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Sep 16, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Drinking’

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.

 

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Sip berries in booze while pining for summertime fruits

Friday, February 28th, 2014

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This winter has lasted so long, I can barely remember what a plump, sun-kissed beefsteak tomato tastes like. Or a peach that’s so ripe, the juice runs down my chin from first bite to last. Or a strawberry so sweet, it would be sinful to add a single granule of sugar. As we get set to face the next round of frigid temps, I’ll settle my fix for all the fresh fruit (and warm temperatures) by sipping berries in booze form.

Deep, dark berries dominate the flavor and aroma of Bilberry Black Hearts Gin, an organic, small-batch spirit by Journeyman Distillery in Michigan. A bilberry is a fruit related to the huckleberry and blueberry and indigenous to the UK and northern Europe. Haven’t tasted a bilberry? Me either, which is probably why my taste buds want to identify those fruity notes as mulberry and blackberry. The gin, which holds nine botanicals, is hardly a juniper-in-your-face gin. Rather, it’s bright, fruity and lively with hints of black licorice and black pepper.

This super-smooth, 90-proof spirit passed the G&T test, but where it really shined was in a martini and in a French 75; the subtle dark fruit flavor and aroma lent another dimension to both these classic gin cocktails. The Journeyman website suggests using Bilberry Black Hearts gin in a Bee’s Knees and a gimlet. I plan to walk those paths next.

The market is overflowing with gins that range in style from London Dry and Old Tom to a boatload of new American gins that offer an array of botanicals. Journeyman was founded only three years ago (and its gin arrived on the local scene last year), yet the distillery is making a name for itself as a true grain-to-bottle distillery that can claim high-quality, certified organic, small-batch spirits. There’s room on the liquor shelf for that.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 2014 Perennial Sump

Friday, February 21st, 2014

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About this time last year, on the heels of its wildly attended barrel-aged Abraxas release, the folks at Perennial Artisan Ales quietly tweeted the details of its next barrel-aged beer: the barrel-aged Sump, an Imperial stout collaboration with South City’s Sump Coffee aged in Rittenhouse rye barrels.

Despite the low-profile announcement via Facebook and Twitter, the beer sold out in less than 24 hours, received rave reviews, and eventually won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in October. The success of that release prompted the Perennial brewers to consider a non-barrel aged version for wider distribution this year.

Enter the 2014 Perennial Sump, released yesterday, Feb. 20. The Perennial team worked with Sump owner Scott Carey to select a coffee bean that best plays off of the base beer’s rich chocolate notes. After many trials, the team chose a light roast of Colombia Los Pinos. Known for its smooth, slightly sweet, chocolate characteristics, the bean works harmoniously with the Imperial Stout beer. The coffee was brewed using the cold toddy method, then pumped into the bright tank.

The result is an Imperial stout with huge coffee and chocolate aromas and a rich, velvety mouth feel. The Colombia Los Pinos bean adds a sweetness reminiscent of berries. Weighing in at 10.5 percent ABV, this beer is one to be sipped, not gulped. This will also bring some of the more interesting coffee characteristics as the beer warms.

In addition to Perennial’s Tasting Room, Perennial Sump also will be available in 750-milliliter bottles at better St. Louis-area bottle shops.

Drink This Weekend Edition: An ode to a dive bar

Friday, February 14th, 2014

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“Dive bar.” I didn’t even know there was such a term until my mid-20s when I lived near Dive Bar in New York City. This sleek Upper West Side haunt featured a lengthy menu, including seven salads, a growler program and more than 20 wines by the glass.

While I knew Dive Bar was a blasphemous misnomer, I didn’t actually know how to define a real dive bar  because, as it turns out, that was all I knew. Prior to my time in NYC, I had spent most of my drinking years in Kirksville, Mo. There, what I thought were just bars, most people would consider dives.

Since Kirksville – and 10 years of being legal drinking age – I’ve frequented plenty of bars, from the pinnacle of swanky to the epitome of trashy. But whether you call it nostalgia, rose-tinted glasses, or the amazing early-20s ability to never get hangovers, Kirksville bars (and, consequently, dive bars in general), will always have my heart.

Here, my catalog of why I love dive bars, compiled with the help of some seasoned friends. On this commercialized day of love, add your own odes as we celebrate what we truly adore.

The smell. Tomes could be written about that aroma, and the description still wouldn’t get it quite right, but I’ll try: a perfect blend of spilled Schlitz, vomit, fried food (even when the bar doesn’t serve food), cigarette butts, Southern Comfort and a hamster cage.

The hallowed walls. There are outlines where art or memorabilia used to hang because of cigarette smoke stains.

• Speaking of cigarettes, the laws, or lack thereof. Somehow there is smoking, even if the city or town abolished smoking two decades ago.

The hours. The bar opens before the grocery store and is populated by a crowd of regulars who bring the bartender breakfast.

The regulars. They make the bar. They also make fun of those who call themselves regulars.

The wine list. There isn’t one. There are only three wine options, none are written down, and all taste like vinegar.

The lighting. No matter the time of day, it’s dim enough so that even if there was a wine list, you couldn’t read it.

The karaoke. There is no schedule as to when it happens, but you can always count on at least one couple slow dancing when it does.

The jukebox. It’s the real-deal – none of that digital crap. Under the sticky, cloudy glass, there are also mixes available for play created by the bar’s owner and staff.

The random animals. Maybe it’s a dog, or a cat or bird on a shoulder. Or if you’re in Kirksville, it just might be a horse drinking his own pitcher of beer.

The bartender. There is no stereotype. He might be a 90-year-old gunslinger; she might be a 22-year-old hottie. Either way, they’ll probably wait until a commercial to get you a drink. Unless the TV is playing porn.

The stuff. There’s a weird collection of objects on or behind the bar, all of which have stories, most of which are bullshit.

The bathrooms. Even if they have doors, your friend can still talk to you while she’s in there and you’re at the bar.

The popcorn. Nobody knows or cares if it’s free.

The knowledge. The bartender knows who wants to keep his old ice in his next drink because it’s been marinating in Canadian whiskey all afternoon.

The taps. They haven’t been cleaned, ever. Perhaps part of the smell?

The drinks. Stiff is an understatement. There also are no actual instruments to measure a pour.

And lastly, this bar, wherever it’s located, isn’t trying to be a dive bar. And that’s why we love it the most.

 

 

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