Mangia Italiano (3145 South Grand Boulevard; 314-664-8585) makes many people think of either pasta or the debauchery of staying out until 3 a.m. listening to live music. So who, one might wonder, would go to Mangia for cocktails?
This summer, Mangia wants to change that perception by making some house-infused spirits and building a cocktail list around them. The Drunken Vegan sampled four of these new offerings on a recent visit and reports his findings.
The "Apple 75" is a twist on the French 75, using Applejack as the base. It's tart apple with some earthy pie spice notes. The champagne keeps the drink light and fresh.
The strawberry-lemongrass margarita is a fun take on the classic. A reposado tequila infused with fresh strawberries and lemongrass is the base for the cocktail. Sweet, bright berry flavors are balanced with tart lime, along with some earthy citrus notes from the lemongrass in the background. It's sweeter than a traditional lime juice margarita but not cloying, with a nice little spicy note on the finish.
Mangia had some strawberry-and-lemon-infused gin behind the bar, and the Drunken Vegan tried it in a negroni. The strawberry is very subtle, almost buried under the bitterness of the Campari and vermouth. The lemon heightens the natural citrus notes in the gin, and a little pine comes through, too.
Steeping figs and vanilla bean in bourbon really accentuates flavor elements already present in the spirit, and the resulting infusion made for a fantastic Manhattan. The fig, though, is a definite presence on the finish. The cocktail is a richer version of a Manhattan, and it works well over ice.
Bear this all in mind the next time you stroll in for dinner or stumble in after the other bars close. Mangia is not just for chianti and PBR anymore.