smoked, aged negroni at noto italian restaurant in st. peters photo by greg rannells

6 St. Louis bars where you can try classic cocktails multiple ways

A classic cocktail stands the test of time not just because the basic formula yields delicious results, but also because it offers the curious imbiber a blank canvas for experimentation. Some places around town have taken OG drinks and made them their own, even devoting a section of the drink list to a single cocktail. Here are a few local bars offering multiple ways to enjoy a favorite drink.

Gin and Tonic
This famous pairing started off as a way to keep malaria at bay, but has become one of the most popular highballs around. Bonus: You don’t have to be a mixologist to pull off a quality sipper. Just mix and match gins and tonics to create a distinctive drink, no shaker required. Both locations of 4 Hands Brewing Co. supplement their beer offerings with a solid G&T list that features a variety of their 1220 Spirits gin collaborations in addition to 1220’s Origin range of gins. 4 Hands owner Kevin Lemp said the list is a good way to spread the word about the connection between 4 Hands and their 1220 Spirits line. “I love it as a customer,” Lemp said. “You can really get the full experience of the gin.” Meanwhile, at The Gin Room, there are usually four or five featured G&Ts, or guests can select from a mind-boggling array of gins and choose their own spirited adventure.

Spritzes. The name conjures up visions of lazy afternoons spent whiling away the hours on European patios, drink in hand. These apparently straightforward patio sippers – just liqueurs (bitter or otherwise) and bubbles, really – can be anything but simple, with the right combination of ingredients. At Bistro La Floraison (where this author can be found tending bar most evenings), spritzes are most definitely a thing. There’s usually a trio of custom creations on the list that change seasonally, plus sparkly NA options like the Roselle Spritz, featuring gentian along with flavors of cinnamon, hibiscus and citrus, topped with ginger beer.

While Noto Italian Restaurant in St. Peters may be known for its Neapolitan pizza, they do love their cocktails, and Negronis are a special favorite. There’s always a traditional house version available, according to co-owner Kendele Noto Sieve, along with an aged Negroni that’s infused with smoke and features Ransom Old Tom Gin, Cinzano vermouth and smoked orange bitters. Lucky imbibers who time it right can also experience Noto’s clay pot Negroni. As the name suggests, it’s a Negroni that spends a couple of weeks aging in a clay vessel with dried figs. It's only available periodically when the batch is ready – good luck!

There may be no other cocktail that’s been riffed upon more than the venerable Old-Fashioned. The formula of spirit, sugar, bitters and water is the original cocktail that first appeared in print in the early 1800s. Its simplicity just begs for a little creative tweaking. A trio of takes are available at The Golden Hoosier: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wake Up, Grandpa! and Brass Monkey. The latter has a split base of J. Rieger & Co. whiskey and rum with banana liqueur and J. Rieger’s Caffè Amaro – a tasty and altogether unique combo. In addition to their Negroni offerings listed above, Noto also has a selection of Old-Fashioned and Manhattan riffs with base spirits that range from Scotch (The Godfather) to apple brandy (chai Old-Fashioned).

4 Hands at The District
17081 N. Outer 40 Road, Chesterfield,

4 Hands Brewery & Tasting Room
1220 S. Eighth St., St. Louis,

The Gin Room
3200 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.771.3411,

Bistro La Floraison
7637 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, 314.725.8880,

Noto Italian Restaurant
5105 Westwood Drive, St. Peters, 636.317.1143,

The Golden Hoosier
3707 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.354.8044,

Tags : Cocktails, Places