The Scottish Arms (6-10 South Sarah Street; 314-535-0551) has made a remarkable discovery: When you take top-shelf whiskey, pair it with elegant samplings of delicious food, and serve it under the stars, people will want to be a part of it. Thus, the creation of "Whisky After Dark," the inauguration of which Gut Check was lucky enough to attend -- read our review and then go buy yourself a ticket for next week's event, Thursday, September 12.
After walking into Scottish Arms, you are immediately given a personalized, handwritten thank you card. Why? Because you bought a ticket and they appreciate it. We're off to a good start! Entering the back patio, you'll probably say to yourself: "Huh? I didn't even know this was back here." And while it's hidden behind fencing and tall brick buildings, the back patio at the Scottish Arms is, in fact, one of the best outdoor spaces in the Central West End. Alit with candles and blazing torches, not to mention one badass pergola, the atmosphere rides the line between sophistication and laid-back easement.
Every attendee is given a small snifter with rolled up menu sitting inside. But before we looked over the chosen pairings, we were drawn to back table where Nate Kromat, boasting a full-on kilt, expertly served his take on the "Blood and Sand." Matching the whole rustic vibe, the music playlist kept a constant flow of Johnny Cash, Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers. We were very content, and the actual whiskey dinner had yet to even begin.
To kick things off, the first pour was a Glenkinchie 12 year paired with pork head terrine. If that sounds intimidating, fear not, Michael Cline (general manager) and Chris Lynch (bar manager) were doing the pouring and gave a quick tutorial for each new drink. They helpfully explained why each whiskey was chosen, what the primary flavors are and how it should compliment the food choice.
Each course was an experiment as you try to gauge your palate -- you know, can you actually pick up on the combination of smoked trout and the salty crispness of the Balvenie twelve-year? Or notice the uniqueness of the Ardbeg Uigeadail -- very much a step up on the ladder of whiskies and oh-so-very strong but somehow, the peaty sweetness shines through after you get past the initial burn and matched perfectly with the roasted lamb shoulder.
Our favorite food item of the night was the duck confit drummi with a cherry glaze -- pretty spectacular -- and our favorite whisky was the final pour, a Glenmorangie Ealanta aged in wooden barrels made from handpicked Ozark (Missouri!) oak trees, which happen to be extremely porous and perfect for aging.
Needless to say, the night was a success. The only exception being the balmy weather, but luckily with future dinners, the weather will turn and fall evenings wait, plus, local vendors like Kakao Chocolate, Pint Size Bakery and Salume Beddu are scheduled to make an appearance. The next whiskey dinner will also feature Peter Wilkins, Midwest director for International Beverage Co., who will bring along several of his choice whiskies. So, if you're looking for a great way to introduce yourself to Scotch whisky, or if you're just searching for an enjoyable evening, buy a ticket ($40.00) and reserve your spot.
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