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Hot Rum Cocktail 

Big Sky Café, 47 South Old Orchard, Webster Groves; 314-962-5757.

There's a lot going on at Big Sky tonight — the place is packed, as usual — which is a shocker considering that the first game of the Cards-Mets series is on the tube. Don't they care about baseball in Webster Groves? Apparently not the two men at the table next to us, one of who has big plans: "We're going to destroy St. Louis and build St. Charles there," he explains ominously, before name-checking the Danforth family and "Auggie."

Immediately we're thrown into eavesdropping mode, and for the duration of the meal these two gents discuss Important Issues and Important People. (From the conversation, we deduce one is an international soccer bigwig of some sort because he described sitting down with the president of Brazil who recognized his name.) In our head, we're thinking we may have to assassinate this guy in order to save our city — and we've got just the steak knife to do it. In our heart, however, we want to know whether he can secure us some 2010 World Cup tix. Oh, the things you learn at Big Sky, the long-time Webster staple which, after fourteen years, is as fresh and vibrant as ever. The restaurant, located in a quiet nook just off of Big Bend Boulevard, has the friendly feel of a residential home, and serves up big helpings of elegantly prepared, perfectly presented comfort food. Walk into the place on an empty stomach and you're guaranteed to be full when you waddle out the door. We could barely fit into the car after enjoying a fantastic piece of dry-rubbed beef tenderloin with walnut-Maytag bleu cheese butter.

Big Sky also offers a small selection of seasonal cocktails. They've just unveiled their fall lineup, the highlight of which is a simple but exquisite hot rum cocktail.

There's no butter or brown sugar in their hot rum — the two staples of the more ubiquitous hot buttered rum. Rather, Big Sky offers a cleaner, lighter variation. To achieve perfection — and this is a perfect drink — they infuse their rum with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg for five days so that the very essence of the spirit is altered. Served in a tall mug and garnished with a candied apple, the drink warms our cockles and will no doubt carry us into the first cold night of the fall on graceful wings.

At the risk of blowing a deal or two, we feel the need to report that the men at the next table have just finished rating St. Louis' top black executives on a scale of one to five. Developer Michael Roberts has earned a four (congrats!). Donald Suggs didn't fare as well, only rating two stars. Which is problematic, considering that Suggs and Roberts will no doubt be needed to fend off the rumored St. Charles invasion.

Or maybe not. We've casually slipped the steak knife into our pocket and are "headed to the bathroom." When we return, we will discreetly slide the blade into our hand and, at the exact perfect moment, plunge it into the heart of the general. Viva St. Louis.

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