The hometown of Red Gravy owner/chef Eric Brenner, St. Louis, Missouri, has a long history with jazz music. As a major destination for Black Americans leaving the Jim Crow-era South during the first wave of the Great Migration, St. Louis and other cities allowed for creative expression not previously possible.
So it’s appropriate that Brenner brings live jazz into the speakeasy-esque back room/bar he’s dubbed Blue at Red Gravy. Thanks to bartender Zak Popovich, the drinks fill out a fantastic mood, as sweet as some of the jazz.
The Gin Blossoms combines apple juice, elderflower liqueur and Lee Spirits Co. gin for a complex yet approachable drink that’s fruity in a couple of different ways, not too sweet, too acidic or too flowery. The Susie Q sees Four Roses bourbon paired with blackberry liqueur, lemon juice, mint, egg white and simple syrup, making a surprisingly mint-forward, fruit-mild sipper that’s smooth and creamy in texture.
More aggressive, the Paint it, Black has its roots in a martini — Lee Spirits Co. gin or vodka and dry vermouth — which it complicates with Kalamata olive juice and black walnut bitters. The brine hits first, then a sweet nuttiness intrudes, and the sip fades to a pretty traditional dirty martini, though sweetness lingers.