Planter's House Debuts New Spring Cocktail Menu

The beautiful "Red Shark" cocktail. | Patrick J. Hurley
The beautiful "Red Shark" cocktail. | Patrick J. Hurley

As much as we love to enjoy our favorite cocktails at our favorite bars, we relish the chance to try new drinks when a fresh cocktail list comes out. Planter's House (1000 Mississippi Avenue; 314-696-2603) -- tapped by this paper as the best place to drink cocktails -- released a brand-new cocktail list last night. Whether they are dreaming up new concoctions or mixing a spot-on classic one, Ted Kilgore and company never disappoint. But this time, they have really outdone themselves.

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The new list features 60 cocktails in all, and 39 of them are new, original drinks. "This is the most elaborate revamp since opening," says bartender Matt Sorrell. You'll still find old favorites such as the "Planter's House Punch," and the many variations on a Negroni, but that will change to the several kinds of Collins sometime in May.

Also on the list are ten "New Classic Cocktails," drinks that came about after 1990. Today, there's so much focus on pre-Prohibition recipes that it's easy to think that no one has come up with a decent drink since the Great Depression. But on this list, Planter's House celebrates the greatest drink-mixing talents working right now: Each cocktail has the day of its creation along with its inventor. Two of the ten new classics ("Purgatory" and the "Industry Sour") were created here in town by Ted Kilgore.

But the list isn't the brainchild of Kilgore alone. It was a collaboration of all the bartenders. "We all called different things out and experimented," Sorrell says. The results are creative and very tasty.

"That Funky Monkey." | Patrick J. Hurley
"That Funky Monkey." | Patrick J. Hurley

"That Funky Monkey" pairs a peanut-infused scotch with banana tincture, along with house sweet vermouth, Benedictine and l'Orangerie (an orange- and spice-infused scotch). It's balanced with a little herbal character and a hint of clean bitterness to keep the drink from tasting too sweet. The flavor is rich with smoke, earth and spice. There is a subtle banana tone and a hint of citrus; the finish is long, with a discernible peanut note.

While "That Funky Monkey" gives a sure nod to the Beastie Boys' "Brass Monkey," "Gin Soaked Boy," is named after a song on Tom Waits' Swordfish Trombones. "That happens a lot around here," Sorrell says of drinks named after Tom Waits songs.

"Some gin-soaked boy that you don't know." | Patrick J. Hurley
"Some gin-soaked boy that you don't know." | Patrick J. Hurley

"Gin Soaked Boy" -- Kilgore's favorite drink form the new menu -- features four types of gin, along with sherry and cinnamon syrup. It's delicious: Botanicals and citrus are featured on the nose. The drink is fresh and balanced with a hint of sweetness, a little earthy spice and nuttiness.

"Red Shark" combines blanco and reposado tequilas with Velvet Falernum, passionfruit tea liqueur, lime and two types of bitters. There is smoke and some spice, with a fruity sweetness that's rich without being cloying. Ours was garnished with lime, but the final version will be topped with a red gummy shark.

There's a lot to try, so start working your way though these fine drinks. Better still, go during happy hour (Tuesday through Thursday from 4 until 6 p.m. and all day Sunday) and enjoy any of the "New Classic Cocktails" for just six bucks.

Follow Patrick J. Hurley on Twitter at @VeganDrunkard. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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