by Mabel Suen
Like any red-blooded American, Gut Check uses liquid medication to cope with holiday stress. Not only does a good winter cocktail make it possible to tolerate family members, say, inquiring about your procreation plans, it helps keep you warm, too. From now until Christmas, we're calling upon local drink-slingers to suggest great cocktails to get you through the season. Some of them are holiday-themed, some traditional, some not so much, but they all share one common thread: delicious potency.
In true St. Louis style, cold temperatures snuck in this season, but don't let sporadic chills slow you down. Counter them with saucy thrills by warming up on the inside and out with a holiday cocktail reminiscent of Rudolph in both body and spirit, complete with a bright red maraschino cherry likened to his sweet, shiny nose.
At Danno's American Pub (7895 Watson Road, Marlborough; 314-395-3000), named "Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)" in the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2011, self-titled "intoxicator" Jon Hellwig puts his own spin on a classic drink, the Manhattan, with a classic Christmas name: the Miracle on 34th Street. This New York-inspired, amber-colored concoction provides a glow of its own.
The blend of bourbon, vermouth, crème de cassis, ginger liqueur and apple bitters has flavors of black currant and ginger. And, yes, that's a whole cinnamon stick in your glass. Its flavor grows with each smooth, warming, gently lingering sip. The result, Gut Check declares, is nothing short of a miniature Christmas miracle. Try this drink at home or head to Danno's to see what else Hellwig and his coworker and cohort Chris Muether are mixing up.
The Miracle on 34th Street
2 oz Buffalo Trace
1/2 oz Antica Formula Vermouth
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis
1/2 oz Powell & Mahoney Ginger
3 dashes Bar Keep Baked Apple Bitters
Stir over ice, and serve on the rocks with a cherry and cinnamon stick.