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St. Louis’ Guide to Drinking 2013 independent culinary authority

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Guide to Drinking 2013


Guide to Drinking 2013

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Guide to Drinking 2013


beer

beer nerds unite It makes perfect sense that the headquarters for hardcore beer-can collectors is right here in beer town. The Brewery Collectibles Club of America (formerly called the Beer Can Collectors of America) is located in an average, unassuming office in an industrial park in Fenton, but from there, the club coordinates 3,500 members in 106 chapters spread throughout the land. Legions of collectors who’ve turned their homes into beer can shrines seek solace with the BCCA, which provides bimonthly periodicals, beer memorabilia price guides, and camaraderie at the annual “Canvention” where the whole gang gets together. Since 1970, the BCCA has been a resource for those

who collect beer cans, bottles, coasters, neon signs, trays, bottle openers, tap knobs, glasses, mirrors, matchbooks and the like. And, as in every hobby, there are “holy grail” items – cans like the Budweiser “Crowntainer,” a 1940s-era prototype never released to the public that sold for a whopping $20,000 in a private sale, said Kevin Kious, office manager at the BCCA. Locally, the BCCA Gateway chapter boasts 160 members, many who enjoy collecting regional breweriana from the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Falstaff, Griesedieck Brothers, Hyde Park, Lemp, Stag, and Alpen Brau, a beer introduced by the Columbia Brewing Co. at the 1904 World’s Fair, explained Kious. Since hobbies have a way of creeping up and spreading

out, in collectors’ homes there can be conjugal battles over all the empty beer cans lining the walls. “Some spouses barely tolerate the cans, but some are active participants,” said Kious. “It’s led to a few divorces, but it’s also led to a few marriages.” At BCCA chapter meetings and conventions, membership tends to be on the older side, but thanks to the rise of craft breweries, young blood is flowing into the hobby. “The craft brewers have resurrected the whole industry,” Kious said. In the 70s, all you could buy in the liquor store was lager slop. No one would have predicted this 40 years ago. The industry has come full circle, and now with craft breweries canning many of their beers, it’s an exciting time for us.” – Byron Kerman

WINE IN GOOD COMPANY By Ligaya Figueras with Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore and Cory King

The beverage scene is buzzing with action – from our ever-growing local brewing and distilling community to award-winning arrivals from Missouri wine country, as well as hot spots from around the globe. Read on for the beers, wines and liquors to put on your must-try list. Guide to Drinking 2013

Elaia is in the company of celebrated restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Jean-Georges and The NoMad Hotel in being one of just nine restaurants in the country to carry wines by Element Winery. Element, one of the most exciting wineries in the Finger Lakes region of the Empire State, was co-founded in 2005 by recently minted Master Sommelier Christopher Bates.

SHOW-ME WHITES

TRIPLE CROWN WINNER

“Last year’s harvest was incredible,” said Mount Pleasant Estates president Charles Dressel regarding white grape varietals grown in Missouri. Keep an eye out for the just-released 2012 chardonnays, vidal blancs and chardonels by Missouri wineries, including Chardonel by Montelle Winery and an unoaked chardonel by Chaumette Vineyards & Winery.

At this year’s Missouri Wine Competition, Stone Hill Winery took not one, but three, top honors for its Estate Bottled Norton 2011: Best of Class in the dry red category, C.V. Riley Award for Best Norton, and the Governor’s Cup, aka, Missouri’s best wine of the year.

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the big game

Amsterdam Tavern

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Guide to Drinking 2013

Photo by jonathan gayman

where to watch

While rooting for your favorite team, the Gateway City has countless spots to wet (or drench) your cheering whistle – whether you favor cans of cheap Stag, local craft brews or specialty cocktails. To help pare down your options, we’ve compiled a guide that matches sporting events with our favorite game-day hangouts so your hoots and hollers will never fall on deaf ears. — Matt Berkley


Though cosmopolitan sounding to firsttimers, Amsterdam Tavern is the closest approximation to a blue-collar European corner pub that the Midwest can muster – minus the hooligans and obnoxious scarves. Here, you’re more likely to be bear-hugged by a stranger celebrating a goal than witness an actual bar fight. European football (soccer, to us Yanks) and random rugby matches abound on eight TV screens – including three outside on the expanded patio where cheerful groups of friends pack rows of wooden picnic tables teeming with pints. Game time specials include $15 buckets of Anheuser-Busch products and cans of Pabst, but the majority of this crowd is more than content to pony up the $4 to $6 for a frosty pint of Guinness, Strongbow, Civil Life Brown or Urban Chestnut Zwickel to wash down a triple-stack burger from The Dam – the newly opened burger/hot dog/ sandwich joint next door.

amsterdam tavern

rowdy frat boys and die-hard Billiken fans. Game days see crowds covered in blue overflowing the bar and pounding a few quick rounds before sojourning across the street to Chaifetz Arena, which is only stumbling distance away. Yet, those who stick around hardly miss out: Patrons enjoy 16 TVs (five of which are projection screens) and 20 beers on tap (nearly all of them from local breweries). Game day specials cater exclusively to AnheuserBusch devotees – the most popular being $7.50 pitchers of Bud Light and $5 pitchers of Natty.

Field House Pub & Grill, 510 Theresa Ave., St. Louis, 314.289.0311, fieldhousestl.com

Tucked away on a side street off of Olive, Field House Pub & Grill is the watering hole of choice for

Over/Under Bar & Grille, 911 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.621.8881, overunderstl.com

the post sports bar & grill

Amsterdam Tavern, 3175 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, 314.772.8224, amsterdamtavern.com

field house pub & grill

one before hoofing it the rest of the way to nearby Edward Jones Dome. Entirely sports-centric, the laid-back bar maintains more of a highbrow fan base than your average corner pub – expect to see more vodka tonics sipped than cans of Natty Light. The appetizer menu lists scallops, fondue and crabcakes alongside more ubiquitous offerings of chicken wings, quesadillas and fries. Nearly 40 HD flat-screens – including two personal HD TVs in each booth – entertain patrons who guzzle 16- and 20-ounce drafts of mainly high-end imports and local craft brews.

Drafts are poured tall in this stylish Washington Avenue sports lounge, where young professionals in loosened ties mingle with jerseyclad superfans stopping for a quick

over/under bar & grille

Designed by guys for guys, The Post Sports Bar & Grill is a prime retreat destination – especially during hockey season. Flat-screen TVs cover pretty much every inch of this man cave, where the air is thick with wafts of wing sauce. Twenty foreign and domestic beers are offered on tap at this Maplewood-based sports fan mecca (with a new location in Creve Coeur), but when the puck drops, Blues fans are more likely to hit up the draft special: 22-ounce pulls of Michelob Golden,

RTD cocktails

burger photo by michelle volansky

ETNA ERUPTS

spirits

“This is cutting edge stuff in the wine industry,” said A. Bommarito Wines’ Denny Campo in regard to the wines made from grapes grown in the foothills and slopes surrounding Mount Etna in Sicily. “Etna could be another Burgundy because of the diverse micro-climates that exist in the appellation.” Try Tascante, an Etna Rosso (or red), by Tasca d’Almerita, or Prephylloxera, an Etna Rosso from producer Tenuta delle Terre Nere. Guide to Drinking 2013

The Land of the Rising Sun is heating up with all things alcoholic. Hard-to-find Yamazaki is a favorite to wet your whiskey whistle, but if you’re willing to break the bank, try Nikka Yoichi. The Wine Merchant’s Dave Davis called this 15-year single malt, aged in bourbon and sherry casks, his whiskey of the year. And while you’re there, wow your sake off with light and fruity market newbie Ichishima Silk Deluxe Junmai. Beer? Hitachino Nest White Ale. Order it at Mai Lee and Hiro Asian Kitchen. Kanpai!

Japan on the rise

Ready-to-drink cocktails are everywhere. For convenience and quality, try Fluid Dynamics bottled cocktails or The 36th Vote, a barrelaged Manhattan by High West Distillery. While St. Louis has yet to see a local bartender launch a line of bottled cocktails (like Charles Joly of Chicago’s The Aviary just did with his brand Crafthouse), local spots Little Country Gentleman and Cielo are bottling some crafty ‘tails in-house.

Coors, Miller Light, Pabst, Bud and Bud Light for $3.50.

The Post Sports Bar & Grill, 7372 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.645.1109, thepostsportsbar.com

Cardinals fans can pick from innumerable sports bars, but the view into Busch Stadium from the nest atop Three Sixty’s rooftop keeps Redbird fanatics flocking back every season to queue up to the impressive patio bar. From private school princesses to beer-bellied Joe six packs, every style of drinker can be spotted here during home games. Knowing they won’t have a problem filling seats at this rooftop ultra-lounge, Three Sixty’s management opts out of the whole game time “drink special” concept during baseball season. Yet, drafts like Stella Artois, Shock Top, Blue Moon, Urban Chestnut Winged Nut Ale and seasonal Schlafly aren’t priced as astronomically as the beer vendors over at the stadium. Plus, patrons looking for something more special can throw back a house-infused cocktail.

three sixty

Three Sixty, Hilton at the Ballpark, One S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314.241.8439, 360-stl.com

You’ve become acquainted with Campari and Aperol. It’s time to meet Suze. Now that this French aperitif liqueur has arrived stateside, we’re itching for Suze to reach our neck of the woods where we predict bartenders are going to use it in some mean cocktails. At home, we plan to sip spicy, fruity and delicately bitter Suze on ice and to combine it with tonic, crème de cassis and, yes, even Coke.

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wine

spin the

Are you a boring wine drinker or just a drinker of boring wine? “In a rut” connotes a difficulty in mixing things up. When it comes to drinking wine, some common ruts are chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, white zinfandel and pinot grigio. On their own, they can be interesting wines – even great (except for the white zin) – but can grow tiresome if you find your rut running deep. – Glenn Bardgett

bottle Chardonnay/White Burgundy

Cabernet Sauvignon

Why you like it It’s reliable in quality. Try Friulano: This Italian wine creates good acidity and more weight than most whites. Buy Bastianich Friulano 2011, $20. It’s made by Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali with the idea of making food taste better.

Why you like it You think you’re supposed to like it. Try Rioja: Spain’s Tempranillo grape excels in this outstanding region and can even mimic its northern neighbor in Bordeaux, France. Buy Ontañón Rioja Reserva 2004, $24. It features greater complexity and softer tannins than cabernet.

New Haven-based distiller Pinckney Bend is already distributed in seven states. Its next market may well be overseas. The small-batch distillery recently participated in a trade delegation to China to explore market opportunities for Missouri agricultural products in the northern provinces of Xinjiang and Shandong. And while Mastermind Vodka is on shelves and behind bars in Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska – with Kansas coming soon – the company’s new LPR Moonshine is in negotiations with Latin America.

Local spirits take flight Guide to Drinking 2013

Merlot

White Zinfandel

Pinot Grigio

Why you like it You don’t have to think about it. Try Côtes du Rhone: the area of southern France where Grenache dominates Buy J. L. Chave Mon Coeur 2011, $22. It loves food and has tons of flavor, easy tannins and exotically charming aromas.

Why you like it It’s fruity, sweet and lighter in alcohol. Try Lambrusco: Unlike your father’s Riunite, this is a “real” Italian wine with a noticeable sweetness and a fun fizziness. Buy Cavicchioli 1928 Lambrusco (N.V.), $10. At 7.5 percent alcohol, you can drink this very cold, and it’s still greatly refreshing, especially with barbecue.

Why you like it You don’t like the oakiness and higher alcohol of chardonnay; also, pinot grigio is easier to pronounce. Try Grüner Veltliner from Austria Buy Nigl Grüner Veltliner 2011, $22. It’s the love child of dry riesling and pinot grigio.

Boilermakers go highbrow

beer

A beer and a shot of whiskey is a time-honored combo, but we’re seeing the boilermaker (Yes, the onetwo punch does have a classy name.) get classed up on both coasts as bartenders put some creative brewand-spirits couplings on drink menus. What whiskey pairs best with 4 Hands Brewing Co.’s Divided Sky Rye IPA or Schlafly’s Black Lager Schwarzbier? We’re waiting for Show-Me guys and gals behind the stick to show us.

With the recent openings of Alpha Brewing, Excel Brewing, Kaskaskia Brewing and Scratch Brewing, there are now 23 breweries within 75 miles of downtown St. Louis. But the revolution is hardly over. Look for Heavy Riff, Side Project Brewing and Modern Brewery to open in the near future, while Urban Chestnut’s second brewing facility is expected to open in The Grove early next year.

You say you want a revolution

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Age of a truly grand bottle of Grand Marnier

Number of International Bittering Units in Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, on a 100-point scale. Hops fans will be pleased to know this bitter brew also earned a 100 from Rate Beer

Cocktails available at BC’s Kitchen by the end of this month

Get it at The Wine Merchant.

Get it at The Wine and Cheese Place.

Perfect score Rate Beer gave to Stone Beer Ruination IPA

Age of the Argentinean vines used to produce Llama Malbec 2011

Get it at Randall’s.

Get it at Balaban’s Wine Cellar & Tapas Bar.

Years since the death of Adolphus Busch, co-founder of Anheuser-Busch

Whether it’s the age, the price or the perfect rating, when it comes to our favorite libations, the number 100 almost always means good things. — Catherine Klene

The dollar price of Bruichladdich The Laddie 16 Islay single malt Scotch whisky

Wines by the glass on Fleming’s menu

Get it at Lukas Liquor.

You-brew rescue beer-style barn raising Historically, farmhouse ales – earthy, bright and session-able – were brewed on the farm to serve to the hands. Now, they’re the hottest category in beer. The light, dry body of these saisons, bière de gardes and other Belgian ales is offset by big, bold flavors, making them extremely enjoyable, approachable and popular with all beer drinkers.

The Brewers Association recently added some old, almost forgotten styles to the judging categories at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, including Grätzer and Adambier. In addition, the common sour (acidic beer of the past), is enjoying a renaissance both locally – Schlafly’s Oud Bruin, Perennial Artisan Ales’ Kriek and Urban Chestnut’s Ku’Damm – and nationally – Odell’s Friek, Gueuzerie Tilquin’s Gueuze Tilquin and Goose Island’s Juliet.

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Old-World styles, New-World interest

Number of pennies needed to buy a 50-milliliter “buck shot,” at Randall’s in college favorites like Southern Comfort Lime, Seagrams 7 Cherry and UV Sweet Green Tea Vodka

Help is on the way for aspiring homebrewers. J2 Brewing, opening soon in Chesterfield, lets you brew onpremise and lends a hand with the entire process, including storing your beer in a temperaturecontrolled room and even labeling your concoction, until you return to bottle those suds and take them home to swig ‘em.

Hopping from number to name Experimental hops are labeled by generic numbers when they first start out, but once they’re proven performers, these hops are given a name to make them easier to remember. Citra, El Dorado and Mosaic are popular hop varieties that were baptized with a nom de brew and put into production within the last several years. Taste them in Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Firestone Walker Sixteen and Deschutes Hop Henge. Guide to Drinking 2013


Guide to Drinking 2013

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wine

Anne Amie Müller Thurgau

south county’s secret cellar

This hybrid varietal from Oregon is “dry, but similar to a riesling,” Ahearn said. Its floral notes, stone-fruit flavors and subtle acidity make it a great summertime wine. $17

Laya Garnacha-Monastrell It’s easy to find a bad cheap wine; it’s a lot harder to find a good one, said Ahearn of the shop’s stock of affordable, highquality wines. He’s done it with this Spanish blend, which offers notes of pepper and espresso and is “very complex for the price.” $9

by Katie O’Connor

It wasn’t all that long ago that wine enthusiasts in South County had to leave the neighborhood to stock their cellars. That’s not the case anymore, thanks to Patrick Ahearn, one such “frustrated consumer” whose passion for wine led him to open Bottle Cellars in Oakville in late 2010. The uncluttered, approachable space has proven a popular and much-appreciated addition to the neighborhood, but the shop’s 300-strong collection of wines from around the world (most under $25), growing beer selection and eclectic assortment of whiskeys should place Bottle Cellars on any serious sipper’s resource list.

Global brews You’ll find local breweries among the store’s 50 beer labels, but don’t overlook the interesting international selections, such as Xingu, a Brazilian black beer ($2.50 per 12-ounce bottle), and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, a smoked brew from Germany ($6 per 500-milliliter bottle). Local eats Ahearn rounds out the shop’s selection with boozefriendly fare from local producers, including Baetje Farms goat cheese, charcuterie from Salume Beddu and chocolate from Kakao.

Bottle Cellars, 6039 Telegraph Road, Oakville, 314.846.5100, bottlecellars.com

slap that herb Heather Dodderer Selsor, herb slapperextraordinaire and former bartender at Taste, explained why she gives herbs a good smack just before garnishing a cocktail.

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“The reason you slap it is to sort of wake [it] up, but also it releases the oils from the leaf. Mostly the aromatics are what you’re looking for. Be careful not to bruise or tear the [herb] because it will make the drink bitter. I put it in the palm of my hand. You want that nice slapping sound, but again, not so hard that you damage the stem or the leaves.” — Catherine Klene Guide to Drinking 2013


Guide to Drinking 2013

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bar bites

There’s a reason you visit the same bar time and again. Sure, the capable bar staff and crafty beer list are alluring, but you stay for the snacks. Great bar snacks are packed with flavor, small enough to eat with your hands and, before you know it, totally gone. At your next get-together, get the party started well before the appetizers arrive with these craveable finger foods. Just don’t blame us if everyone asks to come over again next weekend. – Stacy Schultz

sa lt - and -

Photo by CARMEN TROESSER

pepper

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Salt and Pepper

Pad Thai Popcorn

Spice-Roasted Chickpeas

Pink peppercorns are actually berries, which means they become juicy and sweet when slowly roasted, the perfect floral pairing for ice-cold vodka or gin. Just be careful not to grab these by the handful. They still pack quite a punch; pop in moderation.

Since it’s meant to be eaten by the handful, popcorn is the perfect bar snack. This saltyand-sweet variety carries quite a kick; temper the heat with a nice, salty margarita.

If you eat wasabi peas like they’re candy, then you’ll love this milder take on the addictive crunchers. Scented with warm baking spices and hearty cumin, these roasted chickpeas stand up well to a nice, bourbon-laced Manhattan.

1 cup 1 cup pink peppercorns* 1 tsp. olive oil ¼ tsp. pink Himalayan salt, plus more to taste** • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. • Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. • Place the peppercorns in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and toss to coat thoroughly. Add the pink Himalayan salt. • Spread the pink peppercorns on the prepared sheet pan, making sure they are in a single, even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. • Let cool completely. Taste, and add more salt if desired. Serve. * Available at Penzeys Spices, 7338 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.781.7177, penzeys.com ** Available at area grocery stores

8 Cups

2 CUPS ½ cup brown sugar ¼ cup vegetable oil ¼ cup corn syrup 1½ Tbsp. fish sauce Juice of half a lime 8 cups popped, unsalted and unbuttered popcorn (homemade or microwaved) ¾ cup peanuts, roasted and salted 1 Tbsp. Sriracha ¼ tsp. baking soda Zest of 4 limes, divided ½ cup freshly chopped cilantro • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. • In a large pot, combine the brown sugar, vegetable oil, corn syrup, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook, stirring often, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 4 minutes. • Meanwhile, combine the popcorn and peanuts in a large nonreactive bowl. Set aside. • Remove the syrupy mixture from heat and immediately stir in the Sriracha, baking soda and the zest of 2 limes. • Pour the mixture over the popcorn and peanuts, and stir quickly to coat evenly. • Spread the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet and bake until brown and sticky, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. • Remove from the oven, and sprinkle the zest of 2 more limes on the popcorn. Let cool completely. Once cool, toss with the cilantro and serve.

1 16-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil 2 pinches ground cumin 2 pinches ground nutmeg 1 pinch cinnamon 2 pinches kosher salt • Line a sheet pan with 3 layers of paper towels. Spread the drained chickpeas on the paper towels and let sit for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. • Transfer the dried chickpeas to a mediumsize bowl. Add just enough olive oil to coat and toss. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Taste, and add more spices if desired. • Discard the paper towels and line the sheet pan with foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray, then spread the chickpeas on the pan in a single, even layer. • Bake until the chickpeas are golden and super crispy, about 30 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway through. • Let cool completely before serving.

s p ic e roa st e d

chickpeas

Pad thai popcorn

Guide to Drinking 2013

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the last untamed spirit by ligaya figueras

This is Mexican street drinking at its finest. “Mezcal and sage are a match made in heaven.”

It takes a village

(literally).

All tequila is mezcal. Not all mezcal is tequila.

Don’t pass up a dead chicken. Page 19

Page 18

You like scotch? You’re a mezcal drinker and just don’t know it yet.

Fill your glass with mezcal, not bugs. 16 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I saucemagazine.com

People love mezcal so much they write novels about it.

This needs to be in your liquor cabinet. Pronto. Page 20 Guide to Drinking 2013


photo by elizabeth jochum

Way Down South at Blood & Sand

Guide to Drinking 2013

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Photo by greg rannells

Jorge Vazquez Jr. of Mission Taco Joint holds a terra-cotta copita, a traditional Mexican vessel for drinking mezcal. Show enough interest in this spirit, and Vazquez will make you a mezcal highball using his house-made tepache (made with fermented pineapple) – an elixir he remembers from growing up in Santiago de QuerÊtaro, Mexico.

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n a time when vodkas and whiskeys are being overproofed, underproofed and flavored every which way, a spirit that hasn’t changed for centuries is finally, quietly, entering the consciousness of the American drinker: mezcal. Mezcal is produced from the agave plant, or maguey as it’s known in Spanish. To make craft mezcal, a mezcalero roasts the piña, or heart, of the agave in a wood-fired pit for days. After the roasted piña is milled with mallets or by horse-powered stone mills, its solids and juices are then fermented in wooden vats with yeast for nearly two weeks before being twice distilled in copper or clay pot stills. “It’s the last undiscovered spirit,” said Christopher Stevens, regional distribution manager for Craft Distillers, known for its handcrafted liqueurs and spirits, including artisanal mezcals like Alipús, Los Nahuales and Mezcalero. “It’s a misunderstood spirit,” he continued. “People think it’s a poorly made product, bottom shelf. It’s not. It’s made by villages – many which depend on it for economic survival. And it’s been made the same way for centuries. Mezcal came before tequila.” Agave aficionado Bill Norris, beverage director for the agave bar 400 Rabbits, in Austin, Texas, was eager to dispel more myths about mezcal. One such myth? “That it’s rocked out with a

Who has the best stash of mezcal in town? Guide to Drinking 2013

worm in the bottle and that the worm will make you hallucinate,” he said. Yet, misconceptions surrounding mezcal are slowly changing. “Our clients are definitely asking because they hear about it,” said T.J. Vytlacil, co-owner of Blood & Sand. “They want to know what it is – what’s the difference between mezcal and tequila.” On the surface, mezcal shares several properties with tequila. Both are agave-based and native to Mexico. Also, similar to how sparkling wine is only deemed Champagne if made in the Champagne region of France, both tequila and mezcal have a protected appellation where they can only be produced in certain Mexican states. Yet, there are key differences. Tequila, when it’s labeled 100 percent agave, must be made entirely from Weber Blue agave; whereas, mezcal that’s labeled 100 percent agave can be made from a number of agaves. That’s why all tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. The production processes are distinct as well. To make tequila, agave is cooked in an oven, while the agave in artisanal mezcal is roasted in an underground pit with local wood that varies between villages, giving each mezcal its own distinction. The fact that some bartenders can explain these nuances between the two spirits may be one reason mezcal is gaining ground among American drinkers. Also, its protected appellation, granted in 1995, has helped to change its negative, cheapsouvenir perception and has led to increased international sales. But Stevens proposed that the answer also is related to money and distribution. “It has been cost-prohibitive. Now that the price has come down, more people

Buy it here Randall’s Wines & Spirits, 14201 Manchester Road, Manchester, 636.527.1002, shoprandalls.com

are being exposed to it. Also, there is more accessibility,” he said. “Not too many years ago, few bars had even a selection of mezcal.” While St. Louis can’t claim an agave bar like 400 Rabbits (which boasts 24 bottles of mezcal), a growing number of places around town have at least one mezcal on the shelf – and not just Monte Alban with the gimmicky gusano (which isn’t a worm at all, but the larva of the agave moth). Want to taste character? Try Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas that’s sweet and chock-full of citrus and tropical fruit, or go loco with pechuga mezcal, made by hanging a raw chicken breast in the still during distillation. Mezclar con Vermu, the only mezcalbased cocktail on Mission Taco Joint’s menu, is not the most popular drink on the menu, but “people who know about cocktails think it’s very special,” said bartender Jorge Vazquez Jr. And how does Vazquez sell mezcal to Mission drinkers who don’t “know” about cocktails? Vazquez role-played his approach: “You like scotch? You might like it.” Because of mezcal’s smoky character, scotch drinkers might just be mezcal drinkers who don’t know it yet. Vytlacil noted that at Blood & Sand, “a lot of business people who typically drink scotch are asking for it” – whether neat or in the Espadin & Sand, a variation of the scotch-based classic Blood & Sand. Making a mezcal riff off a well-known cocktail is one of the most common ways that bartenders are easing people into the mysterious spirit. In the mood for a margarita? Go for the

Lukas Liquor, 15921 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.227.4543, lukasliquorstl.com

Smoke & Mirrors at Diablitos Cantina. A martini? Try the aforementioned Mezclar con Vermu at Mission Taco Joint, where mezcal and Peruvian Pisco replace gin or vodka, and orange essence softens mezcal’s smoky side. Once you’re sold, bartenders are ready to help you dive deeper with creative creations like Vytlacil’s Way Down South, which holds sloe gin and the heat of jalapeño. “I’m using [mezcals] a lot more in cocktails than tequila,” said Vytlacil. “They have a lot more character than straight tequila.” Ready to give mezcal a shot? You’re not the only one. Even big companies have caught the mezcal fever. William Grant & Sons, maker of Hendrick’s Gin, came out with a mezcal last year. “If a company like that is doing a mezcal, it means that their accountants have taken notice,” Norris said. “They aren’t going to do a mezcal because 140 dorky bartenders love the stuff, which is where it was a few years ago.” But just like a pristine vacation spot that gets discovered – Tulum, Cinque Terre, Yosemite – popularity can lead to mobs of tourists, or, in mezcal’s case, a debased product. Agave takes seven to 12 years to mature, but as Norris pointed out, it’s being harvested at an unsustainable rate. “There is a real issue with how you approach the agriculture. A lot of major liquor companies have bought or invested in tequila industries. They are working within the laws but changing centuries of tradition. There’s a real danger of that happening in mezcal. It’s the last frontier of [the] un-corporatized, untamed spirit – when it’s made right.” How long will mezcal continue to be made “right”? That’s a story still in the making.

Try it here Diablitos Cantina, 3761 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.644.4430, diablitoscantina.com

Mission Taco Joint, 6235 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.932.5430, missiontacostl.com

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Mule

Many a mezcal is meant to be sipped solo. But when you want to mix it, most bartenders agree that Del Maguey Vida is the way to go. Here, we give three timeless cocktails a mezcal makeover. Cocktails and recipes by Matt Obermark of soon-to-open Planter’s House

1½ oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal Juice of ½ a lime 2 to 3 oz. quality ginger beer, such as Fever Tree Fill a copper mule mug or OldFashioned glass with ice. Add the mezcal and lime juice. Top with ginger beer. Give it a quick stir to incorporate the ingredients. Use the squeezed lime shell as a garnish.

Paloma 2 oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal Juice of ½ a lime Pinch of salt 3 to 4 oz. grapefruit soda, such as Mexican Squirt Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the mezcal, lime juice and salt. Top with the soda. Give it a quick stir to incorporate ingredients. Use the squeezed lime shell as a garnish.

Margarita

Buy the bottle Randall’s Wines & Spirits, 14201 Manchester Road, Manchester, 636.527.1002, shoprandalls.com Lukas Liquor, 15921 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.227.4543, lukasliquorstl.com

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Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Hard shake and strain into an Old-Fashioned glass rimmed with salt and filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge. Guide to Drinking 2013

photos by laura miller

2 oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal ¾ oz. fresh lime juice ¾ oz. Cointreau ¼ oz. agave nectar


Guide to Drinking 2013

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meant to be mixed

Clockwise from top left: No. 36, Teporocho, Espadin & Sand, Head South

No. 36

Teporocho

Espadin & Sand

Head South

“Someone wanted a herbaceous smoky drink. I thought of mezcal. What kind of herbs go with mezcal? Sage and mezcal are a match made in heaven.” — Jeffrey Moll Jr.

“Tepache is sold on the streets in Mexico. When I was a kid, I remember seeing people add tequila or mezcal to add flavor and to make it boozy.” — Jorge Vasquez Jr. (cocktail available off the menu)

“The mezcal adds a little more smoke than the single malt Scotch that we use [for a Blood & Sand] and a little more bite than you get from tequila. It’s really easy drinking.” — T.J. Vytlacil

“The earthiness of the mezcal and celery and herbal Yellow Chartreuse blend together. There’s a smoky earthiness to it and a sweet brightness from the Chartreuse and the lime juice.” — Seth Wahlman

Mission Taco Joint, 6235 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.932.5430, missiontacostl.com

Blood & Sand, 1500 St. Charles St., St. Louis, 314.241.7263, bloodandsandstl.com

Little Country Gentleman, 8135 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314.725.0719, littlecountrygentleman.com

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Eclipse, 6177 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.726.2222, eclipsestlouis.com Guide to Drinking 2013

photos by elizabeth jochum; mission taco joint photo by greg rannells

to try


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The best of

Buying cheap liquor doesn’t have to induce traumatic flashbacks to college. Here, our picks for sip-worthy spirits that won’t destroy your paycheck or your palate. – Jamie and Ted Kilgore

bottom-shelf drinking 1

GIN Broker’s London Dry $17 This gin embodies everything a London Dry should be: juniper-forward; surrounded by lemon, lime, grapefruit, coriander, cinnamon and pepper; well-rounded and balanced in flavor.

2

RUM Flor de Caña 4-year Extra Dry $15 With more flavor than its price point implies, this light rum showcases tastes of vanilla, roasted pineapple, caramel, tropical fruit and hints of citrus. It’s perfect for daiquiris, Mojitos or simply a Cuba Libre.

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3

4

TEQUILA Milagro Silver $23

VODKA Sobieski $12

Triple distilled, this 100 percent agave tequila tastily reflects the region of Mexico from which it hails. With plenty of citrus, mouthwatering saltiness and mineral tones, it almost has a sauvignon blanclike finish.

This great-value vodka is clean and medium-bodied with light notes of citrus and hints of vanilla.

5

WHISKEY Old Fitzgerald Bonded Bourbon $14 This classic, wheat-finished gem of a bourbon is loaded with caramel, honey, dried fruit and toasty cedar. At 100 proof, it has the body to be fantastic as a mixer or a sipper.

Guide to Drinking 2013


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Guide to Drinking 2013


Guide to Drinking 2013

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Drinkingguide2013