Tony Saputo's Holiday Cocktail Recipe Is Inspired By His Grandma's Lime Jello Salad


Tony Saputo (right) swaps tips from Jeffrey Moll. - PHOTO BY NANCY STILES
  • Photo by Nancy Stiles
  • Tony Saputo (right) swaps tips from Jeffrey Moll.

Our special Winter Flavor issue, which hit the streets last week, contains a plethora of recipes from St. Louis chefs, bakers and bartenders, each of which shared a special holiday recipe inspired by their memories of the day. From Rick Lewis' green bean casserole to Simone Faure's beignets, there's a lot to inspire your holiday cooking. 

One of the stories we found ourselves most amused by was one from Tony Saputo, the beloved bartender at Layla (and RFT's pick for Best Bartender in this year's Best of St. Louis issue). His recipe is both an intoxicating drink — and a way to honor the dead without actually being forced to eat a Jello salad starring crushed pineapple (sooo 1983!)

Here's his story.

A Ricky Variation

The one holiday dish I cannot forget is my grandmother’s lime jello salad. For any and every family get-together, my Great-Grandmother Seger would make a green jello comprised of lime gelatin, crushed pineapple and cream cheese. No matter what the occasion, she swore by this recipe. And so at every holiday dinner, this jello is set on the table and is left completely untouched, except of the spoonful eaten by my grandmother.

We tease her for making this detested dish, but she swears it keeps the ghost of Great-Grandma Seger from haunting us and takes another bite. It may the most important thing on the table. When we gather, we are not only breaking bread with friends and loved ones, but also with the memories of those who have passed on. This is what I believe my grandmother is doing every time she starts stirring the much-derided gelatin.

Now, don’t worry. I don’t intend on giving you a recipe for a terrible jello salad. Instead, I'm offering up a little twist on a classic cocktail that is a tad reminiscent of this dessert. — Tony Saputo


1.5 oz. London dry gin
.5 oz simple syrup

.5 oz fresh lime juice
Peychaud’s bitters


Combine ingredients and shake. Strain into a Collins glass.

Fill glass with ice and top with 4-5 dashes of the bitters. Lightly stir to blend top bitters. The bitters offer a cherry and anise flavor to this refreshing classic, which allow it to go well with savory winter spices and still be a great botanical treat.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.