olio​ bar manager john fausz photo by elizabeth jochum

Chat with Olio​ bar manager John Fausz

John Fausz, bar manager at Olio, mixes drinks with a cultural and historical ken, returning to the classic components of a respectable cocktail: gin, bitters and vermouth. Over the marble bartop at Olio, where Fausz coaches journeyman cocktail enthusiasts, he’ll drop little A-grade bits of spirit wisdom on you: Rye is better for mixing, bourbon for drinking. Good ingredients and delivery always outclass theatrics. And with a little finesse, herbal and mineral flavors become the antidote to years of oversugared, overmixed drinks.

“(Olio) is so Old World in spirit,” Fausz said. The bar menu underscores that belief, from the acidic, lambic-like Ramos de Valle cider from Spain to the classic Adonis cocktail (sherry, sweet vermouth, orange bitters) to pacharán, a Basque liqueur made from sloeberries that dates to the Middle Ages. Also a certified sommelier, Fausz has dialed in on a roster of unusual, rustic wines, like the Grosjean Gamay, a spicy Beaujolais-esque Italian. There is something atypical, historical, even a little magical at work here. That’s the Old World, transmuted over.

Above all, Fausz is a dreamer, seeing the cocktail movement in St. Louis for what it can continue to be: a mechanism for revitalization and community-building. Our readers are noticing – the bartenders and bar programs they gave nods to this year are singular examples of mighty imaginations, forward-thinking ones, mixing their vision with a jiggerful of St. Louis’ past. Add ice. Shake.