So Co lime

The Upstairs Lounge, 3131 South Grand Boulevard, 314-773-3388.

Not that the majority of people tossing back So Co limes in dance clubs care too much, but here's a fun fact: The drink, one of the breakout hits of last year, is kin to the universally known and admired "St. Louis cocktail," the best concoction ever to come out of St. Louis (though we've heard tell of a rival, called the Butler Miller, which we're trying to track down). The So Co lime is, duh, Southern Comfort and lime, shaken with ice and strained into a tumbler. The St. Louis cocktail is, basically, a So Co lemon.

Here, at the Upstairs Lounge on South Grand, it's goth night and nobody cares about cocktail history. The mood is somber. A corpse swings from a noose near the bathroom. At the corner booth, a lady has just slit her wrists, and blood is gushing all over the table. Her pet snake glides over and starts licking it up. Here, it's all black leather and Misfits T-shirts. Ten minutes ago someone walked in wearing a yellow Oxford, and within moments the crowd had flogged him. A girl in lace and scary-looking stiletto heels looks like she's playing dress-up — until she wraps her whip around her lesbo-Vampira girlfriend. The place is about half-empty, and it's just after midnight. Outside, a bell tolls, and a cat yowls.

Like South Grand surrounding it, the Upstairs Lounge is thriving. A new batch of restaurants and nightspots, including the recently opened Urban (which we'll consider in next week's column) — has transformed neighborhood and is drawing a more varied clientele. But there, smack-dab in the middle of the South Grand business district, is the Upstairs Lounge, which celebrates its twelve-year anniversary this month. The DJ booth might be much bigger, but the room hasn't changed much.

For the longest time, the Upstairs was the underdog, the little renegade club that spun the stuff the cheese clubs wouldn't touch. Now that most of the big clubs are shuttered, the Upstairs remains, and is one of the last dance clubs standing. It stays crowded until 3 a.m. nearly every night, and offers a blend of underground music — minimal techno, drum 'n' bass, Britpop, house. The crowd here likes to dance — in 2006, where else are they going to go? — and they like to drink. They play goth on Tuesdays, and a So Co lime goes down like a dagger through flesh.

A So Co lime tastes very much like an energy drink. Southern Comfort, a blend of bourbon and orange and peach liqueur, is, as everyone who puked it up in high school knows, sweet. Mixed with the tartness of Rose's lime, the shot takes on the characteristics of an expensive piece of candy. More refined tongues might turn up their noses — we can't blame them, honestly. But under the right circumstances — say, right before a band of goth-looking freaks jousts you to death — a So Co lime is of some comfort.

 
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