Q&A: Tim Wiggins, Yellowbelly, St. Louis, MO

Tim Wiggins is co-owner/bar manager of Yellowbelly, which opened this past August in St. Louis, MO.

What does the name Yellowbelly refer to?

Tim Wiggins: The name Yellowbelly refers to fish and other animals with yellow bellies that are often found in tropical and warm-weather environments. It’s also a playful way of asking people to come be brave and try something new by referencing the cowardly connotations of the word yellowbelly.

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The beverage program is said to be your love letter to rum. What is it about rum that you love?

TW: I mostly love how rum tastes. I think rum is truly the best cocktail spirit due to its versatility. The depth and versatility that rum offers is really unique and makes it ideal for every style of cocktail. I really love that quality rum is mysterious and is widely unknown to the public because it is exciting to discover new things and to rediscover a spirit you thought you didn’t enjoy.

What are some of Yellowbelly’s signature cocktails?

TW: The Helping Hands cocktail is tequila-based and has a snap-pea syrup with a seaweed-infused vermouth and fresh lime juice. I think this cocktail really shows off what we do at Yellowbelly, and it isn’t even a rum-based drink! The combination of savory/bitter and sweet/sour is a fun balance that gets paired perfectly in this cocktail.

The Ca$h Crop is a rum-based cocktail that is our Old Fashioned-style cocktail on the menu; it’s made with overproof rum, house-aged rum blend, ginger, cacao and bitters. It is an excellent way of showing off rum in a stirred and sipping cocktail form. The non-fruity and juicy cocktail drinkers have loved this one.

What’s been the most popular cocktail so far?

TW: The Yellowbelly cocktail has definitely been the most popular, as we thought. The Frio Fresco (gin, coconut, aloe vera, pandan, lemon) and the Lion’s Share (bourbon, sherry, passion fruit, miso, almond, lime) have been the next top two and are getting close to catching the Yellowbelly!

You serve the drinks in fun, cheeky custom glassware—can you describe some of the pieces?

TW: We have many custom glasses! We have one with big leaves wrapping around the edges. We have one with little cartoon-looking people chilling at a beach and diving under water. We have a Belgian-style beer glass that has our Yellowbelly logo printed on it in the beautiful script.

Overall the concept is to have modern and clean interpretations of the fun Tiki-style glassware. Our drinks have vibrant colors, so we didn’t want to hide them in ceramic mugs!

You have said that it won’t be a Tiki bar (though it sounds like a Tiki bar). So how would you define Yellowbelly?

TW: Yellowbelly is a modern cocktail bar and restaurant that is inspired by islands and good vibes.

What’s your go-to cocktail at the end of a shift or long day?

TW: Always a Negroni. Sometimes a mezcal Negroni.

Would you share the recipe for one of Yellowbelly’s popular cocktails?

Frio FrescoTW: I love the Frio Fresco cocktail because it is so damn refreshing and has awesome creamy texture.

 

Frio Fresco
1 ½ oz. J. Rieger Midwestern gin
½ oz. Aloe vera liqueur
½ oz. Pandan syrup
1 oz. Coconut syrup
½ oz. Fresh lemon juice

Shake all ingredients and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a mint tree (don’t skimp on the mint!) and nutmeg.