Farmhaus' Eric Scholle: 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 Alissa Nelson profiles Farmhaus bartender Eric Scholle. Below is a Q&A with Scholle, followed by a video of him mixing an Eggnog Martini.

You wanna make an Eggnog Martini? First you gotta bash up a bunch of Crown Candy Co.'s eggnog candies. - Alissa Nelson
Alissa Nelson
You wanna make an Eggnog Martini? First you gotta bash up a bunch of Crown Candy Co.'s eggnog candies.

Eric Scholle's cocktail offerings complement Farmhaus' playful side: Where Chef Kevin Willmann serves sweet potato nachos or bacon-wrapped meatloaf, Scholle steps in with similarly nostalgic flavors such as vodka infused with gummy bears and Swedish fish. He gets right down to brass tacks, though, when asked how he started infusing candy-flavored vodkas: "People were telling me about putting Skittles in their Zima in high school."

Scholle began his DIY distillery modestly last spring, adding sliced cucumbers to gin. But it quickly took off. "I would just rummage through the fridge looking for stuff, and if it sounded like it might be good I would try it," Scholle explains. This catchall approach yielded a series of seasonal drinks: red bell pepper and jalapeño vodka, carrot and ginger-honey gins, a rainbow of fruits. There were a few misses: a rosemary gin was too medicinal for cocktail use, while truffle vodka and gin fell flat.

Reading David Chang's Momofuku cookbook "changed the way I did infusions," Scholle says. He realized that the flavor and texture of his infusions improved if he puréed the ingredients before combining them with alcohol. This technique translates well to the candies, from chocolate to Swedish fish, which take on some of the mouthfeel of the sweets to yield a surprisingly smooth drink.

Sometimes it takes a well-intentioned start to create a refined finished product. Scholle recently made a marshmallow vodka that when mixed in the right proportions tastes just like Lucky Charms marshmallows. "Which is ironic," Scholle says, "because just the week before, I made Lucky Charms marshmallow vodka. I sat there and sorted all of the marshmallows out of a box of Lucky Charms and made vodka with it." But that labor of love left him with a jar of brackish brown vodka.

The new marshmallow vodka? Watch for that to hit the menu soon.

{If you know of a bartender who's deserving of a profile, e-mail [email protected]}

Click through to watch a video of Scholle mixing an Eggnog Martini...

In three words, how would you describe your bartending style? Unpretentious, fun and experimental.

Favorite drink to drink? It changes all the time. I'm mostly a beer guy, so I'll drink craft beer or local stuff or microbrews. But otherwise I like to drink Miller High Life. [It is the Champagne of beers.] And if you're living the high life, you might as well drink it.

Favorite drink to make? Right now I'm really digging these chocolate martinis, because I'm making all of the components and I think they're really good.

Drink you hate making? Anything with tequila.

click to enlarge Farmhaus' Eric Scholle: Featured Bartender of the Week
Alissa Nelson

Favorite drink you created yourself? The Swedish Fish: two parts Swedish Fish vodka, one part dry vermouth. We were doing pear syrup in the summer, but now we're using a little bit of cherry juice.

What is the worst drink you've ever had? I had this bell-pepper vodka -- it's pretty good -- and the chef had just gotten this dried shrimp from Lafayette, Louisiana. So I thought it would be this great idea to make shrimp vodka and mix it with the bell-pepper vodka, to make, like, a shrimp cocktail. I made the shrimp vodka, and I've literally never tasted anything worse. But I made the drink and usually I'll share it with other people, but I just dumped it all out.

And we have this other stuff, Malort, which is from Chicago.

Favorite nonalcoholic drink? Pepsi. I have a Pepsi tattoo on my leg.

Favorite drinking ritual? Just hanging out and drinking here with the staff.

What do you drink when you're...On a plane? I've never drunk on a plane, it's too expensive. I've drunk on a train, though! I brought beer on with me.

At a wedding? Beer. Trying to keep it under control.

At your parents' house? I don't really drink there either. I try to have a separation: When I go out I go out, but when I go to my parents' house, not so much.

Trying to get drunk? Beer. Miller High Life, because you can drink a lot of it, fast. Or fernet.

Favorite canned beer? Modus Hoperandi was my favorite this summer, but anything the Ska brewery does is good. The Euphoria is the one that's out now, and it's probably my current favorite. Or Busch. Worst/best thing you've ever seen happen in your bar? When people sit at the end of the bar, they can really watch what's going on in the kitchen and interact with Kevin and the chefs. In the summer Kevin and Jessica were bringing their dogs, and they would hang out in the yard out back, but a couple of times they ran into the dining room during dinner when someone left the door open.

How do you keep yourself occupied on a slow night? We haven't had any slow nights, but if I'm slow I'll just do work like straining the cucumber out of the gin or cutting stuff up.

Who would you most like to have a drink with? Grant Achatz from Alinea. He puts these videos up that he links from his Twitter. He's a big-time chef, just got voted seventh-best restaurant in the world, it costs $700 for a couple to eat there, but the fact that he takes the time to show the intricate process of how they do their stuff -- that means a lot to me. He's opening the new restaurant up there in Chicago, and there's going to be a cocktail bar next door. It's going to be this crazy, experimental, weird stuff, and their cocktails are going to be along the same lines, so they've been showing some of that. I mean, it's super inspiration. That's, like, the highest echelon of cocktail stuff going on, and obviously I won't be doing the same stuff -- I don't have a thousand-dollar piece of equipment to do distilled strawberry ice. But they're doing this bubble tea with fruit juices, and I just ordered the chemicals to start doing it.

Where are you most likely to be found when you're not in this bar? Right now, somewhere with wrestling, but if not, I go out a lot. Atomic Cowboy, those other bars over there, Sasha's, 33 a lot, and I live right down the street from La Dolce Via. Usually food, really.

Best hangover cure? I drink a lot of water before I go to bed. And something greasy, like sliders. The ones at Rooster are great.

Most unusual liquor you've ever seen? Probably Malort again. I mean, you can only get it in Chicago.

If you could start a band, what kind of band would you start? I don't play anything, but something like the Misfits combined with Depeche Mode.

Best/worst drinking holiday? I always seem to have a good time on the Fourth of July. We just hang out all day with friends and drink outside. Or Halloween. I don't really go out on holidays all that much.

Biggest tab you've ever seen? At Erato there was someone who rented the place out for a private party on a Saturday night, and it was over $10,000, and their credit card was literally made of metal.

Drunk food of choice? Pizza.

Three adjectives that describe your bar: Local, nonconventional, relaxed.

My bar is the only bar in St. Louis where... All the flavored spirits are made in-house.

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