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Bars & Clubs

  • Best Place for a Midday Drink

    Café Mensé

    Three cups o' joe and sixteen ounces of Gatorade into Thursday morning, and the hangover still ain't abating. Of all the days the boss could be yammering, "I want that report!" it had to be this one? Alas, there's but one potion -- short of magic -- that can correct this injustice. Here's how to get it: Park on Pershing,… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Lucas Park Grille

    A new bar is like a puppy. It's all fresh and cuddly and clean, reckless and cute. In a puppy, as in a new bar, lies hope. Hope that it will be a devoted companion, that it will provide respite from the drudgery. And that it will be a chick magnet. Men with dogs are handsome, like Sam Malone on… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Stratford Bar & Grill

    Remember the South Park episode where the boys open the Super Awesome Talent Agency? Like Cartman says upon ushering in a prospective client, "As you can see, we are quite a successful company. Did you notice the fountain? Pretty nice, hmm?" Blue-collar haven Stratford Bar & Grill seems to have adopted the same philosophy for their Super Awesome Watering Hole.… More >>
  • Best Place to Time-Travel to the Prohibition Era

    The "speakeasy" at Brennan's Wine, Food & Tobacco

    Sure, we all just want to put on our glad rags and sip some giggle water. But it's like this, doll: The wrong person sees you slipping into a juice joint, and you're gonna get pinched. Play it nice and easy by going to Brennan's in the Central West End. Stroll in like you own the place, like you're just… More >>
  • Phil \

    Best Bouncer

    Phil "Uncle Bill" Green

    At first glance Uncle Bill may be the least intimidating bouncer in the world. A pale and haggard sexagenarian with shoulder-length hair, Santa Claus beard and exhausted eyes, the old hippie diagnoses his condition as doorman's disease. "It's when everyone passing through the door begins to look the same," he muses. A local bouncer for more than a quarter century… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Jake Hafner

    Can a person who doesn't mix drinks -- who owns a bar that doesn't even stock spirits -- be considered St. Louis' "Best Bartender"? Is a wine bar a bar? Yes. Is there a physical "bar" with stools in this wine bar? Yes. Does the man behind it actually "tend" it? Yes. OK then. Jake Hafner, owner of 33 Wine… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Pepper Lounge

    You don't realize it, but ever since French class you've been preparing to drink Chambord, the black raspberry French liqueur of royalty, bottled in the Loire Valley for more than 300 years (and now arriving to you by way of a gaudy vessel only royalty could love). Because you know how to speak the language of love, your love for… More >>
  • Best Martini

    The Chocolate Bar Signature Martini

    Is it possible to have sex in a glass? Not for us: Our neck's too thick, our arms entirely too long (that sound you hear is our mood ring scraping the floor) -- plus, all that parking-lot tai chi notwithstanding, we just ain't limber enough. Baileys' Chocolate Bar's Signature Martini provides a close approximation, though. At ten bucks a go,… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Mirasol

    There are many ways to make a mojito -- some cheapskates use rail rum, some idiots use dark rum instead of light, some heretics even (gasp!) employ cr¸me de menthe instead of fresh mint leaves, or sour mix instead of fresh limes -- but only one right way: Start by muddling mint leaves, a few sections' worth of lime and… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Tejas Grill & Cantina

    A bad margarita is a crime against nature, a spit in God's eye. Millions of years of evolutionary good fortune/intelligent design and human ingenuity have conspired to create this perfect cocktail, this potion, this margarita. The lime pushed through earth, trunk, branch and bud to get here; the tequila arrived via the juice of blue agave plant and the process… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Sub Zero

    Little can fill a hungry tummy and quench a hankerin' for booze like a bloody mary. And none run quite as red as they do at Sub Zero. Sure, it's a swanky place on its face, but this Central West End watering hole excels at one of the earthiest drinks around, thanks to a very homegrown approach. The bartenders here… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    The Tin Can Tavern & Grille

    The typical Best Beer Selection in a Bar nod goes toward the obscurely international (Sprunt, Latvia's finest lager) or the most micro of microbrews (Professor Turgle's Olde Tyme Chunky Browne Ale). At the Tin Can, you don't learn about new beers so much as realize how many brews are already in your head: These are beers you have nicknames for.… More >>
  • Best Beer Bargain

    Saleem's

    A white-linen Lebanese kitchen run by a dude named Juan that prides itself on its generous slatherings of garlic is maybe the 100th place out of 100 you'd expect to find dollar bottles of Pabst every Wednesday and Thursday night. Saleem's ain't the only place in town that runs this special (Nick's Pub in Dogtown goes "em one better by… More >>
  • The Creepy Crawl

    Best Punk Venue

    The Creepy Crawl

    Once upon a 7 p.m. dreary While I pondered, weak and weary Of Hot Topic's popularity at the mall. Presently I slowed my ride And turned my head onto its side And to those gathered near I gave this call Gave them this call and that is all: "Good black-clad persons,… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    The Pageant

    A queue starts forming outside the Pageant the afternoon of a good show, hours before the doors open, as hardcore fans geek out over the thought of being able to be close enough to feel the sweat of their favorite band. Inside, the atmosphere is hardly that of the average rock venue. Seats and tables are plentiful (if you get… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Pop's

    Rock & roll isn't about trust funds, shaggy haircuts, too-small T-shirts and excessive eyeliner. It's about sleazy riffs, cheap beer and waking up with a hangover so bad that only gobbling White Castle sliders will cure it. That combo's hard to come by in this age of fashioncore and trend-hopping, which is why the 24-hour bar/music haven that is Pop's… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Spruill's - CLOSED

    When you think St. Louis jazz, you think trumpet: Miles Davis and Clark Terry. But the Mound City has a fine tradition of jazz saxophonists, too. These days that lineage is best expressed in the potent lungs of Willie Akins. Known for his bold, forthright playing, the Webster Groves native plays plenty of gigs around town. But each Saturday he… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups

    There's nothing worse than the sinking feeling that accompanies a letdown of a much-hyped experience. It's a slowly deflating helium balloon. (Your prom night, for example.) Conversely, there's nothing better than a night that's a sure bet. BB's is exactly what a blues club should be: kind of hard to find, long, brick and teeming with enough talent that you… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    Red Sea

    The Red Sea is so underground that sometimes owner Tesfaye Boru doesn't even know who's scheduled to play. The club features open-mic nights, DJ spins, jazz, reggae, rock and hip-hop -- not that there's usually a calendar of events posted. But rest assured that you'll hear something hot on one of the joint's two stages, the second of which is… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Plush

    When the space formerly known as Have a Nice Day Café transformed into Plush, St. Louis lost something boring and corporate and gained something classy and fun. Elegance replaced the room's former gaudiness, thanks to understated furniture, while the sound system is loud and powerful (without threatening ear damage). And the music somehow manages to please everybody -- those who… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Club Viva

    We absolutely love all the clubs on Washington Avenue -- from Velvet to Europe and every place in between. But this year we can't help but focus our attention on the word "dance" preceding "club" in this category. While dancing takes place at many venues downtown, most of these hotspots aren't necessarily in the business of teaching folks how to… More >>
  • Best Place to Slow-Dance

    Two of a Kind - CLOSED

    Two of a Kind is the type of funky, old-school hangout John Shaft might have frequented after a day of bedding babes and busting two-bit hustlers. The place screams 1970s hip, with ragged posters of jazz and blues greats lining the walls and an upstairs lounge that features red plastic chairs so ergonomic and stylish they look as though they've… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Night

    The Hi-Pointe

    If all you know about rap battles comes from a few liberally edited airings of 8 Mile on VH1, well, you need to drop the remote and head for the giant Amoco sign. Since 1998 the Hi-Pointe's Monday nights have been reserved for the weekly Open-Mic MC Battle, where from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Lamar "MC Finsta" Williams and… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    The Ali Baba Show

    Ali Baba has been in the karaoke biz for ten years, and for the last two of them he's carved out a home at River City Pub on Friday and Saturday nights. The modest establishment with haphazardly strewn Christmas lights and outdated beer paraphernalia explodes each time he instructs (in his native Israeli accent), "If everybody has drink in the… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Krueger's

    Count on this category to get people crying foul. In-the-moment hipsters will praise the box at the Black Thorn, alt-country types might favor Frederick's, and eclectics will opt for Blue Hill's exercise in computerized comprehensiveness. Musical taste being subjective, crowning a Best Jukebox is an intrinsically divisive endeavor. Which brings us to Krueger's. Not many joints have the temerity to… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    Blueberry Hill

    On his deathbed, Scilurus offered a bundle of darts to each of his 80 sons. He bade them break them. When all refused, the Greek strongman drew out one dart at a time, snapping them between his fingers. The lesson? If his sons held together, they stayed strong; if divided, they were weak. Or at least so says Plutarch. These… More >>
  • Saratoga Lanes

    Best Place to Play Pool

    Saratoga Lanes

    Tucked away old-school style on the second floor, Saratoga Lanes is not only one of the coolest places in the city to bowl, it doubles as a dynamite pool hall. You won't find any dinky quarter tables here: We're talking six full-size fields of felt. The joint's swank Art Deco interior provides more than adequate ambiance; the bar, which divides… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pinball

    Eat Rite Diner

    With just two pinball machines, the Eat Rite might not have the best selection in town, but those two babies are classics. Eight Ball, based on the television show Happy Days, was the first digital pinball machine to include ball-to-ball memory and went on to become one of the best-selling games ever. Roller Derby, one of the few "bingo" pinball… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    The Loading Zone - CLOSED

    The Loading Zone toes the line between gay bar and gay club -- think the kind of place that would make both Will Truman and Jack McFarland happy. There's room to chill out, chat and enjoy reasonably priced drinks, but there's also a bumpin' sound system, a video screen and knowledgeable VJs who will play your request (if he has… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Absolutli Goosed

    At Absolutli Goosed, one drink becomes three becomes five. Happy hour turns into happy, happy hours; conversations spark between strangers; first-time patrons become regulars in the time it takes to drain a Godiva chocolate martini. The owners and bartenders are lesbians, as are many of the customers, and the whole place -- with its chic low lighting, pin-up-girl coasters and… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    The Royale

    The Royale, which is quickly becoming one of the hippest bars in St. Louis, is the brainchild of fedora-wearing man about town Steve Smith. Smith purchased the watering hole (formerly known as the Real Bar) in April and quickly dispensed with the adornments that had made the place popular among fans of electronic darts and the band Little Feat. To… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Curley's Tavern - CLOSED

    Proprietors might argue otherwise, but operating a good neighborhood bar is really quite simple. Keep the beer cold and cheap, the crowd relaxed, the television set or jukebox at a less-than-obnoxious volume and show up every once in a while to let "em know you you give a shit. Curley's, a modest midblock tavern in what appears to be a… More >>
  • <*p(0,0,0,15,0,0.72,g,"U.S. English")>Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Dulany's Grille & Pub

    What makes SoCo neighborhood bars such a big deal is that there are a few huge high schools in the area -- which all but guarantees you'll run into a long-lost someone whenever you go out for a drink. Plus, if you were raised in south county, the odds strongly suggest that your folks are still living there, too --… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    Charlack Pub

    If there was a word that meant "the opposite of metrosexual," that word would describe the Charlack Pub. It's a smoky, unpretentious joint where you can play pool and listen to REO Speedwagon, the kind of place you can show up at by yourself and make friends. Best of all, they open at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Trainwreck Saloon

    OK, so the Trainwreck Saloon has taken on the role of a chain restaurant in recent years, spilling its freight in West Port Plaza and Laclede's Landing with glittery, neon knockoffs of the Rock Hill original. (A neighborhood bar with a Web site?) That said, there's no denying the mid-county watering hole isn't worthy of duplication. With more than a… More >>
  • Sandrina\'s

    Best 3 a.m. Bar

    Sandrina's

    There's something thrilling about hanging out in a bar where you don't belong. As if the French Minister of Culture is going to bust in at any time, cuff your hands behind your back and drag you to impostor's prison. You do not belong at Sandrina's, not unless you're a shifty-eyed, chain-smoking old-timer. Sure, no one's going to arrest you… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Nectar

    Nectar, which hosted some of the summer's hottest parties in advance of the club's official opening, rose like a budding flower from the Rocket Bar's remains. Unfortunately, the new hotspot had to do a mini repeat performance after a small fire in late August, but things are OK now (Nectar only had to close for one night because of the… More >>
  • Best Blast From the Past

    Hideaway Restaurant & Lounge

    "The place is 50 years old," owner Al Coco says of his south-city institution, the Hideaway. "Nobody's ever changed the name, and it's always been a piano bar. And that's the way it's going to stay." Darn tootin'. Coco, the Hideaway's fifth owner, bought the joint in 1999, attracted by its laid-back atmosphere. He spruced up the interior with a… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    Pop's

    You missed out on a key promotion at work, or maybe your boyfriend's just dumped you. Even worse, perhaps you've booked a tropical vacation only to find that you've mismanaged your finances to the point where you're forced to dust off the ramen in the back of that cupboard you need a footstool to reach. These are the times when… More >>
  • Best Cigarette Butt

    Pop's Blue Moon

    The St. Louis County Council recently failed to enact a smoking ban. And y'know why? 'Cause we here in St. Louis are independent thinkers! We're not the type to hop on any coastal bandwagon, no sir! What better way to celebrate said independence than with a complimentary Camel? Go to Pop's Blue Moon -- the longest-standing sweet "n' dirty bar… More >>
  • Best Club to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Rocket Bar

    It's 1:01 a.m. in St. Louis, and so begins the mass exodus to the Rocket Bar. Or, sadly, so began. If you weren't there already, it was always the next place to go until it was the only place to go. But as of December 31, 2004, it was no longer a place to go. There are plenty of tales… More >>

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