September 2023

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Allyson Mace

Meera Nagarajan

Liz Wolfson

Lauren Healey

Iain Shaw

Meera Nagarajan

Michelle Volansky

Lauren Healey

Virginia Harold, Izaiah Johnson, David Kovaluk, Christina Musgrave, Carmen Troesser, Michelle Volansky

Alisha Blackwell-Calvert, Bill Moran, Meera Nagarajan, Alexander Olson, Iain Shaw, Matt Sorrell, Liz Wolfson

Vidhya Nagarajan

Allyson Mace

Kelli Jones

Amy Hyde

Amy Hyde

Sam Tarter, Jonas Wall

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Our reviewers are never provided with complimentary food or drinks from the restaurants in exchange for favorable reviews, nor are their identities as reviewers made known during their visits.


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September 2023 SEPTEMBER 2023 editors' picks features Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 FM this month when Sauce joins St. Louis on the Air. contents 18 11 NEW BARS WE LOVE by bill moran 28 DRINKS ET AL by matt sorrell 34 MISSOURI WINE’S RENAISSANCE by alisha blackwell-calvert 36 ESSENTIAL ST. LOUIS COCKTAILS by iain shaw last bite 42 WHAT I DO: WANDA COLENICHOLSON by liz wolfson 46 STUFF TO DO THIS SEPTEMBER by alexander olson 9 EAT THIS Green goddess salad at Pastaria Deli & Wine by meera nagarajan 10 DRINK THIS Eponymous cocktails by liz wolfson 15 HIT LIST 2 new places to try this month by iain shaw and liz wolfson COVER DETAILS 11 NEW BARS WE LOVE Bonito Bar’s stunning cocktails are just one reason it’s a new bar we love. Learn more at p.18.
Listen and subscribe to The Sauce, a weekly St. Louis restaurant podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes released each Wednesday.
8 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I September 2023

Eat This

Call us crazy for giardiniera. In our opinion, it is the star of the green goddess salad at Pastaria Deli & Wine. This spicy, vinegary condiment boasts crunch from cauliflower, carrot, bell pepper and celery and heat from jalapeno and black pepper; it delivers a vibrant tang to whatever it touches. The salad is no slouch either, with gently dehydrated chunks of tomato, Grana Padano cheese, greens and a verdant dressing with notes of tender herbs. Somehow, altogether, it’s a salad that tastes like a pizza. Maybe it’s the tomatoes, maybe it’s the oregano, but whatever mysteries are wrapped up in this bowl, it’s a salad we return to time and again – with extra giardiniera, of course.

7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755,


We love an eponymous cocktail: If a drink is good enough that a bar or restaurant is willing to stake their name to it, we want to give it a try. At new dinner club Mainlander, the Mainlander cocktail reflects the restaurant’s tikiinspired aesthetic; featuring a blend of Jamaican and Missouri rums, Missouri black walnut liqueur and served flaming, “it’s the tiki cocktail,” co-ownerchef Blake Askew said. (For more on Mainlander, see p.10). Similarly, Bistro La Floraison’s delicate, slightly floral La Floraison, made with rosé, passion fruit liqueur and suze (a French aperitif), embodies the restaurant’s sweet vibes.

At Lazy Tiger, the power of the signature drink proved so strong, coowner Tim Wiggins had to temporarily retire the Lazy Tiger, because customers often ordered the smoky, earthy, slightly spicy mezcal cocktail (ingredients include serrano pepper and Tajin, as well as orange shrubb, honey and lime) without reading the description, resulting in the occasional disappointment. It’s back now, but Lazy Tiger’s experience is instructive: Just because a bar’s namesake cocktail is calibrated to their palate, it’s not guaranteed that it will be to yours, so be sure to check the ingredients first.

Mainlander 8 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis,

Bistro La Floraison 7637 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, 314.725.8880,

Lazy Tiger 210 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.925.8888,

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hit list 2 new places to try this month

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from top: roulade of inland fish at mainlander; glass dumplings at mainlander

At prix-fixe supper club Mainlander, the lights are turned down low, but the restaurant is never moody, thanks partly to co-owner and maître d’ Gordon Chen’s effervescent hospitality. Chen and chef-co-owner Blake Askew have cultivated an oasis that combines mid-century modern furnishings and a subtly tropical aesthetic with effortless style. Reservations are required, dining is pre-paid and service is included, meaning you’ve done the hard work by the time you arrive; all that’s left is to enjoy the company, food and drinks.

Askew’s modern takes on Midwestern favorites like versions of ambrosia and Watergate salads exude creative nostalgia. Seasonal, local produce is elevated with the lightest of touches, exemplified lately by the marinated Ozark Forest mushrooms and tomato Provençal. The menu changes each month, and Askew keeps dish descriptions vague, enabling him to adapt dishes as the month progresses. A recent menu included General Grant’s chicken, a spin on General Tso’s, while dishes like the dumpling appetizer take cues from Chen’s mother’s Taiwanese cooking.


Tucked into a narrow storefront in Sappington’s Concord Plaza, Zanti’s Deli is a great destination for your grab-and-go lunch or dinner needs. Sandwiches are made with bread from Pete’s Italian Baking Co., and the bread’s freshness signals this is a place that takes quality seriously. The chicken Parm sandwich was saucy and gooey without turning into a soggy mess, with breaded chicken that was juicy and not greasy. The Zanti’s Italiano with mortadella, salami, ham and capocollo is a solid example of the classic Italian sub; we loved the extra kick that came from crunchy, spicy giardiniera (a mild giardiniera is also available). If you don’t leave with a filled-to-order cannoli or two, you’ve missed out; the vanilla-spiked filling and crisp shell were everything we look for in the iconic Italian dessert.

181 Concord Plaza Shopping Center, Sappington, 314.270.3175,

September 2023 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 17 E D I T O R S' PICKS
8 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MAINLANDER


New Bars We Love


drinks at bonito bar: from left: vodka martini, barrel-aged old-fashioned, the frida and hibiscus margarita


We love hanging at our regular watering holes where everybody knows our name; but sometimes change can be a good thing. From University City to Belleville and points in between, St. Louis has seen a slew of new bars open over the past year. Here are a few we’ve especially enjoyed and recommend working into your normal night-out routine.

Bonito Bar

When you want to get away without actually getting away, visit the Bonito Bar in University City. Technically, the bar shares the same space as Frida’s restaurant, but the room has been designed to give the bar its own identity, with a curved marble bar, fish scale tile work and gold ceiling. The drink menu includes wines by the glass and by the bottle and a limited selection of beer. The real stars of the show are the cocktails. Sitting at the Bonito Bar gives the sense of being on vacation with fresh, citrusy signature cocktails like the hibiscus margarita or The Bonito, a blend of rums with a blood orange aperitif, pineapple, lime and agave. The classic cocktails include a daiquiri of the week, a black Manhattan, Pisco sour, and a Devil’s Margarita made with tequila, Ancho Reyes, lime, agave and red wine. You’ll also find mocktails available to coincide with the increase in demand for these types of drinks. Food is prepared by Frida’s, so you can expect vegetableand seafood-forward dishes with items like burrata caprese, Mediterranean salmon, coconut curry and seared ahi tuna salad.

622 North and South Road (inside Frida’s), University City, 314.727.6500,


Calypso brings a full cocktail list and a Cajun- and West African-inspired food menu. The remodeled space now features an all-season patio complete with plenty of seating, multiple TVs, a separate bar and a wall of garage doors that can be opened to bring the outside in. There are over 20 whiskeys on the menu and close to 50 rums; the cocktail list includes the classics as well as tropical drinks like the Caipirinha, Hurricane and a spicy pineapple margarita. The barbecue shrimp with Creole cream sauce was cooked perfectly, and the sauce provided just a hint of spice. The ceviche with shrimp and scallops was fresh, and the yuca chips served on the side were crisp and perfectly salted. The friendly staff, great food and well-crafted cocktails make Calypso an excellent stop when in the Soulard neighborhood. 1026 Geyer Ave., St. Louis, 314.448.1516,

Eat Crow

Eat Crow, the sister bar to Maplewood’s Crow’s Nest, opened in Soulard in the old Nadine’s Gin Joint. The building has been updated with a new bar, remodeled kitchen and an enhanced patio. Much like the Crow’s Nest, Eat Crow brings the heavy metal brunch, menus in old record sleeves and self-deprecating humor. The main differences lie in the food menu: While there is overlap, Eat Crow boasts an extensive mac-and-cheese selection as well as chicken wings with four different sauce options. Our favorite menu item, however, is the mini tacos; we’ve been known to stop in just for a beer and a plate of mini tacos with sides of avocado ranch and jalapeno-sriracha sour cream. The bar also has a large screen for projecting classic ’80s and ’90s movies, and the theme carries over to the cocktail menu with drinks like Space Balls The Drink, a mix of 3 Olives Espresso vodka, Tito’s vodka and Baileys Irish Cream, or the Tequila Montoya which includes six fingers of tequila, lemonade and a Grand Marnier float. 1931 S. 12th St., St. Louis, 314.934.1400,

New Society

Walk into Grand Spirits and you’ll be led to the bar’s secret entrance, reminiscent of an old storm shelter, that goes down to the basement. It’s tiny and dark, but with a seat at the bar, you’ll know you’re in for a special evening. If you are at all familiar with the cocktails made at the Platypus and The Gin Room, then you have an idea of the knowledge that owners Meredith Barry and Michael Fricker bring to the table; part of the fun was having Barry make the drinks and to see the smile on her face when she saw the look on yours after the first taste. At our seating, cocktails ranged from a take on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a drink served with a lettuce leaf filled with shrimp. There is a drink with mozzarella foam and a drink served with savory gummies. There is a story behind each cocktail and, when your drink is served, they’ll explain the ingredients and how they work together. There’s a reason it’s called an experimental cocktail lab; more than a cocktail bar; New Society is a whole experience.

3194 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis,

Billy’s on Broadway

Billy’s On Broadway is one of the newest additions to the south downtown neighborhood that already includes well-known bars like Broadway Oyster Bar, The Garage and BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups. You’ll remember this building from its past life as Beale on Broadway, but it won’t look familiar; the building underwent major renovations and came out looking better than ever with a new patio, new stage, new covered outdoor bar, renovated secondfloor deck and an interior bar covered in Cardinals baseball memorabilia. With Billy’s being so close to Busch Stadium and a menu featuring Gus’ salsicciastuffed pretzels and Clementine’s Creamery ice cream, this is a perfect pre- and post-game stop for a quick beer and a bite to eat. The Billy’s T-Ravs are a must-try dish: The ravioli is a custom blend from Midwest Pasta made with Italian sausage, Provel and Parmesan served with a sausage marinara. 701 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314.476.0119,

continued on p. 25

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this page: kalimotxo at 'ssippi, opposite page: the bar at 'ssippi

tim's chrome bar

‘Ssippi Wine Bar

While there is no official definition for natural wine, this style of wine typically includes hand-harvested grapes grown by small-scale, independent growers; it’s often fermented using natural yeasts without additives and no, or very little, sulfites. This is the type of wine you’ll find at ‘Ssippi Wine Bar; you’ll also find an assortment of cocktails, sake and beer as well as small snacks like cheese, olives and hummus. The bartender recommended we try their house wine, Field Recordings Boxie; with notes of ripe citrus and marzipan; it’s a great wine for a warm summer day.

2926 Cherokee St., St. Louis,

The Hi-Hat

The building that started the greatest party in St. Louis now houses one of the newest bars in Soulard. In 1980, Hilary Clements had recently purchased the building at 1017 Russell Blvd. and used it as both party space and living quarter. One particularly dreary winter day, Clements and his friends held a party in which they dressed up and marched up the street to a tiny Irish pub called John D. McGurk’s. They enjoyed themselves so much they continued the party every year. That first march up Russell Boulevard was the first Grand Parade, and that house party grew into what is now known as Soulard Mardi Gras.

Food at The Hi-Hat includes salads, wraps, wings and quesadillas, but the pizza is a must-try. (Pro tip: Add the garlic-ricotta cream.) Or just order Pat’s Hamm’s Sandwich: a can of Hamm’s between two shots of whiskey. The Hi-Hat has a good cocktail list with a great espresso martini along with their take on the French 75 with gin, lavender cider, lavender syrup and fresh lemon, aptly named the Soulard 75.

1017 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.802.7517,

Saturn Lounge

Like other vinyl record bars, Saturn Lounge sets the scene with classic cocktails, craft beers and fine wine in a relaxed and spacious setting. Vinyl records fill the back-bar wall, providing an

eclectic mix of music, and the volume is set at a level that entertains the listener while still allowing conversation. The main bar room provides booth seating along with a handful of bar stools, and the back room features comfortable couches and chairs surrounding a large coffee table. The brick patio, decorated with string lighting, delivers even more seating for guests to enjoy a drink on the quiet end of Cherokee Street. Wine drinkers can choose from almost 20 different bottles ranging from reds and rosés to whites and bubbly options. There are seven beers on draft and close to 40 in cans and bottles along with a drink list that includes 10 different in-house cocktails and a decent selection of NA spirits.

Later this month, adjacent restaurant Moonflower, co-owned by Ari Jo Ellis and David Stavron (formerly co-owners of Morning Glory Diner), will preview its food program for Saturn Lounge; look for happy hour and dinner menus during the week as well as brunch on the weekends.

1915 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.226.9473,

Grüv Bistro and Wine Bar

The front patio at Grüv Bistro and Wine Bar, which looks out on Belleville’s Main Street, is perfect for outdoor seating and people watching on a busy Friday or Saturday night in downtown Belleville. Wine novices can feel comfortable walking into Grüv and confident that they will end up with something they like. After a brief conversation, the bartender recommended a New Zealand sauvignon blanc; it was citrusy, crisp, dry and refreshing – exactly what we’d had in mind. With that said, Grüv is not just a wine bar: The cocktail menu has classics like the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan but also includes a citrusy raspberry margarita and a drink called the Humble Bumble with bourbon, muddled lemon, honey and mint. Standout items from the food menu include the short rib pizza with jalapenos and ricotta cheese and the strawberry goat salad made with spinach, strawberries, walnuts and goat cheese tossed in a strawberry-poppyseed dressing.

223 E. Main St., Belleville, 618.416.2471, Facebook: Grüv Bistro & Wine Bar I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 25
from left: primo pizza rolls, jello shots and crab rangoon nachos at tim's chrome bar

Tim’s Chrome Bar

The original Tim’s Chrome Bar was a great dive bar in the Bevo neighborhood, and while the new owners planned to clean the place up and continue business as usual, upon taking over they realized the place needed to be completely gutted. Updates include an expansion into the next-door space, a vintage fireplace, pastel flowers on the ceiling, vintage wallpaper, TV trays and a classic Bingo scoreboard. Drinks at Tim’s Chrome Bar include a large list of cocktails and a good selection of local canned beers with eight others on draft. You can also get a Jello shot for yourself or a bowl of punch for the whole table. Food options include housemade pizza rolls with jalapeno ranch and crab Rangoon nachos made with wonton chips, crab Rangoon filling and sweet chile sauce. There are vegetarian dishes like cheese-and-veggie rolls, housemade garlic hummus and portobello fries. They also serve a sandwich called The King made with peanut butter, jam, banana and crispy bacon on buttery bread.

4736 Gravois Ave., St. Louis,

The Vandy

The team behind pop-up bar STL Barkeep is now creating amazing cocktails at their new brick-and-mortar location, The Vandy. Along with the classics, you’ll find an assortment of in-house cocktails made with locally sourced ingredients, fresh syrups and housemade bitters. A quick review of the cocktail list turns up ingredients like pineapple rum, burnt red wine reduction, coconut syrup and a habanero tincture. They also have over 90 whiskeys on the menu along with beer and wine. The Vandy’s food program has recently received a glow-up compliments of chef Alec Schingel (The Robin Project), who’s put together a tight list of mostly shareable items like pimento cheese dip and a charcuterie board featuring meats sourced from Farm Spirit; on Mondays, Schingel will switch over to red beans and rice (a nod to the New Orleans tradition). On Tuesdays, chef Alex Henry (Sureste, El Molino del Sureste) takes the wheel, offering a pair of tacos – one meat, one veggie – on Sureste’s housemade tortillas.

1301 S. Vandeventer Ave., St. Louis, 314.472.5321, I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 27
Bill Moran is the creator behind the Instagram account @st.louis_taverns, where he anonymously reviews bars throughout the St. Louis area. PHOTO BY DAVID KOVALUK

drinks et al.

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Little Lager

Earlier this year, Sauce talked with local beer industry vet Manny Negron about his upcoming lager-centric beer bar Little Lager, located at 5848 Hampton Ave. in Princeton Heights. We checked in with him to see where the project is now and when local hop heads can expect to belly up to the bar.

So, how close are you to opening?

“I think all we have left are some final buildout touches and the final health inspection. Then we wait. Unfortunately, timelines are hard to pinpoint, but we’re not too far out. I feel comfortable saying maybe end of September or into October.”

How many taps will you start with?

“The draft list is a little downsized for opening; it’ll upgrade after opening. For opening we’ll have five drafts, all side-pull, and then a small selection of cans and bottles, some wine and mostly aperitifs and digestifs.”

How many seats are you looking to have?

“We’ll seat 20: 14 at the bar and three wallmounted two-tops.”

We heard you’ve also been collaborating with a couple of local breweries on some custom lagers.

“Our Modern Brewery collab beer is already out (Kolsch Counts). It came out at the end of June/beginning of July. At Perennial [Artisan Ales] in South City, we just brewed a collab about 10 days ago. That’ll sit in tanks for eight to 10 weeks depending on how the lagering period goes. I’m actually at Perennial on Lockwood right now brewing another collab that will probably be released around the same time as the other one.”

What styles will these two new brews be?

“The Perennial South City one is German leichtbier, like a German interpretation of an American lager. It’s all German hops and malts but brewed with Missouri rice and straight St. Louis water. The Lockwood one is a Czech polotmavy, a Czech amber lager.”

Do you have names for these brews yet?

“The South City one is called Gold Tooth, and the one we’re brewing at Lockwood is Heart Shaped Glasses.”

Draft Cocktails

Places as diverse as Modern Brewery, The Vandy and Planter’s House have incorporated draft cocktails into their beverage programs, and the trend is becoming more pervasive as owners look to streamline service while still offering top-notch drinks.

Corey Moszer, beverage director at The Lucky Accomplice and Press, has cocktails on draft at both locations. “At The Lucky Accomplice, I started doing [draft cocktails] about two years ago,” he said. “We had four draft handles, and beer isn’t a huge driver here; people tend toward the wine and cocktail programs. I thought it would be a good use of those handles to put out some nice highballs rather than trying to sell beer.”

Moszer said Press has had its drinks on draft since the restaurant opened last year.

“With Press, it was a matter of fast-casual convenience, having a quicker process,” he said. There aren’t dedicated bartenders or servers at the restaurant, so draft cocktails offer speed, ease of service and consistency.

Only Bangers, the beverage consulting company helmed by local bar vets Tim Wiggins and Kyle Mathis, recently started creating draft cocktail programs for area restaurants. The company has developed the draft drinks for the upcoming Burger Champ in Maplewood and Sunday Best, the new concept from chef John Perkins in the former Juniper space, with more in the works.

“It’s definitely where a lot of cocktail culture is trending, having less staff but still having the ability to serve high-quality cocktails,” Wiggins said.

While cocktails on tap speeds up the process of getting drinks to thirsty guests, creating them is a careful process that isn’t as easy as dumping liquid into kegs. What makes a great drink on draft is not necessarily what works as a shaken or stirred cocktail.

“[Draft cocktails] have their own science and nuance,” Wiggins said. Juices, for example, fall apart quickly in a keg, so Wiggins uses an acid blend in place of citrus to keep the drink shelf stable and consistent from the beginning of the keg to the last drops. He said highball drinks and carbonated cocktails work best in the confines of a keg.

Island Wines

Wines from mainland Europe and the U.S. get a lot of love, but offshore vinos from several regions are making waves with wine lovers, and they’re slowly gaining ground locally, both on menus and on retail shelves.

Alisha Blackwell-Calvert, advanced sommelier at Cinder House, said the category of island wines is broad and varied and, pricewise, they run the gamut from bargain to premium. “Island wines [can be] really affordable or not at all, depending on the island,” said Blackwell-Calvert, who had some island wines on her menu at the late Reeds American Table.

She said wines from Santorini, a Greek island, are fairly easy to find in St. Louis, while other island wines, like those from Portugal’s Azores islands (she’s particularly fond of wines from Azores Wine Co.), are hard to come by.

“The larger markets are already drinking [Azores wines],” she said. “It’s being brought in, but we’re lagging a bit with them. It’s a fun thing to look out for, if people are traveling.”

Corsican wines are also a bit hard to find locally, but Blackwell-Calvert recommends a Corsican winebased quinquina aperitif called Mattei Cap Corse, available in rouge and blanc versions, as a great spritz base or a cocktail component. Both versions are available at The Wine & Cheese Place.

Simon Lehrer, buyer for Parker’s Table, said Sicilian wines have been gaining popularity in recent years, are typically reasonably priced and especially good for summertime quaffing. “The reds are light, the whites are crisp, they’re just good warm weather wines,” he said, noting their bright, mineral-driven profile.

Lehrer said he has some Sardinian, Corsican and assorted Greek island wines on the shelves currently, and he does periodically get in wines from the Azores and the Canary Islands; however, these are hit or miss as far as availability, so it pays to browse often.

Blackwell-Calvert said one thing shoppers should note is that some island wine grape varietals can be confusing, so a little research can help figure out what the juice in the bottle might taste like.

“A lot of the islands have their own indigenous grapes,” she said. The Azores, for example, has Arinto de Azores, which has a similar clean minerality found in unoaked chardonnay from the Chablis region of France, while Corsica has an indigenous grape called nielluccio, which is genetically sangiovese, a component in many Italian wines like Chianti.

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Sugarcane Spirits

Cachaca, the Brazilian distillate that fuels the caipirinha, usually dominates any conversation about non-rum sugarcane spirits. But other spirits in this niche category are slowly making their way into cocktail culture.

Clairin is Haiti’s unofficial national spirit, and making it is a revered tradition in the island nation. Made with raw cane juice as opposed to molasses, much like rum agricole, it’s typically crafted in small rural distilleries in villages across the country. “It’s a straight sugarcane distillate that’s un-aged; they have this great briny, green flavor,” said Andy Foerstel, co-owner of Intoxicology. For those looking to expand their palates, Intoxicology currently carries three different clairins: Sajous, Le Rocher and Casimir

Wiggins utilizes clairin and charanda, a sugarcane spirit from Mexico, on his drink menus at Yellowbelly, Lazy Tiger and Retreat Gastropub, which he co-owns with Travis Howard. Humble Brag, one of the few cocktails that’s remained on the menu at Lazy Tiger since it opened, features Patrick St. Surin Clairin Milot, a spirit Wiggins described as having great aromatics and notes of blueberry yogurt. The Guava Bomb at Yellowbelly is based on Uruapan blanco charanda, and Uruapan charanda also makes an appearance in the restaurant’s Mango Tango. At Lazy Tiger, Uruapan aged charanda is featured on the sugarcane flight; both versions are available at The Wine & Cheese Place.

“The Spirit of Haiti, the company that has brought in almost all of the other clairins to the market, has really changed the game,” Wiggins said. “They’re bringing most of them in at a cocktail price point. Before, you just couldn’t get clairin in the U.S., or at a price point where you could use it in a cocktail.”

He also credits Uruapan for being at the forefront of bringing affordable charandas into the market, a spirit he’s particularly stoked about.

“What Mexico is producing as far as their sugarcane spirits is really exciting,” Wiggins said.

The Wine Merchant

Longtime Clayton stalwart The Wine Merchant recently picked up stakes and moved west. The spirited retailer opened its doors to its new location at 9200 Olive Blvd. in Olivette in mid-August. The store was located at 20 S. Hanley Road for over 20 years before relocating just a few blocks away to 7817 Forsyth Blvd. in 2015.

Jason Main, president, said while the new location is roughly the same size as the last one as far as square footage, it’s more efficiently laid out. “It’s now all merchandisable,” Main said. Whereas the prior building’s three-story layout had limited how much inventory could be stocked, the new layout has allowed for tons of new products to be brought in. The location also has a freezer, which has allowed for new edible products to be added to the mix, like Crispy Edge pot stickers and frozen wagyu steaks. Main said there will also be an increased focus on bringing in local products for the cheese department.

Business hours have also been increased as well. The store is now open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m Sunday.

Main said that the location will host a grand opening event on Saturday, Sept. 9, with door prizes, local vendors including Perennial Artisan Ales and Salume Beddu, and a free Sicilian wine tasting.

NA wines

Non-alcoholic beverages continue to be an area of growing interest as consumers look for quality ways to imbibe booze-free, and NA wines are at the forefront of the trend. Most are either categorized as wine alternatives, which are custom creations that use various ingredients to replicate the flavors of wine, or dealcoholized wines, which have been fermented in the usual way and then have had the alcohol removed.

Blackwell-Calvert said she’s definitely seeing an increased interest in non-alcoholic wines. “It’s a trend that’s not going away anytime soon. If anything, it’s gaining momentum. It’s fascinating to watch,” she said. BlackwellCalvert said she prefers dealcoholized wines over wine alternatives, and there’s one producer that’s her favorite by far.

“I love Leitz Cellars, I think they make the best NA wines,” she said. “I love their dry riesling. In my opinion, it’s the best nonalcoholic wine made. It tastes like wine instead of a wine alternative. You don’t really miss the alcohol.” Leitz also makes a brut sparkling version as well. Blackwell-Calvert pours both at Cinder House, and consumers can find them locally at The Wine Merchant.

Lehrer said he still finds most dealcoholized wines a bit disappointing, but he has had success with Muri, a line of wine alternatives from Copenhagen made through a process similar to that of kombucha. “They pour like wine and they have the look of wine, but they aren’t grape-based,” he said.

missouri wine’s renaissance


Because Missouri’s climate is harsh for vitis vinifera (the most familiar grape species –think: chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon), regional producers discovered the varieties most conducive for winemaking are French hybrids and native vines, which can produce wine despite our humid summers and cold winters. These wines have garnered a reputation for being cloyingly sweet, lacking complexity and having a musky, ‘foxy’ taste profile. After several years of judging domestic and international competitions, however, I am happy to report higher quality and more serious styles from local wineries are on the rise. Two popular hybrids, the versatile white Vignoles and the red berry-forward Chambourcin, are making strides to become darlings of Missouri at the hands of passionate winemakers. Time and again, I have found myself gravitating toward the following bottles.

2022 Noboleis Vineyards Dry Vignoles

German-influenced Augusta, the U.S.’s inaugural viticultural region, is home to many notable wineries including Noboleis Vineyards. Their Dry Vignoles is lightbodied but highly aromatic, expressing fresh pineapple, lemon curd, ripened white peach and lemon verbena. Zesty acidity balances the tropical focus of the wine leaving the palate dry, but the impression of juicy fruit lingers.

$26. Noboleis Vineyards, 100 Hemsath Road, Augusta, 636.482.4500,

2021 Röbller Vineyard Vignoles Reserve

Winemaker Jerry Mueller has something special at New Haven’s Robller vineyards: Whereas most Missouri vineyards sit atop clay-heavy glacial soils, Robller features a deposit of Pennsylvanian Period limestone. (Other notable wine regions with limestonebased soils include Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley.) Mueller’s European approach for this crisp white wine, like churning the sediment left from spent yeast cells and allowing the fermenting wine to remain in contact with that sediment for 12 months, highlights his site’s pronounced minerality. Similarly, his diligence in choosing yeast strains that support the desired mouthfeel also contributes to the wine’s quality. The result is a pristine example of Vignoles with fresh golden apple, lemon zest, river rock and underripe pineapple wrapped in creamy texture.

$25. Straub’s, 8282 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.725.2121,

2020 Eagles’ Landing Edg-Clif Chambourcin

Advanced sommelier Eric Taylor is at the helm of Eagles’ Landing, applying a modern edge to local grape varieties. His

style is retaining freshness in his wines while showcasing varietal characteristics. The winery’s Terroir Series takes a dive into how Chambourcin thrives in the ancient soils of the Ozarks. The elegant 2020 Edg-Clif Chambourcin hails from silty loam over Potosi dolomite with small outcroppings of Precambrian St. Francis volcanic rock on a bluff overlooking the Fourche a Renault stream. Eagles’ Landing utilizes wholecluster fermentation, resulting in an exotic expression of Chambourcin offering notes of watermelon rind, crushed cranberry, fresh violet and sage. The wine is light-bodied like Gamay from Beaujolais, France, while moderate tannins are aided by nine months of neutral French oak aging.

$25. Eagles’ Landing,

2017 Röbller Vineyard Chambourcin Reserve

Solidifying that Missouri can produce world-class wines, Karen MacNeil’s Third Edition of The Wine Bible features Robller Vineyard’s Chambourcin Reserve, the first time a wine from the state has been described in the publication. The vineyard’s situation on a river bluff range and the use of dry farming methods leads to quality Chambourcin with a distinct herbal and earthy note, reminiscent of the vinifera grape Grenache from France’s Rhone Valley. 2017 was a warm and dry vintage, so Chambourcin Reserve showcases ripe strawberry, Morello cherry, dried thyme and soft baking spices from 12 months spent in new Chinkapin oak barrels. There is true finesse in the Robller reserve line that I believe any fan of European wines would appreciate.

$40. Wild Olive Provisions, 2201 S. 39th St., St. Louis, 314.300.8089,

Alisha Blackwell-Calvert is an advanced sommelier with Cinder House at The Four Seasons - St. Louis.

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A tremendous amount of credit for the current shape of St. Louis’ cocktail culture is owed to Ted Kilgore, coowner of Planter’s House and Small Change and formerly of Monarch Restaurant & Wine Bar and the legendary Taste by Niche. Kilgore and his creations have been profiled in publications like Esquire and Food & Wine and by well-known cocktail writers like the late Gaz Regan, raising those drinks’ profile locally and putting them on travelers’ agendas.

Three of Kilgore’s creations are contenders for essential status: the Industry Sour, created at Taste in 2011, and Purgatory, created at Monarch in 2007. Planter’s House currently offers a version of the Purgatory (rye, Benedictine and Green Chartreuse) as part of its barrel-pick cocktail program. The Industry Sour recipe is heavier on Green Chartreuse, and with the latter scarce these days, Kilgore took the cocktail off his menus. “People have to know to ask for it,” he said. Other bars are adapting the recipe to substitute something like genepy to replace the Green Chartreuse.

“I’ve found [the Industry Sour] as far away as Melbourne, Australia and Amsterdam,” Kilgore said. During a recent stop in Spokane, Washington,

Kilgore found himself in a bar where he couldn’t help but overhear the manager talking to a bartender about the Industry Sour. “I was like, ‘If you have any questions, I can tell you about it, because it’s my cocktail,’” he said.

If one St. Louis drink could be labeled iconic, however, it would probably be Kilgore’s In A Pickle, which is still on the menu at both Planter’s House and Small Change. Its recipe of Hendrick’s gin, velvet falernum, St. Germain and lime juice, garnished with dill and cucumber, remains fresh and unique. Although it has received acclaim from national media, Kilgore said the In A Pickle is still “way more regional” than the Industry Sour, the latter having become something of a “bartender’s handshake.” Still, years after the In A Pickle first appeared, Kilgore said customers are bringing friends into Planter’s House telling them they have to order it. “It’s just so well-known in St. Louis,” he said.

Tim Wiggins, co-owner of cocktail consultancy Bangers Only and the On Point Hospitality restaurant group, said the In A Pickle’s influence on the local scene is palpable in part because it fits a rubric that facilitates a cocktail’s path to “essential” status. “It’s made from ingredients you can buy, it doesn’t have any homemade, unique ingredients – and yet it’s unique to that place,” Wiggins said, referring to the original Taste by Niche location, where the drink was created. “People are now ordering refreshing, herbaceous

gin cocktails with savory elements, and that’s good for St. Louis cocktail culture. When you look at cocktail bars’ menus in St. Louis, almost everyone has some sort of riff on an herbaceous, lightly salty, gin shaken cocktail.”


Neither the name nor the Indianinspired flavors of Retreat Gastropub’s Golden State suggest its Midwestern provenance, but beverage professional Matt Sorrell said it’s a worthy addition to any list of essential St. Louis cocktails. “Everybody’s had it, everybody loves it, and it just stays on the menu,” said Sorrell, who is currently a bartender at Bistro La Floraison as well as a contributing writer to Sauce Created by Tim Wiggins in 2016, the Golden State has become a classic largely via word of mouth. Its yellowgold hue is an immediate attentiongrabber, while the drink itself blends notes of turmeric, ginger, coconut and curry leaf over a base of gin and curacao noir. Big Heart Tea’s Sunshine Dust tea provides the turmeric and ginger infusion, while Wiggins uses Kansas City’s J. Rieger & Co. gin.


The Royale’s Subcontinental is another drink whose unique flavor profile backs up its love-at-first-sight appeal. An elder

statesman among its peers, The Royale was part of the initial wave of St. Louis bars that helped bring cocktails to the fore with an emphasis on fresh juice, herbs and other quality ingredients. Owner Steven Smith said several of the bar’s longstanding cocktails – the Mr. Smith (gin, mint syrup, lime and ginger beer) and the Butler Miller (a patron’s creation of vodka, lime and Chambord), for example – have amassed a loyal following, but the Subcontinental has a particularly seductive effect on customers.

On the menu since The Royale opened in 2005, The Subcontinental is a translucent green cocktail of gin, Cointreau, cucumber juice, lime juice and simple syrup. “It was one of the first in town to use cucumber juice, and it was fresh – very unique,” said Kilgore. It’s one of those drinks Smith says has always had a “domino effect” on customers, where people order it because it catches the eye when they see somebody else having it. It’s what we now understand as virality, and these days it’s not unusual for amateur bartenders to tag The Royale on Instagram with photos of their homemade Subcontinentals. “It’s definitely the signature drink of our place, and it’s very popular,” Smith said. “I would guess it’s probably in the top five drinks consistently for nearly 20 years.”

One sure sign that a cocktail is gaining cultural resonance is when customers start ordering it in other bars. Another is when those other bars add the drink to their own menus, sometimes under a new

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PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER golden state cocktail at retreat gastropub

name. “Cucumber drinks, I’ve seen them in a couple of places very similar to here, and I’m like, ‘Well, that’s cute,’” Smith said. “If you call it the Subcontinental, I’m not going to come after you, but it would be nice if you called it that.”


Also, St. Louis, let’s be honest. There are times – usually ending in “a.m.” – when we allow for a more permissive definition of what counts as a cocktail. “As far as what we all seem to order, it does seem to revolve around the Boilermaker idea,” said Pat Gioia of The Vandy. “Your classic Stag beer and shot of whiskey was always real popular among a lot of the bar and club people themselves.” Tim Wiggins said if the crowd at South Grand

Blvd. stalwarts like CBGB and the nowshuttered Mangia Italiano wasn’t drinking a beer and a shot, it was usually a whiskey ginger. “That was as nice as a cocktail got – but also delicious!” he said. Steven Smith called out the Sandinista, a shot of tequila, lime juice and Sriracha which, legend has it, Doug Morgan, co-owner of The Saturn Lounge, invented at the much-missed Upstairs Lounge.


Wiggins noted that St. Louis is currently in the middle of a “rebuilding” phase when it comes to cocktails. Bartending is already a career where attrition takes its toll, but the pandemic inflicted a major blow in terms of people leaving the industry. “The people who were

making the most exciting cocktails eight or nine years ago are all out of the game, except for Ted [Kilgore],” said Wiggins. However, there are also new talents emerging, with experienced mentors to learn from and new bars making an impact on the scene, including Tony Saputo and Meredith Barry’s Platypus, Barry and Michael Fricker’s New Society, and The Vandy.

Gioia compared the current state of cocktails in St. Louis to an eclectic “wildflower explosion” of creativity that may take years to fully bloom. “The experimental nature of what we’re doing has caught on among a lot of people,” he said. “Maybe in another five to 10 years we will have some truly iconic drinks in the same way like if you think of the Sazerac of New Orleans.”

subcontinental at the royale
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Advanced sommelier Wanda Cole-Nicholson got her start in wine while working as a server at Blue Water Grill in Chicago. Through weekly wine classes and regular tastings led by the restaurant’s sommelier, “I found out there was this huge world of wine and involved in it was not only art but also geography, geology – just the study of multiple crafts within the winemaking world,” she said. After 13 years in Chicago that included eight years working as a sommelier, the pandemic prompted Cole-Nicholson to return home to St. Louis to be closer to family; today, she’s a biweekly guest on Studio STL’s Wine Down Wednesday program on KTVI. Here, Cole-Nicholson discusses her strategies for making wine less intimidating and the wine region and grape varietal she’s obsessed with right now. – Liz

“I had an opportunity to take the first level sommelier exam because we were hosting the exam at our restaurant, and they gave us a free seat. I was like, ‘A $600 exam for free? What’s the worst that can happen? I fail, and I’m out nothing.’”

“So, I bought a wine encyclopedia and studied it from front to back every waking moment and tasted a bunch of wine and took the test and passed, which I didn’t think I was going to do. I was like, ‘I’m just gonna throw this out there, and we’ll see what happens.’”

“I started teaching wine classes. And then I took the certified exam here in St. Louis at Monarch. That was in 2009. And then I just kept working in restaurants. And I eventually transitioned from server to a sommelier role in 2010 after I took the certified exam.”

“When I talk to guests and customers, I’m always careful to use … wine descriptors that they’re familiar with, like fruity, racy, elegant, full-bodied, dark, dense, rich, staying away from some of the sommelier jargon that kind of goes over people’s heads. I had to

learn how to take my somm hat off for a moment and just be the wine girl.”

“Not everyone wants a perfect wine experience. I tell people all the time, if you like sweet wine, and you’re eating a bone-in ribeye, and you asked me, ‘What’s the best pairing?’ I’m gonna tell you it’s probably going to be a Napa [cabernet] or Argentinian malbec or a Bordeaux. [But] if you don’t like dry red wine, that’s not going to be a good experience for you.”

“So that’s why I say, ‘You’re the boss, I’m here for you. I’m your wine guide.’ That’s all I’m here for. I’m the wine geek that likes to drink a lot and read about it.”

“I’m a huge riesling nut. I’m excited that riesling has really grown over the years. And that’s because a lot of people are realizing there’s more than just sweet riesling. There’s also like really bone-dry rieslings. … It has high acidity, it goes great with food, it has beautiful aromatics, and the alcohol tends to be on the lower-to-moderate side, so you’re not getting drunk very quickly.”

“Washington state is one of my favorite [regions]. Everything that comes out of Washington state is delicious. Their wines have a unique sense of place, they have root, they have earth, they have depth and they have complexity. Some of them tend to be on the more expensive side, but you get way more bang for your buck.”

“I tell people all the time how St. Louis has grown – not just the wine scene [but also] the beer scene, gastronomy, the fact that we’re getting James Beard [Award] nominations, the fact that Michelin is looking at us now, the fact that the Court of Master Sommeliers has their master sommelier exam just about every year here.”

“I would like to see more [wine industry] trade shows come here. I definitely think that it has expanded: In 2019, before the world shut down, Pinnacle Imports had a huge portfolio tasting for their 25th anniversary, and that was fantastic. Bommarito Wines and Spirits has theirs every year; I’ll actually be working on that one. … I think that may have been trending in that direction, but I think Covid threw a wrench into it.”

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Growing City Greens

Sept. 6 – 6 to 9 p.m., Wild Carrot, 3901 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, 618.694.4688,

Show off your green garb while supporting your local green thumbs. Local beer and wine will fill your glasses while Farm Spirit STL provides the bites at this cocktailstyle “green party” (think Diddy’s white parties, but in a different hue). Proceeds will go to expanding food access for all in the area. Tickets available online.

Schlafly Art Outside Festival

Sept. 8 – 5 to 9 p.m., Sept. 9 – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sept. 10 – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave., Maplewood, 314.241.2337,

Over 60 local artists working in a wide variety of mediums fill the streets with their artwork. Jam to a new band every day – there’s 11 scheduled, including Rum Drum Ramblers, Red and Black Brass Band and Hillary Fitz Band. A mix of Schlafly’s summer and fall beers will be available throughout the fest as well as festival-style snacks like smoked chicken nachos and bratwurst. Free admission.

*Sauce Food Truck Friday

Sept. 8 – 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 22 – 3 to 7 p.m., Tower Grove Park, 4501 Southwest Drive, St. Louis, 314.772.8004,

Like tough choices? Tower Grove Park offers bites and sips from local food trucks on select Fridays this summer through early fall. More than 20 of our favorite trucks will be there, and luckily, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Free admission.

Taste of Black St. Louis

Sept. 8, 9 and 10 - noon to 9 p.m., Poelker and Kaufman Parks, Tucker Avenue between Pine and Market Streets, St. Louis,

Taste of Black St. Louis is a “multi-sensory experience” featuring live entertainment like DJs, a chef battle, shopping from local Black-owned vendors and artists and, of course, food. Many of the area’s top Black-owned restaurants and food trucks will be there including Fufu N’ Sauce, CC’S Vegan Spot SoulVeganlicious and Mighty Me. Free admission.

Hard-Pressed Cider Fest

Sept. 9 – noon to 5 p.m., Eckert’s Belleville Farm, 951 S. Green Mountain Road, 800.745.0513,

Eckert’s is kicking off the fall season with more than just cider. Guest chefs from around the area will create dishes using Eckert’s apples and cider, with free samples available plus food for purchase. Participating restaurants include Bowood by Niche, Chicken Scratch and Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery. Sip a little cider, pick a few apples and enjoy the live music – whatever you think is right to start the season. Free admission.

*Music at the Intersection

Sept. 9 and 10 – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Grand Center Arts District, 3526 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.533.0367,

With a stacked lineup of national and local blues, jazz, soul, hip-hop artists and more ready to take the stage in the Grand Center Arts District, this street fest takes the block

party to a whole new level. Come early for a bite from the Sauce Magazine Food Truck Court, which will include familiar faces like Cajun Seduction, Farm Truk and Tuk Tuk Thai. Stay late for music acts throughout the night, all in celebration of St. Louis’s rich musical, cultural and artistic heritage. Tickets available online.


Sept. 16 – 2 to 10 p.m., Cedar Lake Cellars, 11008 Schreckengast Road, Wright City, 636.745.9500,

If you’re sad the Fourth of July is over and New Year’s Eve can’t come soon enough, this is an event for you. Cedar Lake Cellars partnered with Pyrotechnics Co. to create a two-hour choreographed and musical firework experience. Snag a snack from one of the food trucks then grab a glass of wine from the winery. Close out your summer with a bang! Tickets available online.

Pere Marquette Apple Festival

Sept. 17 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Pere Marquette Lodge, 13653 Lodge Blvd., Grafton, 618.786.2331, Craving apples at the turn of the season? Just a hop across the river will get you to the annual Apple Festival in Grafton. Festivities will be plentiful, from apple wine tastings to apple pie walks (like a cake walk but with pies). But it’s not just about apples: At the end of the day, you can decorate a pumpkin then race it down the hill in front of the lodge; the winner will receive a free night’s stay. Free admission.

denotes a sauce-sponsored event

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