There's a certain kind of understated pleasure that can come from cracking open a twelve-pack in your own back yard as the Cardinals game buzzes in the background. But as we dive headlong into summer, lots of local restaurants and bars are celebrating the warmer temps with carefully curated cocktails, many of which feature fresh herbs from on-site gardens, liquor that's infused in-house or inspiration from around the globe. Read on for some of the city's best seasonal cocktails.
"Bunny Love" at Atomic Cowboy A place that specializes in Tex-Mex fare (chimichangas, enchiladas, a killer Texas-style chili con carne) better serve a damn tasty margarita. Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester Avenue; 314-775-0775) passes that test and then some, offering multiple variations such as the "Cowboy-Rita" (that's the house marg, made with Milagro silver tequila, agave nectar and lime juice) and strawberry margaritas -- no sour mix here. But the quirky "Bunny Love" may be the most intriguing with its house-infused mango-chile tequila, lemon juice, agave nectar and, yes, fresh carrot juice. Enjoy it on Atomic Cowboy's spacious and revamped patio -- a perfect spot for enjoying drinks well into the wee hours: This Cowboy rides till 3 a.m. every day of the week.
"The Pamplemousse" at Bar Les Frères Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit. So guess what's in the cocktail of the same name at Clayton's new French bistro, Bar Les Frères (7637 Wydown Boulevard; 314-725-8880)? This simple yet elegant drink made of (you guessed it!) grapefruit liqueur is as tart as it is refreshing. And it's also a lot of fun to say, given that its butchered English pronunciation (papal moose) can make it sound like a Vatican-approved forest creature. Not into grapefruit? Try Bar Les Frères' excellent "French 75" made with Cointreau, gin, Champagne, and lemon and orange juices. Either citrus concoction is a fine choice for Francophiles, or anyone who appreciates an expertly crafted cocktail. We can't wait to see what this swanky Clayton newcomer dreams up next.
"Beware Coyotes" at Farmhaus The cocktail names at Farmhaus (3257 Ivanhoe Avenue; 314-647-3800) have whispers of Americana. There's the lemon-gin libation, "In the Boonies," and the "All I See Is Gold" that includes orange vodka and O'Fallon Brewery's Wheach beer. The down-home names are not so surprising for a place that has resurrected blue-plate lunch specials, to say nothing of its renowned dinner menu featuring upscale, locally sourced New American cuisine. In particular, the cocktail "Beware Coyotes" encapsulates Farmhaus quite well: Made with house-infused root-beer bourbon, sweet vermouth, triple sec and orange, it's deceptively simple -- kind of mysterious, kind of funny and all kinds of perfect for spring and summer.
Pineapple Mojito at Mango Peruvian Cuisine Peru is home to things great and fluffy (alpacas!), and small and, um, fried (guinea pigs). Downtown's Mango Peruvian Cuisine (1101 Lucas Avenue; 314-621-9993) has, well, neither of these things, but it does bring to the table fresh pineapple mojitos all summer long: Key limes get up close and personal with mint and Bacardi rum. Finished off with a splash of club soda and quartered limes, it's an ideal patio drink for watching downtown's denizens float on by. And even though the drinks themselves won't feature umbrellas, Mango's patio does.
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