kentucky coffee at small batch whiskey & fare photo by meera nagarajan

Shake, stir, sip these six base spirits

Think gin tastes like a Christmas tree? Vowed never again after too many rum and cokes at your cousin’s wedding? Don’t let a bad experience keep you from enjoying the six base spirits – gin, vodka, brandy, tequila, whiskey and rum – in all their stirred and shaken glory. Reconsider what you swore off with these local concoctions.

Kentucky Coffee
Whiskey is so much more than Jack and coke. This cocktail requires several posh tricks to assemble – including fire and an espresso machine — but it’s worth the wait. The resulting concoction has a briskly aromatic nose from the cinnamon and cayenne floated atop vanilla bean-whipped cream. Beneath the frothy crown is a heated blend of Buffalo Trace bourbon, cold-brew coffee and caramelized brown sugar.
Small Batch Whiskey & Fare, 3001 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.380.2040

Pine Revival
Drinking bad gin is a little like licking the side of a spruce. But good gin mixed with the right ingredients may just convert you. Enter the Pine Revival, a vigorously shaken blend of Uncle Val’s fragrant botanical gin, Lillet Blanc, Clockwork Orange liqueur, lemon juice and cardamom bitters. Served in an absinthe-rinsed glass, it’s a sophisticated sip that is at once soft, piney, floral and dry.
The Gin Room, 3200 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.771.3411

Banish the memory of your tequila-shooting youth and embrace agave-spirited adulthood. Tres Agaves Reposado tequila’s warm vanilla notes get along famously with the assertive combo of Dumante espresso liqueur, Cocchi Barolo Chinato, a dash of allspice dram and Angostura bitters. The bar shakes it all up with a whole egg for a creamy, froth-topped finish. But the flavor train doesn’t stop there. A fresh black pepper garnish lingers on the palate to round out this elegant sipper.
Frazer’s Restaurant & Lounge, 1811 Pestalozzi St., St. Louis, 317.773.8646

Backseat Freestyle
You don’t need leather-bound books and a cigar collection to enjoy brandy. Taste’s seasonal cocktail shakes up cranberry-infused cognac with an egg white, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup and whiskey barrel-aged bitters, garnished with a rosemary sprig. This creamy drink starts out spicy on the nose, and then warm cinnamon notes yield to a subtle cranberry tartness and cheery citrus finish. Brandy is no longer just a stuffy libation for Great-Uncle Archibald.
Taste, 4584 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.631.1200

My Basic Girl
Don’t give vodka the cold shoulder. Perhaps the most basic of the base spirits, vodka has few defining flavor notes, making it a blank canvas for bold, full flavors like pumpkin spice. London Vodka, StillJoy Vienna Roast liqueur and house-made pumpkin-spiced simple syrup are shaken with ice and strained. With a crispy, delicate meringue cookie floating on top, it’s a fruity, spiced autumnal treat. It’s also off-menu, so order it by name.
Element, 1419 Carroll St., St. Louis, 314.241.1674

Rum Collins
Sometimes, all it takes to erase the ghosts of rum and cokes past is a simple revision of a classic recipe. The rum Collins is a favorite in Puerto Rico, and it’s not hard to see why. The effervescent first sip, courtesy of fresh lemon juice and a club soda topper, mellows into a slightly sweet, vanilla-hinted finish from Don Q Anejo Puerto Rican rum and simple syrup.
BC’s Kitchen, 11 Meadows Circle Drive No. 400, Lake St. Louis, 636.542.9090

Tags : Cocktails, Places