ST. LOUIS — While St. Louis is probably more thought of as a beer town, Tim Wiggins is doing what he can to shake up the area’s cocktail game.
He’s one of the creative minds behind some of the city’s most popular spots for creative concoctions. He co-owns Retreat Gastropub, Yellowbelly and the new Lazy Tiger cocktail bar, all in the Central West End.
Wiggins sees mixology as an art.
His cocktails aren’t just a spirit and mixer stirred together. They’re much more thoughtful than that. Adventurous, yet accessible. And he knows even the draft beer crowd can get on board.
“I think that's a beautiful thing about St. Louis is like people are down to try some. It's not the stereotypical crowd. People are a little more informed and just say they're ready to be adventurous,” he said from behind the bar at Lazy Tiger. Wiggins talked with Abby Llorico over a Zoom happy hour for a recent episode of the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast.
In preparation for our retreat from the patio and back to the virtual window, he joined Abby Llorico for Zoom happy hour on a recent episode of the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast. He went walked us through the steps to create restaurant-worthy cocktails right in your own home.
You can watch the full happy hour video with Tim Wiggins, including instructions and demonstrations on how to make the cocktails, by clicking here.
Wiggins said the Street Legal cocktail has been surprisingly one of the more popular drinks on the menu at Lazy Tiger, but it’s also a really approachable cocktail to whip up at home.
“It feels very simple but yet has a lot of depth,” he said.
And as an added bonus for the at-home bartender: there aren’t a lot of ingredients.
“And it really is more of an art to balance three, four ingredients than it is to balance 14. So, I think there's like a little bit of lesson in restraint there,” he added.
He described this one as booze-forward cocktail with saltiness and a savory flavor that keeps people coming back.
- 2 ounces Beefeater gin (Wiggins likes this one for its juniper and black pepper flavor profiles)
- 3/4 ounce Alessio vermouth bianco
- 3/4 ounce Barbadillo fino sherry
- 1/18 ounce (a bar spoon) simple syrup
- Castelvetrano olive garnish (these are the bright green olives)
- Add all of the ingredients in a large glass.
- Fill the cup at least three-fourths full of ice.
- Use the back of your spoon to slowly stir. “Pretend like the back of the spoon is connected to the edges of the glass and you’ll slowly turn in a circle. It’s the most gentle way to melt the ice into the cocktail. It’s diluting the cocktail and the cocktail is getting colder,” Wiggins explained. Using this method prevents bubbles and keeps the drink silky and clear.
- Slowly poor into a cocktail glass.
- Garnish with an olive.
Wiggins conceded that adding in the simple syrup will probably raise some eyebrows from old school martini fans. He said simple syrup helps curb the “heat” of the cocktail and makes it easier and silkier to drink without coming off as sweet.
The Lazy Tiger
Wiggins said this cocktail was one of the most popular at Yellowbelly, even rivaling sales of that restaurant’s namesake drink.
He described it as an aggressively flavored cocktail with big flavors. It includes ingredients that are riffs of spirits most people have in their liquor cabinet.
The Lazy Tiger involves mezcal, which is the smoky, barbecue-like cousin of tequila (both are made from the agave plant). It also includes shrubb – that’s shrubb with a double “B” – which is a rum flavored with orange peels and sugar. Shrub with a single “B” is something entirely different, usually a sweetened vinegar-based syrup with fruit flavors.
- 1 1/2 ounces Agave De Cortez mezcal
- 1/2 ounce creole orange shrubb
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 3/4 ounce honey
- Tajin seasoning
- Add the mezcal, shrubb, lime juice, honey and a shake a Tajin to metal cocktail shaker.
- Top with 7-8 ice cubes.
- Shake – and shake it like you mean it. Wiggins said a soft shake won’t do the job. You want it frothy and bubbly when you pour it out.
- Pour into a glass with the ice.
- Dip an orange slice in Tajin on a plate.
- Garnish rim with orange slice – take a bit of the orange slice as you drink the cocktail to enjoy the drink in a traditional way.
Wiggins said The Lazy Tiger cocktail was so popular – and approachable for such a wide variety of people – that it served as the inspiration for the name of his new cocktail bar.
This story is a companion piece to the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast episode called “Virtual Happy Hour with Tim Wiggins.” You can download the episode for free and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We've included links below to some of the most popular podcast platforms.
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