People generally associate premium vodka with distillers in Poland, Russia, or Sweden. But Mastermind Vodka is changing this preconception with a fine American vodka that’s truly local.
In a custom-designed still that resembles a giant martini glass, they mix small batches of the locally grown grains with water purified by a filtration system they designed themselves. The result is a clean, crisp drink that won a gold medal in the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The emphasis on local sourcing extends beyond the liquor as well, with nearby manufacturers supplying the glass bottles and obliging townies offering to taste-test each fresh batch.
The modern flourishes on Copia's menu are globally-inspired but grounded by an American culinary tradition. Brought to you by chef Zach Fiorimondo and property director Derrick Collquett, dishes such as chilies and champagne-goat-cheese cream take off from Midwestern classics, such as slow-roasted rotisserie chicken, house-smoked trout, and pork-rib chops.
Aided by a wine market whose bottles pour into the dining room at retail price, the downtown eatery aims to shuttle city dwellers directly into wine country with 18,000 square feet of exposed brick walls, wood-beam ceilings, and white tablecloths. Elsewhere within the rambling complex, natural light pours into an atrium garden, a glass waterfall neatly partitions off the bar to prevent diners from impulsively ordering every dish and drink they see, and stainless-steel vats age several of Copia's own wines. Much missed after a fire shuttered its initial incarnation, Copia was roundly welcomed back onto the St. Louis scene in 2010: among other praise, St. Louis Magazine called its calamari "as crispy-crunchy delectable as any seafood you?ll find in a New England clam shack" and its smoked ribs "the best upscale version of barbecue in the area."
Since 1958, the clatter of pins has filled Crestwood Bowl, which was taken over in 1973 by Ray Bluth, one of the first PBA Hall of Fame inductees. Ray?s son, Mike, recalls fond memories of a childhood spent carousing amongst the lanes. In 1979, Mike started working at the alley, and continued to do so all throughout high school and college, before he became general manager. "Nothing much has changed," says Mike about the alley and the sport itself. The bowling alley still glistens pristinely, just as it did in the 1970s, with comfortable seating at each of the 24 lanes, which are set against a backdrop of planets and stars.
But that?s not to say that there haven?t been updates. Years ago, the alley's bumpers were inflatable, and would send balls ricocheting from side-to-side down the lane like runaway hedgehogs. Today, bumpers are built into each lane, and the 12 Strike Scoring system is all new and user-friendly. During Extreme Bowling on Friday and Saturday nights, the lights dim and a disco ball spins wildly in an attempt to escape down the lanes and hit a strike. Between frames, bowlers can refuel at the snack bar, chewing on chicken strips, pizza, 1/3-pound Angus beef burgers, and pork tenderloin.
Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
Clothes and furniture find new life at Red Racks Thrift Stores. Through donations, the staffers at the store's 13 locations fill their racks and shelves with thousands of second-hand items for kids and adults, including name-brand garments from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, The Loft, and Donna Karan New York. They also stock furniture and other miscellaneous goods, such as books and home décor.
And something odd happens when these items arrive at checkout—the register doesn't ring up any sales tax. That's because Red Racks is a nonprofit organization, and all proceeds go to benefit the Disabled American Veterans, an organization that has advocated on behalf of veterans for more than nine decades. Red Racks' altruistic mission has proved successful so far—the inventory of each store typically turns over every 3–4 weeks.
The culinary masterminds at Joe Fassi Sausage and Sandwich Factory stuff their menu with homemade meatballs and sausages that caught the hungry editorial eye of Riverfront Times in 2010. Crafted with care and brimming with meat, more than 30 hot and cold sandwiches salute the Fassi forebears, who founded a grocery store in the storefront in 1926. Meatballs simmer in a tangy red sauce, and sausages speak of sweet and savory combos such as red wine with garlic and breakfast sherry with nutmeg. Instead of topping salads with handsome boutonnieres, guests can enhance their visual appeal with the café’s homemade Italian-style vinaigrette, available by the spoonful and by the bottle. The factory's friendly staffers also cater events with hearty boxed lunches and sandwiches that stretch up to 10 feet.