The asparagus arrived at Soulard Market two weeks ago, which is the first true confirmation of spring. In the Central West End, the outdoor tables are filling with sunglassed sophisticates reading the Sunday New York Times. The squirrels are stretching, the kitties rolling around in the grass. Boobs and bellies are bouncing along the Forest Park jogging trail. Joy of joys: The lithe ladies are starting to dress in the slinkier, more revealing cuts. The wisterias have blossomed in the backyard, and the bumblebees are drunk with single-minded desire. Springtime in St. Louis!
On the tables, winter martinis and hearty ales are being replaced by more ice, more color and more fruit. Hard lemonade, margaritas, Suzy Wongs and the Singapore sling. Soon it will be gin-and-tonic season.
Savor on Lindell Boulevard has been a long time blossoming, but maybe that's just because we're impatient. When we first heard that former King Louie's chef Kirk Warner was helming the griddle in a former mansion a block east of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, well, we were all atwitter. Warner understands flavor and restraint. We like that in a chef. We've been camped out on the doorstep ever since, waiting for the opportunity to shove ladlefuls of his offerings into our soup hole.
We indulge in a fine meal on the restaurant's exquisite patio and enjoy one of nature's most beautiful and complex nectars, the Singapore sling.
Like Savor's food menu, which addresses four distinct regional cuisines, Savor's cocktail menu travels the world in search of inspiration. Included are the Savor Cosmopolitan (which fiddles with tradition by adding a splash of white grape juice), sangria, the caipirinha, mojito and, of particular interest, something called the Shocker: Absolut Peppar, an oyster and spicy cocktail sauce.
All are tempting, but we're celebrating a birthday tonight. A moment of reverence for the Singapore sling's ninetieth. Born in a Thailand hotel in 1915, the drink is a feast of fruity flavors, all of which combine to create something nearly perfect for a spring night. Variations abound, most of which surround the inclusion of either fizzy or non-fizzy water, lemon or lime juice, the inclusion of Cointreau or not. Savor has opted for a variation on drink genius Dale DeGroff's recipe, reported to be the original, but that's disputable. It includes: the house gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, Cointreau, grenadine, bitters, pineapple juice, lime juice and club soda. Savor serves it iced in a tall rocks glass and garnishes it with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
What arrives is deep red and resembles a spiked punch, what with all the fruit in the mixture. The cherry, pineapple, lime and grenadine merge into a fresh liquid, which, combined with the more complex gin, bitters and Benedictine, creates something strong and solid. It's a tad on the sweet side, but that's what spring is for. Here's to new life!