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Jan 21, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Mathis’

First Look: Westport Social in Maryland Heights

Friday, September 8th, 2017



Get in touch with your inner child at Westport Social, which opened earlier this month at 910 Westport Plaza Drive in Maryland Heights.

The cavernous, adults-only space – almost 14,000 square feet – is billed as a “classic bar and gaming lounge” with an extensive selection of beer, wine and house cocktails, elevated pub grub and an adult playground with all manner of diversions.

Patrons can grab a drink and try their hands at bocce ball, table tennis, foosball, or even shoot a few free throws. Those who don’t feel like playing can catch the latest college or pro game of the moment on banks of ginormous TVs or play rock star in the karaoke lounge on the second floor.

Westport Social pairs industrial elements like ultra-high ceilings, exposed ductwork and brick walls with warm wood, metal and leather accents. An entire wall in the front of the space features a colorful mural highlighting Westport amenities. There’s plenty of room for 175 or so to spread out at two bars, tables, patio seating with fire pits and indoor alcoves replete with upholstered armchairs, rockers and couches.

The menu features several shared plates and pub fare like pulled pork or chicken sliders, burnt end nachos and meat skewers. Tacos, pizzas and a handful of entree-sized plates are available, as well. The beverage program at Westport Social is rife with libations from curated wine and beer lists to classic and house cocktails available solo or by the pitcher.

Westport Social is open Tuesday to Sunday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Here’s a First Look at Westport’s newest happy hour hotspot:


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Photos by Meera Nagarajan

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 


Readers’ Choice 2015: Bartender of the Year – Ted Kilgore

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015



{From left, Kyle Mathis, Seth Wahlman and Bess Kretsinger with Bartender of the Year Ted Kilgore}

Whether it’s serving up seasonal cocktails, perfecting the classics or putting new twists on old favorites, this year’s top bartenders won you over with their creativity and craftsmanship. Here’s what they want to mix most when you see them behind the stick this summer.

Bartender of the Year: Ted Kilgore at Planter’s House
The Drink: Gin Soaked Boy
What’s in it: Citadelle gin, Ransom Old Tom gin, Nolet’s gin, sloe gin, fino sherry, cinnamon syrup and lemon juice
Why it’s great: “It’s super refreshing, beautiful and quite boozy. Our bartender Mandi Kowalski actually came up with it, and I love the whole package. The name is also the name of a Tom Waits song, and I love Tom Waits. It also includes my favorite gins and looks phenomenal when you’re drinking it. It’s aromatic, beautiful and nostalgic.”

Second Place: Kyle Mathis at Taste
The Drink: Walla Walla Bing Bang
What’s in it: El Dorado spiced rum, North Shore Mighty gin, Smith & Cross Jamaica rum, passion fruit, cinnamon syrup, grapefruit and lime juices
Why it’s great: “It’s sweet and fruit-forward from passion fruit and house-made cinnamon syrup. I loved the challenge of putting gin and rum together – the botanical nature of gin and sweetness of rum are polar opposites.”

Third Place: Bess Kretsinger at Olio 
The Drink: Ramos Gin Fizz
What’s in it: Boodles gin, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices, orange blossom water, egg whites, cream and sugar
Why it’s great: “This drink is in honor of Tennessee Williams. He was fond of the (Ramos) Gin Fizz. It’s not a super esoteric drink, but it’s based on his roots. It’s a simple but obscure cocktail.”

Honorable Mention: Seth Wahlman at Eclipse Restaurant
The Drink: Year Old Manhattan
What’s in it: Rittenhouse rye, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, Pierre Ferrand Dry curaçao and Angostura bitters
Why it’s great: “I started this project about four years ago. I batch a full glass bottle of Manhattans and rest them in our storage cellar for at least a year. The cocktail begins to take on sherry- and Madeira-like qualities. … I’m always surprised by flavors I hadn’t picked up in previous tastings.”

-photo by Emily Suzanne

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

St. Louis bartenders shake up Popfest 2013

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

082713_popfest1{From left: Justin Cardwell, Kyle Mathis, Jayne Pellegrino, Matt Obermark}

The Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival in Kansas City, Mo., the largest gathering of its kind in the Midwest, concluded Sunday with much fanfare. St. Louis was well represented at Popfest with two competitors, Kyle Mathis of Taste and Mandi Kowalski of Sanctuaria competing in an individual bartending competition Sunday evening. The audience voted Kowlaski one of two crowd favorites. St. Louis bartenders Justin Cardwell, Jayne Pellegrino, Kyle Mathis and I also won the Midwest Melee, an event for cocktail bragging rights among four-person teams from Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and Denver.


082713_popfest2{From left: Mandi Kowalski, Kyle Mathis}

Events at the five-day festival took place at Kansas City establishments like The Rieger Hotel, Kill Devil Club and The American Restaurant and were focused on the city’s drinking roots. This included Popfest founder Ryan Maybe’s homage via cocktail to early 20th-century corrupt political boss, Tom Pendergast. Events were well attended and well enjoyed by St. Louis cocktailians and hospitality industry professionals.

PopFest also offered education seminars lead by industry experts, covering everything from mezcal to beer cocktails. The latter proved the best attended and most celebrated of the week. Hosted at the Boulevard Brewery and lead by former St. Louisian Chad George, Adam Seger and Boulevard’s Andy Jenkins, the group discussed how to capitalize on the recent trend of using beer as a cocktail ingredient. The Eulogy, their rift on a Last Word, balanced gin, green chartreuse, jasmine liqueur and sugar with Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

The Eulogy
1 serving

1 ½ oz. London dry gin
¾ oz. green chartreuse
½ oz. Fruitlab Jasmine Liqueur
¼ oz. simple syrup
1 ½ oz. Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale

Build the gin, green chartreuse, jasmine liqueur and simple syrup in a shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the Tank 7 and gently stir to incorporate ingredients.

-Photos courtesy of Jacqui and Michael Segura of Cocktail Ambassador

This week, Ligaya Figueras is obsessed with…

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013



{Local artisan chocolatiers make some phenomenal sweets, but when San Fran-based Poco Dolce bittersweet tiles finished with grey sea salt came across my desk recently, it was hard not to reach for a square. And another. And another. The texture on this dark chocolate is so smooth and the flavor barely sweet – the perfect pick-me-up for a gal whose palate sways toward savory.}


{When Nick Del Gaiso, exec chef at new Clayton sports bar The Wheelhouse didn’t see the numbers he wanted for orders of smelt chips, he didn’t pull them off the menu. Instead, he piled the crunchy creatures onto a smelt po’ boy fit for a rich man. Now we’re all winning with this weekly special.}



{Last month, Kyle Mathis of Taste earned a spot at the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender finals, which take place in September in Las Vegas, with his Bombay gin-inspired Pattu Punch. But Justin Cardwell of BC’s Kitchen deserves kudos for his runner-up drink, Making Love to a Tonic and Gin, that featured homemade tonic syrup turned fizzy with a soda siphon, the happiest garnish of bright lime zest spirals, and pearls of piney juniper berries. Gin lovers, order it!}



The Scoop: Four St. Louis bartenders to compete at Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013



What began in 2006 as the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition has grown to become the Midwest’s largest annual cocktail festival. Paris of the Plains, or PopFest as it has been dubbed, returns this month to Kansas City and promises five days of cocktail parties, seminars, spirits tastings and competitions. In previous years, St. Louis sent some of its most talented bartenders to participate in the finale cocktail competition, and this year is no different. Kyle Mathis, bar manager of Taste, and Mandi Kowalski of Sanctuaria will go head-to-head against other bartenders from the region in this individual competition.

PopFest is adding more excitement to the stir-and-shake stage this year with a team bartending competition, the Midwest Melee. Bartending teams from Kansas City, Denver, Chicago and St. Louis will face off in a battle that will determine not only which team makes the best drinks, but also who can do it the fastest. Representing St. Louis will be Justin Cardwell of BC’s Kitchen, Matt Obermark of now-defunct Salt and current consultant at The Agrarian, Jayne Pellegrino of Blood & Sand and Kyle Mathis of Taste.

Feel like cheering on this city’s top bartenders? PopFest is just an interstate away and all festival events are open to the public, although tickets are required. (Tickets are free for those in the food and beverage industry.). The Midwest Melee is scheduled for Aug. 22. The Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition is slated for Aug. 25. Go here for more information.



The Scoop: Ted Kilgore leaving Taste to open The Planter’s House

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Ted Kilgore, arguably St. Louis’ most well-known bartender, is leaving his post as beverage director at Taste to open a cocktail bar in Lafayette Square called The Planter’s House.

Kilgore isn’t going solo in this new venture, which will be located in the building (pictured) at 1000 Mississippi Ave., at the corner of Chouteau and Mississippi Avenues. He’s teaming up with business partner Ted Charak, currently bar manager at Taste’s sister restaurant, Brasserie, in the Central West End. Charak joined the French bistro in the summer of 2010. Among the highlights of his 10 years in the bar biz is opening nationally recognized craft cocktail bar Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Ore., in 2006.

Since doors won’t open at The Planter’s House until mid-2013, Kilgore will remain behind the Taste bar for the next four to six months. “It just depends on how our project goes,” Kilgore said. After that, he will stay on board as a beverage consultant for Craft Restaurants, chef-owner Gerard Craft’s family of four eateries.

What will the next phase of Taste look like? “We aren’t going to lose any of Taste’s original concept,” said Taste GM Jack Noecker of the modern speakeasy that has received national aplomb. “There are a lot of people who have put a ton of work into learning, sometimes under the shadow of Ted. It’s an awesome opportunity for them.”

Taking over as bar manager will be Kyle Mathis, who has worked at Taste since February and has worked on and off at Craft’s various other restaurants since 2008. Other bartenders at Taste include: Mathis’ brother, Corey Mathis; Joel Burton; Heather Dodderer, who has worked at Taste since its infancy; and Diana Benante. (Kyle Mathis and Benante recently tied for the highest score among all examinees on the written portion of the Bar Smarts advanced course exam, a bartender education and certification program.)

Kilgore noted that he’s currently working with Mathis and Noecker so that they can “drive the ship in the same direction it’s been going. We don’t want it to change, just grow.”

Although Kilgore built the cocktail program from the ground up when Taste opened in fall 2009, recipe and menu development have become a collaborative effort, as is visible with the current menu. Kyle Mathis expects future menus to remain the product of “a team effort,” and reassured balance and great taste in all drinks. “Everyone knows Ted’s rules of mixology,” he said of the Taste bartending team.

Kilgore’s departure isn’t the only news on the beverage side for Craft Restaurants. Craft has hired Michael David Murphy as beverage director for all of his restaurants. “We’re developing a cocktail trending strategy to take the Taste mentality to Niche, Brasserie and Pastaria as well,” Craft explained. “With a formalized training process in place, we can continue to develop the cocktail and overall beverage programs for all of our restaurants.” Murphy, a certified sommelier who is currently studying for the Advanced Sommelier exam, has worked as GM at both Niche and Brasserie and managed the wine lists at both locations. He also spent time in Kansas City working for a wine distributor, during which time he served as president of the Kansas City chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. “We’re trying to look at the group of restaurants and offer the same type of quality in beverages as the food,” explained Murphy. “To do that, you have to train and educate your staff.” Murphy is currently beverage director at Remy’s Kitchen and Wine Bar in Clayton and will officially take up his new post on January 1.

As for The Planter’s House, there’s still much to decide about this bar named after a famous turn-of-the-century St. Louis hotel. “I don’t want to pigeonhole anything,” responded Kilgore when asked about the design for the space – it will include the first floor and a large outdoor patio – and whether food will factor into the equation. Will his bartender wife Jamie Kilgore, who appears on this month’s cover of Sauce, spend time behind the stick at The Planter’s House? Another unknown. One thing Kilgore is certain about: “It’s going to be a great bar.”

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