Gin and its juniper goodness are making a splash in St. Louis.
ALTHOUGH WHISKEY has been the hot topic around town as of late (being showcased at bars and celebrated at festivals big and small), there are signs that it may be gin’s turn to bask in the spirits spotlight. Pinckney Bend Distillery near Washington, MO, and St. Louis’ own Square One Brewery & Distillery have both put out award-winning gins that fall within the bright and less juniper-forward New American category, perfect for sipping solo or mixing in cocktails this summer. To accompany its gin, Pinckney Bend has also introduced a tonic syrup to spice up the traditional mixer.
Some local bars are also embracing gin in earnest by incorporating it into tasty drinks other than the ubiquitous gin and tonic. At the forefront of this push is Café Natasha in Tower Grove. Co-owner Natasha Bahrami has embarked on a mission to resurrect this venerable spirit, a calling that began on the day she ordered her usual dirty vodka martini, was served a gin version instead and was blown away.
The new Gin Room at Café Natasha features 58 gins, from London Dry to Overproof Navy Strength varieties and everything in between. Accompanying them are nine housemade tonics, like Harem, made with Pink Lady apple, ginger and cumin; and Spring, which features a combo of lemongrass and orange blossom. There’s also a lineup of eight gin-based cocktails, riffs on classics each built around a particular style of gin. For those who want to experience several spirits at a time, there’s a monthly rotating gin flight that features three spirits paired with a specific house tonic. Bahrami is also experimenting with in-house gin infusions utilizing basil, honey, cardamom and other flavors.
“I think gin is a spirit that can be really flexible,” Bahrami says, noting that the flavor profiles of various gins range from light and floral to citrusy to malty and almost whiskey-esque. She says the botanicals inherent in the spirit also pair well with the restaurant’s spicy Persian cuisine.
Aviation Cocktail, The Gin Room at Caf̩ Natasha
Photo credit: Christopher Gibbons