We've been suggested a wide array of liquors, but never Pimm's #1. That is, until Nate Weber, general manager of the Libertine (7927 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-2999), slid the "Elvis Costello Lost in Missouri" across the bar to us. So what is it, exactly?
"It's an English cordial," Weber explains. "Very traditional, and they have several different types. Typically what we get over here is Pimm's #1. It's made with a variety of citrus. It has a rich citrus element to it and is a bit herbacious. Exactly what's in it, I couldn't say for sure."
The liquor is used the in classic Pimm's Cup, and the "Elvis Costello Lost in Missouri" is Weber's riff on the English cocktail.
"We wanted something bright and refreshing for summertime," he says. "We had an idea of this bright citrus syrup that we have as well. I liked the idea of the mint to add brightness and the cucumber ice so as you sip on it, you'll get more of that cucumber flavor as it melts down and dissipates into it."
To elicit maximum flavor, Weber employs several housemade accoutrements: a rich citrus soda simple syrup ("Hot water with lots and lots of citrus zest. Let it sit over night. Add sugar."), cucumber ice and a mint tincture.
"It's a high-proof alcohol extraction," he says. "We take high-proof grain alcohol and steep it with [equal parts] fresh mint. Shake it up and let it sit for an hour, strain it out and do it with fresh mint again. It really gets a verbose extraction. In the second [extraction], we use spearmint tea to add some aroma to it. The idea is that it really draws the aroma of the fresh mint and holds it very well, as well as the color and flavor of it."
And how does one make a cucumber ice?
"You don't need a lot of cucumber, about half of a regular size cucumber with a good dark color, which helps," Weber says. "Blend it with two quarts of water, and we use the Vitamix, so it does a really nice fine purée of it. It really takes the color and flavor well, and we strain it out so we don't get a pulp."
The extra time taken to make the tincture, citrus soda syrup and cucumber ice really elevates the cocktail into the ultimate patio sipper. The gradual addition of more cucumber flavor as the drink melted was quite fantastic.
But if you don't have the time to make everything, Weber gives us a shortcut.
"The classic Pimm's cocktail, American-style, is Pimm's with citrus soda," he says. "You could do Pimm's with Ski, which is a good citrus soda. Maybe just a dash of fresh lemon juice, which brightens it up. If you have some fresh mint, just smack it, and you'll get a lot of the aroma. Sliced cucumbers will have that same dissipation."
Click through for the recipe.
Elvis Costello Lost in Missouri
1.5 oz Pimm's #1 0.5 oz Pickney Bend gin 1 oz citrus soda syrup Dash of mint tincture
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into Collins glass. Top with ice and soda water. Garnish with mint tincture and cucumber ice.
Wednesday. Hump Day. Congrats, you've made it halfway through the work week! Unfortunately, you still have two days to go. Dunno about you, but in order to survive the midweek blues, we're going to need a drink. Which brings us to our Wednesday Gut Check feature: "Gut Check's Hump-Day Cocktail Suggestion." Each week we take you to one of our favorite St. Louis bars (and, oh, the list is long) for a drink (or two) we -- in consultation with the bartender -- highly recommend.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips. Email us!