Welcome to Girl Walks into a Bar, a weekly Gut Check feature that spotlights local bars and bartenders. This week Katie Moulton profiles Water Street Cafe & Cocktail Bar's co-owner Gabe Kveton. Below is a Q&A with Kveton, followed by the recipe for the Rye Half-Flip.
This is Gabe Kveton's first official bartending job, as well as his sister Maria's first restaurant job ever. Good thing they own the place.
The place is Water Street Cafe and Cocktail Bar (7268 Manchester Road; 314-646-8355), which the young brother-sister duo opened April 15 in Maplewood. According to Kveton, he got experience making cocktails during the ten years he worked at I Fratellini (7624 Wydown Boulevard; 314-727-7901), where the servers also create the drinks for their tables.
Still, isn't it a tough transition? "Nothing has really been that tough," Kveton says, "because I enjoy it so much."
Kveton created the restaurant's specialty cocktail menu, which consists of five drinks that are a mix of the classic and the unexpected, such as the frothy, tasty, dusty-rose-colored cocktail he prepared for us: the Rye Half-Flip. He harbors an affection for vintage cocktails, and a different potable from the past is featured every week. This week, it's the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail, a light rum-based drink that insists on summer with lime and whiffs of flora.
"I appreciate the quality and care that went into the preparation of cocktails in the past," Kveton says. "I try to do the same here."
Describe your bartending style in three words. Nostalgic, attentive, approachable.
While we chatted, a former co-worker of Kveton's stopped in and shared her take on his bartending style. "He's humble," she says, (to his protestations of "I can't say that!"). "His approach is almost culinary, but he's not a 'mixologist.' He's not a snob bartender."
My bar is the only bar in St. Louis where... I'm bartending. [It's also rumored to be the only place where you can get a cocktail with some mysterious thing called "St. Germain foam," made from an elderflower liqueur.]
Girl walks into a bar, orders a ____. She just earned my undying admiration. Whiskey neat. When Maria and I go out together, it's always me that orders the frou-frou drink -- and then she orders whiskey neat. It always throws people off.
Most dumbass - or strange - drink anyone has ever asked for. Beer martini. It was a vodka martini with a splash of beer -- just sounds disgusting to me.
Other than your own bar, where do you go to get a good drink? And what do you have? Monarch. I had an amazing limoncello mojito there recently.
If my friends and I simply must have a round of shots, what should they be? A lime apricot shot, made with vodka. It sounds pretty tasty. Now I have to make sure I have apricot...
What's the most exciting or memorable event you've witnessed while tending bar? I'm biased as a co-owner, but the most memorable thing for me was when those first people came through the doors here. And they ordered specialty cocktails that I came up with and said, "Hey, these are good." Getting that good response from the initial crowd was very exciting.
Tell me one thing most people don't know about bartending. Bartending can be an art form, if you approach it like a chef, assembling recipes and finding balance. That said, sometimes it's nice to just pop open five Bud Lights.
Rye Half-Flip 2 oz. rye whiskey 1 oz. fresh lemon 1/2 oz. simple syrup 1/2 oz. house cherry juice 1 egg white
Pour in liquids, then dry shake with the egg white. Add ice, shake again and garnish with a twist of orange.