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Mar 18, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Joel Clark’

First Look: Gezellig in The Grove

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016



The Grove continues to step up its beer game with the recent addition of Gezellig Tap House & Bottleshop. As The Scoop reported in July, owner Brandon Cavanagh closed his music venue, The Demo, to open a beer bar at 4191 Manchester Ave., partially inspired by his travels to Amsterdam.

The Dutch word “gezellig,” Cavanagh explained, refers to a cozy, convivial environment or a sense of togetherness among loved ones. It’s a concept he hopes his bar embodies with its dark wood, Edison lighting and the soft pop of vinyl albums playing over the speakers.

The space can seat up to 80 and serves as both a bar and bottle shop with a wall of refrigerators organized by region. Two are dedicated to local Missouri and Illinois brews like Schlafly, 2nd Shift, Perennial, Logboat and Boulevard. Several national labels are available, as well as international offerings from Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and more. Bottled and canned brews can be purchased for onsite consumption or to-go.

Twenty-eight taps are available, and Cavanagh hopes to keep the selection rotating frequently by only featuring seasonal and special release beers. Local barman and assistant manager Joel Clark supports the beer averse with wine, bottled cocktails and spirits available neat or on the rocks. Look for a tight selection of mostly whiskey, mezcal and gin. Cavanagh said he is currently working with area restaurants Sauce on the Side and The Gramophone to coordinate food delivery, and customers can bring their own carryout to Gezellig.

Gezellig is currently open Tuesday to Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 to 11 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. Here’s a first look at what to expect at The Grove’s new beer bar:


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Photos by Michelle Volansky

Drink This Weekend Edition: A cocktail crush at Sasha’s on Shaw

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Red or white? Neither. The newly introduced cocktail menu at Sasha’s on Shaw gives spirit lovers at least eight different ways to kick back at the wine bar. Developed by local barman Joel Clark, this selection of boozy elixirs keeps in the theme of the wine bar by utilizing grape-derived ingredients including sherry, pisco and even a vodka distilled from the fruit of the vine.




Clark described the Reverse Absinthe Old-Fashioned as an “absinthe slap in the face,” and he wasn’t lying. But the licorice flavor pairs well with the Camus Cognac and Angostura bitters and finishes mildly sweet thanks to dissolved sugar cubes. It’s a very accessible slap in the face, so turn the other cheek and take another sip.




For a more whimsical drink, try the Night Flight to Peru, a pisco-based cocktail that is a little sweet and a little tart when combined with Luxardo Maraschino, lemon juice and violet liqueur.




If you’re a whiskey fan like me, sip on the Fleur de Rieger, a floral and savory whiskey concoction that marries J. Rieger Kansas City Whiskey, Pimm’s No. 1 and Crème Yvette.

Peruse all the new offerings on Sasha’s new interactive menus on iPad minis. Select your category – trust me, start with Spirits – select your drink, and save it to a short list and even email the recipe to yourself.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Charlie Chaplin and tea cocktails at Blank Space

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015


{The Charlie Chaplin at Blank Space}

If you dig the inside baseball of the drinking industry, chances are you’ve made your way over to Motown Mondays at Cherokee Street’s Blank Space. The slow-jam sesh at the visual and performing arts venue, according to owner Kaveh Razani, is a confab of the city’s drink-mixing minds and fertile ground for collusion, invention and hip-gyrating fun.

Seeking reinvention, Razani (whose brother Mazi Razani is a partner at Blueprint Coffee) recently called in an industry favor and consulted with cocktail guru Joel Clark at The Purple Martin nearby. The idea was to wed Blank Space’s estimable tea program and its liquor selection, the bottles of which have been gathering dust on a shelf.

“I’ve always wanted to do tea before I wanted to do liquor,” Razani said, explaining that whatever Blank Space is, its customers seldom view it as a drinking destination. He and Clark set out to change that.

“(Kaveh) said, ‘I want to make hot tea cocktails,’” Clark said. “I said, ‘I’ve never seen anybody do that. Let’s do it.’”

The result is a six-item roster of cocktails of a type you won’t find elsewhere in St. Louis, all of them are available hot or cold. Clark described the 20 hours of R&D that went into perfecting what essentially amounts to an ice-less, shaken cocktail. The necessary dilution that comes from ice now is provided by tea.

Clark had help from others – he lost his sense of smell after a seizure – and mixes drinks now using second opinions and a finely tuned sense of dead reckoning.

The spirits are mixed, shaken and strained before fresh hot tea is poured over the top. (Razani sources from the local ReTrailer mobile teamaker and San Francisco importer Vital Tea Leaf.) I tried the Charlie Chaplin – named for a tattoo on Clark’s forearm – a mix of apricot brandy, sloe gin, lime juice and sweet Drop It Like Its Hot hibiscus tea. Garnished with a floating lime wheel, the cocktail is a lovely shade of magenta, bracingly tart and warm all the way down. Also available is the toddy-like Brooklyn Cocktail, made with rye, dry vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Fernet and mint tea.

You don’t have to wait until Motown Monday to drink the fruits of industry collaboration, mind you. Just be sure to get there this weekend, before the next great idea is conceived.





Sneak Peek: The Purple Martin

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The Purple Martin is opening its doors at 2800 Shenendoah Ave., for a public soft opening tonight, March 19 at 8 p.m., featuring drinks and some samples from the restaurant and bar’s food menu.

Can’t make it tonight? No problem. We’ve got the Sneak Peek on Fox Park’s newest bar and restaurant.

Owner Brooke Roseberry explained that her Mediterranean-inspired bistro is named after the North American swallow, purple martin – a bird that lives in communities and doesn’t nest independently. “It’s a perfect metaphor for community building,” said Roseberry, noting the lack of Fox Park businesses she hopes her restaurant will change. “Purple martins are completely dependent on people to survive,” she said. Because of the swallow’s over-domestication, the eastern variety of the bird must rely on man-made birdhouses for shelter.

Incidentally, general manager D.J. Huchzermeier said purple martins should migrate through St. Louis this week as it flies from north from South America. “It’s serendipitous,” he said.

On The Purple Martin’s menu, developed by Roseberry’s husband Tony Lagouranis, expect to find around four appetizers, three salads, five entrees and some flatbreads. Joel Clark, formerly of Mission Taco Joint and Sanctuaria, has readied the bar menu, which will feature 10 cocktails along with local bottled beer (Roseberry hopes to add taps in the future.) and wines by the glass. Among wine offerings, look for six reds, seven whites, one sparkling and one rosé.

With space for 85 seats inside and 32 on the patio, The Purple Martin will be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to midnight.  The kitchen will serve dinner from 5 to 10 p.m., and down the road, the restaurant hopes to add a Saturday and Sunday brunch.

Here’s what’s in store at The Purple Martin:

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Blank Space to expand on Cherokee Street

Friday, February 14th, 2014



Blank Space, a community arts and event space at 2847 Cherokee St., will soon color its empty canvas with an expanded beverage program following renovations this spring.

Currently, Blank Space patrons can sip pour over coffees, experience gong fu-style tea service and alcoholic beverages at its main bar. Owner Kaveh Razani wants to renovate the second floor and basement to add more event space, bars and seating. He plans to turn the second floor into an airy, “off-the-beaten-path” bar that will include small batch spirits, beer and wine. Updates to the basement could transform Blank Space from a relaxed speakeasy one night to a music venue the next night. “The whole Blank Space mentality is that we are a blank canvas for anyone to come in and experiment,” Razani said.

Bartender Joel Clark is spearheading the new beverage program. Clark, who has experience at Sanctuaria and Mission Taco Joint, said a rotating featured cocktail list will be “very ambitious and very ambiguous” and fit the all-encompassing nature of Blank Space.

Razani has also updated Blank Space’s kitchen to allow for culinary collaboration, too, with the potential for pop-up concepts and guest chefs. While he is open to the idea of a permanent chef, he stressed that any food offerings would change frequently, allowing that person to experiment with seasonal ingredients.

The Blank Space renovations are just one of many changes and additions to the burgeoning Cherokee Street community. As reported by Thomas Crone of St. Louis Magazine, the start of this year also marked the opening of Los Punk at 2709 Cherokee St., an event space and restaurant offering international street food-style dishes. Los Punk joins the ranks alongside Athlete Eats and soon-to-open Yaqui’s on Cherokee and Craft Art Bar.




The Scoop: It’s nearly mission accomplished for Mission Taco

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Last summer, restaurateurs Adam and Jason Tilford announced their plans to open Mission Taco Joint. Renovations are moving along inside the former home of Delmar Lounge at 6235 Delmar Blvd., and the Tilford brothers are aiming to unlock doors during the last week of February.

With opening day just weeks away, Jason gave The Scoop a peek at a draft version of the food menu he developed. The tightly focused menu begins with a handful of shared appetizers. Highlights include crab taquitos as well as roasted mushrooms with huitlachoche, goat cheese and arugula presented in a fried corn masa base called a huarache. A la carte tacos include popular choices such as baja fish and carne asada, but Mission gets creative with quite a few others, such as the chile-roasted duck with crisp pork belly and avocado serrano sauce. The menu also beckons for vegetarians with options like a roasted cactus taco or one featuring the local product Mofu tofu. The restaurant will feature giant Mission-style burritos wrapped in house-made tortillas, plus tortas served on telera rolls from Diana’s Bakery. Diners looking for a square meal can round things out with side dishes like fire-grilled vegetable quinoa and chayote calabacitas.

Joel Clark, who recently departed from Sanctuaria, will be helming the beverage program. Clark stated that the bar at Mission Taco Joint will be “a very culinary bar,” explaining that “as many fresh ingredients the kitchen is going to get, I’m going to get the same.” The focus on fresh will be seen in the likes of numerous flavors of agua fresca and horchata, available in virgin form or as alcoholic beverages. In addition, he plans on aligning beverages – not just cocktails, but also beer and wine – with the food. “I’m going to work really closely with the kitchen,” he commented. Clark, who’s been part of a local movement in progressive bartending, plans to continue in that direction, preparing house-made ingredients like syrups and shrubs (No flavored vodkas, sorry.) and noted that the Mission bartending crew will be quite capable of crafting classic cocktails. “I want [the bar] to be an extension of [the kitchen] as well as a bar on its own,” Clark said.

The Scoop: A round of bartending news

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

With beverage programs holding their weight against food menus these days, it’s not enough to simply keep up with what the chefs around town are up to. A trio of talented area bartenders are doing some moving and shaking worthy of notice.

Jamie Kilgore, the bartender at Cielo Bar and Restaurant whose face adorned the December cover of Sauce magazine and whose drinking advice got us through the holiday season, has given notice that she will be leaving the downtown restaurant inside The Four Seasons-St. Louis. Kilgore will be joining her husband, Ted Kilgore of Taste, as part of his new project, The Plantar’s House, a cocktail bar targeted to open mid-year.

Also, Jason Reed, who has worked behind the stick at Salt and briefly at newly opened Basso at The Cheshire, will be leaving Salt to develop the cocktail program for the recently announced Table.

Table is the communal dining restaurant to be located in Benton Park in the space formerly occupied by The Stable. Chef Cassy Vires and her husband Josh Renbarger of Home Wine Kitchen are behind that project and hope to have doors open by June.

Finally, Joel Clark (pictured) has left Sanctuaria. Clark, who jumped aboard the bar train at Sanctuaria more than two years ago, informed The Scoop that his final day at the restaurant was December 20. While Clark plans to remain a member of the St. Louis bartending community, his plans are still to be determined.

— photo by Jonathan Gayman

Drink This Weekend Edition: Trick or treat? Can you get tell me how to get a drink on Sesame Street?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Politics makes for Halloween fodder. Last year, my own son dressed as a down-and-out Wall Street occupier. This year, we’ve heard about the run on Big Bird costumes, what with the poor creature from peace-loving Sesame Street having been surreptitiously caught in the middle of a battle between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. The affable character’s wings are getting yanked so hard on both sides; he might just get his big yellow flappers ripped off.

Kill Big Bird? Now that would be a topsy-turvy world. But so is one where Big Bird sets down his teddy bear, Radar, and picks up a cocktail. Then again, Halloween is about make-believe, so you can pretend the night away on this particular holiday. And at that Halloween party, be sure that when you raise a glass of Big Bird Punch, you toast the 42-years-and-running TV show that most likely defined your childhood and taught you bipartisanship, otherwise known as getting along. (Editor’s note: Neither this article nor this drink has been endorsed or approved by the Children’s Television Workshop.)

Big Bird Punch
Courtesy of Sanctuaria’s Joel Clark
20 4-oz. servings

30 oz. Hayman’s Old Tom gin
15 oz. lemon juice
15 oz. pineapple juice
7½ oz. Yellow Chartreuse
7½ oz. cinnamon syrup (recipe follows)
Yellow pansies (optional garnish)

• Combine all of the ingredients in a large container and dilute with ice to taste.
• Once the punch reaches the desired dilution, strain it from the leftover ice and either transfer it to a large punch bowl and serve, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
• For added yellow color, float yellow pansies or other edible flowers in the punch bowl.

Cinnamon syrup

5 cinnamon sticks
10 oz. water
1 cup sugar

• Break each cinnamon stick into 3 sections crosswise.
• Combine all of the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil.
• Once the liquid reaches a boil, immediately remove it from heat and let it sit for 20 minutes.
• Discard the cinnamon sticks.
• Strain the syrup through a colander lined with cheesecloth into a bowl.

Note: This recipe yields slightly more syrup than the amount called for in Big Bird Punch, but when preparing the punch, be sure to only use 7½ ounces.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Where to sip Cardinal Sin

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Area bartenders are eager to shake and stir local, quality products into their cocktails. When it comes to vodka, they’re giving a nod to Cardinal Sin, a small-batch vodka that St. Louis Distillery launched a few months ago.

Like many vodkas, Cardinal Sin is crisp and clean. Contrary to many unflavored vodkas, though, it has a full-bodied, almost buttery mouth feel. According to distiller Greg Deters, the artisan spirit is achieved thanks in part to the recipe (that uses a mash bill of Midwestern malted corn and northern plains barley) but also to the advanced technology of his still.

“We’re able to, with one distillation, get the heads, hearts and tails more precisely separated,” explained Deters. Through batch distillation instead of continuous distillation, he said, “Once the still does its work, we can manually go in and more accurately slice off the tails and heads.”

Thus, Cardinal Sin vodka reaches its purest form the first time it passes through the still (unlike the four, five, six or more times that many vodka producers like to tout these days), yet it still retains the flavor and aroma that give it character.

Earlier this week, a handful of bartenders assembled at vodka haven SubZero in the Central West End to hear Deters discuss the operations at St. Louis Distillery and to share a few Cardinal Sin-inspired libations. Looking to taste what the pros concocted? Here are three places where you can sin with pleasure this weekend.

At SubZero, bar manager Dustin Parres has created The Homegrown Sin (pictured, center). Parres’ garden-fresh libation includes Cardinal Sin, Thatcher’s organic elderflower liqueur and a house-made cucumber syrup topped with club soda and a cucumber garnish. At Salt, Matt Obermark is offering the Spiced Collins (pictured, left). For this summery, sprightly Collins, Obermark combines Cardinal Sin with another local product, The Big O ginger liqueur, along with house-made honey syrup, lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters and a splash of club soda. Want something boozier? Try Essential Sin (pictured, right): a vodka martini created by Joel Clark of Sanctuaria. Clark uses a three-to-one ratio of Cardinal Sin vodka and dry vermouth, then he adds depth of flavor with orange bitters and a dash of house-made brown butter sage liqueur before garnishing the drink with an orange twist.

If three sins aren’t enough for you, Deters mentioned that St. Louis Distillery will soon be looking for local bartenders to create cocktails inspired by each of the seven cardinal sins. Get ready to go to confession.

Drinks by three St. Louis Bartenders named among 101 best new cocktails of 2012

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Congratulations to three area bartenders whose drinks were selected by bartending legend Gaz Regan to be among the 101 Best New Cocktails of 2012. Ted Kilgore of Taste by Niche, TJ Vytlacil of Blood & Sand and Joel Clark of Sanctuaria each submitted drink recipes that impressed Regan enough to make the final cut.

While the cocktails themselves have yet to be announced, the list of the bartenders who concocted these tasty beverages is posted on the Ardent Spirits website that Regan hosts. Each of the winning drink recipes will be published in Gaz Regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails 2012, which should be available in mid- to late June. Regan has written a bevy of beloved cocktail books including The Bartender’s Bible, The Joy of Mixology and The Bartender’s Gin Compendium.

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