The newly opened Whiskey Ring (2651 Cherokee Street; 314-769-7249) capitalizes on the renewed interest in whiskey and its many varieties, but it does so in a very simple, unpretentious way -- a very laid-back and unintimidating place to try out a new style or brand. With a freshly minted cocktail menu emerging this week, we decided to grab a sip of one of the drinks to look forward to. Miles Long (surely one of the best bartender names you're likely to find) went to work on a "Stockton Pride," while we warmed up with a hot toddy.
See also: - Gut Check's Three Favorite Cocktails of 2013
After the perfect space materialized on Cherokee Street, co-owners John Joern and Jason Matthews made the leap. A major remodel (90 percent of which was accomplished in-house) created the simple, slightly rustic interior that boasts a saloon-like feel, thanks to the excellent custom-made bar. It just needed a name. Kristen Dennis, co-owner of the Fortune Teller Bar, suggested referencing the Whiskey Ring Scandal of the late 1870s, which involved corruption in the White House and tax invasion, and -- even better -- had major ties to good ol' St. Louis. It was a perfect fit.
The drink list, which takes advantage of more than 50 kinds of bourbon, rye and scotch, skews toward Prohibition-era classics like the well-known "Old Fashioned" or a "Blood and Sand," but also standards like a "Boulevardier." But Joern and Matthews have also added their own innovative twists, like the "Stockton Pride."
Taking its name from the town of Stockton in west Missouri, where the black walnut grows in abundance, this cocktail utilizes black walnut bitters, paired with a sweet bourbon (1776), spiced rum and Applejack liquor to create a bittersweet combo.
"Its presence is well-known," says Joern, indicating that strength of the drink. But despite the mix of bourbon and rum, it is surprisingly smooth. The key seems to be the addition of a teaspoon of sugar (makes the medicine go down, they say) and black walnut, which adds a sweet and nutty aroma present in each sip. Served in a very modest, unadorned glass meant only for whiskey, "Stockton Pride" offers a promising glimpse of what you can expect from the Whiskey Ring.
Click through to find out how to make the "Stockton Pride" at home.