Hot List 2014: Nightlife
A mainstay of STL’s cocktail culture, Taste never fails to impress, thanks to its top-notch cocktail menu, speakeasy decor and innovative fare. In the hands of the talented bar staff, carefully curated spirits and housemade ingredients become crisp renditions of cocktail classics. Sip on a Southside (Broker’s gin, sugar, lemon and mint) while snacking on an order of the addictive spiced cashews, and there won’t be any question why Taste was a James Beard nominee for Best Bar Program. Central West End, 314.361.1200.
People’s Choice: McGurk’s Irish Pub, Soulard, 314.776.8309.
BLOOD & SAND
You’re guaranteed to feel right at home in owner TJ Vytlacil’s stylish cocktail haven. Here, the members-only philosophy ensures every guest receives exceptional attention. Not sure what cocktail to order? Have a quick Q&A with a bartender who will craft a drink to suit your specific tastes. Don’t worry about remembering the exact proportions either, because your new goto cocktail is recorded in a little black book for your next visit. Downtown, 314.241.7263.
People’s Choice: Three Sixty, Downtown, 314.241.8439.
Best Cocktail Menu
Veteran mixologists Ted and Jamie Kilgore have combined their unparalleled cocktail expertise at Planter’s House—so it’s no surprise that the duo has already transformed the historic corner building into a hotspot for cocktail connoisseurs to sip on swizzles, fizzes, spritzes and aperitifs. Although almost anything on the cocktail menu (filled with unexpected Kilgore creations in constant evolution) is a sure thing, we recommend the Planter’s House Punch—a dangerously delicious combination of Camus VS cognac, El Dorado 5-year rum and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao—before moving to the more intimate Tom Bullock Room for a spicy, yet smooth Manhattanite or a Dutchtown Collins with Bols Genever, blackberry-black pepper syrup, citrus and club soda. Lafayette Square, 314.696.6203.
People’s Choice: Sub Zero Vodka Bar, Central West End, 314.367.1200.
Best Wine Bar
This classic Central West End haunt offers a wine list that’s well worth a close read and some serious sipping. Look for the red door as you approach the entrance and take the stairs up to Brennan’s Maryland House, an intimate space where you can swirl, sniff and sip a glass of wine, uninterrupted by the bustle of Maryland Plaza below. The list includes a wide range of vintages and varietals to keep everyone from the serious oenophile to the casual enthusiast coming back for more. Central West End, 314.361.9444.
People’s Choice: Sasha’s Wine Bar, multiple locations, sashaswinebar.com.
Best Rooftop Bar
The absolutely stunning views from almost 400 feet above Downtown St. Louis at Three Sixty are what keep us coming back time and time again to this upscale rooftop hangout atop the Hilton at the Ballpark. As the name implies, guests enjoy uninhibited views of the Arch, Downtown and even the baseball diamond at Busch Stadium. The outdoor bar offers plenty of perches to catch the Cardinals, and sleek fire pits surrounded by couches offer ideal spots for sipping cocktails in the company of good friends. Even in less than ideal weather, the 6,000-square-foot space has stunning indoor views for bar-goers, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. Downtown, 314.241.8439.
Best Happy Hour
Come 4:30pm, the Cheshire’s basement gastropub, Basso, is packed with people who have ducked out of work a little early for a late afternoon libationÛÓand rightfully so. Pull up a chair at the 40-seat bar or gather with friends around a community table for happy hour deals on pints of craft beer, tasting flights and the Italian wine of the dayÛÓor nosh for a little less on build-yourown pizzas and 2-for-1 deals on antipasti. Specials run Monday through Saturday until 6pm, but night owls can enjoy happy hour too, thanks to Basso’s discounted drinks and pizzas Monday through Thursday from 10pm-1am. Clayton, 314.932.7820.
Best LGBT Hangout
An anchor and longtime hotspot for the LGBT community in St. Louis, Just John is the ultimate go-to if you’re looking for a hot after-dark scene and even hotter entertainment. Swing by for Sunday Show Tunes and enjoy the all-day happy hour prices, or get a group together for a fierce round of karaoke on Tuesday and Thursday nights. In the summer, the patio is the only place to be for drinks, live performances and dance parties on the weekends. The Grove, 314.371.1333.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE Best Casino
It’s safe to bet on the worldclass entertainment available at your fingertips inside Lumiere Place, thanks to its more than 2,000 slots, 55 table games and sophisticated poker room. Downtown, 314.881.7777.
Best Drag Shows
Every Friday and Saturday night, The Painted Ladies take the stage at Meyer’s Grove for the best drag show in town. The intimate theater setting gets you up close and personal with the hilarious leading ladies, whoÛÓpaired with delicious drink specialsÛÓmake for an unforgettable night out. Be sure to arrive early to snag a table near the stage, because plenty of regulars ensure the house is always packed. The Grove, 314.932.7003.
Best Dance Parties
There’s no better place to get your dance on than the HandleBar’s ’80s Dance Night extravaganzas featuring none other than London Calling. Hit the dance floor at 10pm every second and fourth Saturday of the month; plan on leavingÛ_never. The Grove, 314.652.2212.
THE PEPPER LOUNGE
Catch some of the best DJs in the Midwest spinning tracks for the Downtown denizens that flock to The Pepper Lounge every weekend for one of the hottest dance scenes in the city, featuring DJ Greasy, DJ Big D, DJ Costik and more. Downtown, 314.241.2005.
Best Late-Night Hangout
Why call it quits early when you can keep the party going with good company and an out-of-this-world atmosphere at Eclipse’s New Moon Room or the always happening rooftop terrace? Both have equally spectacular views to enjoy until 2am and 3am respectively, and with a top-notch mixology program, you’ll have no shortage of delicious drinks to sip all night long. The Loop, 314.726.2222.
Best Whiskey Selection
GAMLIN WHISKEY HOUSE
The options are almost endless for lovers of all things whiskey at Gamlin, where guests have roughly 300 carefully curated bottles to choose from behind the bar. Purists have their pick between the finest American, Canadian, Irish and Scottish varieties, while nearly 40 cocktail options help mix things up for those looking to try something new. Whiskey even sneaks its way into the kitchen with Gamlin’s bourbon-brined fried chicken and bacon-wrapped, whiskey-sauced meatloaf. Central West End, 314.875.9500.