Drinks of the Year

The best libations of 2005

Reflection. Who needs it? Another year down, a few dozen more to go. What do you want Drink of the Week to say about it? That this year meant something? That this year's drinking weeks were somehow more magical, more memorable than the ten billion other drinking weeks we've had in our quasi-exciting life? Drinks are drinks. They all taste pretty good. Some taste better. We usually prefer those.

But we've pounded the pavement all year. We've trudged through snowstorms and hailed cabs and bartenders, all in service to you, the drinkers of St. Louis. And we've uncovered a few things that need reiteration. Such as: the Frazertini, served at Frazer's Traveling Brown Bag, is an excellent drink consisting of Grey Goose Citron vodka, Grand Marnier, crème de cassis and, the secret weapon, Key lime juice.

We learned that raw milk really does help an itchy scalp and tastes better than pasteurized. We've learned that we should go to Iron Barley in south city at least monthly to see what drinks they're featuring. Their pumpkin brandy Alexander has the consistency of what we imagine to be similar to frankenscence, or maybe myrrh. Best dessert drink of the year. We learned about many other drinks in 2005, but three stood out.

Ciroc Martini at Lucas Park Grille; 1234 Washington Avenue, 314-241-7770.

The Grille, which has quickly become the most popular bar on Washington Avenue, could use a better drink menu, but their patrons aren't complaining. We had a simple majestic Ciroc martini with two olives here. Unlike most vodkas made with grain, Ciroc is made with Mauzac blanc grapes in the Gaillac region of France. A sip reveals an arc that begins at the lips with a whisper of fruit, passes over the gums with a subtle velvet confirmation, and then kisses the lips.

The Sazerac at Erato; 3117 South Grand Boulevard, 314-664-6400.

Here's to the Big Easy and a swift but thoughtful recovery. In early-nineteenth-century New Orleans, one Antoine Amedee Peychaud blended his brand of bitters, Peychaud, with cognac, absinthe and sugar. When absinthe was outlawed in 1912, bartenders substituted other, less-lethal anise-infused liqueurs. Variations abound, but Erato, on South Grand, offers theirs with Wild Turkey, genuine Peychaud Aromatic Cocktail Bitters and Herbsaint liqueur, a New Orleans brand that closely resembles absinthe, though not aged in wormwood. The result is a balanced, textured blend of clove, spice and whiskey.

Schlafly Coffee Stout at the Tap Room; 2100 Locust Street, 314-241-2337.

This beer is still churning around in our memories (and bloodstream). A brawny, sweet, earthy blend of Kaldi's coffee and oatmeal stout, the city's Schlafly Brewery mixes in the coffee at a ratio of a pound per barrel. The stout kills. There's no bitterness. Just an enveloping comfort. May we enjoy brews as exquisite in 2006. Randall Roberts

 
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