A conversation with mixologist, Ted Kilgore

If you read Em-i-lis with any regularity, you probably know that I love a good cocktail. I am thrilled by the resurgence of classic punches, the popularity of shrubs and the flourishing of modern speakeasies dedicated to lovingly crafted cocktails. I adore the pomp and circumstance of it all- the smooth bar top, dim lighting, tinkling crystal, giant spheres and blocks of ice, rows of elegant labels, special glassware, and little dropper bottles full of tinctures to add a final twist. I have learned to love bourbon.

As such, it was with an enthused "Yes!" that I accepted the offer to interview Ted Kilgore, owner and beverage director at Planter's House in St. Louis, MO. A quick glimpse at Planter's home page alone assures me that it's a joint I would love to find my way to. In the best way, it reminds me of The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co in Philly and Sotto here in DC. 

Ted has been mixing for seventeen years, and we talked about how easy it actually is to make your own infusions, liquors and so forth at home. The canner in me loved hearing about this because Ted talked about his handmade ingredients in terms of putting up seasonal ingredients for use and pleasure later in the year. That's precisely why I make so much jam all year long; to save for the future something that in its fresh form doesn't last too long. 

Right now, Ted is thinking autumnally: apples, cranberries, oranges and spice. Below I'll share the recipe for his Fall Flavors Vodka, a simple concoction you can make at home, as well as for his Holiday Highball which utilizes that vodka. You could also add it to champagne or even club soda for a light aperitivo.

I like to make festive, seasonal drinks for holiday parties and also think a homemade liquor would make a terrific gift!!

In addition to Planter's House, Ted contributes a great deal to Everclear's website, Make It Your Own, which contains an enormous number of DIY recipes that will definitely add some awesome chutzpah to your home bar. I am definitely planning to try a few.

Fall Flavors Vodka


  • 3/4 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
  • 3/4 cup copped Red Delicious apple
  • 3/4 cup chopped cranberries
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 ounces Everclear 
  • 10 ounces filtered water
  • 4 ounces simple syrup (a 1:1 water:sugar ratio)


In a food processor or with a knife, chop the cranberries and apples. In a jar or other lidded vessel, combine the chopped fruit, allspice berries, cloves, cinnamon stick and Everclear. Give it all a good shake, and let steep for 24 hours.

After steeping, pour the mixture through a fine sieve and discard all solids. To what remains add the water and simple syrup, and transfer to a 24-ounce bottle, or to smaller bottles that add up to the same volume.

Store at room temperature. This will last at least six months. Your finished product will be roughly 80 proof.

Holiday Highball


  •  ounces Fall Flavors vodka
  • club soda
  • 1 slice of Red Delicious apple
  • 1 slice of Granny Smith apple


Combine the vodka  and club soda in a highball glass. Stir briefly, add ice, and garnish with apple slices.