Gin Festival St. Louis is Back in September — Better Than Ever

The nation's largest gin festival returns after a two-year hiatus

Natasha Bahrami and her team are thrilled to bring back Gin Festival St. Louis after a two-year hiatus.
The Gin Room
Natasha Bahrami and her team are thrilled to bring back Gin Festival St. Louis after a two-year hiatus.

Since 2014, Natasha Bahrami and her Ginworld team have been treating St. Louis spirits enthusiasts to a world-class celebration of gin with their annual event Gin Festival St. Louis. Now, after a two-year hiatus, the festival returns, promising to be bigger and better than ever.

"2019 was our last one, and our biggest one  to date," Bahrami says. "We took a break because of the pandemic, and this one is going to surpass it. The venues are larger, the number of global distillers flying in is triple, and the amount of brands that will be in town had doubled. It feels like we are in this resurgence after COVID — if you can say after — and people are wanting to come out again."

The Ginworld Gin Festival St. Louis 2022 will be held Sunday, September 18, at Majorette (7150 Manchester Avenue, Maplewood; 314-224-5775) and promises to be an all-day celebration and education opportunity about gin, amaro, vermouth and zero-proof spirits. Bahrami describes the festival as a "mix and mingle" event where attendees can rub elbows with some of the biggest names in the spirits world. In addition to tastings, Gin Festival St. Louis will provide opportunities to meet the makers and includes an outdoor zero-proof spirits garden — something Bahrami and her husband and fellow bar professional, Michael Fricker, are excited to launch this year.

"The garden will allow you to have cocktails but have a zero-proof experience," Bahrami says. "It will be nice because sometimes these events are so deeply about the alcohol, but ours isn't."

In addition to the festival, Bahrami has an entire week of events leading up to Sunday's celebration. Dubbed "Gin Week St. Louis," the festivities run from Monday, September 12,  through Sunday, September 18, and include functions at a variety of area bars and restaurants such as Platypus, the Golden Hoosier, Polite Society and Lucky Accomplice.

Bahrami is particularly excited about a first-ever Gin Week event hosted by her own restaurant, Salve Osteria (3200 South Grand Boulevard, 314-771-3411). Thanks to the number of distillers coming in town from all over the world for Gin Week, Bahrami, Fricker and Salve chef Matt Wynn put together a special Dinner with the Distillers on Thursday, September 15, that will allow guests to dine with some of the world's most prestigious distillers, makers and spirits legends. The tasting menu event will feature food and cocktail pairings, as well as informal storytelling and mingling with the industry's top professionals.

"Once we realized who was all coming to town, we created this dinner because we figured we should do something more formal," Bahrami says. "Getting them all in the same room is a big deal. We have distillers coming from Ireland, Sweden, the Philippines, England — it's an experience you won't get again."

While Bahrami is thrilled with the slate of Gin Week events, the brands and makers that will be present at Gin Festival St. Louis and the amount of respect St. Louis is getting from the global gin industry, what she's most excited about is connecting with her peers and fellow gin enthusiasts after a pandemic-induced hiatus. That gin can be a catalyst for such fellowship is what inspires her to do what she does.

"This year's festival feels like it has such a glow about it," Bahrami says. "The world is kind of putting itself back together again, and this is what we've missed. We've missed connecting with people and being social and festivals and coming together from around the world. We haven't been able to do these things, and I think this shows that the world is rebuilding again."

Cheryl Baehr

Cheryl Baehr is the restaurant critic for the Riverfront Times and an international woman of mystery. Follow her on the socials at @cherylabaehr
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