My friend Jen and I have established a fabulous ritual that all cocktail-minded women of the world should consider: Sazerac Tuesdays! Sazerac Tuesdays: the best thing to happen to work weeks since weekends. Basically, we meet at various St. Louis cocktail spots and restaurants on Tuesdays and order Sazeracs. It’s a great tradition and you should try it. You should try it every Tuesday.
Jen is my favorite souvenir from our trip to St. John earlier this year. Dave and I encountered Jen and boyfriend Anthony (aka The Skeptical Cardiologist: find his unbiased, evidence-based, heart-healthy musings here) at the Fatty Crab in Cruz Bay one night; we discovered they were also from the STL area and also discovered they’re lots of fun and pretty great all-around; they had us at “yes, of course we should order another round of picklebacks.” Great minds thinking alike in boozy paradise.
Upon returning to St. Louis, Jen and I have Sazerac-ed Gamlin Whiskey House, The Royale, Pastaria, and Old Standard Fried Chicken and have separately Sazerac-ed at Planter’s House and Taste. This city is big and has become a stellar place to have a stellar cocktail. There is much more Sazerac-ing to be done around St. Louis, and we’re just the women to do it.
Our most recent ST spot was Old Standard Fried Chicken. Old Standard is the brainchild of Ben Poremba, Tower Grove food wizard who brought Elaia, Olio, and Choquette to our fair city. The small restaurant, housed in what used to be a police stable on Tower Grove Avenue, showcases well-executed fried chicken and an impressive selection of American whiskies. Poremba brings in his chickens from Miller Poultry in Orland, Indiana, a natural and humane poultry farm I envision to be not unlike the one in Portlandia (“Is it local?” “Yes, this is the chicken you’ll be enjoying tonight. His name was Colin, here are his papers…”). They’re fed an all-vegetarian diet and are hormone and antibiotic free. The chickens also vote in every election, support urban farming, and don’t vaccinate their children.
before Poremba, courtesy Google street view… after Poremba, photo credit Feast Magazine
After being brined and cooked in a pressure fryer to ensure consistency, Old Standard’s ethically raised, finger licking chicken is available à la carte, a service option that should be available at every restaurant with fried chicken on its menu. Jen and I started with the biscuit and bread basket, which came with a flaky biscuit, a fluffy biscuit, two types of cornbread, and our choice of three butters or jams. We went with the lemon-honey and pistachio-mint butters and the stone fruits jam. The biscuits were flaky and fluffy as promised, and the pistachio-mint butter was a real standout- I slathered it on every bite of bread I took. At just $7, the basket was a steal with quality much higher than its price and a good amount of food for two people.
We each ordered a chicken leg, agreeing over our Sazeracs that dark meat trumps white meat, and split an order of skinny fries with blue cheese mayonnaise. I like eating with this girl because she’s not afraid to EAT FOOD. Butter? Yes. Dark meat? Yes yes. Blue cheese mayonnaise? Yes yes yes. YOLO, as the kids say. Our chicken legs and fries came out and my eyes, glittering with the reflection of drumsticks, had for once ordered appropriately for my stomach. Old Standard’s chicken legs are of a generous size, very juicy, not at all greasy, and have a slightly sweet flavor to it from the brine and possibly from the impeccable lifestyle they led before coming to Missouri. The fries were hot and crispy, the way Steak and Shake fries claim to be but never are, and the blue cheese mayonnaise- well, how could blue cheese mayonnaise be bad?
To enjoy with the chicken and coming in just above my beloved pistachio-mint butter was another Better Than It Has To Be house-made condiment: Old Standard’s hot sauce. We ate at the bar and I was lucky enough to glimpse a nondescript but promising reddish-orange bottle behind the counter and requested that it be passed my way. Good things come in unmarked squeeze bottles. Let me tell you: this stuff should be served at the door in shots. It’s perfectly balanced- spicy but not fiery, tangy but not a vinegar punch to the mouth, and quite literally made to be eaten with Old Standard’s fried chicken. I enjoyed my chicken leg in bliss, strategically exposing every nibble of crispy, meaty real estate onto which I could squeeze the hot sauce. If you go, please do yourself a favor and ask for it.
I suppose I should mention the Sazeracs since they got us here, didn’t they? They were great. You should go get one sometime. That’s all I have in the way of a Sazerac review- either they’re done well or they’re not, and OS didn’t mess around. In the way of beer, Urban Chestnut has an “Old Standard” pilsner on tap here- it’s quite tasty and pairs well with the chicken. Hints of honey, and it’s served in a stein (awesome). Anthony met us later in the night and was equally impressed by the chicken and by a side of braised red cabbage served in an individual cast-iron pot. On my next Old Standard visit, which I hope is sooner rather than later, I’m ordering the pickles, the boiled peanut hummus, and the greens (check out the rest of the creative yet authentically Southern menu here). It’s doubtful that anything on the Old Standard menu is less than outstanding; you owe it to yourself to check it out. Shoot, treat yo self. Maybe on a Tuesday… A Sazerac Tuesday.