Taste's Kyle Mathis: Winner of Iron Fork's Mixology Competition and Featured Bartender of the Week
Welcome to Girl Walks Into a Bar, a weekly Gut Check feature that spotlights local bars and bartenders. This week, Kaitlin Steinberg profiles Kyle Mathis of Taste. Below is a Q&A with Mathis, followed by the recipe for "Another Hop Pun."
We know, we know. We just interviewed a bartender from Taste (4584 Laclede Avenue; 314-361-1200) back in February. Normally we don't like to double dip, but we just had to sit down with Kyle Mathis and ask him about bartending and crafting cocktails.
Kyle Mathis gets in the zone while shaking cocktails | Kaitlin Steinberg
Last Thursday, Mathis competed against eleven other top bartenders from around St. Louis at Iron Fork and won the mixology competition (and $500), making Taste the champ for the second year in a row. He made his winning cocktail, which he calls "Another Hop Pun," for us while we chatted, and he was nice enough to provide the recipe for this new creation.
Mathis has only been bartending for six months, and Ted Kilgore, owner of Taste, taught him everything he knows.
"I had to learn all the recipes before I even stepped foot behind the bar," Mathis says. Armed with that knowledge, he has been able to add a hefty dose of his own creativity to his bartending, though it takes some prodding to get him to admit that.
"I just try to make balanced cocktails," he says, modestly. Then he returns to measuring and mixing with the focused intensity of a true craftsman.
Describe your bartending style in three words.
Deliberate, easygoing and creative.
A girl walks into a bar and orders a _____. She has just earned your undying admiration.
Just ask my recommendation for a whiskey.
What is one thing that most people don't realize about bartending or bartending?
People think it's a mad-scientist thing, but there's a difference between stirring a cocktail and shaking a cocktail. It makes all the difference in the world. It's a pretty simple rule. Shake it if it has citrus; stir it if it doesn't.
Other than your own place, where do you go to get a good drink?
I think the Royale is probably my number one. If I get a cocktail, I'd get a "Last Word," for sure, but most of the time I drink beer or whiskey. (A "Last Word" is a gin-based cocktail with green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur.)