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guide to drinking

Louis’2014 independent culinary authority GuideSt. to Drinking


FREE, guide toI drinking 2014 I 1 SAUCE MAGAZINE


Guide to Drinking 2014

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Guide to Drinking 2014

guide to drinking edition By ligaya Figueras

The art of the tonic

Make your own alcoholic cherry bomb. Go to this month to get a recipe for homemade amaretto that calls for cherries along with the requisite almonds and fruit pits.

Cherry bomb Cherry is the lush’s fruit of the moment, and choices abound. There’s Kasteel Rouge cherry beer, St. Louis Kriek lambic, Original Sin cherry cider, Berentzen wild cherry liqueur and Montelle Winery cherry brandy, winner of a best of class and a gold medal in the distilled product category at the recent 2014 Missouri Wine Competition. Mikkeller’s one-off lambic Spontan Cherry Frederiksdal is long gone, but beer lovers can look forward to the December or January release of 4 Hands Cuvee Diable, a barrel-aged version of its sour cherry saison, Prunus.

cherry Photo by CARMEN TROESSER

Strange syrups

If you think the flavor wheel for vodka is out of control, take a look at the current syrup spectrum. Among the wild and whacky scratch syrups claiming space behind local bars, we’ve seen smoked corn at Juniper, Sriracha-honey at Cielo and toasted celery seed-fennel syrup at Taste. House syrups are also getting pumped into boozy (or not) snow cones at newly opened Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.; with chef-owner Kevin Nashan as the mad scientist behind this project, there’s no telling what offbeat syrup might get cooked up.

You can stop for a housemade soda at loads of bars around town. For a different journey, jump on the artisan tonic train. Among Juniper’s mocktails, dubbed “sparklers,” you’ll find the option of a house tonic syrup doctored with dashes of nonalcoholic plum, grapefruit and cherry bitters topped with fizzy sparkling water. Meanwhile, in Lake Saint Louis, the bar crew at BC’s Kitchen has taken a page from the cook’s book by whipping up à la minute gin and tonics with the help of a soda siphon. Finally, at The Gin Room at Cafe Natasha’s, home to a number of house tonics, tonic-making is such an art that they are offering tonic-making workshops beginning Sept. 24.

Coffee and tea get a green card

Coffee and tea have migrated onto cocktail menus in the last few years. But now it’s official: they are citizens of the cocktail menu. You’ll find tea taking up residence at Cielo (in Earl Grey Chaos, a combination of an Earl Grey-black pepper infused gin, limoncello, lemon juice and simple syrup served on Earl Grey ice cubes), at Juniper (in Tennis With Hemingway, a mixed drink that uses tea syrup with gin and yellow chartreuse) and in the tea cocktails at newly opened MaryAnn’s Tea Room in the Central West End. Java addicts who need a jolt of caffeine in more than their morning brew can get their fix with cocktails featuring cold-brew coffee at Planter’s House, Taste and Small Batch. And this month, those riding the latest wave in the coffee world will want to hit up Blueprint Coffee for its debut nonalcoholic coffee cocktail menu.

For more about offerings at MaryAnn’s Tea Room and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., turn to p. 14 in the main issue. Guide to Drinking 2014 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 5


Guide to Drinking 2014

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The spirit of Korea t akes flight Soju, the best-selling alcohol in the world, is making a splash in the Gateway City. The Korean spirit distilled from rice is traditionally consumed straight, but from London to NYC to San Francisco, bartenders are mixing the low-alcohol liquor into everything from aperitifs to slushies. Locally, The Purple Martin bar manager Joel Clark prepared herb-steeped soju for a multi-course Asian-themed dinner held this summer at the Fox Park bar and restaurant.

Alpine aperitif

Drinking weed Some people mow down dandelions. Others eat them. And then there are those who use the plant for booze. Following the national trend of using foraged ingredients for housemade elixirs, The Fortune Teller Bar on Cherokee Street has concocted a house-made dandelion tincture that adds vegetal tang to a reverse martini called Summer Switch No. 2. Meanwhile, look for the release by midOctober of Lion’s Tooth, a dandelion liqueur made with dandelion roots and Crown Valley brandy. The liqueur is a collaboration between Water Street in Maplewood and the Ste. Genevieve distillery.

Day beer believers Brewers have answered the call for beer that you can drink and drink some more. It’s out with the double and triple IPAs and in with sessionable suds. We’re familiar with Schlafly Sessions IPA and Founders All Day IPA, but in the last year, we’ve also seen Stone Go To IPA, Goose Island Endless IPA, Lagunitas DayTime IPA and Boulevard Pop-Up Session IPA arrive on the scene. Guide to Drinking 2014

Choose your own booze adventure

Génépy, the alpine herbal liqueur reminiscent of green Chartreuse, has jet-setted from French ski resorts to St. Louis bars. For a taste of the French liqueur, head to Small Batch and order Bright, which features genepy with rye whiskey, housemade wormwood bitters, lemon and cava. At Taste, you’ll get génépy when you order Gimme Samoa, a combination of rum, cognac, génépy, crème de cacao, pineapple and lime juice. Meanwhile, bartenders at Planter’s House are génépy-happy with drinks like Eight is Enough and Unusual Suspects.

Has it been years since you had your nose in a Choose Your Own Adventure book? Time to join the adult version of that club. Lots of bars around town are offering build-your-own cocktails, and no matter your poison, there’s a drink adventure in store for you. If gin is your thing, build your own G&Ts at The Gin Room at Cafe Natasha’s. At Bar Italia, you can have your spritz – a classic northern Italian combination of amaro and prosecco – just the way you like it (and if you head there during happy hour for 5 O’Clock Spritz, you’ll get free plates of antipasti). At Boogaloo, they’re still building mojitos your way through September; then it gives way to a maze of Manhattans. Finally, at Cielo, you can build your favorite cocktail using its house barrel-aged spirits. For more on barrel-aged spirits at Cielo, turn to p. 31 in the main issue. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 7


Guide to Drinking 2014

From left, Upper 90 Brewing Co.’s coowners Chris Gaglio and Mike Sinclair

Basement beer Party by stacy schultz photo by carmen troesser

For brewers Mike Sinclair and Chris Gaglio, the decision to open Upper 90 Brewing Co., in the basement of a restaurant was part personal, part business. The longtime friends have been making beer since 2009, when they made a New Year’s resolution to take their newfound love for craft suds into their own hands. “It came about kind of as a dream to do something for ourselves instead of working for The Man for the rest of our lives,” Gaglio explained. Once the rave reviews reached beyond family and friends – and piqued the interest of the elites among the local food scene – they entered brewing competitions and began winning ribbons. With accolades under their belts, they set to work on a business plan. Meanwhile, bartender TJ Vytlacil was thinking up the business plan for his next move. Vytlacil, who opened the members-only Blood & Sand in 2011, was setting the gears in motion for a lunch spot in Citygarden named Death in the Afternoon, which opened this June.


How did their plans converge? Well, Vytlacil and Sinclair go way back. When Vytlacil was about 12, he and his mother moved to St. Louis from Denver for her job, where she worked with Sinclair’s wife. The two families became fast friends. “TJ and I (played) Nintendo and roller hockey in my basement and street hockey out on the church parking lots,” Sinclair said. “They’ve just been really close friends of the family since. He calls me his godfather now. That’s an honorary title, which I’m very proud to accept.” Sinclair and Gaglio knew that if they were going to take the leap into entrepreneurship, Vytlacil and his business partner, Adam Frager, were the guys to do it with. “TJ brings that level of unbridled energy and enthusiasm that we feed off of because he’s very successful at it,” Gaglio said. “He’s got the smarts, and he has experienced so much in the world that we’re looking to go into. There’s just a lot Guide to Drinking 2014

of symbiosis, a lot of good interaction between all of us, and Adam, his partner, is phenomenal, too.”

something lighter – Irish red ale, Kölsch and a dunkel will be among the first to hit the kegs.

The plan is to keep their day jobs, brew on weekends, lease the basement space from Vytlacil and Frager and sell beer that’s piped up to dedicated Upper 90 tap handles at Death in the Afternoon. As for what will come out of those taps, the restaurant’s hours present a hurdle. “You don’t want to come into lunch, drink an oatmeal stout and then have to go back to work,” Sinclair explained. “So we’re trying to be aware of that and take some of what we do in the homebrew and limit that to make it something that’s sessionable – something that you can have one with lunch and go back to work and still be functional and be awake.” Look for glasses of

For now, Sinclair and Gaglio are technically a “brewery in planning,” having marshaled their equipment and applied for the proper permits. (At press time, Upper 90 had received a federal government green light, but was still waiting on state and local permits.) Until the all-clear signal comes, they wait. And they plan. They wonder if they, like the home brewers before them who built beloved drinking holes like Civil Life, 4 Hands and Exit 6, can make their brewing dream come true. And there’s nowhere they’d rather be doing it than in the basement of a guy who used to stay up until midnight playing roller hockey – in the basement. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 9


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By Eric Hildebrandt

While the craft beer boom continues to brew, it’s hard to ignore the presence of its up-andcoming cousin, craft cider. Sometimes barrel-aged, generally artisanal, and often naturally glutenfree, these fermented apple beverages are being produced not only by cider-focused establishments such as Crispin, California Cider Co., and Colorado Cider Co., but also by many craft breweries as a beer alternative. Local breweries such as Urban Chestnut and Schlafly have made hard ciders readily available to the market, while others like Crown Valley Brewing regularly experiment with recipes for seasonal releases. Looking for a sweet way to enjoy the remainder of summer? Grab some cider, find some sunlight, sit back and swill.


Unfiltered and unpasteurized, this French “cider under cork” smells of green apple, while the flavor profile packs a bittersweet punch of bleu cheese and honey. Its effervescence holds a subtle funk and natural sweetness that doesn’t linger on the palate. Fields Foods, 1500 Lafayette Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.3276,

Apple Knocker Hard Knocks Fermented in American oak barrels with Belgian yeasts by Illinois cider house Apple Knocker, Hard Knocks boasts the flavors of deliciously tart apples and citrus. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, try its cousin, Sweet Knockers. The Wine and Cheese Place, all locations,

Urban Chestnut Bushelhead Wine-like, full of apple aroma and flavor with big alcohol warmth, this local cider truly is apple juice for grown-ups. Try Bushelhead on draft at Bailey’s Range with the restaurant’s cinnamon ice cream, and you will taste perfection. Bailey’s Range, 920 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.241.8121,

Schlafly Hard Apple Cider Complete with a robust Granny Smith apple aroma, a crisp, almost effervescent mouth feel and a slightly dry palate, this refreshing hard cider on draft at Schlafly Bottleworks is perfectly balanced for even the pickiest of cider drinkers. Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave., Maplewood, 314.241.2337,

Ace Pineapple Cider The California Cider Co.’s pineapple cider is deliciously sweet up front with a tart finish. The wonderful pineapple scent gives summer patio drinking a touch of the tropics. This seasonal has been flying off the shelves; if you see a bottle, nab it.

Guide to Drinking 2014


Cider comes back hard

2012 Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie


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Guide to Drinking 2014

The Kilgore Method Planter’s House co-owner and crack barkeep Ted Kilgore spills his drink-mixing secrets In my 16 years as a bartender, I have accumulated hundreds of books on cocktails, spirits and bartending in pursuit of making the best cocktail possible. While I’d found lots of differing opinions, none seemed to offer a definitive answer. Then one day, I found myself mixing five different Sidecar recipes trying to determine the “correct” one. By the end, I realized I had developed my own set of formulas and rules. These formulas offered consistent balance and structure, and placed the drink in a flavor profile range that the majority of my customers enjoyed. I’ve found that the most popular cocktails follow the “sour” formula. If you learn this formula, you can make and create a host of fabulous drinks.

Basic sour recipe 2 oz. base spirit (gin, whiskey, vodka, etc.)

1 oz. sweet (simple syrup, liqueur, agave, etc.)

¾ oz. sour (lemon, lime, etc.)

Now that you have the basic formula, apply it to other classic cocktails:

Starting to see the connection? Now that we have the formula, let’s apply my rules and method.

photos by elizabeth jochum

Start with high-quality ingredients, or at least the best you can get your hands on. The idea is to make the best possible drink you can, whatever the circumstances.


2 oz. tequila 1 oz. triple sec ¾ oz. fresh lime juice

Guide to Drinking 2014

Tom Collins

2 oz. gin or vodka 1 oz. simple syrup ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice Club soda

Measure ingredients (except anything carbonated or bubbly) into your shaking vessel without ice. (I like to use Oxo angled measuring cups.) Next, you’ll want a shaker big enough to hold plenty of ice and that has a clean seal. (I use two-piece metal Boston shakers.) Add cold, fresh, hard ice, as much as you can fit into the smaller half of the shaker. If using a cobbler shaker (the three-piece

variety with a small top that looks like a cap), fill it all the way up. Now shake. The most important thing to remember is to shake a minimum of 17 seconds. At 17 seconds, you will have reached the point at which the ice and the ingredients (now diluted about 30 percent) are around the same temperature (28 to 33 degrees). The harder the shake, the more air that enters the drink, providing a lighter mouth feel. Using a mesh strainer, pour into a chilled glass. You can fine-strain through a tea strainer if you wish to eliminate tiny ice shards – useful when serving the drink “up,” but less necessary when it’s served over ice anyway. Garnish with something fresh and pretty. Drink and (of course) repeat. I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 15


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Super Somms St. Louis’ top wine students prepare to hold court by julie cohen | photos by ashley gieseking

From left, Brandon Kerne, Patricia Wamhoff and Andrey Ivanov


Guide to Drinking 2014

ou’re the beverage director at a new Italian bistro. The owner of the restaurant has come in to speak with you about wine pairings for an upcoming five-course tasting menu, but she only has 12 minutes to spare. She informs you that the menu will cost $150 a head for food and $75 for wine. She hands you the menu, which you’ve never seen before. You hastily flip it over, only to find that it’s in Italian. She tells you each wine must complement the region from which each dish’s ingredients hail. The wines must follow the standard 200-percent price markup and you must stay on budget so the restaurant doesn’t actually lose money on the dinner. But before you begin, she also wants you to smell three different glasses of wine, all of which come from the same grape. Then, a salvo of questions: What is the grape? Where does each wine come from? Who is the winemaker? What is the vintage? How much would each wine cost on your wine list? But back to that tasting menu. Do you have your suggestions ready? What’s taking you so long? But I hate that suggestion. Do you think I’m a peasant? You know what, just in case I change my mind, I want five alternatives, this time domestics. I also have six spirits for you to identify. Take a whiff from each. Tense after just reading this? Now imagine this scenario is part of a real-life exam for which you have been studying for almost a year. Or as Andrey Ivanov, wine director at Elaia, Olio, United Provisions and soonto-open Old Standard described, “Imagine taking a date to a high school dance, but you’ve never been to a high school dance. You’re so nervous to dance with the date. That’s the anxiety you have during this test.” He laughed. “That, or bungee jumping.” This sweat-inducing 12-minute scenario is one of three Ivanov experienced while taking the service portion of the master sommelier exam administered by The Court of Master Sommeliers, the most ridiculously challenging test you’ve never heard of. “If you realize you’re just waiting tables, you’re great,” said Ivanov. But, he elaborated, if you let the test get to you – if you remember the 30-plus hours a week you’ve been studying while maintaining a full-time job Guide to Drinking 2014

and the years you’ve devoted toward The Court’s examination process – “You become that kid, seeing your date dancing with everyone else. You become that kid standing with your back against the wall, hyperventilating into a bag.” Holding Court In the world of wine, the most prestigious sommelier diploma comes from the uber-exclusive Court of Master

If I could have any wine in the world right now:

1990 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill “One of the wines I popped open when I passed my advanced exam.” – Stephen Gitto

1780s Madeira “It went across the ocean and back a few times. One of the greatest beverages on the planet. There’s Madeira out there for sale that dates all the way back to 1715.” – Andrey Ivanov

1945 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti “One of the most famous vineyards in the world from one of the best vintages ever. It is also part of history, as this is the year marking the end of World War II. To enjoy a bottle of one of the finest wines ever made and reflect upon history at the same time would be one of those amazing moments in life.” – James Hallett

Sommeliers. Within The Court there are four levels of certification: introductory, certified, advanced and master. With a pass rate hovering around 5 percent, only 219 people worldwide have passed the master exam since the test’s inception in 1969. In 2014, only 5 out of 140 passed. Statistically, it’s easier to pass both the CPA and California Bar exams, be admitted to Harvard or play professional baseball than become a master sommelier. But don’t tell that to St. Louis’ wine community. Currently in the Gateway City, four people are studying for their master certification. Ivanov is one, along with Patricia Wamhoff, beverage director at the restaurants at The Cheshire; Stephen Gitto, liquor manager at the Schnucks location on Clayton Road in Ladue; and James Hallett, cellar selections manager for Major Brands. Without a master sommelier living in town and only a handful in the Midwest (with Doug Frost in Kansas City being the biggest name; “He’s our Yoda,” said Ivanov of Frost), you would think the race to become St. Louis’ first master somm would resemble some ruthless, Cold War-like competition. Instead, what I found more resembled Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (if all the puppets drank wine). Rather than use cutthroat tactics to prepare for the next master exam in February 2015, the four have created a study group, because, as Gitto said, “You cannot do this alone.” Wait a minute, you might say. Does that mean we’re all “studying” when we drink wine with our friends on a Saturday night? Not exactly. From memorizing Bordeaux winemakers to drawing maps of the regions of South Africa, this study group is intense. “We’re kind of masochistic nerds in that way,” said Ivanov. In addition to the service portion of the master exam, there is a theory component and a blind tasting. Gitto talked me through a tasting, and when he was done, I felt like I was surely in the presence of Sherlock Holmes. In 25 minutes, using the powers of deductive reasoning, test-takers must try six wines and be able to not only identify the grape varietal, provenance, I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 19

When a corkscrew is nowhere to be found:

“The classic: Jab the bottom of a ballpoint pen into the cork and just force the cork into the bottle. You get a floating cork but you get access to the wine. But my favorite thing to do in the entire world is sabering. All you need is a butter knife, not a sword.” – Brandon Kerne

appellation and vintage, but also explain why they smell and taste the way they do. “Say you smell ginger, but why?” Gitto asked. “Ginger can be associated with botrytis, a fungus which concentrates sugar. That fungus is responsible for some of the most famous sweet wines in the world.” For Gitto, who also holds a master’s degree in chemistry, studying has always been a part of life, but he was quick to point out that plenty of people choose not to go through The Court’s certification process, and they still know what they’re doing. “It doesn’t mean that they’re not very much part of the forefront of wine in St. Louis. You don’t have to take a test to be good at what you do,” he said. “But for people who do,” he added, “It does take an awful lot.” Paying it back(ward?) Although there are just four “masochistic nerds” currently studying for the master exam, there is a whole fleet of local beverage professionals helping each other out as they study for certifications, competitions and simply for the pursuit of knowledge. “You can find some sort of tasting group any night of the week,” said Brandon Kerne, certified sommelier and wine director at Bar Italia. “If I wanted to tonight, I could find someone who would want to run through the Grand Crus of Burgundy.” For instance, in late January of this year, a server from Cielo at the Four Seasons named Patrick Olds walked into 33 Wine Bar and


“I have a corkscrew in my car, every purse, three or four in my kitchen drawer.” – Patricia Wamhoff

“There’s the shoe trick. I’ve done it successfully once. You put the base of the bottle in the heel of a rubber-soled shoe, bang the hell out of it against a tree until the cork comes out. I would add a ‘Don’t try this at home.’” – Matt Dulle

mentioned he was taking the Court’s certified exam in two weeks. A stranger announcing to a bar his plan to take a test sounds like the perfect way to be ignored, but instead the opposite occurred. For the next two weeks, Kerne, who at the time was 33’s wine director, kept the bar open late so Olds could come in for afterhours study sessions. Ivanov and Matt Dulle, certified sommelier and beverage director at the St. Louis Club, joined in, too. “It was like a NASCAR pit stop,” Kerne said. “Andrey did the same thing for me as we did for Patrick,” Kerne explained, recalling when he took his certified exam last year. “It’s a lot of paying it forward. Paying it backward? Whatever that phrase is.” “I didn’t deserve it,” Olds recounted. “Andrey, during the busy time at Olio, brought me in the back room, went over theory, tasting. They were all so good to me.” Olds passed his certified exam and now continues to look for ways to help the wine community. “Whenever I get something new and cool (at Cielo), I want to call Brandon and give it to him. That’s the way we are working.” “It’s not all about the examination,” Kerne said, reiterating that professionals don’t need The Court’s blessing to prove they’re knowledgeable. “But once you get someone certified, they’re in the groove. They’ve chosen wine as a profession. And with more professionals, there is more diversity on the shelves.” Wamhoff, whom Ivanov and Kerne consider the godmother of the St. Louis sommelier scene, agreed. “If you went into a restaurant in the mid-’90s, you were handed a wine list that had been printed up by a major distributor because the restaurant didn’t know anything about wines,” she said, adding that most restaurants around town had the exact same wine list. In fact, when Wamhoff moved here in 1993, she recalls being one of only two certified sommeliers in the entire city. “Since there was a lack of knowledge all around the industry, the importers were reluctant to send any of the great stuff here.” Now, she sees St. Louisans who are not only more knowledgeable about wine, they’re hungry for it. “There has definitely been a progression in the last 20 years. If you walk into Schnucks and Dierbergs, you can get really great wine now. That wasn’t possible five, 10 years ago. It’s a trickle-down effect.” “Whether I think the pinot noir I’ve chosen is better than the other guy’s doesn’t matter,” Kerne said. “It’s the passion. The more we can connect the consumer to the wine they’re drinking, the better we will be as a wine city.” In the St. Louis wine scene, it looks like a rising tide does indeed lift all boats, as the adage goes. But there must be some sort of competitive edge. “It’s certainly competitive,” Dulle said. “It’s (as) competitive as anything I’ve ever seen, but out of personal respect.” “Anyone who says they don’t want to be a master sommelier because there’s so few in the world is flat-out lying,” said Ivanov. “But when you have a group of people pushing you, making sure you’re getting better, it’s so much more rewarding. Good things happen, not just to you but for everyone.” Guide to Drinking 2014

The wine I love drinking any old Tuesday: Guide to Drinking 2014

2013 Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato “Tastes like pinot noir and fresh cherries. It’s a pinot noir written in calligraphy.” – Brandon Kerne

2012 Argyle Pinot Noir “Soft, feminine and a cabinet full of baking spices. Delicious by itself or paired with fish, stewed meats or pasta. Elegance in a glass.” – James Hallett

2012 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen “It’s outstanding and only about $20.” – Patrick Olds I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 21


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Close your eyes and picture your friendly local brewer. Odds are he’s a young male sporting a beard to rival Jason Motte’s. In fact, that same guy can be found populating craft beer bars, breweries and festivals around town, sipping pints with his like-minded fellows. Beers and bros go hand in hand, but a handful of beer-slinging and -brewing St. Louis ladies are pouring themselves a pint and declaring their love for their favorite beverage, too. The misconception that women don’t like beer, or aren’t involved in its production, is what prompted Katie Herrera, Libby Brown, Kristen Chalfant and Colleen Kirby to launch Femme Ferment, an organization dedicated to promoting the role of women in the local craft brewing scene. Since launching in May, Femme Ferment has popped up at the St. Louis Brewers Guild Heritage Festival, participated in St. Louis Craft Beer Week and created its first collaboration beer with Charleville Brewing Co. It all started with a monthly get-together filled with shop talk, beer nerdiness and laughter. Here are 10 reasons why anyone – lady or gent – should drink with Femme Ferment:


It’s the third Tuesday of the month, and there’s not a glass of wine or vodka cranberry in sight. When you can’t decide what to drink next, ask the woman to your left. Or right. Or behind the bar. Really, anyone within earshot can guide you to the perfect pick. When one person orders a sour beer, everyone clamors for one. Especially if that sour is New Belgium’s La Folie. Most of the women you meet are named Katie, Kate, Catelyn or a variation of that trendiest of ‘80s baby girl names.

The petite Katie behind the bar is also the only person her friends trust to properly tap kegs at parties.

brewer or other industry pro, and someone can spout off the ABV, IBU and brewing technique of just about everything on tap.

Members are as dedicated as mail carriers. Despite that many in the Femme crew caught the same cold last month at Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival in Madison, Wisconsin, their August happy hour took place as scheduled.

Those bearded guys often swing by during happy hour for a pint, too, and everyone gives each other some good old-fashioned ribbing – in the most loving way, of course.

Wedding diets may exclude dessert, but never beer. Nearly every woman present is a bar manager, bartender,

You left the bar with invites to four upcoming beer festivals you’ve never heard of and are already tagging your photos of the night with #3TFF (translation: Third Tuesday Femme Ferment). – Catherine Klene Guide to Drinking 2014

illustration by vidhya nagarajan

10 reasons to drink with Femme Ferment

illustration by vidhya nagarajan

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The old-timers:

Drinking bourbon, old school by Michael Renner

Old Bardstown Black Label 90 When wine doyen Robert Parker gave it 94 points and compared it to Pappy Van Winkle’s 20-Year, people went nuts for this candy corn-sweet whiskey; think butterscotch and syrupy cinnamon. It’s not bad with ice on poker night, but otherwise, mix it. $18. Randall’s Wine & Spirits, 1910 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.865.0199,

There’s a revival of the American-born brown spirit called bourbon whiskey. The top shelves are flooded with the pricey stuff, from new-wave craft whiskey to bulk booze resold in fancy bottles. But when it comes to parsing price and quality, the equation isn’t always linear. Often overlooked are the ones toward the bottom shelf, the ones our grandfathers drank, the ones with “old” in their names. I drank them all because, frankly, it sounded like fun. Here’s what I learned: These golden-aged titans of bourbon are too quickly judged and too easily dismissed. Besides the dreck (Old Forester may as well be wood varnish), there are some damn good shoestring whiskies rivaling much of the overpriced corn juice on the market.

Old Crow

Old Grand-Dad

Old Taylor

Old Weller Antique

It may be a shadow of its former self since the days when Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain drank it, but both the 80- and 86-proof bottles are good values. The former is floral and peppery, the latter, more complex with a quick, minty, spicy finish. Good for mixing. 80-proof: $8; 86-proof: $20. Friar Tuck, 9053 Watson Road, Crestwood, 314.918.9230,

The “Grand-Dad” was Basil Hayden, a name bourbonites bow down to. It’s dry and astringent with tons of spice from the high rye, but it has a hit of up-front honey and oak followed by a cinnamon candy and clove finish. This one is best on the rocks or mixed. $17. Arena Liquor, 1217 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, 314.645.6644, Facebook: Arena Liquor

If you could liquefy popcorn, this is what it would taste like. Old Taylor smacks of caramel-vanilla sweetness fading to a lingering peppery-ness. Did I mention lots of corn? It’s best mixed or on the rocks. $11. Lukas Liquor, 15921 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.227.4543,

When balanced by a splash of water or an ice cube, it’s a sturdy sipper full of honeyed fruit, citrus and cinnamon all the way to its soft, long finish. Mellow from wheat, it’s smooth and sweet. Some call it a thriftier version of Old Rip Van Winkle while others compare it to the rare Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-Year-Old. $24. The Wine and Cheese Place, 7435 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.727.8788,


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Guide to Drinking 2014  
Guide to Drinking 2014