Drink off menu at Westport Social
If you think all Westport Social has to offer are games, some yummy eats and a standard beverage selection, think again. Although the rotating cocktail list is quite inventive, bar manager Kyle Mathis is pushing the envelope regarding what a volume bar offers, ensuring you can quaff all your favorite off-menu libations, from an Aviation to a Sazerac and everything in between.
“One of our biggest objectives is to give people an opportunity to step outside their comfort zone,” Mathis said. “We carry a lot of spirits needed for some of those out-there classics. Volume bars typically limit the amount of hand selling, but we’re willing to take time to converse with our guests.”
Allspice Dram, for example, is utilized in winter cocktails to add savory components, while crème de violette adds sweet, floral notes to drinks like the Aviation. Green chartreuse adds spicy-sweet herbal layers to cocktails like the Last Word, and Luxardo Maraschino imparts fruity notes to the Last Word and Aviation, along with the on-menu frozen bellini. And the Brazilian spirit cachaça imbues drinks like a Caipirinha with herbal, floral flavors.
“They’re not featured much on the menu, but we use them on a regular basis because we have the opportunity and demand to make these cocktails that aren’t necessarily available elsewhere,” Mathis said.
Westport Social also offers a range of Massenez Garden Party herbal liqueurs, from mint and rosemary to sage, thyme and basil.
“They’re a nice way for us to add fresh, herbal flavors without actually having to use fresh herbs, which are notorious for slowing down service,” he said. “If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, come in and ask, ‘What’s a classic cocktail off menu that I might like?’ And the bartenders will work with you to help you pick a good flavor profile.”
Although the off-menu options are phenomenal, the selections on the menu are always worth trying.
“I tend to think of cocktails in a culinary sense – I’ll look at food pairings that match well and try to translate that into a beverage,” Mathis said. “We do a lot of interesting stuff you don’t see many other places. We’re not afraid to put scotch in a cocktail, like in our B. Foster, which is a take on a White Russian with Cinnamon Toast Crunch-infused almond milk, Johnny Walker red scotch, Big O ginger liqueur and caffe amaro. Even though it may scare a few people away, we feel confident to put it in front of most patrons. ”
Mathis creates distinctive combinations in other drinks too.
“The frozen Paloma is a fun one,” he said. “Mixing gin and tequila seems slightly odd, but some of the green vegetal characteristics in the jalepeno-infused tequila work really well with the aromatic, herbal components in gin. ... I look up natural flavor affinities and work from there.”
The bar also offers a good selection of local beers from breweries like 4 Hands Brewing Co. and Rockwell Beer Co., along with some more unique options like Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn and Mother’s Social Brew.
“We also try to keep a dedicated limited release line,” Mathis said. “In the wintertime, we do some of the barrel-aged stouts. In the spring and summer, we try to do some of the more limited IPAs and sours.”
The menus are updated every spring and fall, but rest assured you’ll always be able to order your favorite cocktails.
“Even if you aren’t coming in necessarily to drink, one of the best parts about this place is that we support the most diverse clientele I’ve ever seen in a bar,” Mathis said. “We have a laid-back vibe with an attentive but not overbearing staff, plus it’s just a huge space that’s really inviting.”
For more information, visit westportsocial-stl.com.
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