Pour an artist a cocktail to “stir the creative juices,” then hand over a Sharpie and a napkin. What doodle will result? We find out in this just-for-fun Friday series.

The Cocktail: A Manhattan, whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, at Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

The Artist: Tony Renner, artist, musician, photographer, poet, fabricator of the legendary local Jet Lag punk rock ’zine, former music director at KDHX, Vintage Vinyl manager with his own “Wall of Fame” caricature tributes, and founder of Duff’s Monday night poetry reading series, Chance Operations. Phew! It may be an understatement to say that Renner likes to challenge himself and try out new means of creative expression. He turned to painting during the stressful writing of his thesis in American Cultural Studies, for which he received a master's degree from Washington University in 2009, 30 years after graduation from high school.

“I thought I had my writing all taped out, but making that thesis deadline was a huge, pressured scramble.” Renner shakes his head like a wet dog in remembrance and continues, “At the time, my girlfriend Jessie had a box of water colors in the car for some unknown reason — she doesn’t paint — and I thought, well painting is about as far from writing as you can get. So I started fooling around, and reading books about Josef Albers. A little while later, I entered a couple of pieces in an Art St. Louis show; they both won honorable mentions, and one of them sold! I was hooked.”

Renner looks up from the Booze Doodle he’s dotting with Sharpie ink, and explains, “I did 100 paintings of circles earlier this year as a tribute to Black Mountain College’s symposium on John Cage, A Circle of Influence.”

What made you choose a Manhattan?

I’m not a cocktail drinker, in general. That choice is in honor of one of my favorite poets, the late Dorothea Grossman. She wrote a poem called New York Minute with some Manhattan drinking in it. Also, I know it has a boatload of booze in it. It’s the kind of thing a grown-up drinks.

What sort of restaurants do you like here in St. Louis?

My girlfriend and I only go to two restaurants; we’re very much stuck in a groove that way. The first is Pat’s, over by Turtle Park. They have the best comfort food: fried chicken, fried chicken livers, burgers and fries. The second is Mi Ranchito on Kingsland. My favorite thing there is the Guadalajara Special. You get a tamale, two flautas, and four nacho chips all topped differently, with sour cream, guacamole and tomatoes. It’s too much to eat at once, so then you get to take it home and get just as full for lunch the next day.

What kind of food do you eat at home?

I’m the chief cook and bottle washer. I’ve been with my girlfriend Jessie for 12 years now, and in that time, I think she’s only cooked once. It was lasagna, and it was absolutely delicious.

We like meat. I cook a mean London Broil. Sprinkle it with salt, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes, then slice it thin. I buy a lot of the 25-percent off meat at Schnucks. They always slap that orange sticker on so it covers the expiration date and the cut of meat. I bought some the other day, I think it was a strip steak, and man was it good. Very well aged. Sprinkled with a little salt and popped under the broiler. We also have a trusty vintage red crock pot we picked up at Goodwill. I slow cook pork steaks in that with tomatoes and peppers.

Our peach tree just start bearing fruit this year, and we have a bumper crop. I just froze 8-gallon bags of peaches, and there’s plenty more to come. I’ve been making peach salsa with them. Do you want a jar?

Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, 1004 Locust, Downtown, 314.241.8141, thebridgestl.com

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