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.
When we walked into The Scottish Arms (6-10 South Sarah Street; 314-535-0551), little did we know that we soon would bear witness to a momentous occasion -- the birth of a cocktail. The brilliantly bearded man behind the bar, Nate Kromat, explained that after recently arriving to The Scottish Arms from Sanctuaria, he was in the process of reworking the cocktail menu. So when we initially asked for a recommendation off the menu, he did us one better by offering to give a peek at what he's working up for the near future. Yes, please!
As Kromat went to work, British Premier League Football played on the flat-screens and several regulars walked in to enjoy the end of the day in what surely is one of St. Louis' finest neighborhood taverns. Taking inspiration from the Old World, the aesthetics skew toward the rustic, and the atmosphere is exceptionally laid back -- though when it comes to alcohol, the mood turns serious.
Kromat introduced us to our cocktail: "It's a take on the classic Blood and Sand, but a light, summer version." We asked if the drink had a name -- seeing on how it was pretty wonderful, it would be a shame to go anonymous for a second longer. Assuring us that he had in fact been pondering a title, Kromat stood pensively for a moment before christening the drink: "The Blond Lass." We whole-heartedly approve.
Adding to the sincerely welcoming and friendly vibe, general manager Michael Cline came out to say hello and ensure that we liked the new drink. Cline also took a taste, because why the hell not? Soon, we all agreed that The Blond Lass was definitely a success: the fruity overtones of the papaya mixed incredibly well with the Johnny Walker and, as Kromat predicted, matched the summer afternoon, adding a sweet buzz to the whole affair. Cline boasted of Kromat's "command of the cocktails," which was easy to see, and talked about plans to "let him play with the cocktail menu a bit, get his input and see what he wants to do with it." If "The Blond Lass" is a taste of things to come, good times are on the horizon.
Cline plans to implement a new weekly cocktail night, which allows Kromat to introduce drinkers to his latest boozy inventions. And of course, there's also the intriguing option of ordering a flight of fine Scotch whiskys. This sounds like an efficient and highly attractive way for novice drinkers to get a taste for scotch and all its complexities -- we see a Gut Check investigation in the future. Cline explains that while it's great to possess such an expansive collection of whiskey (the largest in Missouri, in fact), often "people order them neat," which is great, "but with so many flavors, there's so much more you can do, so when Nate jumped on I was really excited." Oh, the possibilities. The menu, Cline offers, "won't be a master list, but will feature several good ones," and Kromat maps out a concentrated selection that won't overwhelm.
After being on hand to see all of these new alcohol-themed innovations play out right in front of us, we feel it would be prudent to make return trip, and you should too.
Continue for The Blond Lass recipe.
The Blond Lass 1 oz. Johnny Walker Red 1 oz. Dry Vermouth 1 oz. papaya juice 1 oz. Cointreau Build on ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass.