Hot Spot: Blood & Sand
Artistic spirits and simple, inspired cuisine abound at this new Downtown private bar and restaurant.
Pepperoncini brine, artichoke bitters, shiso—this may sound like a list of foods from an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” but it’s a sample of the ingredients in the supremely crafted, yet approachable cocktails at the new members-only Blood & Sand—a cocktail-lover’s playground from mixology geniuses TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager.
For $15 a month, you can become a member of Blood & Sand and enjoy unlimited visits with up to three guests. And while the members-only concept seems like it would only appeal to the city’s crême de la crême and cocktail-centric crowd, the place is far from that notion. The cocktail menu and list of club guidelines pay homage to another era of spirits, which these boys have spent years studying and passionately practicing while making their mark on the local and national cocktail scenes. They love spirits, and at Blood & Sand, they’ve created a drink menu that includes their love of the classics, as well as the complex and adventurous. Behind the bar stands a large bookshelf “garden” of ingredients— fresh herbs and jars filled with brine and infusions.
The name Blood & Sand refers to the classic Scotch-based cocktail, which is represented on the menu with seven variations, including the Silver & Sand. With a smooth, frothy texture and slightly bitter taste, it combines lemon ginger scotch with Lillet Rouge, egg white and grapefruit bitters. The majority of the menu features a roundup of cleverly named cocktails like the Grounds for Divorce, which makes good use of Black Maple Hill Bourbon, spicy sweet vermouth and Campari. The Six Barrel Shotgun comes in a tall tiki glass and was by far my favorite for its blend of gin, peach-infused
bourbon, rum, sweet Vermouth, fresh berries and mole bitters.
The menu commands attention with a perfectly chosen mix of bar snacks like curried nuts, hush puppies with mole dipping sauce and truffled tater tots—in addition to small plates like the greens salad with refreshing pickled watermelon rind, creamy goat cheese and pecans. Hands down, the tater tots are one of the star items (addictive bite-size tots, crisp on the outside and pillowy and moist within). Given Chef Chris Bork’s history (The Mud House, Wildflower), such gastronomic mastery and ingredient-driven fare can only be expected. Those wanting a full dinner can enjoy entrées like pork loin with pears and sage, and poached farm egg with wheat berries. Soon to be on every “best burger” list in St. Louis is the grass-fed beef burger, thoughtfully crafted with every bite in mind, from the sweet onion jam and pea shoots to the homemade American cheese. A place that serves this level of food alongside equally delicious drinks is easily on its way to becoming one of the city’s ultimate cocktail bars.
Where to Go:
Blood & Sand
1500 St. Charles St., Downtown
Small Plates: $4-$12; Cocktails: $7-$11
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 5pm-1:30am
Photo credit: Photos by Jennifer Silverberg