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Demon Rum 

Fox & Hounds at the Cheshire Inn, 6306 Clayton Road, 314-647-7300

Don't choke on the floating cloves in the Demon Rum -- it's a real danger. Those cloves, they circle in the hot buttered rum as they bleed their rich venom, lurking in the murk and infusing the concoction with their rich, complex spiciness. Once they hit the lips, they race toward your gullet like piranhas chasing a sirloin.

But of course you won't choke, because it's the holiday season and such things don't happen during these special times. Plus, you mastered the fine art of drinking liquids a few years back and can manage a few alien intruders. Your tongue is nimble, deft.

The tongue's also good at tasting the sheer pleasure that is Demon Rum, made by the genius Mark Pollman at the Fox and Hounds pub within the Cheshire Inn. Pollman is one of St. Louis' foremost bacchanologists and has proof: Bottled Wisdom, the book he compiled from a thousand-or-so quotations and anecdotes about all things alcoholy, such as: "An Irishman is a simple machine for converting Guinness into urine."

Demon Rum is your basic hot buttered rum with a dose of spice: those cloves and the cinnamon stick. It's the perfect drink for the holidays, all warm and fuzzy. It's the kind of drink that gets better the longer it sits, so take your time. Find a cozy sofa by the fire at the F&H, next to that group of Washington University grad students (just ignore them), near the couple who are quite obviously having an affair (two people, one wedding ring, giggles).

Then just sit. Chill. You're halfway through the holidays, and you're still alive. It's not as bad as all that. Sit. Examine the plaid F&H aesthetic, resplendent with stuffed animal carcasses -- a yowling fox, pheasants galore, a raccoon, other birdies -- all packed tight, ready to burst. Check the amazing collection of dog portraits, perhaps the most extensive in the area. Check your zipper.

Now, the Demon Rum has matured. It's a dense stew of cinnaclove rum, so perfect in a perfect setting. This drink is good (so's the bar's spiced apple cider). Sip it, let it warm your cockles and then order another. But before you swap glasses with Pollman, snatch the cinnamon stick out of the old glass and place it in the new. Double cinnamon doubles your hot buttered flavor. 2002 is but a memory (phew). Onward to aught-three, with a gentleness in your hot buttered soul.

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January 12, 2022

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