Perfect patios for al fresco boozing on sweaty summer days

Summer in St. Louis means many things to many people. For the at-home gourmands, it's the time when farmers' markets make their glorious return. For the backyard-sport aficionados, it's time to dust off the washers. For a certain daily newspaper, it's time to publish umpteen above-the-fold photos of puppies running through fountains. But no matter where your summertime allegiances lie, there's one activity that almost all St. Louisans can agree upon: the joy of drinking outside.

The pastime has become so prevalent that some of us have turned it into a portmanteau. We love sipping a cool beverage on a warm night: This is a fact. But where to sip? Read on for a few of our favorites. The list isn't comprehensive, of course, but it's a darn good start to a happy summer.

Terrene
33 North Sarah Street; 314-535-5100 or www.terrene-stlouis.com.
Long admired for being so eco-friendly, Terrene extends that friendliness to your wallet when you stop in before 7 p.m. on a weeknight. Five-dollar glasses of (truly good) red and white wines will elevate your mood — and the beauty of the patio will take that mood right into the stratosphere. Where better to go green than on the lush patio of this Central West End favorite? Nosh on mussels and frites (both are available on the very reasonably priced small-plates menu), and enjoy the tranquil vibe of this urban greenspace.

Molly's in Soulard
816 Geyer Avenue; 314-241-6200 or www.mollysinsoulard.com
Few St. Louisans need to be told that Molly's offers one of the best patios in Soulard. But even the most seasoned patio-perchers might not be aware of the restaurant's rebirth as a must-try bistro. Chef Eric Brenner designed the menu, which is graced by Creole and Southern favorites, like fried-green tomatoes and a beguiling "étoufée lasagna." When you're sampling this fare on the large, pretty patio, it's easy to close your eyes and pretend you're in the Big Easy (at least until the smell of the brewery wafts your way). Note: The friendly bartenders are pros at turning out the perfect martini.

33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar
1913 Park Avenue; 314-231-9463 or www.33wine.com
. Yep, there's no sign at 33. There's also no pretension, no crappy music, no comment cards, no ladies' nights. What is there? Glad you asked: stellar service, an unbeatable wine and craft-beer list, and — oh, yes — one of the finest patios in town. Less like a bar patio and more like a friend's impeccably landscaped back yard, the outdoor seating at 33 is the perfect complement to a crisp glass of grüner veltliner or Hitachino Nest White Ale. Even if you're not a regular, owner Jeff Stettner will certainly treat you like one, and wine novices need not fear (remember that whole no-pretension thing?). The rotating selection of cheese and charcuterie makes for the ideal bar snack — and the polite-but-firm ban on bachelorette parties makes for the ideal bar, period.

Brennan's
4659 Maryland Avenue; 314-361-9444.
There may not be a ton of outdoor seating at Brennan's, but what the sidewalk patio lacks in size it makes up in sheer awesomeness. If you're one of the lucky few to snag a table outside this popular Central West End wine-and-cigar shop, chances are you won't want to relinquish it all night. Situated at the lively nexus of CWE nightlife, Brennan's is the perfect place to meet up with friends and enjoy a bottle from its carefully cultivated wine list. The service is excellent, the beverage options are numerous, and the neighborhood pups who stop tableside to say hello? Well, they're adorable.

Miso on Meramec
16 North Meramec Avenue, Clayton; 314-863-7888 or www.misolounge.com
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Patios in Clayton afford unique people-watching opportunities, with the fashions of passersby serving both as inspirations and cautionary tales. At the fantastic Miso on Meramec, you might be too distracted by the heavenly sashimi to really take in the surroundings, but still: The patio is one of our favorites. Order up one of many great specialty cocktails, such as the coconut mojito or the whimsically named Cheesey CEO (that's Chopin vodka with three Maytag blue cheese-stuffed olives), or take advantage of the great happy-hour specials between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (like $3.50 Absolut cocktails or $3 bottles of Newcastle). With unbeatable cocktails, sushi and scenery, Miso achieves the patio-drinks trifecta.

 
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