Raising the Bar

 In Culture, Feature

St. Louis’ late-night scene keeps getting hotter.


Each year, dozens of new bars usually open their doors across the city, but only a few stand out. Here is a look inside six top late-night hot spots that opened in the last year- and tips on what to drink, when to go and who to bring.


The Concept: While everyone else is trying to do it bigger, wunderkind restrauranteur Gerard Craft has hit the mark by doing it smaller. Located next door to his award-winning restaurant Niche, Taste offers a succinct menu of masterfully mixed drinks and simple-but-flavorful fare that is an amuse bouche of the good life.

When to Show Up: Stop by a few hours before dinner for a light snack and an aperitif, or after your meal for cocktails and a lively crowd.

Best Food & Drink Pairing: Try the Gateway Caipitinha: Cabana Cachaça, lemon juice, cinnamon bark syrup and peach preserves. Then, ask the mixologist which daily menu item would pair best.

How to Get Served Quickly: Call ahead. Such a small space fills up fast, and they only take a few reservations a night, so if you know you’re heading their way, let them know. Otherwise, get there early.

The Brains Behind the Bar: Ted Kilgore, a locally and nationally recognized mixologist, and his protégés have created a menu that is a salute to the golden age of American cocktails.

1831 Sidney St., Soulard, 314.773.7755


The Concept: The Library Annex is the college bar’s older brother–a little smarter, a little more sophisticated, but still loves to party. Brothers Tim and Seamus McGowan have created a college bar with upscale lounge décor, a number of bar games, 20 plasma TVs, and a dance floor with serious sights and sounds, located just off of SLU’s campus. It’s got the only dance floor and permanent beer pong tables in its area. Tall wooden booths topped with rows of books create privacy and exclusivity and divide the large space into three areas.

When to Show Up: Take advantage of the longer-than-usual happy hour, Wednesday-Friday until 8pm. If you want to dance on Friday or Saturday, get there before midnight, when they usually hit capacity.

Best Food & Drink Pairing: The PretzelBurger + a Bud Light.

Who to Bring With You: Your entourage. Grab a group of your best girlfriends or buddies and look good, because it’s a great place to meet someone new.

If It’s Your First Time: Show up early to secure a Beer Pong table.

3693 Forest Park Ave., Midtown, 314.652.8484


The Concept: Downtown’s latest place to be for a social supper and a mile-long drink list with something for everyone (over 200 beers, 36 on tap and over 100 wines, 20+ by the glass). David Bailey, owner of Baileys’ Chocolate Bar and Rooster, has a knack for concept and eye for design and has created the perfect harmony of simplicity and sophistication at Bridge. The wood decor and sleek stringed accents echo the restaurant’s namesake, the bridge of a violin.

When To Show Up: For dinner, get there early (5pm-6pm); for a lively bar scene, arrive after 9pm on Friday or Saturday.

Best Food & Drink Pairing: Gorgonzola and Bacon Bread Pudding + K Vintners Viogner white wine.

Who To Bring With You: Great for date night but even better for a small group. Sample a number of new-to-you beers in 4 oz. tasting glasses and share multiple combos from the A La Carte Cheese & Charcuterie boards.

If It’s Your First Time: Ask your server for beer selections that may not be on the menu. Since kegs are sometimes delivered mid-shift, you could get a first taste of the freshest beer on tap.

1004 Locust St., Downtown, 314.241.8141


The Concept: Pi owner Chris Sommers has perfected the art of turning a pizza joint into a destination. His newest location in the Central West End indulges its patrons’ sophisticated tastes and rewards them with a well-designed atmosphere. Their signature deep-dish, cornmeal-crust pizza made Pi in the Loop a hotspot, and the CWE location turns up the heat with one of the neighborhood’s largest bars, staffed by seriously skilled bartenders.

When To Show Up: Grab a late meal (9pm-10pm) then move to the bar afterward for drinks. If it’s your first time, grab a pager from the hostess and stroll the block while you wait. Pop into the surrounding galleries and shops to see what’s new. The next morning, return to Pi for a much-needed cappuccino and cinnamon bun.

Best Food & Drink Pairing: Central West End pizza + the Infinite Potential: Maison Surrenne Petite Champagne Cognac, Orchard Apricot Liqueur, house-made simple syrup, topped with Chandon Brut.

The Brains Behind The Bar: Sommers recruited bartenders from California, New Orleans, New York, Chicago and beyond—all of whom have helped shape the drink menu. And a certified sommelier on staff is an unlikely but welcome fixture for this posh pizzeria.

400 N. Euclid Ave., Central West End, 314.367.4300


The Concept: This white-hot vodka bar is the epitome of cool. The newest venture by Mark Erney and Paul Holst (of The Zone in the CWE) features three bars—two inside and one on the fun-filled patio—and a dancefloor that explodes by midnight. What sets this vodka bar apart from the rest is the VodBox, one of just a few walk-in vodka freezers in the country. Colorful LED lights on white walls keep the mood fresh, while retro fixtures, barstools and curtains add to the fun.

When To Show Up: Thursday nights are All You Can Drink Night. For $10, you can drink as you please from 9pm-midnight. For $5 more, you can extend your curfew to 1am.

Best Drink: Double Espresso Martini: Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka, vanilla vodka and triple sec. If you like it sweeter, ask for a little Kahlua mixed in.

Who To Bring With You: Whoever you want. The Erney’s crowd is fun and welcoming, so show up with a group or alone and you’re sure make a few new friends.

How To Get Served Quickly: Yell. If you don’t know your bartender’s name, shout your drink order. They’ll appreciate your moxie.

4200 Manchester Ave., The Grove, 314.652.7195


The Concept: This “sanctuary in the city” creates unique drinks using only boutique liquors (no mass-market brands), fresh juices and handcrafted accompaniments. Inspired by the Latin American holiday Day of the Dead, this darkly romantic spot features ominous paintings in Baroque frames, macabre decor and black leather walls.

How To Get Served Quickly: Sit at the bar. Aside from quicker service, you’ll have a front-row seat for the show. At Sanctuaria, assembling a drink is a ballet-style art form of measuring, muddling and mixing.

Best Food & Drink Pairing: Vaca Frita + the Brazilian Flip: Cabana Cachaca, house-made Falernum (rum-based liqueur infused with almonds, lime, clove and lavender), lemon juice, grapefruit bitters and an egg white.

Who To Bring With You: Someone special. The restaurant’s intimate dining rooms are great for date night.

The Brains Behind The Bar: Mixologist Matt Seiter has been lauded in New York, Chicago and St. Louis for his originality, intuition and dramatic presentation.

4198 Manchester Ave., The Grove, 314.535.9700



Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

Downtown’s latest place to be for a social supper and mile-long drink list


Erney’s 32? Vodka Bar

Taste by Niche offers masterfully mixed drinks and flavorful fare


Library Annex

The Library Annex is the the college bar’s older, more sophisticated brother.


Taste by Niche

Taste by Niche offers masterfully mixed drinks and flavorful fare


Pi in the CWE

Not just a pizza place, Pi features a well-designed atmosphere and a staff of skilled bartenders.



A sanctuary in the city houses creative cocktails and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere


Photo credit: Photos by Jennifer Silverberg

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