Dishcrawl's Cocktail Wars: Which Drink Will Win?
A bourbon cocktail at Mission Taco, one of the competitors. | Jennifer Silverberg
Some of St. Louis' best bartenders will be slinging drinks at Mad Art Gallery (2727 South 12th Street; 314-771-8230) on Tuesday, December 10, and competing in the North American Spirits Championship -- a.k.a. Dishcrawl's Cocktail Wars. Each one is distinct; read on for more detailed descriptions.
"This is our first cocktail competition, and I'm just so excited. We've got some really amazing bartenders around town," says Dishcrawl spokesperson Sara Graham. "These drinks are going to be extremely well thought out and handcrafted."
First up is the "Misfire" from Tyler Baublitz of Eclipse (6177 Delmar Boulevard; 314-726-2222). "It's basically a play on a shot and a beer," Baublitz tells us. "Being a bartender, no matter how good of a bartender you are, you're always going to be pulling shots and beers. So that's kinda how I wanted to play on it."
The "shot" component is whiskey and a chai tea simple syrup that Baublitz makes, served in a cordial glass. The "beer" is more like a carbonated punch, made with Pinckney Bend gin, Big O ginger liqueur plus a cranberry cordial. "You kind of have two opposite spectrums -- the shot's got a lot of spice coming from the chai tea, and the beer is like ginger and cranberry, and lighter because it's carbonated."
Kyle Harlan from Mission Taco Joint (6235 Delmar Boulevard; 314-932-5430) will be competing with a "Kentucky 75," his take on the classic French 75. "I used to run a place called the Standard. It was a speakeasy, not menu-based, so every drink I made was based off an interaction with a customer," Harlan says. "It was a drink I just threw together for some friends and really liked."
The "Kentucky 75" is bourbon based and uses sugar cubes soaked in vanilla instead of bitters. Harlan mixes the bourbon with raspberry and apple syrups before pouring over the sugar cubes, then he tops it with Champagne.
"It's got sweet elements that the bourbon counteracts. That vanilla actually pops through more than anything, which is surprising," Harlan says. "The way the caramels and oaks interact with the fruit -- the Champagne really dries it and balances it out."
"Home Alone" is the entry from the Royale's (3132 South Kingshighway; 314-772-3600) Kevin Arndt. "I love whiskey. It's kind of a take on a sour," Arndt says. "What I wanted to do was a warm, seasonal approach."
The drink combines bourbon with Big O liqueur and vanilla, lemon, apple, brandy and black-walnut bitters. Arndt calls it an elaborate sour, approachable and well-balanced. "It tastes like fall. They're the most delicious bitters I've ever had, but I wouldn't put them in just anything. It's really something to accent whiskey," Arndt says. "While the drink itself is cold, it's got a lot of really warm characteristics. I could sit there and drink it all day."
Next: more drinks!