Where to Drink Now

The bar scene in St. Louis has arrived, thanks to these trendy new hotspots, must-try cocktails and the discerning crowds that follow them all.

 

 

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1.Tripel Brasserie

Belgian Beer and Cocktail Bar Lafayette Square, June 2013
This spacious pub brings a little bit of Belgium to STL, and‰ÛÓin a beer-crazy city‰ÛÓmanages to stand tall with an interesting beer list heavy on Belgian brews (naturally), including some styles that aren’t widely available around town (like lambics and sours). Despite the beer focus, Tripel has a surprisingly deep cocktail menu, full of custom libations such as the complex Last Call, made with fernet, Salers Apertif, absinthe, lime juice and cola. The food menu is also stellar, with plenty of traditional Belgian fare to be had (try stoofvlees, a hearty beef stew served over frites). 1801 Park Ave., 314.678.7787. *Happy Hour

Who’s There: Beer nerds, folks from the surrounding neighborhood and a fair amount of service industry types from nearby bars and restaurants can all be found drinking and noshing here.

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7. The Libertine

Restaurant and Cocktail Bar Clayton, May 2013
A top-notch restaurant that has a lot to offer behind the bar, The Libertine takes its drinks as seriously as its award-winning cuisine. A prime example is the Fear & Loathing, a highball riff with Gosling’s Black Seal rum, housemade cola, pecan foam and lemongrass dust. Many of the drinks include locally (or almost locally) made spirits from producers like Pinckney Bend and StilL 630, and a bevy of ingredients are made in-house, including bitters and tinctures. The drinks, along with the wide-ranging beer and wine offerings, perfectly compliment perennial James Beard Award nominee Josh Galliano’s comforting cuisine and sleek, minimalist decor. 7927 Forsyth Blvd., 314.862.2999. * Happy Hour, Events & Classes

Who’s There: Claytonites frequent this neighborhood spot, from suit-and-tie types stopping in after work to residents dropping by in the evening for cocktails and dinner. Plenty of trendsetters looking to sample the latest and greatest the culinary scene has to offer are mainstays as well.

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5. Craft Art Bar

Bar and Community Arts Space Cherokee, March 2014
Part bar, part art gallery, part event space, Artbar is carving its own niche on the STL scene. The bar is a joint project of Tom Halaska, formerly of Sasha’s on Shaw, and Tatyana Telnikova, owner of HandleBar. With a focus on locally-sourced food, brews, spirits and art, the bar’s bold and colorful interior is meant to inspire artists and drinkers alike, from the stunning murals adorning the walls to the various tools inlaid in the bar top. The space will host works by local artists, as well as all manner of live performances. Stop by to get inspired, be entertained or just to have a drink. 2732 Cherokee St., 314.769.1274. *Happy Hour, Entertainment, Events & Classes, Late Night Eats

Who’s There: Artistic types and those who value visual stimulation, as well as a delicious drink.

6. Planter’s House

Craft Cocktail Bar, Lafayette Square, December 2013
This Lafayette Square gem marks the return of mixologist Ted Kilgore to the forefront of the St. Louis drinks scene. The multiple cocktail menus feature custom Kilgore creations like the Voisey of Reason‰ÛÓa delicate combo of Hendrick’s gin, scotch, Lillet Rose and house-made chamomile cucumber liqueur‰ÛÓalong with creative takes on the classics, like the amaro-tinged Old…But Still in Fashion. Spirits aficionados take note: Kilgore’s list boasts 130 American whiskeys and a bountiful selection of gins, brandies, apertifs, digestifs and other assorted potables. But it’s not all about the booze‰ÛÓPlanter’s House also features a solid food menu full of New American delicacies. 1000 Mississippi Ave., 314.696.2603. *Happy Hour, Events & Classes, Late Night Eats

Who’s There: Everyone from neighborhood folks to hip scenesters can be found eating and imbibing. Planter’s House doesn’t take reservations, which means a bit of a wait, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

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7. The Libertine

Restaurant and Cocktail Bar Clayton, May 2013
A top-notch restaurant that has a lot to offer behind the bar, The Libertine takes its drinks as seriously as its award-winning cuisine. A prime example is the Fear & Loathing, a highball riff with Gosling’s Black Seal rum, housemade cola, pecan foam and lemongrass dust. Many of the drinks include locally (or almost locally) made spirits from producers like Pinckney Bend and StilL 630, and a bevy of ingredients are made in-house, including bitters and tinctures. The drinks, along with the wide-ranging beer and wine offerings, perfectly compliment perennial James Beard Award nominee Josh Galliano’s comforting cuisine and sleek, minimalist decor. 7927 Forsyth Blvd., 314.862.2999. * Happy Hour, Events & Classes

Who’s There: Claytonites frequent this neighborhood spot, from suit-and-tie types stopping in after work to residents dropping by in the evening for cocktails and dinner. Plenty of trendsetters looking to sample the latest and greatest the culinary scene has to offer are mainstays as well.

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8. Whiskey Ring

Whiskey Bar Cherokee, December 2013
This Cherokee Street newcomer has a definite dive bar vibe, thanks to funky touches like reclaimed vinyl bar stools and the velvet paintings that hang on the walls. But don’t let the decor fool you: There’s a solid whiskey selection and a small, but strong cocktail list heavy on classic whiskey drinks like the venerable Sazerac, along with originals including The Stockton Pride‰ÛÓquite possibly the only liquid homage to Stockton, MO, ever created, featuring bourbon, spiced rum, Applejack liqueur and black walnut bitters. There’s also a small selection of local beers on tap and cheap bottled favorites like Genesee Cream Ale and Stag. Unlike many of its South City counterparts, The Whiskey Ring is spacious, thanks to its corner location, so there’s plenty of room to hang out. 2651 Cherokee St., 314.769.7249. *Happy Hour, Events & Classes

Who’s There: The crowd is heavy on service industry folks popping in for an after-shift drink, as well as seasoned scenesters and neighborhood tipplers. The place definitely starts hopping in the late evening hours.

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9. 21st Street Brewers Bar

Craft Beer Bar Lafayette Square, March 2014
With the veritable explosion of craft brewing here in recent years, it was only a matter of time before a bar devoted to local brews came to pass. 21st Street is the latest project by Paul and Wendy Hamilton, owners of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, Moulin Events, Grand Petite Market and PW Pizza fame. Located on the lower level of the Hamilton’s Chouteau Avenue complex, officially known as the Centennial Malt House, 21st Street has some 50 brews on draft and 80 or so by the bottle, with a distinct focus on local beers. If you can’t find something here to satisfy your thirst, you’re just not trying. 2017 Choteau Ave., 314.241.6969. *Happy Hour, Events & Classes

Who’s There: Look for every hopshead and beer geek for miles around to flock here.

10. Element

Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge Lafayette Square, September 2013
Since its fall 2013 opening, Element has gotten big buzz for its creative cuisine, but the bar program is proving to be just as impressive. All the drinks are, of course, available in the main dining room, but the third-floor lounge is where the serious imbibing takes place. The space itself is full of eye-catching details like the mosaic inlays on the front of the bar and the funky asymmetrical chandeliers. There’s plenty of soft seating inside for laid-back conversation, and the rooftop patio can’t be beat if you want to catch a summer sunset. The bar staff is more than happy to whip up any classic you choose, but we recommend selecting from the list of custom drinks, including concoctions like the musttry bourbon-and rum-based El Flora Sinner. 1419 Carroll St., 314.241.1674. *Happy Hour

Who’s There: This is a place to “see and be seen”‰ÛÓboth in person (you’re bound to run into someone you know) and on social (the number of smartphone pics being snapped of the hotspot’s food and drink is no joke). Things really get going after dark on the weekends, especially when the rooftop patio is open.

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11. Juniper

Restaurant and Bar Central West End, October 2013
Chef John Perkins’ unique spins on southern comfort food are the centerpiece of Juniper for sure, but the bar program is also well worth a visit. Created by local mixologist Matt Obermark, formerly of Salt and currently at Planter’s House, the compact drinks list is divvied up by flavor profile‰ÛÓsweet, sour, boozy, bitter‰ÛÓand most certainly has something for every palate. Standouts include the Scarlet O’Hara from the Bitter selections, a complex amalgam of bourbon, Cynar and Aperol. The space itself is intimate but inviting with plenty of rustic touches, like the long community tables and the repurposed barn wood adorning the walls. 360 N. Boyle Ave., 314.329.7696. *Happy Hour and Events & Classes

Who’s There: Local foodies can be found here en masse, as well as area chefs and cooks looking to sample Perkins’ famous fare and knock back a quality drink or two.

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12. Gamlin Whiskey House

Whiskey Bar and Restaurant Central West End, October 2013
One of the vanguards of the current trend of whiskey-centric bars in town, this CWE watering hole features an expansive list of tipples from all the major whiskey-producing countries, including spirited benchmarks like Johnnie Walker Platinum-, Gold-, Green- and Blue-label scotches. For cocktail fans, there’s also a lengthy list of classics, signature drinks and some AM eye-openers for those requiring a little hair of the dog (the Whiskey Bellini is our current must-try). There’s also plenty of hearty fare, from juicy choice cuts to bacon-wrapped meatloaf to accompany your drink of choice‰ÛÓall in an upscale space chock-full of whiskey-inspired touches like decor accents made from reclaimed whiskey-barrel wood and handmade wooden menu boxes. 236 N. Euclid Ave., 314.875.9500. *Happy Hour, Events & Classes, Late Night Eats

Who’s There: Plenty of well-heeled spirits fans make the rounds here, as do students from the nearby universities. Happy hour, including a latenight version, Mondays-Thursdays, always brings in a crowd, as does the popular Sunday brunch service.

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13. Small Batch

Vegetarian Restaurant and Whiskey Bar Midtown, January 2014
The latest from restaurateur David Bailey, Small Batch is housed in a historic Midtown edifice with loads of retro vibe, from the black-and-white decor and wrought-iron railings to the towering back bar. Menu-wise, it combines two of the hottest trends going‰ÛÓvegetarian and vegan cuisine and whiskey‰ÛÓinto a tasty, upscale experience. For people-watching, get a table on the catwalk-like second floor overlooking the bar. In addition to a couple of single-pour sizes (3/4-ounce and 2-ounce), the spirits menu has several whiskey flights available‰ÛÓ like the Multigrain Flight featuring whiskeys based on whole grains, perfect for the spirits curious. 3001 Locust St., 314.380.2040. *Happy Hour

Who’s There: Small Batch attracts a mixed group, from those popping in for a drink and a bite before heading to a show at the nearby Fox Theatre or Powell Symphony Hall, to foodies eager to taste the creative vegetarian dishes and spirits fans looking to sample from the extensive whiskey list. Expect a wait on weekends.

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Ted Kilgore

What the Godfather of Mixology is Drinking

Since he came to St. Louis in 2006, Kilgore has continually set the bar ever higher for local mixologists, almost single-handedly creating what has become a vibrant craft cocktail scene in St. Louis with his efforts at such venues as Monarch, Taste and his current project, Planter’s House, which features more than 100 variations of one of his favorite obsessions, American whiskey. His drink of choice? A toss-up between the La Louisiane and the Last Word. Find him at 1000 Mississippi Ave., 314.696.2603.

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BRINGING MIXOLOGY CRED TO STL

Kyle Mathis, Taste

Mathis made his bones working for Ted Kilgore at Taste, and took over the bar program when Kilgore left to start Planter’s House. He obviously learned his lessons well‰ÛÓTaste was recently nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Bar Program. Mathis has also represented St. Louis nationally at cocktail competitions sponsored by Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire, competing against some of the country’s best mixologists. Find him at 4584 Laclede Ave., 314.361.1200.

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MIXOLOGIST YOU NEED TO KNOW

Jayne Pellegrino, Blood & Sand

Pellegrino has been serving up her signature culinary cocktails behind the bar at Blood & Sand since the members-only hotspot opened its doors more than two years ago. Last summer, she was part of the St. Louis team that won the Midwest Melee competition at the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival in Kansas City, proving she’s not only one of the top female bartenders around‰ÛÓshe’s one of the best bartenders, period. Find her at 1500 Saint Charles St., 314.241.7263.

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2. The Dark Room

Wine Bar and Gallery Grand Center, March 2014
Equal parts wine bar and photo gallery, this new addition to the Midtown social scene combines a fine vino and craft beer selection along with a menu of cheeses, charcuterie and small plates with the added bonus of rotating photo exhibits, curated by the International Photography Hall of Fame. A destination in and of itself, The Dark Room is also a fine spot to gear up and begin an evening of entertainment at one of the many Grand Center venues. 615 N. Grand Blvd., 314.531.3416. * Happy Hour, Entertainment, Events & Classes, Late Night Eats

Who’s There: Art-lovers and oenophiles frequent the space, along with cultured types heading to one of the Grand Center venues.

3. Urban Chesnut Brewing Company

Brewery and Bierhall The Grove, March 2014
Urban Chestnut was one of the original microbreweries that helped jumpstart the craft beer movement in St. Louis‰ÛÓnow the STL favorite is so popular that it had to expand its production by turning the former Renard Paper Company building in The Grove into brewery No. 2. While they were at it, the powers that be also decided to make a more elaborate bierhall, with 32 taps of UCBC goodness in constant rotation, and a bigger food menu featuring dishes like spaetzel, Bavarian donuts and hearty sandwiches. 4465 Manchester Ave., 314.222.0143. *Happy Hour, Events & Classes

Who’s There: Beer nerds, folks from the surrounding neighborhood and a fair amount of service industry types from nearby bars and restaurants can all be found drinking and noshing here.

 

Photo credit: Jonathan Gayman

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