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Tim Wiggins of Retreat Gastropub Tells You Where To Drink In St Louis


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You know how to EAT THIS CITY. With top chefs as tour guides, you’ve learned how to scout out hot spots for breakfast and brunch, where to go for a delicious date night, and how to feast like a local liege in the cities you love. But where do you wash it all down? Do you know how to find the best brewpub? Uncover who makes the meanest bloody marys and the most sparkling mimosas?

You’re about to find out. Welcome to DRINK THIS CITY!

This week we’re heading out to St Louis, where our expert guide to the city’s cocktail culture is Tim Wiggins, beverage director and partner at Retreat Gastropub. Tim knows his way around a cocktail — this self-taught bartender was named St. Louis’ Best Bartender in 2016, according to readers of Sauce Magazine, and his thoughtful bar program shows exactly why. Wiggins’s menus rotates with the season, showcasing aged spirits in craft and classic cocktails, beautifully prepared with house-made syrups, shrubs, tinctures, and cold-pressed juices. Ingenuity and expertise shine through in beverages like the Exit Strategy, which features Plantation white rum, aloe vera, Avuá Cachaça, bitter Bianco, pineapple, ginger, and lemon, all capped off with beer foam; or the Flotation Device, which features two not-to-be-missed rums (haven’t had Rum Fire yet? Get to Gastropub) and an amaro. Frankly, we’re here for it.

We’re also here for Tim’s newest undertaking, Yellowbelly, which he’ll be opening later this year alongside Retreat Gastropub partner Travis Howard and Top Chef winner Richard Blais. The food promises to be excellent, and the bar program a rum lover’s oasis. If rhum agricole isn’t yet part of your alcohol vocabulary, prepare for a delicious lesson, and order a ‘Ti Punch” from a man who firmly believes the spirit’s day in the sun is coming.

Via Retreat Gastropub

Who’s up for a drink with Tim? Let’s go Drink This City!

BRUNCH COCKTAIL OR HAIR OF THE DOG

Vista and Sardella

Negroni at Vista. Vista is a beautiful little spot with an amazing brunch burger and a bar that is always on point. The bittersweet negroni is the perfect brunch sipper, because it isn’t too boozy and makes your tummy feel good too.

Since Vista is closing, I added another option: Campari and orange juice at Sardella. The astringent bitterness of Campari in the fresh sweet orange juice is magic. Sardella juices fresh citrus and vegetables daily and also has a great amaro selection. I consider this drink my mimosa. I can’t get enough.

MARGARITA

Público

Público’s Mezcal Margarita. My buddy Nick D’s mezcal margarita is perfectly balanced and just the right amount of savory. He uses a house-smoked salt around the rim that with the briny and smoky mezcal is stupid delicious.

CLASSIC COCKTAIL

Taste

Negroni from Taste, hands down. The pinnacle of balance in cocktail form. A perfect mix of floral, bitter and sweet. I have been going to Taste to get Negronis for years now and am never disappointed. The combo of their crispy french fries and a cool Negroni makes me happier than most things.

CRAFT COCKTAIL

Retreat Gastropub

Nunya, at Retreat. I know, this is unfair, but it is a drink made by one of our bartenders named Becca. It has a beeswax infused tequila that I am obsessed with. I really dig this cocktail because on the surface the drink looks really simple but packs a smokey and bitter finish that I find addictive and intriguing. Becca is super creative and always pushes me to think outside the box with cocktails.

PUNCH

Parlor

Gin Bucket at Parlor. Pineapple Vess and Gin, I mean come on. Dave and the team at Parlor are awesome people who serve great cocktails in a low-brow setting.

DIVE BAR

The Silver Leaf

I usually stick with a Busch and a pour of bourbon at dive bars. I try not to make non-cocktail bars make cocktails if at all possible. The Silver Leaf is a wonderful little bar across the street from my house that serves the best Busch and cheap whiskey you can find.

PUB, TAVERN, OR BREWERY

Modern Brewery

Modern Brewery Ms. Sally Pils. Modern Brewery is one of my favorite breweries in St.Louis and their Ms. Sally Pilsner is my go-to beer. Modern is mainly known for their hoppy yet balanced IPAs, but don’t sleep on this pilsner. Ms. Sally has a crisp and dry finish that I can drink all day.

HOTEL BAR

The Preston

Order the Oaxaca You Doin’? at The Preston. Joe Konroy created this smoky and chocolatey old fashioned riff that I absolutely love. The nose is burnt cinnamon and baking spice and the finish is all chipotle and earthy mezcal. I am a sucker for a mezcal old fashioned, so no surprise I love this drink.

HOT DRINK

The Scottish Arms

Hot Buttered Rum at Scottish Arms. I usually am not into hot cocktails at all, but Scottish Arms kills it with their hot buttered rum. I also love that they keep it in this big ol’ crock pot on their old wooden bar.

THEMED COCKTAIL or IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

Eggnog at Miracle. The folks at Planter’s House have hosted the Miracle pop-up the last two years. Their eggnog is the best I have ever tasted. It hits that perfect balance of boozy, creamy, sweet and spicy. I am a freak for fresh nutmeg and their eggnog tastes like liquid nutmeg.

SPARKLING COCKTAIL

Planter’s House

Old Cuban at Planter’s House. The Old Cuban is much like a sparkling daiquiri with some spice and one of the only sparkling cocktails I like. Planter’s House definitely has the best in town. Classic cocktails, in general, are always awesome from Planter’s House.

APERITIVO

Olio

Spritz at Olio. Olio features a menu of beautiful little spritzes that are as good as you can get in the city. My favorite is the spritz with sherry and tonic. Seth is absolutely killing it at Olio. Also, their hummus is insane.

LOW-PROOF COCKTAIL

The Gin Room

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When you need a bitter beverage the size of your head….

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Amaro and house-made tonic at The Gin Room. Amaro and tonic is one of my favorite low-proof cocktails. Natasha at the Gin Room has a great selection of spirits and a bomb house-made tonic.

UNUSUAL COCKTAIL or COCKTAIL WITH SURPRISING INGREDIENTS

Reed’s American Table

Reeds American Table had a cocktail with squid ink. Richard who was running the bar program was a madman and always had fun and interesting ingredients. Naomi who runs it now is doing some awesome things as well!

COCKTAIL MADE BY A FRIEND

Olive + Oak

All cocktails made by Charlie and Morgain at Olive and Oak. Those guys are the sweetest people ever. Also, their cocktails are FIRE.

Thank you, Tim, for taking us on a tour of St Louis’ best bars!

Like what you read? Check out Drink This City: We Love Chicago, Drink This City: Seattle, Drink This City: Return To Downtown LA, Drink This City: Boston, Drink This City: Return to Chicago Downtown LA, Drink This City: Return To ManhattanDrink This City: San Francisco, Drink This City: New Orleans Drink This City: Miami, Drink This City: Honolulu, Drink This City: Detroit, Drink This City: Chicago, Drink This City: New York, Drink This City: Nashville and more!

Join us next week for more DRINK THIS CITY! Meanwhile, hit us in the comments — where should we travel next?

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