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Nov 01, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Drinking’

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.

 

 

By the Book: Robert Simonson’s Rye Old-Fashioned

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

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Endpapered in late-Victorian ink marbling, Robert Simonson’s “The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail” exists in praise of an august, sometimes neglected fixture of American liquor lore. The Old-Fashioned, arguably the ur-cocktail – the first of its kind – is durable, classic and a test of any bartender’s hand at the basics. And as Simonson tells us, it’s got history behind it, too.

The New York Times cocktail columnist – passionate, occasionally glib – plays his cards close to his chest, paying out historical tidbits about the drink while insinuating his secret knowledge of the authentic recipe. But even Simonson forgets that “authentic” is not the point – the Old-Fashioned is really a piece of folklore, whose various generations have mutated over the years.

The book’s latter half is filled with recipes, including the notable ones from early 20th-century cocktail books and a few modern reimaginings. I mixed up one of each – the time-honored recipe for an orthodox Old-Fashioned and the gin-based Elder-Fashioned, invented by Manhattan bartender Phil Ward in 2007.

 

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The ingredient list for the classic is simple: whiskey, bitters, sugar and an orange peel to garnish. On the rye-versus-bourbon debate, Simonson says this: “Simply put, bourbon will give you a mellower and sweeter cocktail, whereas rye will deliver a bit more spice and kick.” I went with Knob Creek Rye.

 

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An ice purist, Simonson scoffs at the flimsy cubes made in home ice trays. He suggests half-filling water balloons for a glasslike, lasting orb of ice that won’t dilute your beverage. Put them in the freezer a few hours before mixing. The balloon cuts away easily with a knife or scissors.

 

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One of the drink’s early evolutionary quirks was the placement of a silver spoon in the glass as a garnish, part of a larger ethos among pre-Prohibition bartenders of relinquishing control to the customer, allowing them to stir and muddle the beverage at their pleasure. Though this custom has fallen out somewhat, in our age of DIY drinkmaking, I decided to follow suit. Lacking sugar cubes, I used granulated sugar. Muddle, pour whiskey, add ice and stir.

 

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The simplicity of the recipe speaks for itself – the result is a well-balanced, traditional Old-Fashioned that goes down easy. Be judicious with the water at first – a spoonful is too much – since the ice more than adequately mellows the cocktail after a few minutes. When garnishing, shave only the zest of the orange and rub the peel along the edge of the glass before squeezing the oil inside.

 

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Assembly of the Elder-Fashioned proved equally simple. Stir together gin, orange bitters and St. Germain, that wondrous elixir adored by starry-eyed barkeeps everywhere. This version is more herbal and citrusy, sweetened by the elderflower. Brunch-goers should consider adding this to their list of midday tipples.

Robert Simonson’s Rye Old-Fashioned
Makes 1

2 oz. rye
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist

• In an Old-Fashioned glass, muddle the sugar, bitters and a spoonful of warm water until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rye. Stir. Add 1 large chunk of ice and stir until chilled. Twist a large piece of orange zest over the drink and drop into the glass.

Phil Ward’s Elder-Fashioned
Makes 1

2 oz. Plymouth gin
½ oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Grapefruit twist

• Combine all the ingredients except the grapefruit twist in an Old-Fashioned glass. Add 1 large chunk of ice and stir until chilled. Twist a piece of grapefruit zest over the drink and drop into the glass.

Special thanks to Mission Taco Joint for supplying the St. Germain for this recipe.

 How do you riff on your favorite classic cocktail – and what do you call the result? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of “The Old-Fashioned.” We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, congratulations to Sue, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won her a copy of “Own Your Kitchen.” Sue, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

 

 

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Two prime (and slick-looking) pinot noirs

Friday, May 9th, 2014

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{Mouton Noir owner André Hueston Mack}

Slick packaging has never been something we look for first in a wine, and we’ve certainly never taken it to be an indication of quality. Indeed, we often worry the opposite will hold true – the cooler a label’s appearance, the more skeptical we are about what’s inside the bottle. We always suspect that someone is trying to cover something up.

Of course, this is a pessimistic, maybe even slightly paranoid way of thinking, and not one that we feel comfortable always endorsing. Especially when we are proved so wrong, as was the case recently, when André Hueston Mack visited St. Louis with his stellar Mouton Noir wines.

Mack is a well-known personality in the wine world; he was head sommelier at Per Se during its ascension into the restaurant pantheon. On the heels of that success, he started Mouton Noir, a garage winemaking operation in Oregon that also bills itself as a “two-fold lifestyle project” (the second fold being a T-shirt operation that channels wine zeitgeist into fashion). It might sound like a bit much, but man, does it work. Since we aren’t fashion critics, we’ll stick to talking about his wines, particularly his O.P.P pinot noir and his Oregogne pinot noir.

Mouton Noir O.P.P. 2010 pinot noir

The 2010 O.P.P. (In this case, the acronym stands for Other People’s Pinot, as opposed to Naughty by Nature’s original Other People’s not-for-publication acronym.) is benchmark pinot from Willamette Valley, Oregon. On the nose, it displays lovely red and black cherry fruit backlit by hints of earth and pine. The wine is medium-bodied on the palate with excellent balance, control and integration, as well as a minerally cherry component. It finishes with a more minerality and hints of cherry pit and spice. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Creve Coeur.

Mouton Noir Oregogne 2011 pinot noir

The 2011 Oregogne is a step up in silkiness and sappiness. It is most definitely from Willamette Valley, too, but with a distinct nod towards Burgundy (both on the label and in the bottle); the fruit here comes from two single vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. On the nose, bright red fruit draws your attention first, and red cherry is underpinned by damp earth and mushroom. On the palate, the wine is very silky and extremely graceful, displaying blue fruit notes and more forest floor, all the while channeling firm yet flexible minerality. It finishes long with blueberry and mineral echos. Available at The Vino Gallery in St. Louis.

-photo courtesy of Mouton Noir’s Facebook page

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Wine your night away at St. Louis’ ultimate bodega

Friday, April 25th, 2014

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Whether you stay in or go out tonight (or you go for a run through Tower Grove Park and happen to veer off for a drink – true story, don’t judge), a stop at one of Gustine Market’s free wine samplings is never a bad idea.

Join co-owner Vicky Cumminskey (pictured) tonight from 5:30 to 8 p.m. to sample from eight different wines like the Clos Du Bois 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, La Crema 2012 Chardonnay and Wairau River 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Afterwards, buy a bottle or two of your favorites, or grab some brew from Gustine’s great beer selection, like Abita’s newly released Spring IPA, 4 Hands Contact High and Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down.

If all the drinking makes you hungry, do some grocery shopping while you’re there. This tiny, unassuming Tower Grove South bodega is packed with tons of foodie finds, like Baileys’ Range ice cream available by the half pint, sweets from Kakao Chocolate and frozen pies from Dogtown Pizza.

Can’t make it to tonight’s tasting? There will another one Thursday, May 8 – a perfect opportunity to buy some extra wine to bring to Sauce’s first Food Truck Friday of the season the next night.

The List: Moll’s Cup No. 3 at The Good Pie

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.

 

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At its most basic, Moll’s Cup No. 3 is a refreshing highball. Or, perhaps, a boozy fruit cocktail. But to us, it’s the epitome of what it means to be handcrafted. The cocktail gets its inspiration from a Pimm’s Cup, a British tippler that combines gin-based Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur with club soda or ginger ale plus lots and lots of fresh fruit. For his version, bartender Jeffrey Moll Jr. makes his own liqueur by flavoring bourbon with sweet Dubonnet, cinnamon and bitter orange peel; carbonates it with ginger-infused water and a house-made pastis; and bottles the cocktail in individual servings. Why bottle? When you order Moll’s Cup No. 3, Moll needs time for the final step: fashioning all that fruit into an edible work of art.

6665 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.899.9221, thegoodpiestl.com

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

Drink This Weekend Edition: Hoppy Spring at iTap

Friday, April 18th, 2014

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Spring finally looks as though like it’s here to stay. Celebrate its arrival Saturday at International Tap House‘s Hoppy Spring. Beginning at noon, iTap’s locations in Chesterfield, Central West End and Soulard offer up a variety of hoppy libations, including some on cask.

Cask beer has a gentler carbonation level and usually shows a more complex flavor and aromatic profile. Many beers will be available at all locations, but some are specific to each bar. Odds are you won’t safely be able to make it to all three bars in one day, so I’ve tapped a must-try pick from each.

iTap Central West End: Charleville Brewing‘s Ale Mucho Hoppo on cask

A medium-bodied Imperial IPA, Ale Mucho Hoppo weighs in at 9 percent and is a hazy orange color. Upon smelling this beer, you’ll definitely pick up citrus fruit and herbal notes. Serving this on cask nicely rounds out the mouth feel. The earthy, sweeter notes balance out the intensity of the hops. The best part about this beer is that even at 9 percent, it doesn’t come across boozy.

iTap Chesterfield: 2nd Shift Brewing‘s Brew Cocky on cask

I really can’t say enough about the IPAs 2nd Shift puts out, and Brew Cocky is one of its best. This Imperial IPA is a sneaky 9.5 percent thing of beauty. With big aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and mango, along with some caramel sweetness, this one begs you to drink it. Served on cask, the softer carbonation brings out slightly more bitter grapefruit notes and some pine resin.

iTap Soulard: 4 Hands’ Brewing Co.‘s Contact High on cask

Leading the charge as one of my favorite spring releases is Contact High. A 5 percent, hopped-up wheat beer, this one is accessible to both IPA lovers and those who don’t like over-the-top hops. This is not your typical wheat beer. Brewed with orange zest and just the right amount of hops, it’s a citrus lover’s dream.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Three cocktails with a new view

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Like everyone else in town, we’ve caught a strong strain of the patio bug. This weekend when the weather is beckoning you to sip a fruity drink al fresco, look no further than Herbie’s Vintage ’72. Along with a new spring food and cocktail menu, this weekend the restaurant will have patio seating for the first time.

According to Amanda Wilgus, Herbie’s beverage director and floor manager, whenever the restaurant changes its cocktail menu, the whole staff participates. Each bartender comes up with an original concoction, and then with the help of friends and Herbie’s regulars, everyone blindly tastes the cocktails and decides on the best. This year, seven signature cocktails made the spring menu. While patio drinking calls for many adult beverages between friends, to start you off, here are three of our favorites.

 

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1. To truly invoke some easy living, warm weather vibes, start with the Kentucky Tropic. With Basil Hayden’s bourbon, lemon juice, mango purée and simple syrup, this martini goes down sweet and smooth but packs a punch. If you like your drinks with a bit more acid, a squeeze from the lemon wedge garnish does the trick.

 

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2. Not to be missed is this week’s featured sangria. Red wine, orange liquor, brandy and fruit juices combine for a wonderfully balanced Spanish sipper. Not too sweet and with notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, we recommend ordering this one by the pitcher.

 

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3. Yes, we know, Summertime Blues looks like something your mother or 21-year-old niece orders on vacation in Florida. But despite its neon blue color, this drink is really great. With Don Q rum, simple syrup, Yellow Chartreuse, citrus, mint and blue curaçao, this tart, floral cocktail has subtle hints of anise and a flavor that is entirely fresh.

Not a booze drinker? Herbie’s new menu also features two carefully crafted mocktails. After all, when it comes to patio drinking, alcohol or not, everyone needs something cold and delicious.

 

 

The List: The Rattlesnake King at The Fortune Teller Bar

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.

 

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With a name like The Rattlesnake King, you expect a serious bite. But the only thing dangerous about this citrusy, well-proportioned cocktail is its drinkability. Flavors of orange and apple mingle with smooth W.L. Weller Special Reserve 7-year-old bourbon in this easy-sipping antidote to a long workweek.

The Rattlesnake King
Courtesy of The Fortune Teller Bar’s Kristin Dennis
1 serving

1 oz. W.L. Weller Special Reserve 7-year-old bourbon
¾ oz. Calvados apple brandy
½ oz. Cardamaro amaro
¼ oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
4 to 5 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange peel

• Add all the ingredients except the orange peel to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake 3 times.
• Strain into a chilled Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

2635 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.776.2337, thefortunetellerbar.com

Drink This Weekend Edition: Hiro Asian Kitchen’s brunch cocktails

Friday, March 14th, 2014

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{From left: The Bloody Tokyo, The Bloody Hiro}

Now that I have a kid (who wakes up at 6 a.m. almost every day), brunch has taken on a whole new meaning. Bringing a baby isn’t entirely frowned upon, we still get to see friends, and we can go to bed at 8 p.m. without feeling lame.

This Sunday, March 16, Hiro Asian Kitchen debuts its brunch menu, which will be served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Until now, this chic Asian fusion restaurant and lounge, located at 1405 Washington Ave., has only served lunch and dinner, but its inventive and delicious Sunday brunch offerings are not to be missed, especially its cocktails. Not too mention Hiro’s stylish décor and hip vibe will make you feel like you’re having a raging night on the town, even at 11:30 Sunday morning.

Among cocktails, Hiro’s brunch menu features two bloody marys. If you were carousing late the night before, I recommend drinking both. The Bloody Hiro is made with Sriracha vodka, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper salt and garnished with a thick piece of house-cured bacon. Continuing Hiro’s Asian fusion concept, Bloody Tokyo has a sake base, is garnished with spicy wasabi-coated peas, and the glass is rimmed with wasabi salt.

 

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{From left: Sunshine, Lychee-Tini}

On the sweeter – but not too sweet side – Hiro has several great options. “These are happy drinks. These speak to what we do here,” said owner Bernie Lee. Try Sunshine, a cocktail loaded with Wild Tea vodka, elderflower liquor, Aperol and blood orange bitters.

Another subtly sweet cocktail, the Lychee-Tini is a must. Seriously. It’s my new favorite cocktail. I don’t know why we haven’t been drinking this take on a bellini forever. It’s so simple: Champagne with lychee puree, and the flavors are perfectly balanced.

 

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{Green tea waffle}

Not in the mood for a cocktail? You can’t really go wrong with any of the new brunch items, but the green tea waffle is just out of control. With light hints of green tea, the waffle is topped with vanilla ice cream, house-made coconut cream, fresh fruit and then drizzled with a syrup made with sake.

 

 

 

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