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Apr 27, 2015
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Drinking’

Drink This Weekend Edition: Dandelion cocktails at Water Street

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

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{From left, Water Street’s Bobby Burns, The Lion Who Came to Tea and a Dandy Lion}

 

“All the railroad men just drink up your blood like wine,” Bob Dylan croons over the speakers at Water Street in Maplewood. Here, Dylan recycles an old folk apercu, a surprisingly good fit for Gabe Kveton’s petite eatery in a still gritty industrial part of this burgeoning community, where railways crisscross the landscape like scars and the storefronts are a dim-lit miscellany of contracting firms, car rental lots and dining establishments.

While the warm environs of Water Street are an antidote to all that cold and dark outside, up the ante further with one of the bar’s craft cocktails made with Lion’s Tooth, the small-batch dandelion liqueur ginned up by Kveton, his sister and executive chef Maria Kveton and friend Bethany Holohan. Now that the first bottles perch on a shelf above the bar, Kveton said he plans to add Lion’s Tooth cocktails to the menu next week – though if you pay the bar a visit this weekend, he’ll shake up one by request.

“I haven’t seen a liqueur like this before with the dandelion flavor,” Kveton said. “The brandy base brings a little bit of sweetness to the dandelion root. Brings a bit of earthiness.”

While I had a nip of the liqueur neat, bartenders Christy Lucido and Brett Bell mixed up a pair of Lion’s Tooth cocktails (the recipes for which are available here) for me, explaining some of the lore as they went.

The recipe is a fairly simple infusion of dandelion roots with Crown Valley brandy. By itself, Lion’s Tooth smells almost like – there’s no other way to say it – a Band-Aid, that kind of invasively floral aroma you smell when rubbing out dandelions on your hand. This shouldn’t deter you, though. After all, the best Gruyere still smells like mold and kimchee like, well, nothing pleasant.

What matters is that first taste: the sweet fruitiness from the brandy, the delicious herbal notes and that strong rush of alcohol at the end to cleanse the palate. This is a versatile liqueur that destabilizes, then reunifies whatever it’s mixed with.

The Lion Who Came to Tea combines Jeremiah Weed sweet tea, Lion’s Tooth and a brace of lemon wheels for garnish – think a boozier, more botanical Arnold Palmer. The inevitably named Dandy Lion is a tart concoction of vodka, Lion’s Tooth, lemon juice and simple syrup upon, which floats a tiny skiff of a mint leaf. Like Dylan and his folk repertoire, Water Street’s cocktail program riffs courageously on old standards like sours, sangria, Collins and more.

Of course, there’s plenty else to explore on the rest of the cocktail menu, including the vintage cocktail of the week – which is currently a Bobby Burns, a smokier Manhattan that opts for scotch instead of rye, and a splash of Benedictine. Shelter from the storm? Yes, you’ll find it here.

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: I Don’t Want No Shrubs

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

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One of the most exciting things about creating cocktails is rediscovering old techniques and ingredients. Shrubs have been around since the Colonial period and were enjoyed by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Martha Washington.

Consisting of vinegar, sugar and fruit, shrubs were originally used to preserve and incorporate fresh ingredients in the days before refrigeration. Now they add excellent flavor and dimension to cocktails. I Don’t Want No Shrubs combines a homemade apple shrub with rye whiskey, Benedictine and Velvet Falernum to create a sweet-yet-tangy, boozy, smooth drink that’s perfect to warm you on a chilly day – and it makes dealing with your crazy uncle just a little bit easier during the holidays.

 
I Don’t Want No Shrubs
1 serving

2 oz. Rittenhouse rye whiskey
½ oz. Benedictine
½ oz. Velvet Falernum
½ oz. apple shrub (recipe follows)
2 dashes Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
Orange twist to garnish

• Combine the whiskey, Benedictine, Velvet Falernum, apple shrub and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until cold and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Apple Shrub

4 to 5 apples, cored and sliced
Sugar to coat
Apple cider vinegar

• Toss the apple slices in a bowl with enough sugar to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 day.
• Strain the sugar syrup into a measuring cup. Reserve the sweetened apples for another use or discard. Add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to the sugar syrup, pour into a resealable jar and let sit 1 day. Apple shrub will keep up to 1 year.

 

Drew Lucido is a member of USBG St. Louis and bar manager at Juniper.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 8 fall cocktails to shake on Halloween night

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

The jack-o’-lanterns are carved, your costume is ready, and the candy bowl is stocked. Time to kick off Halloween with a toast. We’ve got eight perfect sippers for All Hallows Eve, whether you’re dressing for a ghoulish night out or hosting a spooky soiree of your own.

 

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{Odd McIntosh}

Apples and fall go together like pumpkin and pie. Shake up a round of Apple Cider Martinis with cider and rum, or Odd McIntoshes with ginger and applejack. Of course, you can always combine bourbon, cider and ginger beer and declare yourself Mr. Autumn Man (or Ms. Autumn Woman).

Sick of cider? Try a boozy, apple-free Fallspice Cocktail with bourbon, Aperol, orange juice and grapefruit bitters.

 

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{Pumpkin Buttered Rum}

 

If your Halloween night  means traipsing through the neighborhood monitoring a pack of trick-or-treaters, warm your bones and regain your sanity with hot Spiced Cider or Pumpkin Buttered Rum.

 

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{Amsterdam Punch}

Hosting this year’s costumed festivities? Pull out a big bowl and fill it with bloody red Vampire’s Punch or the less gruesome but equally delicious Amsterdam Punch, loaded with baking spices like allspice, cloves, anise and cinnamon.

If cocktails aren’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with a St. Louis favorite: pumpkin beer, and we’ve got 17 local options to choose from.

Looking for more fun Halloween ideas? Click here to find out how to make your own taffy ghosts and candy bars, and click here for some of our favorite pumpkin desserts from Pumpkin Mousse Shortbread Bars to gluten-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 -Odd McIntosh photo by Brian Fagnani; pumpkin buttered rum photo by Jonathan S. Pollack; Amsterdam Punch photo by Jeff Cardin

Drink This Weekend Edition: It Doesn’t Get Better

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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The Bee’s Knees is a classic gin cocktail with origins in Prohibition, when booze was terrible (yes, even gin) and extra ingredients were added to cover up the taste of the inferior spirit. The result included a deliciously easy cocktail called The Bee’s Knees. I winterized it with barrel-aged gin (I use Smooth Ambler), which mellows out the cocktail and adds a malty component. You can find whiskey-barreled Woodside honey and gin barrel-aged bitters at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton.

It Doesn’t Get Better
1 serving

½ cup whiskey-barreled Woodside honey
¼ cup hot water
2 oz. barrel-aged gin
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Fee Brothers gin barrel-aged bitters
Lemon twist for garnish

• In a small bowl, stir together the honey and hot water until dissolved to create a honey syrup.
• Fill a Boston shaker with ½ ounce honey syrup, the gin, lemon juice and bitters. Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with lemon twist.

Natasha Bahrami is a member of USBG St. Louis and co-owner of Natasha’s Cafe and The Gin Room.

Extra Sauce: Homemade Amaretto

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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In August, Dan and Anne Marie Lodholz, the husband and wife duo behind The Weekend Project, showed you how to use every last bit of your peaches and cherries, all the way down to the pits. Today, they’re sharing a recipe for one more boozy way to get the most from your end-of-summer stone fruits: amaretto.

In addition to macerating the lovely floral and herbal notes of fruit and spices with vodka and brandy, the Lodholzes also create a double simple syrup and a caramel syrup separately. This method allows drinkers to sweeten their amaretto exactly to their tastes.

Need a refresher on how to crack open those peach pits to get at the seeds? Click here and follow the instructions in the Peach Pit Tincture recipe for steeping, roasting and cracking those bad boys open.

Amaretto
Makes about 2 quarts

5 cups sugar, divided
3½ cups plus 2 Tbsp. water, divided
4½ cups vodka
1½ cups brandy
½ cup roasted peach seeds
½ cup peach pits pieces (remains of broken pits from removing seeds)
3/8 cup chopped raw almonds
2 Tbsp. anise seed
2 Tbsp. fennel seed
½ cup cherries, pitted and chopped
½ cup peach slices and scraps
½ cup apricot chunks
4 whole cloves
1 Tbsp. mint leaves
2 allspice berries or ¼ tsp. ground allspice
Almond extract

• To make the double simple syrup, bring 1½ cups water to a boil in a heavy saucepan and slowly whisk in 3 cups sugar until it is dissolved. Once the liquid is completely clear, remove from heat and let cool. Store the simple syrup, covered, in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks.
• To make the caramel simple syrup, bring 2 cups water to just below a boil in pot over high heat. Meanwhile, pour 2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons water into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Gently swirl the saucepan until the water is incorporated into the sugar and it begins to turn an almond color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the almost-boiling water until well incorporated (Use caution, as the mixture will steam.). Remove from heat, pour into a container with a lid and let cool. Store the caramel simple syrup, covered, in the refrigerator 4 to 6 weeks.
• To make the amaretto, pour the vodka, brandy, peach seeds, peach pit pieces, almonds, anise seed, fennel seed, cherries, peach slices and scraps, apricot chunks, cloves, mint and allspice into a large pitcher. Mix and then divide the mixture evenly between 2 quart-sized mason jars. Seal and shake.
• Store the jars in a cabinet for 4 weeks, shaking every couple days to agitate the ingredients. After 3 weeks, open the jars and smash the fruit with a wooden spoon. Seal again and place back in the cabinet. Let the jars rest the last 4 to 5 days of maceration so the ingredients can settle.
• Line a fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and pour the liqueur through the strainer into a large pitcher. Discard the solids.
• To bottle, mix 1 cup amaretto liqueur with ½ cup double simple syrup, ¼ cup caramel syrup and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Pour into clean mason jars and serve with additional syrup.

 -photo by Michelle Volansky

Drink This Weekend Edition: Sangria, Red or White

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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