At The Midwestern Meat & Drink, Tony Saputo is equally happy to make you a pork-fat-washed whiskey cocktail or pour you a Busch.
As beverage director of the Downtown St. Louis barbecue restaurant and bar, which opened in March and will celebrate its grand opening this month, Saputo oversees an ambitious bar program ranging from draft and canned beer (with a heavy focus on local brews) to craft cocktails, wine and a well-curated bourbon list to pair with chef-owner Ben Welch’s menu. After years behind the bar at Layla, Atomic Cowboy, Eclipse and, most recently, The Benevolent King, Saputo is making sure everyone has something to sip and savor at The Midwestern.
You were known for a progressive cocktail program at The Benevolent King. What’s your approach at The Midwestern? The integrity of the drinks is still great, but I want them to be simple – and not simple in structure, but I want them to be approachable and easily understood. I don’t want someone to have to look at a menu for 10 to 15 minutes. There’s a meeting of what I think the average drinker wants and what I want. It’s as esoteric as possible, but also approachable and easily understood.
Tell us about the cocktail menu. I’m doing some of my variations on classic whiskey cocktails – pretty much classics how I like them – including a Horsefeather, Old Fashioned, Blood and Sand, Mint Julep and a house Manhattan. We also have tequila and mezcal drinks to mix it up a bit.
What about the whiskey list? We have more than 215 whiskeys, the majority of which are American whiskey and bourbon. The highest one is around $120 [for a pour], with our wells starting at $6. We do have both Whistle Pig’s The Boss Hog V and Boss Hog IV, which is pretty exciting. I’m also really excited about my Taiwanese Kavalan Whisky. I got in a 28-year bottle of Bunnahabhain, which is one of my personal favorite Scotches. I’m trying to carry as much as I can [from] Union Horse [Distilling Co., in Lenexa, Kansas], too; they make everything really, really well.
The Midwestern Meat & Drink, 900 Spruce St., Downtown, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.696.2573, facebook.com/midwesternstl