The 45 Best Places for Cocktails, Wine, Beer, and Coffee in St. Louis
Where to savor a drink in St. Louis
Photograph by Greg Rannells
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There’s been a beverage explosion in St. Louis. First came the wine bars. Then craft breweries began to multiply like a hopped-up John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. Hand-crafted cocktails are now de rigueur, and coffee shops continue to sprout up. SLM asked the city’s experts for their favorites. Get ready to sip, sop, swig, and—sure, why not?—guzzle.
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A Great White Buffalo—bourbon and bitters, mixed with orange and lime juice. A Symphony 19—rum splashed into gin, with the caraway herbiness of kümmel. The bar’s stock is impressive: sweet, bloody red crème de cassis; quinine-smacked bonal; New Jersey applejack. It doesn’t hurt, either, that Sanctuaria has tapas like sautéed shrimp and tostones, as well as a bar manager possessed with pairing them with his cocktails. 4198 Manchester, 314-535-9700, sanctuariastl.com.
In case you haven’t watched Mad Men, cocktails are back—and Taste in the CWE is among the first to celebrate. A small but rewarding menu offers snacks like bacon deviled eggs and pork cracklins, as well as meals like fish and chips and a smoked pork burger. But the dim lighting is all on the cocktails. Taste arrays them by, well, taste. A Subtle Hustle—mixed with orangey Aperol, champagne, passion-fruit juice, and the cinnamon-citrus of Cocchi—is “Tart.” A Purgatory, made of rye, green chartreuse, and Benedictine, is labeled “Full & Robust.” “Classics” include a Manhattan Club and the iconic dry martini. An impressive command of the cocktail craft, a speak-easy atmosphere, and high-end ingredients make Taste the center of St. Louis’ mixed-drink revival. 4584 Laclede, 314-361-1200, nichestlouis.com.
Crown Royal and Chambord will be your fave—until you try the Dewar’s White Label and Dolin Vermouth. Oh, and then there’s that beautifully simple vodka with muddled limes. Stunningly good polenta fries and a wonderful lobster-stuffed crepe are among the eats at Lola that, along with live jazz, make for an evening of sophisticated mixed drinks. Overlook the occasionally awkward pretensions; Lola’s a great, underappreciated place for cocktails. 500 N. 14th, 314-621-7277, welovelola.com.
DeMun Oyster Bar
It boasts the coolest mosaic floor in town, a comfy bar—and oh yeah, oysters. Pacific beauties mostly: Kumamoto, Shigoku, briny Sister Points. (And an impeccable oyster poor-boy.) But what distinguishes this place is the attention paid to cocktails: Calvados, Benedictine, baked-apple bitters. Egg whites, ginger-flavored Scotch. And Negronis. The bar works spirits into poured potions that make this relatively new place a standout, one that’s open scandalously late. 740 DeMun, 314-725-0322.
We didn’t get the flying cars. Otherwise, all of the Jetsonian glories of the Space Age are captured at Eclipse, which not coincidentally is a
stellar (get it?) cocktail destination. Consider: a Golden Summer of gin, Galliano, allspice dram, syrup, and lemon. A lime vodka–and–
cava Kaffir Cooler. A bourbon, Benedictine, and espresso-bean concoction, the Americano 43, blended with fruity Licor 43 and bitters—a perfect after-dinner drink. And blending ginger beer with tequila, vermouth, and grenadine? That’s one small step for mixology, one giant leap for cocktail culture. 6177 Delmar, 314-726-2222, eclipsestlouis.com.
HIGHBALLS ON THE DOWN-LOW
Where to tipple VIP potables and sip clandestine cocktails
A bona fide, weekends-only speak-easy accessed by a side alley. Anyone who finds the place gets in—but those who know the password (check the website) enjoy a reduced door charge. 1009 Olive, 314-241-3279, thaxtonspeakeasy.com.
Members Only at Sanctuaria
A $20 lifetime membership nets reduced-price cocktails and a Moleskine notebook. Once you’ve partaken of every potation (all 140ish of them), your third drink is on the house—for life. 4198 Manchester, 314-535-9700, sanctuariastl.com.
Cocktail Museum Sundays at The Royale
In-the-know imbibers flock here on Sunday nights, when barkeep Robert Griffin presents an ever-changing slate of pre-Prohibition cocktails. Expect sours, fizzes, punches, and convivial cocktailers dorking out. 3132 S. Kingshighway, 314-772-3600, theroyale.com.
Downstairs at Brennan’s
The CWE scenesters (and smokers) are upstairs at Maryland House, but a subterranean lounge with about 20 Scotches awaits in the cellar, accessed by a door behind the cigar shop’s register. 4659 Maryland, 314-361-9444.
The Wine Press
We’re not sure why it’s the most obscure wine bar in town, but it is. It’s not because of the selection—68 wines by the glass and 35 beers—nor the live music and sidewalk tables within earshot. Maybe it’s because the sign just went up…after two and a half years in business. 4436 Olive, 314-289-9463, stlwinepress.com.
Restaurant success or failure boils down to the details: design, menu creativity/presentation, proper staffing, and appropriate lighting and sound dampening. Few concepts earn unanimous check marks, but Vino Nadoz gets dangerously close. This eclectic mix of reclaimed, rustic, and radical includes the return to St. Louis of chef Cathy “Crash” Schmidt, who’s been dazzling diners with the likes of polenta “cupcakes” and a steak-and-egg Caesar. Welcome back, Crash. We needed the jolt. 16 The Boulevard–St. Louis, 314-726-0400, vinonadoz.com.
Via Vino Enoteca
All dressed up in black, white, and elegant beige, and calling itself an enoteca with global cuisine, Via Vino might appear to be a bit overwrought, even for Frontenac, but it isn’t. It matches the area like a jacket over jeans, the epitome of comfy/classic, as evidenced by the half roasted chicken with bacon, white beans, and haricot vert cassoulet. A magnet for diners young and old, Via Vino is either new or timeless, just like a Sophia Loren flick—albeit with a louder soundtrack. 10425 Clayton, 314-569-0405, viaviavino.com.
It’s fun when clever collides with utilitarian—when tap water is served in cork-stoppered wine bottles, wine racks are made from galvanized pipe and wood planks, and the chandelier gives new life to old wine bottles. Thirty temp-controlled wines by the glass here are paired with good food, like pizza with grilled asparagus and EBLT sliders (the E is for egg). And it’s all captained by a young owner who’s as friendly on accident as you wish you were on purpose. 423 S. Florissant, 314-521-9463, corkwinebarstl.com.
One 19 North
Archways—stone, faux stone, rugged plaster, even arches within arches—are a motif. Whether it’s the cozy vibe, two-score wines by the glass, or small-plate winners like pancetta-wrapped and oven-roasted shrimp, One 19 is busier than Dent Devil’s phones during a hailstorm—which might be the only time to even consider trying for a table without a reservation. 119 N. Kirkwood, 314-821-4119, one19north.com.
WINE BAR FORGET-ME-NOTS
Balaban’s Wine Cellar & Tapas Bar
Its classic dishes are now small plates; its stellar wines are racked up and ready to take home. 1772 Clarkson, 636-449-6700, balabanswine.com.
33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar
No sign, no ads, no shortage of excellent wines—and all cool. 1913 Park, 314-231-9463, 33wine.com.
It grouped wines by flavor profile, so many former chardonnay fans are now drinking anything but. 227 W. Lockwood, 314-963-0033, robustwinebar.com.
Sasha’s Wine Bar
One of our first so-named “wine bars,” it’s also known for its patio. 706 DeMun, 314-863-7274, sashaswinebar.com.