Kyle Mathis is going to Vegas. As the bar manager at Taste (4584 Laclede Avenue; 314-361-1200), Mathis is hoping that this time, what happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas. He's competing against 51 other bartenders from across the country in Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender contest and hopes to bring the trophy back to St. Louis -- we're totally up-and-coming in the craft cocktail world.
Mathis made his Bombay Sapphire concoction, the "Pattu Punch," at Lumen on July 29 in the semifinals. The judges named it the night's most imaginative, scoring Mathis a trip to Sin City and a chance to win big. He created "Pattu Punch" specifically for the competition to highlight the Bombay gin. "A lot of my thought and the way I put that cocktail together is perfectly in line with what Bombay is as a gin, with its ten botanicals," Mathis tells Gut Check. "I took those and sort of dissected them and I did my best to make each one kind of pop in the cocktail."
Wait, ten flavors? We are gin and tonic-lovers, but even we didn't know it was that complex. Mathis used DiSaronno amaretto and orgeat, an almond sweetener, to bring out the almond in the gin. The garnish of Saison DuPont -- a deceptively important addition -- corresponds to the coriander, lemon and Grains of Paradise botanicals.
Obviously, we had to taste this thing for ourselves. Though most of Taste's cocktail menu is Mathis creations, the "Pattu Punch" isn't on there because of the technicalities involved. So Gut Check went to a quiet, dimly lit Taste before the dinner rush to try it out.
After buttoning up his vest -- he is a mixologist, after all -- Mathis gets to work. He begins with a simple sour recipe for the cocktail's base: DiSaronno, Ramazotti, orgeat and lime juice. He shakes them with the gin and ice before straining into the glass. That's the easy part. Mathis then shakes the Saison DuPont with an egg white and carefully spoons the foam onto the top of the drink.
We were surprised at how much we liked it -- it's citrusy, as Mathis said, but not too fruity or too strong. It'd be perfect for a summer day. Mathis says he hasn't made "Pattu Punch" for any of his friends, though; he doesn't always have all the ingredients.
Mathis will bartend for the Bombay Sapphire judges on September 8. If he wins, he'll go on to the third annual global finals, be featured in GQ's "Men of the Year" issue and bartend at the Man of the Year party in Los Angeles. Mathis says he's really making sure he knows his ingredients and is able to talk intelligently about them in order to prepare.
"I'll be happy [if I win]. It'll be great for Taste and it'll be really, really amazing for St. Louis as a city. We're just kind of coming up on the rear as a small city in the craft cocktail scene," Mathis says. "I think we're doing a great job and we're still moving forward. Bringing something like that home to St. Louis would be really really amazing."
Continue for the "Pattu Punch" recipe.
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