The 2010 Hot List: Nightlife
200+ things we love about St. Louis
Compiling a list of the city’s top spots to eat, drink, dance, shop and play is no easy feat. And this year, we had an endless list of buzzworthy newcomers, rediscovered classics and established spots that have stepped it up a notch to choose from. Not that we’re complaining; in fact, we’ve never been more proud of our city’s restaurants, shops, clubs, gyms and cultural institutions. If we could write St. Louis a love song, it would go a little something like this.
We love St. Louis because our nightlife destinations take their concepts and themes to the next level. St. Louis restaurant and bar owners have “raised the bar” with their innovative concepts, top-notch décor and creative themes you’ve never seen before. Our nightlife scene is an adult playground, full of places to dance, drink and never get bored.
Best New St. Louis-Centric Spot: Lola Lola declares its love for Downtown’s character with a menu of 30 drinks named after the surrounding loft buildings that infuse life into the neighborhood. Even if you aren’t a resident, you can enjoy a taste of the good life. Downtown, 314.621.7277.
Best Bar Design: Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar The interiors of Bridge are a manifestation of the restaurant’s identity: simple and satisfying. Casual, all-wood décor is tailored with stringed accents, and the sippers at the first-floor bar are separated from the suppers seated in the lofted dining room. Downtown, 314.241.8141.
Best Use of Theme: The Library Annex Located near the SLU campus, this college-themed bar explores the sexy side of libraries. Tall booths stacked high with books create privacy and leave plenty of room for fooling around—in their top-notch game room, that is. Midtown, 314.652.8484.
Best Place to Buy the Next Round: Erney’s 32° When it’s your turn to treat, head to Erney’s 32° for an ice cold shot in the VodBox— one of very few walk-in vodka freezers in the country— and choose from an entire wall of vodka varieties, chilled to perfection. The Grove, erneys32.com.
Best Bar Décor: Sanctuaria Sanctuaria is an escape from the ordinary into a land of Latin-American mystique. The darkly romantic décor is inspired by the holiday Day of the Dead, featuring peculiar paintings, elaborate ornamentation, decorative skeletons and black leather accents. The Grove, 314.535.9700.
Best New Concept: Revolve Rotating Ultra Lounge The first of its kind, Revolve’s “rotating” parties transform contemporary spaces into truly unique hot spots on the last Friday of every month. First-class service, premium liquors, and one-of-a-kind designs are perfect for the VIP on the go. revolvelounge.com.
Best In-the-Know Spot: The Thaxton Speakeasy You don’t have to know the right person to get into The Thaxton Speakeasy, but you do have to know the right word. Only those with the password (posted daily on their website) are admitted to this 1920s-throwback club. Downtown, 314.241.3279.
Best House Music: Sol Lounge Sol’s vibe may lean on more on exclusive, but their beats are totally accessible. Stellar DJs spin the best in global house culture live on a rotating calendar, Wednesday through Sunday nights. Chill on a sofa and soak up the mix. Central West End, 314.266.8446.
Best Pre-Game Destination: Black Label A little glitz before the grit of the ballgame is what you’ll find at this upscale club in Chouteau’s Landing. The plush interiors are great for a quick round with your game-going friends or kick back on the secluded patio. Downtown, 314.621.1929.
Best Party Patio: Atomic Cowboy Summer is the season at Atomic Cowboy, where DJs and bands perform starlightstyle on the bonfire-lit patio or in the retro-furnished, open air Quonset lounge, accompanied by nightly drink specials and the Cowboy’s popular Baja cuisine. The Grove, 314.775.0775.
Best Themed Nights: Rue 13 Friday nights are ’80s night at Rue 13. The VJ (video jockey) spins from a library of 2,000+ hits with MTV-era videos playing on TVs and projector screens. Plus, ’80s-themed events revive the heyday of aerobics, prom and Michael Jackson. Downtown, 314.588.7070.
Best Eye Candy: The Pepper Lounge This nightlife “hottie-spot” is the place to be when you’re looking your best. Hit the dance floor, where DJs spin dance and mash-up hits, mingle at the speakeasy-style bar serving up 20+ signature cocktails, or heat things up on the Polynesian-style patio. Downtown, 314.241.2005.
Best Place to Unwind After Work: Houlihan’s Houlihan’s recent makeover has made the national chain a local hotspot. Our favorite menu additions include the Mini Martini Flight (your choice of three mini martinis) and a Skinny Drink menu featuring five drink choices all under 125 calories. Multiple Locations, 314.436.0844.
Best Entertainment: The Fox Hole When Atomic Cowboy introduced this one-room theatre-style venue, they gave it a Second City vibe, but with a broader reach. You’ll find DJs, dancing, poetry, comedy, open mic events, local musicians and touring bands, just through the black double-doors. The Grove, 314.775.0775.
Best New Live Music Spot: The Firebird You won’t find theme or ambiance at The Firebird. In fact, you may have a hard time simply finding it. But once you do, you’ll be treated to the best of the local indie rock scene and some great national touring bands. Midtown, 314.535.0353.
Best New Addition to The Landing: Fusion Nightclub This upscale nightclub and vodka bar has made a splash in the popular entertainment district. DJs from St. Louis and beyond keep the party going until 3am, while the exceptional bartenders serve up luxurious libations tailored to your personal taste. Downtown, 314.241.3873.
Best Place for Celeb Spotting: HOME Nightclub The residential-style interiors of this blazing hot club in the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa make even the top elite feel right at home. With a star-studded guest list and celebrity hosts, you’ll bump elbows with your favorite athletes and Hollywood starlets. St. Charles, 636.940.4333.
Best Scene (City): Mandarin Something about the elite New York-aesthetic, Asian-inspired décor and exceptional drink menu draws DJs, celebs and models from around the world to this styling rooftop lounge. Party penthousestyle with ultra-premium liquors and original drink tapas. Central West End, 314.367.4447.
Best Scene (county): Quintessential Mingle among St. Louis socialites on Q’s multiple levels, featuring a top-floor lounge, rooftop terrace and three fullservice bars where you can order from their extensive list of cocktails, beer, wines and liquors while enjoying the beats of live DJs. Downtown St. Charles, 636.443.2211.
Best Post-Cards Game Hangout: The Outfield at Mike Shannon’s Powered by Pepper Lounge It’s the place to be after every game for die-hard Cards camaraderie and Shannon’s live broadcast sports talk show, where you’ll catch interviews with nationally known sports personalities. Plus, enjoy their top-notch food and drinks on the VIP deck. Downtown, 314.421.1540.
Best Spot to Show Off Your Tan: Wave Taco Now you can head to the beach without leaving the city. This Mexican beach-themed bar offers tropical drinks, lounge chairs for tanning, plus a sand volleyball pit filled with authentic white sand. The perfect place to sport your new suit. Downtown, 314.241.8226
Best New Wine Bar: Branica Wine Bar This boutique segment of the successful Trattoria Branica family offers over 300 bottles in an inviting, European environment. Cozy up with someone close in their plush seating, or kick back with a group on the handsome outdoor patio. Kirkwood, 314.909.7575.
Best Vintage Cocktails: The Royale When you already have the best classic drink menu in St. Louis, what’s a bar to do next? How about offer about a cocktail museum? That’s right, liquid history buffs can drink the exhibits every Sunday. South City, 314.772.3600.
Best Late-Night Happy Hour: Roxane From 11pm to close, every night of the week, Roxane is the place to be. Nosh on a late-night menu of global cuisine and libations in a posh setting, and stop by Monday-Thursday for additional late-night drink specials. Clayton, 314.721.6472
Best Ladies’ Night: Harry’s With two ladies’ nights each featuring their own incredible drink specials, this is where your girls are at. Get dollar drinks on Fridays and free drinks for ladies on Saturdays. Plus, the Skyy Deck features VIP tables and downtown views. Downtown, 314.421.6969.
Best International Dance Scene: Europe Nightclub The scene at Europe Nightclub is truly worldly. The large, open venue with a second-floor loft overlooking the dance floor offers two large bars, snug seating and a VIP room. Visit on International Saturdays for hits from around the world. Downtown, 314.621.5111.
Best New Sports Bar: Brewhouse These bartenders have put so much thought into their beer list it’d be a shame to order something expected. Leave A-B products to the kitchen (for basting, braising and battering) and sip something new while you watch the game. Downtown, 314.259.3270.
Best Sexy Crowd: EXO Lounge “So Sexy Saturdays” have nothing on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday at this urban lounge. Sure, there’s dance music for grinding when the mood is right, but the real attraction is the sophisticated setting for casual flirtation. Midtown, 314.534.1500.
Best New Lounge: Shiver All the cool kids are dressing up to chill out—literally—in the ice chamber at this vodka bar and champagne lounge. No need to pack a parka. Protection from the carved-ice furniture and barware is provided. Downtown, 314.241.3900.
Best Come-As-You-Are Bar: Just John The weekly schedule—live DJs, dance music, karaoke, bingo on Mondays—isn’t hiding any surprises. Watch the Cards on TV, toss corn bags on the patio, or jam to showtunes on Sundays. It’s a gay bar where everyone fits in. The Grove, 314.371.1333.
Best Upscale Lounge: Club 15 When someone mentions F15teen, it’s almost as likely they’re talking about the popular DJs and nightlife scene on the club side of this Jim Edmonds-owned business as the steakhouse. And if they mention bottle service, you know for sure. Downtown, 314.775.1448.
Best Cantina: El Borracho Don’t let the Day of the Dead décor mislead you. This taquería is all about fiestas. Its owners, all industry veterans, know a thing or two about throwing a party, which is why the fresh-squeezed juices and authentic comida are so delicioso. Downtown, 314.588.0055.
Best Casual Bar: Morgan Street Brewery Hanging out for a beer takes on new meaning when the microbrewery is this good. The award-winning lagers and seasonal brews pair well with the better-than-average bar food. Add sports on TV and free WiFi, and there’s no reason to hang out for a beer anywhere else. Downtown, 314.231.9970.
Fruit-Infused Cocktails: Urban Lounge Back when the mixology trend came to town, this was one of the first bars to stir exotic ingredients like balsamic vinegar into its cocktails. It’s still leading the way—and the DJs mix music nearly as well as the bartender mixes drinks. South Grand 314.772.3308.
Sake Martinis: 609 Lounge The next-door sushi restaurant’s extensive sake menu is the first sign that these bartenders know a thing or two about the brewed Japanese beverage’s flavor profile before they go mixing it up with champagne, fruit purées, juices and flavored vodkas. The Loop, 314.721.9168.
Cocktail Menu: Absolutli Goosed It’s almost as much fun to read the list as to drink it. And it’s impossible to pick a favorite. Go on, you try: Porky Pig in Leather, the Limey Bastard or the Bond favorite Ivana Humpalot South Grand, 314.771.9300.
Cocktails: Taste by Niche Take a genius mixologist, give him his choice of ingredients and install him in a pint-sized bar. Then watch the ice chips fly as Ted Kilgore creates cocktails so artful, they may someday show up in a museum. Benton Park, 314.773.7755.
Beer Selection: The Stable To find out what’s on tap, you’ll have to visit. The staff is too busy changing out the two dozen draft beers and 50+ bottled beers each week to update it online. And don’t forget its own beers from Amalgamated Brewing, which rotate seasonally. Benton Park, 314.771.8500.
The Royale’s Dark & Stormy, a Bermuda Ginger Beer, topped with a floating layer of Gosling Black Seal Rum on the rocks. The floating rum is how it is traditionally served in Bermuda.
Branica Wine Bar
Photo credit: Photo by Jennifer Silverberg