Archives for category: Cocktails

Bar Les Freres1

There’s this itty, bitty Frenchie destination nestled among the coffee shops, tailors, and frozen yogurt parlors on Wydown. The moment I step through the door – no matter how many times I visit – I’m transported to The City of Lights. The animated conversations swirl. The laughter rings. The efficient and familiar waiters flirt and attend. My heart flutters.

While the rhythm of life intoxicates my soul, it’s the champagne cocktails and tasty bites that feed my senses at Bar Les Freres. Zoe Pidgeon’s fabulous French hideaway that’s right in plain sight mixes a perfect French75 that pairs deliciously with delicate blini.

Oh, wait, what? You’ve not had a French75? I’m here to tell you, you should. And you should have it at Bar Les Freres. This lovely cocktail is an interesting and aromatic mix of champagne, gin, Grand Marnier, a dribble of lemon juice and a twist of orange.



The French75 scared me a little at first. My history with gin is dubious – at best – but I’m becoming a convert slowly but surely. A French75 is simply heaven. Each sip is citrus-y with the devilishly bitter edge only gin can deliver. The champagne sparkles on my lips and sends bubbles up my nose.

I urge you, though: don’t stop with the cocktail. Indulge and have the bliss that are blini. When they arrive on a little gold-rimmed china plate, take a moment to appreciate their simple, elegant charm. At the base are thin potato pancakes about the size of a silver dollar. A dollop of sweetly tart crème fraiche sits on top and showcases a taste of caviar.



Don’t waste your time with a fork and knife. Each blini is but a bite. Pick it up and pop it in your mouth. What happens next is pure magic. The pancake – which is made with mashed potato – melts away. The crème fraiche brings a little flavor punch to the party while the caviar – all briny and salty – bursts like fireworks.

It’s true. When I have the blini, I clap and dance in my seat.

That, my friends, is what joie de vivre is all about. Bar Les Freres is a magical place where the joy of living radiates from the buzz of the conversation, the hum of the bar and crescendo of the food. You leave infused with light and love and happiness.

And when all else fails, put a little caviar on it and Eat It, St. Louis!

Bar Les Freres
7637 Wydown
St. Louis, MO 63109

Bar Les Frères on Urbanspoon






These three words, in my opinion, sum up the craft cocktail movement that is taking hold here in St. Louis. No longer are we happy to simply order up a vodka tonic; we are asking for Manhattans, and French 75s, and Sloe Gin Fizzes.

Our post-Prohibition palettes have finally aligned with our pre-Prohibition sensibilities. We crave flavor and nuance; we appreciate style and panache.

And that, my friends, is exactly what Cocktails Are Go delivers.

Cocktails Are Go* is Mat and Beth Sorrell’s brilliant entrepreneurial gem. This husband-and-wife team – he a freelance writer and she a clinical laboratory scientist – collaborate with hosts and hostesses all over St. Louis to offer guests an exquisite, accessible cocktail experience.

The Dynamic duo behind Cocktails Are Go: Matt & Beth Sorrell

The dynamic duo behind Cocktails Are Go: Matt & Beth Sorrell**

This isn’t rail booze and sticky sweet mixers. These aren’t from-your-parents’-bar style drinks. Every simple syrup, from the basic to the lavender-rosemary, is home brewed.  Every juice is freshly squeezed. Matt hand-crafts every drink for perfect balance, and Beth sparkles as she gets to know guests and teaches them about what they’re drinking.

The Cocktails Are Go experience begins with the fundamentals: Matt and Beth Sorrell. They are the heart and soul of this deluxe service, and they are fervent about bringing depth and flavor to every cocktail they create.  You’ll never find some kid behind the bar whose only experience has been tapping kegs in a fraternity house.  Matt and Beth are the whole show.

Matt has completed the rigorous BarSmarts certification program (sponsored by Pernod Ricard) and was an influential force behind the bar at the recently shuttered Salt.  In his spare time you’ll find him, and his famous beard, working shoulder-to-shoulder with Ted Kilgore at Planter’s House (opening soon). That, my friends, is one heck of a cocktail pedigree right there!

Matt Sorrell is shaking up  the cocktail world.

Matt Sorrell is shaking up the cocktail world.**

Beth works to broaden her cocktail knowledge through hospitality industry learning events. In the past year, she has attended  Arizona Cocktail Week;, International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event in Chicago; Tails of The Cocktail; and Paris of The Plains where she earned a certificate in vermouth from The Vermouth Institute.

Ever the hostess, Beth Sorrell serves up plenty of personality with every cocktail.

Ever the hostess, Beth Sorrell serves up plenty of personality with every cocktail.**

Beth also regularly competes in cocktail competitions to stretch her cocktail creativity. Recently she won the United States Bartenders Guild 2013 Tequila Bartender Challenge (St. Louis Chapter), sponsored by Don Julio where she made her version of a margarita, The Big O’Lay. The only rules: Use local ingredients and one of the Don Julio tequilas. Her Big O’Lay packed flavor and originality into a single glass and featured St. Louis’ own Big O Ginger Liqueur; simple syrup with lime, agave, and sea salt; Don Julio Anjeo; a dash of Olay bitters, and a garnish of potato chip dipped in Kakao chocolate, a hometown favorite.

This is the kind of creative thinking and – ok, I’ll say it – FLAIR that Cocktails Are Go delivers. Matt and Beth create cocktails that underpin themes and promote ideas. They work directly with hosts and hostesses to produce experiences that are unique to the events.  They educate and share. Often Cocktails Are Go converts long-time spirits haters to reawakened spirits enthusiasts.

As you’re planning your special event call Cocktails Are Go and discover the magic they pour into every glass, whether it’s an etched compote, champagne flute, or a sturdy highball. Bring sophistication. Inject a bit of glamour. Encourage your guests to be a little daring. Your event will shine and your guests will rave.  And please, remember where you got this nugget of a genius idea and invite Eat It, St. Louis!

Cocktails Are Go

* The perfect sized event for Cocktails Are Go is between 20 and 100 guests.

** Clearly these photos were NOT taken by me with my iPhone. Every photo here was taken by Jacqui Segura of The Cocktail Ambassador. She is a truly gifted artist who captures the best of her subjects every time she points and shoots. She’s even managed to me look good in a photo or two.

The Bloody Mary was built for Sundays. Maybe it’s because of the tomato juice or the salad-like garnish, but a Bloody Mary always makes me feel like I’ve done something relatively good for myself. And isn’t that what Sunday is all about: restoring our selves and restoring our souls?

When I’m looking to do a little restoration, I head over to The Famous Bar* and order up the La Cajun. This version of the Bloody Mary is my favorite, although they offer several variations. It’s spicy without being over the top, and the beer back (which is an ice-cold shot of Bud Light) is a brilliant addition.

You can drink the beer along with your Bloody Mary, or pour it in for a Bloody Beer effect. Depending on the day, I’m apt to do either!

The La Cajun is at the top of my hit parade because of its depth of flavor. William Kunderman, one of the awesome bartenders at The Famous Bar, was kind enough to share with me – although not in proportion detail – the secrets of this spicy, shake-the-cobwebs-out Bloody Mary. Of course there is the usual tomato juice (Campbell’s is The Famous Bar’s preferred brand) and vodka. The drink takes a spicy, and perhaps even a little bit of a meaty turn when he shakes in some A-1 Sauce, adds a dash of Worcestershire sauce, freshly cracks black pepper, tap-tap-taps in the Tobasco sauce, and adds a zesty zing with sprinkles of celery salt and Cajun seasoning.

The Cajun seasoning and Tobasco are then deftly mixed to rim the pint glass that holds the boozy La Cajun salvation.

When it comes to the garnish, The Famous Bar knows what it’s doing. Although pictured here with a Freestone Pickle (holy moly was that a good pickle) the La Cajun is traditionally dressed with Dano’s Pickled Green Beans. When I visited, William was waiting for a batch of the beans to arrive from Louisiana. Truly, I could eat those green beans by the handful!

But I digress …

If you’re feeling the need to restore, refresh, or even reboot for the week ahead, make plans to head to the Southtown neighborhood for the La Cajun. Enjoy a Sunday Happy Hour (they open at 3:00), then head to one of the great neighborhood restaurants (like Pueblo Solis) and Eat It, St. Louis!

The Famous Bar
5213 Chippewa
St. Louis, MO 63109

The Famous Bar on Urbanspoon

* The Famous Bar is a special place for me. It’s where Mark and I had our wedding reception (things are different when you get married the second time). It’s where I did a red-wine spit take on a good friend, and I’m still apologizing for that. It’s been the site of so many good times with so many friends. Everyone should have a place like this in their neighborhood.

I’ve been waving this banner my entire cocktail-drinking life. I had my first run-in with gin – which I believe was from a clear plastic bottle with G-I-N in big black letters on a white label – some 20+ years ago. With the fervor of a teetotaler, I have eschewed gin, turned my nose up at the idea, and openly chided friends who would freely choose a gin cocktail.

Then there is the Subcontinental at The Royale: gorgeous and green; fresh and refreshing; exotic and delicious. And loaded with gin … good gin … Bombay Sapphire, to be exact.

The life changing elixer: The Subcontinental.

Before I ever read the description on the menu, I saw it served to another patron. What intrigued me was the color. Served in a rocks glass, this original cocktail from the creative minds of proprietor Steve Smith and his long-time friend, Tim O’Connell, is the color of grass.*

When I asked the bartender about the lovely green drink, he launched into a near poetic description. This isn’t some fruity drink that’s all greened-up with Midori. No, no, no. The green comes from cucumbers; whole, beautiful cucumbers that Steve and his staff juice – skin and all – fresh every day.

And then he said the word I dreaded to hear: “Gin.” Gasp and heartbreak. I was all in up to that point. Geez louise, I HATE GIN. How could I reconcile my strident position on gin?

So, I simply contemplated the Subcontinental for several months. I sat on it. I struggled with the idea. I wanted to make this work. Cucumbers in cocktails was just too much to pass up and overlook. This was damned near a moral dilemma.

Then, on a clandestine evening that began as a simple dinner date at The Royale with my sweet husband, things took a turn. When the way-cooler-than-me waiter came to the table, I timidly asked him about the Subcontinental. When he noted my hesitation over the “gin situation,” he suggested that he could make the drink with vodka (that my friends, is booze I do NOT hate!). He also noted, with an air of sadness that verged on grief, that the cocktail would not be nearly as good.

I gave in. I argued with myself that it was worth the $7** gamble. I ordered up the Subcontinental.

And it was life changing.

When I lifted the glass to take my first sip, the fresh scent of summertime filled my nose. (This is an especially wonderful experience during the dead of winter.) The drink itself was savory with and edge of sweet. It was lovely, and smooth, and I had an uncustomary change of heart.

Perhaps, in the context of the Subcontinental, not only do I not hate gin … but I LOVE GIN.

I’m glad I opened up. This sort of conversion makes me wonder – in my foodie mind – what else I need to try that I maybe haven’t liked so much in the past.

So, while I think about what I might try next, I offer you a hearty “sláinte!”*** and encourage you to open yourself up to the possibilities you may have shut down because of one bad experience. You might find that you like to Eat It, St. Louis!

The Royale
3132 South Kingshighway Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO 63139-1108
(314) 772-3600

* Unfortunately, you’re stuck with my not-so-fabulous photography. This picture doesn’t even begin to do the drink justice.

** On Sundays, the Subcontinental is just $5 … what a deal!

*** Sláinte (pronounced Slan-cha) is the traditional Irish toast. It translates literally to “health.”

Royale on Urbanspoon

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