Sanctuaria (4198 Manchester Avenue; 314-535-9700)
The Hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. and late-night happy hour Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The Deal: $2 seasonal sippers, $1 off bottled and tap beer and $1 off wells.
The Scene: For Sanctuaria, it's the Día de los Muertos every day. Painted skeletons leer from the walls and strange, brightly colored creatures hang from the ceiling. The centerpiece of the restaurant is undoubtedly the bar area, with a giant metal sculpture of a tree uprooting itself from behind the bar, while the ceiling is a collage of bright pop-art posters. As if the decor weren't enough, the drinks are certainly something to look at themselves.
Sanctuaria specializes in mixed cocktails, and the menu is a playground of fancy liqueurs and exotic ingredients. The drinks range from the humorous, like the "Gingers Do Have Souls," the "Flip Me Off" and the "Not For the Weak-Livered," to some tried-and-true favorites like the Caipirinha, the Manhattan and the Long Island Iced Tea.
Gut Check decided to go outside of our comfort zone (whiskey shots with a draft-beer chaser or anything with "flaming" in the title) and try the "Noche Verde," an icy drink made of gin, Cava and absinthe with a touch of basil. It was refreshing for a 90-degree day, but did not pack the punch we were expecting. Still delicious, nevertheless.
The staff is very attentive and quick with a recommendation -- which you will need if you're unfamiliar with the many, many liquors on the drink menu.
Why You'll Go Back: Sanctuaria is located smack dab in the middle of the Grove, and it's a nice alternative to the $2 PBR tall-boy standard the neighborhood usually offers. The bar also offers a range of small-plate tapas discounted during happy hour, as well as a selection of desserts.
The Verdict: If you're feeling a little fancy, try Sanctuaria. It's a quiet, quite-literal sanctuary from the multitudes of fixed-gears tearing through the Grove, and offers a chance to sip on refreshing, unusual drinks.