Here are our twenty alternatives for the savvy St. Louis drinker.
If you like whiling away the hours at Schlafly Tap Room ...
You may have a second home at the Monocle (4510 Manchester Avenue, 314-932-7003). Like Schlafly, it offers an eclectic lineup, and plenty of space to enjoy it. A speakeasy with a vaudevillian vibe and accessible cocktail menu, the Monocle also boasts a separate performance space called the Emerald Room. Bantering drinkers can imbibe happily by the bar, while audiences can comfortably cheer the day-by-day variety of scintillating burlesque, teasing cabaret, oddball comedy and a host of other delightful weirdness — and don’t worry, the audience will be drinking too. At the Monocle, that’s a given.
If you like pre-show drinks at the Dark Room ...
But you’d like to avoid the rush of theater patrons with the exact same thought, you’d be wise to stop by Nancy’s Jazz Lounge (3536 Washington Avenue). The sleek Grand Center bar shares a lobby — and a menu — with Jazz at the Bistro, but unlike its sister club, there’s no cover charge and no quiet policy. Best of all, if you’d like to catch some live jazz, Bistro performances are simulcast into Nancy’s. Sit back, relax and watch the show you forgot to get tickets for. They won’t judge.
- PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
- Super's Bungalow.
But you want to save some money and avoid the Delmar Loop, go to Stellar Hog inside Super's Bungalow (5623 Leona Street, 314-481-8448). The under-the-radar restaurant on the southeast border of Bevo Mill is embedded in one of the city’s oldest and greatest neighborhood bars. Pick anything off the menu — OK, not just anything; make sure one of those choices is brisket — and pair your meal with a cheap canned beer. Don’t skip the side dishes, because those are amazing. Eat inside the bar where south city residents have been drinking for nearly 90 years, or head outside to a giant backyard and grab a spot at a picnic table. Either way, you’ll have made an excellent choice.
If you like the Cherokee Street vibe of Fortune Teller Bar or the Whiskey Ring ...
But you want to play some free pool and eat one of the city's most underrated burgers, go to Ryder's (4123 Chippewa Street, 314-899-9343). Owned by longtime St. Louis bartender Ryder Murphy, the dimly lit bar on the southern tip of Tower Grove South is adorned with amazing, giant-sized covers of pulp novels such as Kill Now, Pay Later that pair nicely with a handsome backbar. There’s a strong selection of beers, no televisions and a gem of a patio. Oh, and don't forget that burger. It is seriously one of the best in town, and did we mention they have huge orders of cheese curds?
- PHOTO BY SHANNON NICHOLS
- A young bartender at the Waiting Room shows she has the right stuff.
But you hate the city's smoking ban, you might want to check out the Waiting Room (10419 St. Charles Rock Road, St. Ann; 314-890-8333). Though both are excellent places to perfect your pinball game, the Waiting Room goes the extra mile by holding regular events like chili cook-offs, pinball and beer leagues, benefits for charities and craft beer tap-takeovers — it's the definition of a neighborhood bar. Throw in the large, outdoor smoking grotto, and you’ve found yourself a new happy hour home. Bonus: The club takes its moniker from a song by one of the greatest punk bands that ever lived. Drinking here will leave you sitting in the waiting room because, well ... you know how the song goes.
If you like a bar full of friendly, smiling faces like the Royale ...
But you're seeking a laid-back patio a bit farther west, head to Old Mill Stream Inn (912 South Main Street, St. Charles; 636-946-3287), a no-frills, old-world dive bar that takes its drinks seriously. The underground watering hole beneath the building is where the conversation continues and the bar comes well-stocked with liquor and a list of beer from across the country. No collection of craft drafts or mixologist on duty — just friendly patrons searching for new drinking buddies.
- PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
- Tapped offers pour-your-own technology.
If you like the selection at iTap ...
But you’re tired of trying to catch the eye of a bartender on busy nights, you’d be wise to check out Tapped (7278 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-899-0011). This new Maplewood bar boasts 48 taps — 39 of them devoted to beer — and self-pour technology that swaps your credit card for a special bracelet that unlocks the taps and keeps your tab running all night long. You can have as little as a swig or as much as a glass; there’s also a full menu of food to keep you fueled up and sober enough to keep pouring. Still need a little pick-me-up? Try the tap devoted to nitro-brewed coffee.
If you like the tech-savvy iPad wine lists at Sasha’s Wine Bar ... But you’d rather remove the server from the transaction, a good option might be Handcrafted by Bissinger’s (32 Maryland Avenue, 314-367-7750). Like Tapped, the revamp of Bissinger’s flagship features the latest self-pour technology, only here it’s connected to 24 bottles of expertly selected wine. Choose a two-, four- or six-ounce pour from a list that includes both some standards and more adventurous selections. And as at Sasha’s, the outdoor patio is a terrific spot for sipping.
- PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
- Charleville Brewing Co. on an unusually quiet afternoon.
If you like meeting up with friends at Urban Chestnut ...
But you’re not into beer, why not try to steer them instead to Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern (2101 Chouteau Avenue, 314-241-4677)? Like Urban Chestnut’s Grove bierhall, Charleville offers its own delicious brews and a full menu of food — but it also offers wine, and we're not just talking Two Buck Chuck. Like many of the businesses in its native Ste. Genevieve, Charleville began as a winery, and while beer is all that’s being brewed on site at its brand-new Lafayette Square-adjacent location, a full array of its wines are also on offer. Oh, and you can also get booze here. Most of the spirits, too, are locally crafted.
If you like to play games while drinking at Brennan's ...
But you aren’t the swanky cocktails type, go to Friendly’s (3503 Roger Place, 314-771-2040) in Tower Grove South. The surprisingly huge bar has Skee-Ball, video games and pool tables inside, as well as warm weather drinking sports such as washers outside in the massive beer garden. Draw up your own bar triathlon or just hang out and relax. There is an extensive menu, and while the food is not going to win any awards (sorry, but we’re just not going along with the “best fried chicken” claim) it's cheap and does the trick. Drinks are cheap too, and there’s always a game or five on the wide banks of televisions.
Turn the page for ten more bars worthy of your consideration.
- PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
- Mak's Pub and Grub is a classic south-city spot on Gravois.
If you’re devastated to say goodbye to Iron Barley ...
But you still want to hang out in deep south city, you ought to check out Mak’s Pub & Grub (6109 Gravois Avenue, 314-354-8148). No, it doesn’t have Iron Barley’s ramshackle charm, but the light and bright dining room, separate bar area and sizable patio are all friendly spots to grab a drink, with a laid-back vibe that begins with twentysomething owner Michael Makhamreh and extends to every person on staff. And Mak’s can fill the void left by Iron Barley in another key way: A graduate of the Culinary Institute of St. Louis, Makhamreh is serving ambitious pub food that uses quality, house-made ingredients. Don’t miss the "Brinner," a breakfast-at-dinner (get it?) take on mac & cheese that includes pasta, hash browns, bacon, a fried egg and cornflakes.
- PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
- Cocktails at the Block feature artisanal ingredients and house-infused spirits.
But you can't take the wait time, go up the street to the Block (146 West Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-918-7900). Although the Block's bar is roughly one-third the size of Olive + Oak's, the bartenders make up for it by delivering classic cocktails such as the "Whiskey Smash" (whiskey, lemon, simple syrup, mint). Sip your cocktail and munch on a Butcher's Plate of meats and cheeses in the late sun with outdoor seating along Lockwood sidewalk. Further east? Don't forget the Block's Central West End location and its killer happy hour menu.
If you like the live music on offer in the city’s Blues Triangle...
But you’d like to avoid the trek downtown, why not stop by the Hideaway (5900 Arsenal Street, 314-645-8822)? Under the bar's young owners, who acquired the south city institution after the death of founder Al Coco in 2015, the Hideaway is less a dive and more a classic old-school bar-bar that just happens to have a blind piano player crooning the standards at an electronic keyboard. It’s hokey, it’s fun and it couldn’t be more convenient — the neighborhood bar of your dreams.
- PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
- Tin Roof offers three bars and a laidback party atmosphere.
But you want something new, we’ve got another downtown option for you, just a few blocks up Clark. Tin Roof St. Louis (1000 Clark Avenue, 314-240-5400) is the newest location of the Nashville-based chain, and true to that city’s style, it offers a menu of Southern-inflected favorites, live music and good times that last ‘til the wee hours of the morning. Yes, the music comes almost entirely from cover bands, but when it’s midnight and you’ve got a good buzz going, let’s face it: That’s exactly what gets you out on the dance floor.
If you're in west county and you like the dive-bar feel of the Hive in Creve Coeur ...Try the newly renovated Village Bar (12247 Manchester Road, Des Peres; 314-821-4532). The Hive is cozy and local, but not spacious enough for big groups. The Village Bar can help. Now that the new owners have doubled the square footage by taking over the former wig shop next door, the newly renovated bar has two big rooms filled with ledges and tables so you can take a load off while you enjoy yourself. Bonus: Both bars are recently under new management, improving both the food, service and appearance.
- RFT FILE PHOTO
- Remy's a great option for wine lovers.
But you're looking to go even deeper into your study of the grape, Remy's Kitchen and Wine Bar (222 South Bemiston Avenue, Clayton; 314-726-5757) is worthy of a visit. Even though it's also located in downtown Clayton, Remy's feels like a hidden gem where suits and wine connoisseurs alike can enjoy an excellent list that pairs perfectly Mediterranean-inspired plates both small and large. The space is funky and eclectic yet warm and inviting, making it the perfect place to catch up with friends over a glass of rosé.
If you like soccer, but you're looking for something a bit more low-key than Amsterdam Tavern ...
Try Barrister's (7923 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-726-5007). Everyone knows that Amsterdam is a good time — maybe too good of a time sometimes. For a more mellow soccer experience, Barrister's offers a bar and high-top seating with more than ten high-definition TVs and a lengthy craft beer list. The menu is unusually wide-ranging for a sports bar, with options including a prosciutto pear salad or an Asian-inspired stir fry along with the usual pub grub. Game on!
- PHOTO BY EMILY MCCARTER
- Third Wheel Brewing is now open in St. Peters.
But you're in St. Charles County, you may dig the newly minted Third Wheel Brewing (4008 North Service Road, St. Peters; 636-323-9810). Third Wheel seeks to connect people with easy-drinking and approachable beers that are as unique as they are memorable, like its signature 8.8 percent ABV IPA, the aptly named Dyslexic API. Brewmaster Abbey Spencer is always on-hand to chat beer (or her second love, the Three Stooges), and while she's a deft connoisseur of hops, she also knows what the people want — a solid drinking establishment with a hopping menu and plenty of space at the bar to unwind. Board games are available to break the ice and the chicken wings are a must.
If you like the cocktails at Taste ...
But you're looking for a little elbow room to go along with your mixology, the speakeasy-inspired Sophie’s Artist Lounge & Cocktail Club (3224 Locust, 314-533-0367) is more than easy to speak of. Located in the vast warehouse-like second floor of the .ZACK building, a site previously occupied by Plush, Sophie’s has ample space for mingling, a classic noir charm and cocktails to match. Drinks might boast a half-dozen ingredients and elaborate monikers, but there’s no confusion once these elixirs hit your lips. These cocktails are damn strong, and the curious drinker will likely never be disappointed. Unsure about the classic paloma? Get back to us after trying the “Femme Fatal” — sipping one by the light of Sophie's chandelier will make you feel like the witty, untouchable sophisticate you always knew you could be.
If you like the arcade games at Start Bar ...
But you're drinking a bit further west, you may want to check out Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade (2236 1st Capitol Drive, St. Charles; 636-224-8626). Before barcades, we were left topping off a case of Busch knee-deep in orc carcasses during games of D&D in our parents' basement. Now following Start Bar's fine example, Two Plumbers offers old-school arcade machines and a killer craft brewery to boot. Kick back with Time Crisis and some great local beer to reclaim your multiple lives.
With reporting by Sarah Fenske, Emily McCarter, Kevin Korinek, Doyle Murphy and Danny WicentowskiOur 2017 Bar Guide hit the streets this week. Look for a copy in most spots where the RFT is carried.