Kir Royale

King Louie's, 3800 Chouteau, 314-865-3662

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In wintertime, it's sometimes necessary to disappear into your own private Idaho, that woodsy desolation inside your noggin, and live with the secrets you've accrued over the past three seasons. There are a lot of them, and you haven't really dealt with them (honey). At all. You need to think about them, not just crumple them and toss them into that sad overflowing inbox.

These secrets you possess are important; those who lack them are boring. It was Rilke who said: "I want to be with those who know secret things, or else alone." Boy oh boy did he nail it.

So deal, as always, with alcohol. You're a weather-wuss, so you're trapped inside now that it's cold outside. It's cold inside, actually, but that's life. It's cold, and you want something warm and cozy, yes?

No. Not yet. First you need to treat yourself to something subtle and chilled, something special, something secret -- a Kir Royale, because you want to shine your memories up all sparkly-like before you pack them away so that when, in the middle of your inevitable death, when the life-flash occurs, you'll be barraged with memories as bubbly and purply as this here blend.

David Tabscott makes two variations of the Kir Royale at King Louie's restaurant, located at Chouteau and 39th in South City, possessor of one of the physically nicest bars in St. Louis. First, the basic, classic version of this French aperitif: crème de cassis (a liqueur made from black currant, a woefully underappreciated little berry with a flavor somewhere between a raisin and a grape Sweet-Tart) and Champagne (or, in this case, California sparkling wine Chateau Napoleon). After mixing these ingredients, Tabscott delicately twists a lemon peel into a loop, which he sets on the rim of the glass. Voilà: sparkly velvet fanciness you can hold delicately in your hand.

Tabscott's own variation on the Kir Royale requires a small amount of Chambord liqueur (this black-raspberry liqueur adds a sour jolt that the crème de cassis version lacks) mixed with a nice splash of Champagne -- in King Louie's case, Billicort-Salmon. "This is putting the best foot forward," says Tabscott as he pours the Chambord.

The drink is a little zap of fuzzy electricity that'll make you feel twinkly and maybe even a little sassy, a perfect state of mind for performing your wintertime exorcism. It will lift your secrets to the surface like those pearly purple dioxibubbles, racing ever upward.

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