The Whiskey Ring's "Stockton Pride" Cocktail Inspired by Missouri's Black Walnuts

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        Miles Long, John Joern and Jason Matthews work behind the bar. | Zach Garrison

The newly opened Whiskey Ring (2651 Cherokee Street; 314-769-7249) capitalizes on the renewed interest in whiskey and its many varieties, but it does so in a very simple, unpretentious way -- a very laid-back and unintimidating place to try out a new style or brand. With a freshly minted cocktail menu emerging this week, we decided to grab a sip of one of the drinks to look forward to. Miles Long (surely one of the best bartender names you're likely to find) went to work on a "Stockton Pride," while we warmed up with a hot toddy.

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After the perfect space materialized on Cherokee Street, co-owners John Joern and Jason Matthews made the leap. A major remodel (90 percent of which was accomplished in-house) created the simple, slightly rustic interior that boasts a saloon-like feel, thanks to the excellent custom-made bar. It just needed a name. Kristen Dennis, co-owner of the Fortune Teller Bar, suggested referencing the Whiskey Ring Scandal of the late 1870s, which involved corruption in the White House and tax invasion, and -- even better -- had major ties to good ol' St. Louis. It was a perfect fit.

The drink list, which takes advantage of more than 50 kinds of bourbon, rye and scotch, skews toward Prohibition-era classics like the well-known "Old Fashioned" or a "Blood and Sand," but also standards like a "Boulevardier." But Joern and Matthews have also added their own innovative twists, like the "Stockton Pride."

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        "Stockton Pride." | Zach Garrison

Taking its name from the town of Stockton in west Missouri, where the black walnut grows in abundance, this cocktail utilizes black walnut bitters, paired with a sweet bourbon (1776), spiced rum and Applejack liquor to create a bittersweet combo.

"Its presence is well-known," says Joern, indicating that strength of the drink. But despite the mix of bourbon and rum, it is surprisingly smooth. The key seems to be the addition of a teaspoon of sugar (makes the medicine go down, they say) and black walnut, which adds a sweet and nutty aroma present in each sip. Served in a very modest, unadorned glass meant only for whiskey, "Stockton Pride" offers a promising glimpse of what you can expect from the Whiskey Ring.

Click through to find out how to make the "Stockton Pride" at home.


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