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Feb 28, 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘Drinking’

Drink This Weekend Edition: Sangria, Red or White

Friday, August 22nd, 2014



Just in case you forgot what summer in St. Louis is supposed to feel like, it’s back with a vengeance. This weekend is going to be hot. Like triple-digit heat index hot. It’s time to quench your thirst with a classic summer sipper. Here, we set you up with sangria two ways, whether you like bold, fruity reds or delicate, floral whites.

For the red wine crowd, mix a robust Burgundy or cabernet sauvignon with brandy, triple sec, peach schnapps, blood orange and liqueurs, fresh fruit puree, citrus juices and club soda. Get the recipe for this powerful, fruity sangria here.

Not a red wine drinker? Go light and bright with a few bottles of dry Spanish white wine. Stir it up with apples, orange slices, lemons, limes, peach schnapps, orange juice, brandy, triple sec and sugar to sweeten the pot. Get the recipe here.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rested Rye

Friday, July 11th, 2014



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

Friday, July 4th, 2014



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

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



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.

What I Do: Jacqui Segura

Thursday, June 19th, 2014


No cocktail connoisseur is more dedicated to promoting the culture of the artisan beverage than Jacqui Segura, aka The Cocktail Ambassador. She took a breather from her frenzied schedule – holding down a day job in e-commerce and raising four kids – to talk about her favorite cocktail, hosting events for imbibers and what she misses seeing behind the bar.

When did you become The Cocktail Ambassador?
September 2012. About two years earlier, I’d met (bartender) Matt Seiter. The only thing I drank at that time was Ketel One and tonic. (I) jumped whole hog into this cocktail list he had. They used to joke that I was their ambassador because I would go around to the tables at Sanctuaria and try to understand why every person there was not trying to finish this list and drink these amazing cocktails.

What’s your favorite cocktail?
Negroni. I love the simplicity and its tolerance for mistakes.

What’s the stupidest cocktail you’ve ever had?
We went to New Orleans. I had a hurricane. I remember getting headaches. It was so syrupy and sugary and powdery and red.

What are your favorite haunts in St. Louis for a cocktail?
It’s so hard for me to separate bartenders from the haunts. I’ll follow Ted (Kilgore) anywhere. Kyle (Mathis) has done an outstanding job keeping the bar program at Taste going. I like Tony (Saputo) and Seth (Wahlmann) at Eclipse a lot. I think they’re always doing creative things.

Are you going for the bartenders or the cocktails?
I go for the cocktails, but I’ve had enough cocktails that I know who I can rely on to provide consistency. There has to be (enough) trust with the bartender that I can say, “I’d like to do a cognac drink tonight.” And that they know me well enough to help me push forward in a new area.

How does Boozy Book Club work?
I choose a book that’s cocktail- or spirits-related. I recommend people read it ahead of time – that’s just a recommendation, not a requirement. I find a bar to host us. The book club meetings are all about “tasting” the book. I don’t want them to know that they’re actually learning something. I don’t want to make it a lecture.

Why did you organize the Drink Like a Lady event series in March?
This craft cocktail community is heavily male-dominated. I wanted to involve the women bartenders in St. Louis. And then I extended it even further: Can I challenge these women bartenders to use women-produced spirits in the cocktails they’re creating? That was the extent of the instructions that I gave bartenders. From there, they could do anything they wanted.

Would you call the event a success?
My expectation going into that was I was going to give out 30 passports. To hear that Mandi (Kowalski at Planter’s House) sold over 300 of her Fujiyama Mama (cocktail) – I’m like, “Wow!” Next year, there’s no reason to limit it to St. Louis. I’m going to do a passport for Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis.

What cocktail trends excite you?
A return to simple, core ingredients – three to four (of them). You really have to think about the quality of the ingredients. There’s one (trend) that’s gone away and I’m like, “Come back!” – the theater of preparing a cocktail. I love that. Part of my concern with places going to bottled cocktails and cocktails on tap and quick-dispensing things is that you lose the theater. I’m paying anywhere from $10 to $15 for a cocktail. I want a floor show with it.

What do your kids say about your hobby?
I had to fight less with them and more my image of what parents did. The idea of taking one evening a week and saying, “At 8 o’clock on Wednesdays, I am going to be someplace doing what I want to do” was a big step for (my husband and me). We were like, “Now, if you say you want to go to the gym and do yoga, that’s OK. Going to the bar to drink, that’s not OK.” I worried about that for about two weeks, then I was so over it.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 World Cup beers from St. Louis breweries

Friday, June 13th, 2014


{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


{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

Raise a glass to National Negroni Week with an Americano

Thursday, May 29th, 2014



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.

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



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


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.




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.




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.




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.




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.




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.





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