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Jan 24, 2018
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Drink This Weekend Edition: Old but new at The Cheshire

December 7th 05:12pm, 2012

St. Louisans who remember what The Cheshire looked like in its heyday shouldn’t get teary-eyed over the vast renovations that have gone into resurrecting the 1930s structure. Head to The Restaurant, the first of three concepts slated for the 35,000 square-foot building at 7036 Clayton Ave., and you’ll see an exterior that is still as gloriously Tudor in style as the dark wood beams, stained glass and functional fireplaces. But with a restoration worthy of a This Old House episode come fresh, contemporary décor touches such as lighting and seating will remind you which century you live in.

{The Monk’s Manhattan}

The idea of blending the old with the new carries over to The Restaurant’s drink menu. If you can only order one cocktail, make it The Monk’s Manhattan. To give you an idea of just how good it is: “When someone from the table orders it, soon we’re sending out two or three more because everyone else at the table wants one,” said Katy Romine, whose official title is “cocktail chef.” What makes this Manhattan so good? Bulleit rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Benedictine, and whiskey barrel-aged bitters – three and a half dashes to be precise, per The Restaurant’s bar manager Matt McMullin (whom dedicated drinkers will recognize from his tenure at Lola). Guard the bourbon-poached apple garnish; it’s too tasty to share.

The Monk’s Manhattan is proving so popular that it’ll stick around for a while, even though the other cocktails on the list won’t. “Unlike many restaurants that change the entire list every few months, we will be debuting one new cocktail on our list every two weeks, based on what is seasonally available,” explained Romine. “The goal of the rotation on the list is to not only serve what is freshest but also to organically move the list from season to season, like we do with our food.”

{Dark ‘n’ Stormy}

Two cocktails worth a try before they say goodbye are the Pearadise Express, a twist on a Sidecar that features a smoked apple purée; and a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with fizzy house-made ginger beer plus Black Strap Rum floating on top like a castaway. Cocktails coming down the line include one featuring fig-flavored vodka and another starring amaro.

If wine is on your mind, rest assured that the restaurant’s wine cellar (pictured above), with the capacity for 1,700 bottles, has something to please your palate. The restaurant offers 30 by-the-glass picks, and among bottle choices, you’ll find 35 whites and more than 40 reds. The list is the pet project of The Cheshire’s beverage director: advanced sommelier and certified wine educator Patricia Wamhoff. This wine wonder woman’s standout bottle pick is the Merlot-Cabernet Franc by Chateau Fonplegade St. Emilion of Bordeaux, France. “It’s a blend between Old World and New World in style,” said Wamhoff of this $87 bottle. “It has the fruit forward of New World but still with the backbone of Old World earthiness,” she said. Wamhoff also mans a captain’s list that she dubbed the  “super-juice list,” and she’s downright giddy to share these “gems.”

Basso, the lower level pub at The Cheshire, is slated to open on December 17. Like the food prepared by Basso’s exec chef Patrick Connolly, the cocktails will have an Italian influence. I didn’t have the opportunity to try the drinks on the launch menu, which is divided into categories of  “Originale,” “Classico” and “Dolce,” but considering that Jason Reed, formerly of Salt, is behind the bar at Basso with loads of Italian spirits, wines and liqueurs at his disposal, I’m confident that the word deliziosa will slip from my lips at first sip.

By Ligaya Figueras

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