Like any red-blooded American, Gut Check uses liquid medication to cope with holiday stress. Not only does a good winter cocktail make it possible to tolerate family members, say, inquiring about your procreation plans, it helps keep you warm, too. From now until Christmas, we're calling upon local drink-slingers to suggest great cocktails to get you through the season. Some of them are holiday-themed, some traditional, some not so much, but they all share one common thread: delicious potency.
Signs of winter abound at Araka (131 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-725-6777). The valets can see their breath outside as they wait to park cars. Inside, the Blues game is on the television at the bar. And bar manager Tim Kosuge has the perfect libation to go with the season -- the Autumnal.
Oddly enough, this cold weather creation was inspired by a summer cocktail Kosuge had developed: the Falernum, a Caribbean-themed drink with white rum, accompanied by a traditional syrup of almond, clove, ginger and lime. As the weather turned cold, and Araka prepared its winter menu, Kosuge wanted a corresponding winter cocktail.
The flavor profile arrives in stages. The citrus of the lime announces the drink to the palate, while its attendant acid clears the way for what follows: a blend of slightly sweet dark rum, the ginger beer syrup and the "clovey" Pimento Dram. The resulting mixture warms the belly, leaving behind a hint of ginger and clove to remind the drinker of the season. Then the citrus reemerges, keeping the palate clean and fresh for the next sip.
Kusoge was generous enough to offer Gut Check a small sip of the syrup and the Pimento Dram on their own, and the results were overpowering. The ginger beer syrup leaves ginger prickles on the tongue for some time after even the smallest sip, while drinking the Pimento Dram essentially mulls the palate. Both are delicious, but aggressive on the palate. Working in concert with one another, however, the two offer the perfect complement to the rum and lime juice, resulting in a delicious holiday cocktail.
1.5 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
0.5 oz ginger beer syrup
0.5 oz Pimento Dram
2-3 oz lime juice
Pour rum, ginger beer syrup, Pimento Dram, and fresh lime juice into shaker.
Thoroughly shake, strain and pour over two large ice cubes.