Wednesday, July 6, 2011
They say “Drink like it’s prohibited” -- and prohibition tastes delicious.
You may remember my brother-in-law and “almost doctor” Voytek from previous entries on Lunch Blog. He’s the guy who tried to dissuade us on medical grounds from ordering the Suribachi Burger at Swagger, and later commented that “Medically speaking, the correct amount of Whatafarms is zero, for the duration of your life.”
Well, the good sir finally graduated from med school recently, and as such he could actually attend his first Guys’ Night in a while. No more staying home and hitting the books, playing Operation, watching old episodes of "Quincy" or whatever homework it is that med students do.
For his return, Voytek requested we class it up and get fancy drinks at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. And with many intriguing options on the cocktail menu there, each of us had a hard time deciding what to get for our first round. Voytek went with the Pendergast ($9) -- made with bourbon, Dolin sweet vermouth, Benedictine and Angostura bitters -- and dug it quite a bit.
I myself had the Applewood Smoked Sling ($8), which involves rye smoked right there at the Rieger, rich simple syrup and Angostura bitters. While it was excellent, the smoky taste of the rye and the drink’s overall warming effect is likely better suited for sipping on during colder months.
Out of the three of us, Shaw chose the most correctly, going with Tito’s Mule ($8). It’s Tito’s vodka, Rieger ginger soda and lime. Note the candied ginger garnish. A perfect summer cocktail.
We also ordered a ton of snacks from the bar menu. The big winners for me were the Mediterranean-spiced crunchy ceci beans ($3), vinegary pickled quail eggs ($5), and some Tuscan fries that were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside ($3). I could’ve gone to town on that trio all night long.*
Alas, The Rieger was out of arancini ($5), which we were big fans of at The Test Kitchen’s Ultimate Cocktail Party last summer. That outage means Shaw will have to return another time to attempt beating The Rieger’s House Arancini-Eating Record, which if it isn’t a thing, certainly should be. Instead we got some bruscehtta with marrow butter and gremolata ($3) -- neither that nor the charcuterie ($7) did much for me, though.
Since all the sodas, tonics and mixers at The Rieger are made in-house, Voytek and I were both excited to get a Calimocho ($9) for round two -- it’s made with Garnacha, Fernet Branca and Rieger kola. Think red Spanish wine and Coke. The Calimocho here is all around awesome, and I’d be interested to try a glass of the Rieger kola by itself, too.
Meanwhile, we’d been talking Manhattans, and overhearing our conversation the bartender offered to make one for Shaw. As Shaw took his first sips and relayed that it was good stuff, the bartender told us he’d used Four Roses Small Batch bourbon and that the vermouth in it was from “a fifty or sixty dollar bottle.”
Armed with that info, Shaw’s eyes instantly narrowed and I could tell he was attempting to discreetly calculate how much his Manhattan might be running him. It turned out to be $14, which is probably very reasonable for the quality of booze, yet still something of a splurge for Old Overholt men such as ourselves.
The Rieger was a great suggestion by Voytek, but sadly we can’t afford to enjoy fancy drinks all night, so after those two rounds we headed over to Tower Tavern for trivia, $2 tallboys and a bacon cheeseburger pizza. Remember, Voytek -- just because you’re done with school doesn’t mean cheap beer can’t still be your friend every now and then.
That said, once your doctor money kicks in, we absolutely accept your thus-far-not-extended-but-we’re-sure-it’s-coming offer to meet you at The Rieger and generously allow you to pick up several rounds. We’re good like that.
*Per The Rieger’s website, it appears the bar menu has changed since our visit and the ceci beans and Tuscan fries are gone. However, I’m looking very forward to going back and trying the pork tongue and the pork and ricotta meatballs that’ve been newly added.
1924 Main Street | Kansas City, MO 64108