bitters

• In a serving glass, combine all the ingredients. Add crushed ice and swizzle about 15 seconds. Taste and swizzle a few seconds more if too sweet or boozy.

Matt Osmoe is a member of USBG St. Louis and a bar manager at Blood & Sand.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Spring Cocktails at Hendrick’s BBQ

Friday, May 15th, 2015

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{Chrys’ Beaming Flower at Hendricks BBQ}

 

Bulky winter sweaters have been banished to storage and arms and legs across the area are finally seeing the light of day. Spring has also arrived at Hendricks BBQ in St. Charles via its new spring cocktail menu. Bar manager Steve Boulch has collaborated with fellow bar keeps and created springy sip-worthy creations based on classic cocktails like Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds.

With more than 350 whiskeys on premises, Boulch certainly had plenty to choose from. Nine made the cut for the spring menu. Seasonal and sophisticated, these cocktails honor their roots while kicking up the fun just in time for flip-flop weather.

The Chrys’ Beaming Flower starts with a house-infused Jim Beam Black. After dried chrysanthemum has steeped in the bourbon for 24 hours, it is shaken with Green Chartreuse, locally made Lion’s Tooth (a dandelion liqueur) and lime juice. The result is a crisp, balanced cocktail that blends tart and sweet flavors with pleasant but not overpowering floral notes.

Other standouts on the seasonal menu include the Strawberry Basil Martini, a fruity creation with the right amount of sweetness balanced with the basil’s herbal, lemony notes. Also of note: the Red Bird Punch made with Old Smoky Apple Pie moonshine, ginger ale and cranberry juice. Raise your glass – spring is here.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Morning in Baja

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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Tequila is delicious in so much more than margaritas, but incorporating it into the home bar can be a challenge. I prefer reposado tequila, which is aged in oak barrels from two to 12 months. Avoid tequila labeled “gold,” which can have as little as 49 percent tequila and contain additives like caramel coloring.

This cocktail combines that reposado tequila with a soft, subtly sweet vermouth and a fruity ruby port to create a perfect patio drink with depth and a bright finish. You can easily turn this cocktail into a party punch by multiplying all the ingredients by eight and adding 16 ounces dry sparking wine.

 

Morning in Baja
1 serving

1 oz. reposado tequila
1 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
1 oz. ruby port
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 thin strips cucumber, for garnish

• Stack the tequila, vermouth, port, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake 15 to 20 seconds, then strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with cucumber strips.

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

Drink This Weekend Edition: A cocktail crush at Sasha’s on Shaw

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Red or white? Neither. The newly introduced cocktail menu at Sasha’s on Shaw gives spirit lovers at least eight different ways to kick back at the wine bar. Developed by local barman Joel Clark, this selection of boozy elixirs keeps in the theme of the wine bar by utilizing grape-derived ingredients including sherry, pisco and even a vodka distilled from the fruit of the vine.



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Clark described the Reverse Absinthe Old-Fashioned as an “absinthe slap in the face,” and he wasn’t lying. But the licorice flavor pairs well with the Camus Cognac and Angostura bitters and finishes mildly sweet thanks to dissolved sugar cubes. It’s a very accessible slap in the face, so turn the other cheek and take another sip.

 

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For a more whimsical drink, try the Night Flight to Peru, a pisco-based cocktail that is a little sweet and a little tart when combined with Luxardo Maraschino, lemon juice and violet liqueur.

 

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If you’re a whiskey fan like me, sip on the Fleur de Rieger, a floral and savory whiskey concoction that marries J. Rieger Kansas City Whiskey, Pimm’s No. 1 and Crème Yvette.

Peruse all the new offerings on Sasha’s new interactive menus on iPad minis. Select your category – trust me, start with Spirits – select your drink, and save it to a short list and even email the recipe to yourself.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 4 Hands Send Help

Friday, April 17th, 2015

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When Send Help skateboards jumped on board (see what I did there?) for a collaboration with 4 Hands Brewing Co., the perfect summer beer was born. Send Help, a crushable, dry-hopped blonde ale, is light enough to satisfy in summer heat and hoppy enough to pacify the biggest hopheads.

This beer takes a grain bill similar to 4 Hands Single Speed and ramps it up with Amarillo, Simcoe and El Dorado hops to lend a crisp bitterness and abundant aroma reminiscent of citrus and fresh-cut grass. At 4.5 percent, Send Help is light on ABV but big on flavor. Pour it in a glass or drink it straight from the can this weekend, then head to the official launch party at Flamingo Bowl Tuesday, April 21 at 9 p.m. for a round with the 4 Hands brewers.

Send Help is a can-only release for now, with draft available at the brewery. You can find it through July all over the Metro area at bottle shops and grocery stores. An early frontrunner for beer of the summer, Send Help is sure to quench a lot of people’s thirst, so whether you’re a veteran on your skateboard or a poser looking for a refreshing brew, stock up on this one.

 

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 grapes you’ve probably never heard of – and why you should try them

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

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I’m constantly looking for the most exciting wines available in St. Louis. Here, three obscure grapes you’ve probably never heard of but should definitely seek out. Try one – or all three – this weekend.

 
1. Picpoul: This grape is originally from the Languedoc area of southern France. “Picpoul” is an Occitan word meaning “mouth bitter” or “lip stinger” – how cool is that? This brilliant, clean wine tastes of citrus with perfect dryness and acidity. If you enjoy New Zealand sauvignon blanc, give this wonderful wine a try.
Buy this: Domaine La Croix Gratiot Picpoul de Pinet. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton, $10.

2. Bracetto: This wild grape, one of the rarest in Italy’s Piedmont region, is usually made into sweet wine. However, the dry version is quite amazing with brilliant raspberry tones and intense minerality. This versatile wine pairs with anything from dark chocolate to smoked fish or balsamic vinegar.
Buy this: Matteo Correggia Anthos Vino da Tavola. Available Parker’s Table, $20.

3. Nero di Troia: Italy’s Puglia region doesn’t produce a lot of wine, but the obscure varieties created from its Nero di Troia grape are fantastic, holding notes of olives and citrus fruit. This is a rich, wild red wine perfect with a grilled meats or brisket. My pick from the great Michele Biancardi is one of the best single-varietal Italian wines with flavors of wild fruit, complex oak notes and just a hint of pepper and straw.
Buy this: Anima di Nero. Available at The Wine Merchant in Clayton, $19.

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as a sales representative for St. Louis-based wine importer Terra Firma.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 4 steps to ordering the perfect glass of wine

Friday, March 6th, 2015

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Everyone should be able to peruse a restaurant wine list with confidence. Personally, I love when someone hands me a heavy leather-bound wine bible, but I realize that even a simple one-page list can be daunting for some. Here, how to order your perfect glass of wine in four simple steps:

Step 1: Order a glass of bubbly. Look for something from one of the traditional European sparkling wine regions: Spanish cava, Italian prosecco and French Champagne. The crisp, dry flavors in a sparkling wine whet your appetite, and bubbles always make the evening a celebration. Choosing one will be easy, as most wine lists only include one or two options. The budget-conscious can sip a cava or a fruity prosecco, while those looking to indulge can try a slightly more expensive glass of Champagne.

Step 2: Now that those bubbles have boosted your confidence a bit, turn your attention to the rest of the list and decide how much you are willing to spend on a glass (or bottle). Don’t be swayed by the first bottle of cabernet sauvignon you see; they can often be pricier, while more unfamiliar wines are often better values.

Step 3: Go outside your comfort zone. Order something outside of your usual repertoire. If you’re enjoying a steak, skip the cabernet or Bordeaux and instead try a red from South American or France’s Cahors region. The more obscure picks are often gems on wine lists, with a little more age and a much better quality for the price ratio.

Step 4: Still confused? Ask for help. Servers at quality establishments are trained to guide you toward a great wine pick. Ask for something special and out of the ordinary, then enjoy what comes.

Put your newfound skills to the test this weekend at Bar Italia in Central West End or Truffles in Ladue; both establishments have amazing by the glass and full wine lists – and attentive staff in case you get stuck. Choosing a wine should be fun; don’t let it stress you out.

 

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as a sales representative for St. Louis-based wine importer Terra Firma.

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