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ST. LOUISANS STAND AND DELIVER THE BIG O
St. Louis’ palate for adult beverages has been treated to a spate of new and innovative wines and craft beers in recent years, but little had changed in the spirits category. Until now. Bill Foster and Kathy Kuper are determined to see that every resident of legal age can enjoy The Big O.
The Big O is a ginger liqueur originally concocted in the couple’s home kitchen. Its combination of ginger and other exotic spices creates a sweet, warming drink that reminds one of the Caribbean islands, Asian spices, and the holidays. The 30-proof blend of artisan-made spirits and spiced syrup lends itself well to an assortment of other ingredients for an abundant menu of specialty cocktails.
"It’s one of the most versatile liquors I've ever worked with,” said Jazz at the Bistro mixologist Paul Scimone. “I use it to put a spin on old drink recipes and to create brand new ones -- not to mention it works great in marinades and sauces. However, of all the cocktails I've made with The Big O, I still like it best on the rocks."
What does it go with? Apparently everything. From champagne to a good wheat beer and anything in between. “We’ve tasted cocktails made with rum, rye whiskey, gin, flavored vodkas, Riesling, Cognac, and absinthe. It also goes well with fruit juices, coffee and tea, warm apple cider -- even ice cream,” said Kuper.
Small batch production preserves the “artisan” nature of the product and enhances the all-natural quality. The St. Louis residents made the liqueur for friends for years, but they only recently brought the product to market.
“There truly is nothing fake about it,” said Kuper. “We use only high-quality, natural ingredients and fresh, young ginger to ensure the right flavor. Making it in small batches allows us to monitor the process closely to make sure we have the best flavor and quality.”
The husband and wife team make the versatile beverage by hand at a craft distillery in Atchison, Kansas. “We tried to find someone closer, but we were too small to attract any local distilleries,” said Foster.
"It's not just the ginger," Ted Kilgore says in Feast Magazine's On-Line Feed. "There are a lot of interesting nuances [in it]. [It tastes] more fall-ish to me. It's put together well, with a lot of fresh flavors that aren't synthetic - and subtle herbs and spices."
"The Big O has a deep reach,” agreed John Womick, Dean of Culinary Arts at L'Ecole Culinaire. “The flavor profile is directly complimentary to the cuisines of the islands, much of Asia, the Mideast and northern Africa. With its infusion of spice with brandy, it elicits something very continental, reminiscent of concoctions that can only come out of colonialism. Mostly it will be with me on the rocks with a little club soda."
The liqueur offers a blending of the warmth of exotic spices, the sweetness of tropical sugars, the coolness of citrus, and the liberation of distilled spirits.
“People are excited about it because it is so unique in its flavor profile. There are other ginger liqueurs out there, but they’re much sweeter, less flavorful, and have more of a bite to them,” Kuper offered.
“We’ve had people asking for it all over the country -- New York, Tampa, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago,” said Foster. “One local retailer has shipped bottles to every corner of the States already – we even had a young couple from Lyon, France, take two bottles back home with them last summer. They loved it and requested a glass every evening after dinner.”