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Feb 19, 2018
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DTWE: 3 tea-infused cocktails to try at Retreat Gastropub

Friday, March 31st, 2017


 { Creole Colada at Retreat Gastropub }


When Retreat Gastropub bar manager Tim Wiggins comes up with a tea-themed cocktail menu, it’s going to be more than boozy glasses of your grandma’s finest.

“A lot of people hate tea,” Wiggins said. “These don’t taste like tea cocktails – they taste like cocktails with unusual elements.” The menu ranges from sweet and fruity to spicy and savory, balancing bold, unexpected flavors in strange-sounding, but highly drinkable cocktails.

1. If you like earthy flavors, the Parasol Shade combines the lush funkiness of Wray & Nephew overproof rum with a rooibos tea Wiggins said tastes like rich soil, all brightened by white rum, mango, cream and lime. The overproof rum’s raisin notes meet the mango’s sunnier sweetness, grounded by cream and a lively zip of lime on the finish. The complex combination is balanced – you’ll keep sipping as you try to figure it out.

2. If you like juicy and floral, try the tiki-inspired Creole Colada. Sweet, fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream are tempered by a full ounce of Peychaud’s bitters, Jamaican aged rum and an infusion of hibiscus and lemongrass. The drink is finished with a spray of hibiscus-infused absinthe and a sprinkle of nutmeg. A creamy pink, it looks throat-coating sweet, but it goes down easy with a hint of herbal spice and a pleasantly tart finish.

3. If you like vegetal drinks, order the Bells and Whistles. The savory, subtly sweet flavors of orange and yellow peppers are paired with Cana Brava rum infused with fragrant, tannic jasmine, along with green tea, honey-like white port and amontillado. Finished with a hint of lemon La Croix and garnished with a lemon wheel, it has a bright acidity and savory sweetness.

Photo by Meera Nagarajan

Related Content
Ones to Watch 2016: Tim Wiggins

Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Bartender – Tim Wiggins

Best New Restaurants: No. 10 – Retreat Gastropub

By the Book: The Dead Rabbit by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry and Ben Schaeffer

Friday, May 13th, 2016



Making cocktails from The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual has the same allure as going back in time to the 19th century when most of its recipes originated. It sounds romantic, until you consider the realities of the situation. Do you enjoy reliable electricity and paved roads? Would you like to make more than a dozen tinctures before even getting started on a cocktail?

Like history, this book is just for reading, and it does make a great read. Each original recipe is led by a fascinating introduction on the history of the cocktail that inspired it. The drink I chose, Whiskey Smash à la Terrington, was inspired by the 1869 book Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks. As delightful as that sounds, I have never complained more (recently) than while making this drink. I’d like to say I chose it because the cocktail sounded fresh, balanced and delightfully seasonal – which is was. Instead, I chose this recipe because it required me to buy only two bottles of booze, instead of the 57 every other recipe demanded.

It’s probably the best cocktail I have ever made – but it took three damn days to make. First, I had make a tansy tincture. I had no idea what tansy was, but luckily Cheryl’s Herbs in Maplewood did. So, I infused Everclear and water with the dried herb for three days and had my tincture. Next, I had to make lemon sherbet. No, not the easily accessible frozen treat. Lemon sherbet is an intense syrup made with lemon juice and oleo-saccharum. (Again: what?) Oleo-saccharum is basically citrus zest muddled in sugar and allowed to sit until the oils release. The oleo-saccharum took half an hour, as did the sherbet, which then had to cool. This is a drink that will make you drink.

After the sherbet was cool, the cocktail came together like any other. Measure, pour, shake, strain, garnish, sip – one of the best cocktails I’ve ever made. Complex but balanced, fresh but rich, and it had the smooth, viscous texture of a professional cocktail It’s a drink that should be made by professionals who presumably have large batches of sherbets and tinctures at their disposal.

Skill level: Professional. The instructions are good, but the ingredients aren’t at all reasonable for a home bar.
This book is for: Professionals or a those interested in a cocktail education.
Other recipes to try: Champagne à la Fouquet
The verdict: This book is interesting and impressive, but if you want recipes you can actually make, Cuban Cocktails is a better option.





Whiskey Smash À La Terrington
1 serving

3 dashes Tansy Tincture (recipe follows)
¾ oz. Lemon Sherbet (recipe follows)
6 to 8 fresh mint leaves
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2½ oz. Bulleit Rye Whiskey
Fresh nutmeg, grated, for garnish

• Add all the ingredients, except the garnish, to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a punch glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.


Tansy Tincture
10 ounces

1 oz. dried tansy*
4½ oz. Everclear
4½ oz. water

• Combine the tansy and Everclear in a jar. Allow to macerate for 3 days, then strain though a chinois into a fresh container. Due to the alcohol content, this tincture should last indefinitely at room temperature.


Lemon Sherbet
24 ounces

4 lemons
1½ cups granulated sugar
12 oz. fresh lemon juice

• Prepare an oleo-saccharum (recipe follows) with the lemon peels and sugar.
• In a small saucepan, combine the oleo-saccharum and lemon juice over medium heat, but do not boil. Slowly stir to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup has thickened, remove from the heat. Strain through a chinois into bottles. The sherbet will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.


8 servings

• Peel each lime, being sure to remove only the peel, with none of the white pith. A Microplane grater or vegetable peeler is best.
• Add the peels to a bowl, along with the sugar. Using a muddler or heavy wooden spoon, press the peels into the sugar. You will see oil from the peels collect in the bowl. Let the combination sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Mix to collect all separated oils into the sugar before using.
• You may use the peeled limes for juicing as needed in the recipe above.

*Tansy is available at Cheryl’s Herbs, cherylsherbs.com 

Reprinted with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


By the Book: Cuban Cocktails by Ravi DeRossi, Jane Danger and Alla Lapushchik

Friday, May 6th, 2016



On a recent trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, I made sure to drink cocktails out of coconuts as often as possible. I also learned that Coco Lopez is the bartender’s preferred brand to use when making coconut-based cocktails. In Cuban Cocktails: 100 Classic and Modern Drinks, the authors also praise Coco Lopez as the first mass-produced coconut cream, making tropical fruity drinks like this much simpler to make. It was a tough to find this brand (It wasn’t in regular or specialty grocery stores.), but I eventually found it at Randall’s.

Get a taste of summer at bars all over St. Louis. Click here for our Summer Drinking Preview.

Quality coconut cream necessitates a piña colada. It turned out well, though it’s a very sweet drink that didn’t need the additional simple syrup the recipe called for. Fresh lime juice also would help to balance that sweetness. The authors do offer a Cuban take on a piña colada that added lime juice, but it cut the coconut cream. Still, when you pour this frothy cocktail into a coconut adorned with a paper umbrella, pineapple wedge and a bendy straw, quibbles like these don’t seem to matter much.

Skill level: Easy. Most recipes require only a few ingredients.
This book is for: People who really want to be on vacation right now.
Other recipes to try: Isle of Manhattan Fizz – a mix of gin, rum, coconut cream, orange flower water, club soda and pineapple and lime juices.
The verdict: Check back next week, when this piña colada takes on the next summer cocktail.



Piña Colada
1 serving

2 oz. white rum
3 oz. coconut puree
1 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. pineapple juice
½ cup crushed ice
Pineapple for garnish

• Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Pour into a tiki bowl or frozen pineapple shell. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or a cocktail umbrella. For more of a kick, whip shake ingredients and serve over crushed ice.
• To make the Cuban version, omit the coconut puree and add ¾ ounce lime juice

Reprinted with permission from Sterling Epicure


Drink This Weekend Edition: Tiki time at The Libertine

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Boozy, juicy and the ultimate exercise in escapism, tiki cocktails are appearing (and staying) on menus across town. Giving winter a defiant one-finger salute, Ben Bauer at The Libertine launched the Tiki Attack menu in February.

Rum, mezcal and house-made infusions run through the menu in drinks ranging in flavor from sweet and juicy to dry and heady. With a dozen diverse choices, here are three tropical tipples to get you started.




1. Angostura Phosphate: This slightly fizzy cocktail comes with a side that puts the pine in pineapple. A slice of the tropical fruit compressed with rosemary complements the spicy nose, sweet, juicy and lightly herbaceous drink that ends with a pleasantly dry, tropical finish.




2. A Study of Madness in Blue: For this happy libation, Bauer swaps out gin for rum then adds house made blue curacao and fresh pineapple juice, then floats a dash of merlot on top, resulting in an herbaceous, sweet and tart sip that is pleasantly acidic yet not astringent.

3. Kerouac’s Idea of Moderation: Featuring soursop (a viscous, melon-strawberry flavored fruit juice), this juicy tiki starts with sweetness but finishes clean, with a depth of flavor courtesy of wormwood bitters.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Valentine’s cocktails at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar

Friday, February 12th, 2016



Single or spoken for, Valentine’s Day is upon us with all its saccharine romance. Baileys’ Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square has dreamed up a threesome of cocktails perfectly suited for a weekend of amour. This romantic venue is a hotspot on Valentine’s weekend, so get in line early via the No Wait app and hang out at home, not in the cold, while you wait for a table. Whether you’re doing the wooing or just treating yo’self here’s what to order starting today, Feb. 12.

1. The Double Dipped is a peanut butter and chocolate cocktail that can be sipped over the chocolate ganache-coated rim or through the chocolate straw. Either way, it’s a layer of house-made dark chocolate liqueur and hazelnut liqueur topped with a layer of peanut-infused vodka and Bailey’s Irish cream.

2. The Chocolate Bar’s version of Chocolate, Flowers and Teddy Bears is less trite than cliche Valentine’s Day gifts. Dark chocolate liqueur, chocolate vodka, crème de violette and coconut milk are shaken, then poured into a martini glass and garnished with two teddy bears cookies holding hands. Whether that makes you coo in delight or chomp their heads off, you’ll enjoy this lightly floral chocolate sip with a creamy finish.

3. The Valentine’s Smash is a chocolate- and berry-flavored libation that features chocolate vodka, Dolin blanc, house-made limoncello and raspberry liqueur and lemon juice all shaken together and topped with bubbly Prosecco and garnished with raspberries and mint.




Ones to Watch 2016: Tim Wiggins

Monday, January 18th, 2016



Title: Beverage director, Retreat Gastropub
Age: 24
Why Watch Him: Three years after his 21st birthday, he’s shaking up some of the best cocktails in town.

Four years ago, Tim Wiggins was learning to like beer in New Zealand. Now he is beverage director of Retreat Gastropub, which he helped open in the Central West End. Here, Wiggins’ trajectory to greatness:

Wiggins took a job as food runner at Baileys’ Range because he was broke after traveling in New Zealand for three months. Running food and scooping ice cream at Baileys’ Range gave him a serious appreciation for starting at the bottom. “Everyone (in a restaurant) should know how to do every job,” he said. His hard work paid off, and Wiggins transitioned to serving, then bartending.

Wiggins accepted an offer to serve as front of house manager at Dave Bailey’s new concept, Small Batch. “I’ve always loved leadership roles and coaching,” Wiggins said. “But this was kind of intimidating. I was the youngest person in the building, and I was in charge of all these people who had been serving and bartending forever.”

Wiggins rose to the occasion, eventually moving to bar manager. There, he mastered Small Batch’s 100-plus bottle whiskey menu, armed with a library of recommended cocktail books. “When someone asks a question, I want to be the one who has the answer – and the surplus information,” Wiggins said. With book smarts, research trips to pick the brains of pros in places like San Francisco’s Trick Dog and a culinary perspective on cocktails, Wiggins helped develop a menu wiser than his years.

Retreat owner Travis Howard brought Wiggins on board to help open the restaurant. There, Wiggins developed a bar program filled with house-made tinctures, shrubs and innovative cocktail recipes. Along with incredible product knowledge and creativity, Howard said Wiggins brings a sense of hospitality that goes beyond customer service. He is committed to developing a positive culture for the entire restaurant; that means hiring the right people and taking care of his staff, as only a manager who’s worked every job can.

2016 and beyond
“I have this job and I want to do it really well and not get caught up in what exactly is next,” Wiggins said. But he aims to open his own place one day – and he’s got a lot of ideas. “I’m still years away from that, but I feel like I’m on the right track.”

– photo by Carmen Troesser

Ones to Watch 2016: Matt Osmoe

Monday, January 18th, 2016



Title: Bar manager, Blood & Sand
Age: 33
Why Watch Him: This jack-of-all-trades has become the master of one.

Less than two years ago, Matt Osmoe was working an information technology job, the discipline in which he earned a college degree. Now he heads one of the top-tier bar programs in the city, has won the acclaim of his peers in the U.S. Bartender’s Guild and has earned the right to compete in Bombay Sapphire’s World’s Most Imaginative Bartender contest.

Curious, undaunted by the prospect of failure and a technical perfectionist, Osmoe crafts cocktails via vivid imagination and honed technique.

“I create a scene in my mind. I’m at a place on the coast of Northern Italy. I’ve been out on a sailboat all day, and now I’m at this little cafe by the sea. The staff is starting to light the candles. There’s amazing seafood simply prepared, and they hand me a drink and it’s the most perfect drink for that situation, right at that moment. Think about the smells in the air, what the dish tastes like, what it’s going to do to your palate, where you’re at. What are the local spirits? What are the local drinking traditions?

“Slowly piece that together, one by one, until you get a drink, then balance it out to make it really pleasant for people who aren’t in your little fiction and you end up with something really great, usually.”

The resulting cocktail from that Mediterranean dreamscape combined TRU organic gin, La Quintinye vermouth royale (a dry vermouth with a delicate wormwood finish), lemon, simple syrup, wormwood bitters, grapefruit bitters, a touch of sage, a little bit of bay leaf and a cap of bubbly. “It would have gone well with my imaginary fish. It was tasty.”

Even imaginary pairings must be properly prepared. Osmoe keeps rigorous technical standards for measurement, temperature and rate of dissolution. His quest for precision led him to add a pyrometer, the device usually used to measure the temperature of racecar tires, to his bar’s equipment list. Too hot, and a drink tastes too boozy. Too cold and the flavors become muted.

Want in on this creative, technical golden mean? Sidle up to the bar with an open mind and be precise about what you like. Then sit back, because Matt Osmoe is one to watch.

– photo by Carmen Troesser

Ones to Watch 2016: Jeffrey Moll

Friday, January 15th, 2016



Title: Bar manager, Randolfi’s Italian Kitchen
Age: 33
Why Watch Him: His quirky quest for perfection in all things cocktail shaped Randolfi’s top-notch bar.

3: The number of recipe variations it usually takes to perfect a cocktail. “The first iteration is called the ‘proximity cocktail’ because it’s rarely the final recipe. I’m painfully neurotic, almost never happy with something I make for the first time.”

6: The number of notebooks filled with cocktail ideas, R & D and recipes – both successful attempts and dramatic failures. “I write down everything: things that worked and things that didn’t. Every time I change something, I write it down.”

200: The number of cocktails in those notebooks, including drinks that made the menu at Little Country Gentleman, The Good Pie and Randolfi’s, drinks that never saw the light of day and some experimental molecular cocktails, like sous vide Old-Fashioned that “just weren’t practical.”

No. 26: A drink later renamed Left Bound. The port and whiskey cocktail was an early, original creation that saw six incarnations before finding itself. The final version is smoky and sweet, featuring a 10-year tawny port and McCarthy single-malt whiskey.

1:1:1: A balanced ratio. Moll seeks to balance flavor, intensity and nuance in all his drinks. “It’s important to have just enough – not too much and not too little. Everything that’s in a bottle has its own characteristic. Finding the balance with whatever you’re putting in the glass is what makes a good drink.”

24: The number of amari at Randolfi’s. “I wish people would get into amaro. There are so many good ones out there. Some are sweeter, and some are turbo dry and bitter. I squeeze it into as many drinks on the menu as I can.”

150: The number of vintage cocktail glasses in his collection. You may even sip from one – Moll rotates some of his finds through the bar at Randolfi’s.

120021: A palindrome, reading the same forward and backward. So do some of Moll’s cocktails, like the Madam I’m Adam. Call it a quest for balance, an affinity for math or just having fun. “The more I learn, the more I appreciate everything. It’s exhausting to be cynical. It’s about seeing people enjoy what you’ve done.”

41: The years of combined industry experience touting Moll’s dedication and skill.
Planter’s House co-owner Ted Kilgore: “He has a real palate for creating balanced cocktails.”
Randolfi’s chef-owner Mike Randolph: “He is an encyclopedia of knowledge.”
Layla general manager Tony Saputo: “He’s meticulous and calculating. He isn’t jaded. He works to make drinks with integrity.”

-photo by Carmen Troesser


Extra Sauce: Top 5 Cocktails of 2015

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Matt Berkley works some odd hours as Sauce’s Nightlife critic, spending many a late night sipping craft cocktails around St. Louis on a hunt for the very best. Here, Berkley names his top five cocktails of 2015:




5. The Zombie at Taha’a Twisted Tiki
A tangy and tasteful battleground of flavors where Puerto Rican and Jamaican rums duke it out with high-proof Bacardi 151 rum and absinthe, along with fruit juices, bitters and cinnamon syrup for good measure – truly a monster. Ask nicely, and they’ll even serve it up in a cool tiki mug.




4. The Don Johnson at Art Bar St. Louis
This zesty little gin cocktail makes it worth a trip to Cherokee Street. The Don Johnson matches a liberal pour of Ford’s Gin with dry curaçao, Luxardo Sangue Morlacco cherry liqueur and grapefruit bitters.




3. Yellow Brick Road at Tiny Bar
Spicy, sweet and mind-numbingly strong, Tiny Bar’s take on the classic margarita is a refreshing revelation that joins Ocho tequila with Cointreau, fresh lime juice and jalapeno honey.




2. The Old-Fashioned at Anthony’s Bar
An institution within an institution, Anthony’s Old-Fashioned swims with spicy rye and is served up without the fruity flags or over-the-top frills of other bars. This the sort of satisfying cocktail that makes you close your eyes and smile after every sip.




And the No. 1 cocktail of 2015 is… 

The Barrel-Aged Ginger Manhattan at DeMun Oyster Bar

Big O Ginger Liqueur sends this drink into the stratosphere. Expertly mixed with Four Roses bourbon, a splash of Italian vermouth, and Jerry Thomas’ Decanter Bitters, this is a phenomenal, easy-sipping spin on the classic Manhattan.

-Anthony’s Bar and Taha’a Twisted Tiki photos by Jonathan Gayman 

Cooking the Classics: Old-Fashioned

Thursday, November 26th, 2015



A classic Old-Fashioned is the granddaddy of whiskey cocktails. The simple, time-honored trio of whiskey, bitters and sugar is best complemented by the natural sweetness of cherry and fresh orange. Dustin Parres, corporate bar manager at Gamlin Whiskey House, contended that technique makes the Old-Fashioned so special – something often ignored by bartenders who slap the drink together using bottled juices and bland, mass-produced cherries. “If they aren’t breaking out a muddler, you know that they’re doing it wrong,” Parres said. Check out his take on the classic.


Courtesy of Gamlin Whiskey House’s Dustin Parres
1 serving

3 Luxardo maraschino cherries, divided
2 small orange slices, divided
1 Demerara sugar cube
A few dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. Henry McKenna bottled-in-bond bourbon
½ oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth

• In a pint glass or shaker, muddle together 2 cherries, 1 orange slice, the sugar cube and bitters. Pour in the bourbon and the vermouth. Add a few ice cubes, cover and shake. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into an Old-Fashioned glass, snifter or rocks glass filled with large ice cubes. Garnish with the remaining cherry and orange slice.


-photo by Greg Rannells

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