Brennan's "I Wanna Get Buzzed But I Don't Wanna Drink Drink": Gut Check's Hump Day Cocktail Suggestion

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       Brennan's "I Wanna Get Buzzed But I Don't Wanna Drink Drink." | Pat Kohm

Wednesday. Hump Day. Congrats, you've made it halfway through the work week!
Unfortunately, you still have two days to go. Dunno about you, but in order to survive the midweek blues, we're going to need a drink. Which brings us to our Wednesday Gut Check feature: Gut Check's Hump-Day Cocktail Suggestion! Each week we take you to one of our favorite St. Louis bars (and, oh, the list is long) for a drink (or two) we -- in consultation with the bartender -- highly recommend.

Among the many upscale bars and restaurants of the Central West End sits the unostentatious Brennan's (4659 Maryland Avenue; 314-361-9444), a shiny beacon for those adrift, searching for the perfect drink to finish off a grueling workday. Ready to oblige is barkeep Zach Gzehoviak, who stands behind the long, narrow bar just itching to fix up a drink. We've come to the right place.

See also: Best Place to Time-Travel to the Prohibition Era - The Speakeasy at Brennan's


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The Scottish Arms' "Blond Lass": Gut Check's Hump Day Cocktail Suggestion

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        Welcome to The Scottish Arms. | Caillin Murray

Wednesday. Hump Day. Congrats, you've made it halfway through the work week!
Unfortunately, you still have two days to go. Dunno about you, but in order to survive the midweek blues, we're going to need a drink. Which brings us to our Wednesday Gut Check feature: Gut Check's Hump-Day Cocktail Suggestion! Each week we take you to one of our favorite St. Louis bars (and, oh, the list is long) for a drink (or two) we -- in consultation with the bartender -- highly recommend.

When we walked into The Scottish Arms (6-10 South Sarah Street; 314-535-0551), little did we know that we soon would bear witness to a momentous occasion -- the birth of a cocktail. The brilliantly bearded man behind the bar, Nate Kromat, explained that after recently arriving to The Scottish Arms from Sanctuaria, he was in the process of reworking the cocktail menu. So when we initially asked for a recommendation off the menu, he did us one better by offering to give a peek at what he's working up for the near future. Yes, please!


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Plush's Lucas Prize Mixes Gut Check A "The Locust" Cocktail

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Holly Fann
Plush bartender Lucas Prize.
Lucas Prize is an uber-conscientious individual. While waiting to interview the bartender of Plush (3224 Locust Street; 314-535-2048), we watched as Prize filled drink orders for his servers during dinner service, doing little things like using a cocktail napkin to pick up straws for iced coffees and frothy cocktails so his bare (and probably impeccably clean fingers) never touched them -- something no one would ever see from the other side of the bar.

When a mix-up occurred and a flustered server was on the brink of dramatic overload, Lucas calmly asked her, "What would you like me to do for you right now?" which is probably the best way ever to soothe an itchy situation. A hot and stinky pair of students dragged themselves inside from the 100-degree-heat to the bar and asked for some water. Prize fills to-go cups full of ice and water and chats with them about new movies with the same warm and welcoming demeanor he greets the growing number of customers filtering into the bar. He is the type of guy whose name you expect to see engraved on an "Employee of the Month" plaque twelve times in a row. It's no surprise then that Prize has invested his heart and soul in Plush since its opening.

"This place is a melting pot," says Prize. "The shows we have are diverse -- hip-hop, indie, all kinds -- and that brings in different kinds of people."

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Horizon Boutique Nightclub's Bradon Parsons: 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, Rease Kirchner profiles Horizon Boutique Nightclub's Bradon Parsons. Below is a Q&A with Parson's followed by his recipe for the "Let's Get Looped" martini.

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Alexis Hitt
Bradon Parsons of Horizon Boutique Nightclub.
Horizon Boutique Nightclub (2144 Market Street; 314-421-6969) is the newly renovated nightclub attached to Harry's downtown. The bar scene at Harry's has been a roller coaster of changes throughout the years, but the Horizon looks to be a much classier venue in the nightclub scene. Gut Check met up with the bar manager, Bradon Parsons, to get the lowdown on what to expect from the bar at this new chic hot spot.

Parsons started working the bar scene more than twenty years ago; he's been with Harry's through the good and the bad. He noted that a combination of external factors, including the highway 64/40 construction, economic struggles and poor decisions led to Harry's falling off the grid for a while in the past.

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Wolfbräu House of Beer to Open in St. Peters

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Image via
With the rapid growth of craft beer in St. Louis, it was only a matter of time before someone opened a retail store like Wolfbräu House of Beer (286 Mid Rivers Center, St. Peters; 636-242-1040). Founder Ryan Wolf describes Wolfbräu, scheduled to open the second week of December, as a "local store with a beer-exclusive focus" -- something that's surprisingly difficult to find.

With more than 600 varieties on the shelf, Wolf isn't kidding. But although Wolfbräu will offer brews from around the world, Wolf understands the importance of the growing local beer community and the excellent brews being produced right here in St. Louis.

"In Missouri, we are very fortunate to have such high-quality local brewing, and we plan to put it on display," says Wolf. His store plans to offer beer from O'Fallon Brewery, Six Row Brewing Company, The Civil Life Brewing Company and 2nd Shift Brewing, to name a few.

To stay up to date on Wolfbräu, including its grand-opening event and special promotion, visit its Facebook page.

Laurent-Perrier Brut, Pomme Café and Wine Bar

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Alicia Lohmar
There it is, right there on the cocktail list in front of us. Rye Manhattan. We want one of those, on the rocks. Truth be told, that's what we feel like drinking most of the time. It's our drink. But we covered that ground already (Drink of the Week #6, Off Broadway) and we have a column due in two days, so tough noogies. Pick something else, buddy. There's a Sazerac, but we've done that, too (Drink of the Week # 33, Herbies' Vintage 72). None of the other cocktails are speaking to us. We're having fish for dinner, so no red wine. White wine seems too summery. Voila, champagne.

We arrived at this restaurant in a similar fashion. The last stop on our to-do list left us in downtown Clayton at 6:30 p.m. We searched our phone for nearby restaurants, then eliminated the ones that are closed on Sunday nights. Hello, Pomme Café and Wine Bar!

We sip Laurent-Perrier Brut and look out the window at the dusky sidewalk and its sparse foot traffic. Inside a row of globe-shaped pendant lights are turned low, each like its own setting sun. We imagine this chic café is all hustle and bustle on weekdays, but tonight it is serene.

We are absorbing this place, watching, waiting. We have found that if we are aware and patient, then we will be rewarded with a small gift; a snippet of overheard conversation, a detail, something to grab onto and spin into a story. We study our glass of bubbly and listen intently to the murmurs in this French bistro. When we finally hear that little whisper, this is what it says: "Au revoir."


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Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice, The Vine Mediterranean Café and Market

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Alicia Lohmar
Our bodies are miraculous machines, almost as intuitive and user-friendly as Steve Jobs' creations. They try to tell us what is good for us, try to steer us in the right direction. When we need rest, we get tired. When we need to eat, we get hungry. Even what, specifically, we are hungry for is a coded message from the corporeal realm.

When we are hung over, we feel like a greasy diner breakfast because our body knows it will sop up the booze. When we have a head cold, we yearn for the sinus-clearing hot and sour soup from the late, great In Soo. When we have PMS, we crave chocolate and kindness.

Certain foods have medicinal, nearly magical properties. We don't mean "super foods" like walnuts and blueberries, green tea and red wine. The way those work is more like math - if you eat lots foods rich in omega 3's and antioxidants, then over time you will have fewer health problems and probably live to a ripe old age.


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Writer's Block Petite Sirah 2008, Anthonino's Taverna

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Alicia Lohmar
We are hungry. We don't feel like cooking (and there isn't much in the fridge anyway). We don't want to get dressed up, don't want to go far and don't want to spend a fortune. The question before us is not a fanciful one, not, "Where should we go for dinner?" but, "How can we solve this problem?" It's Monday night, many places are closed. The later it gets, the more limited our options become. Our eyeballs are throbbing dully. We are craving a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. We are looking to be comforted and comfortable.

This is how we came to be sitting at a sidewalk table at the top of a hill on the Hill on a perfectly clear night, lit by a bright moon. The answer floated down to us like the first fall leaf - Anthonino's Taverna (2225 Macklind Avenue; 314-773-4455). Open till 10 p.m. on Mondays, they serve a menu of Greek and Italian classics, and we don't feel the least self-conscious in blue jeans and no makeup. In the last waning days of patio season, we've arrived at the Platonic ideal of outdoor dining - warm enough that you don't need even a sweater, cool enough, with a little breeze, to drink Petite Sirah.


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Swedish Fish Vodka, Farmhaus

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Alicia Lohmar
First, a quick retraction. We wrote in this very column, just a little over a year ago, "...don't sully the time-honored occupation of respectable drinking by concocting all sorts of foolishness that ends in '-tini' and isn't 'gin martini' or that contains the words 'nipple' or 'bomb.' We like cake and candy as much as the next girl, but that doesn't mean we want our cocktails to taste like them."

Now, Swedish Fish-flavored vodka is not technically a cocktail, which by definition contains more than one component. So, if we wanted to cling to semantics, we could probably wriggle off the hook. Then again, it was only a few weeks ago that we featured the Hog Bomb at HotShots, so perhaps it's time to redact that statement altogether. When caught in an apparent contradiction, we find the best tact is to smile beatifically and quote Oscar Wilde Walt Whitman: "I am large, I contain multitudes."

The better part of this multitude is contrarian as hell, so now that vodka, and in particular flavored vodka, is officially passé, we are inclined to like and defend it. The softest part in our mushy little heart is reserved for underdogs; we are always making friends with the least popular kid in class, always drawn to outcasts, oddballs and three-legged cats.


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Hurricane, Café Ventana

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Alicia Lohmar
On our way out the door the other afternoon, we spied a squirrel taking a nap, sprawled on a low, fat tree branch in the backyard. Arms and legs hanging, belly stuffed with black walnuts, he was suspended directly above a woefully underused hammock. We felt a sharp pang of jealousy. Drink of the Week has a bad case of the late summer lazies. Normally an assiduous to-do list checker-offer, we haven't flipped the page of our notepad in more than a week.

The breaking of the seemingly interminable heat spell brought relief but also some end-of-summer melancholy. This has manifested as profound listlessness, squirrel envy and a fascination with southern culture. These days about the only thing we can work up much interest in doing is sitting down with a big ol' plate of fried fish, black-eyed peas and stewed okra with a few thick tomato slices on the side, then retiring to the back porch with an iced tea and a copy of Garden and Gun to listen to the cicadas.

St. Louis displays a little of its own southern charm, like sweet-smelling magnolia trees with dinner plate-sized white blossoms and shiny dark green leaves, but the soul of this town is as solidly Midwestern as a soybean. We have the sense that time actually slows down as you move south. The Deep South of our imagination is full of decorum, languid drawls that roll softly off tongues, evening strolls and dripping moss.

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