Bars & Clubs

  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Gene Lynn's

    Cocktails are on the ropes these days. Once the province of steel shakers, sharp suits and elegant dresses, it's not rare these days to have your vodka-tonic served in a plastic cup. Need more evidence? Look no further than Anheuser-Busch's BE, whose PR machine crows, "The brew has caused a sensation in bars and clubs, with consumers enjoying the new… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Donna Wideman

    The idea of being a bartender is romantic, like something out of an old movie—the bartender thoughtfully polishing highball glasses and dispensing advice, making it seem as though mixing drinks and emptying ashtrays is effortless. This lovely moment will probably never be brought to you by Double D's. Not that we don't love it here—heck, it's our choice for "Best… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Maryland House at Brennan's

    There's something about second-floor bars. Maybe it's the altitude, or how winded we get climbing the stairs, but drinking up there makes you feel more special. At Maryland House the sensation is only enhanced by the casual but sophisticated décor, the exposed brick walls and the sturdy bar that could hold the weight of a million cocktails. Maryland House is… More >>
  • Best Place to Do the Time Warp

    Casa Loma Ballroom

    It's Friday night, and a few dozen folks—a mix of senior couples and gaggles of curious college kids—have paid the eight-bucks admission to the Casa Loma. Once upon a time, this grand old ballroom with its majestic wooden dance floor—5,000 square feet of tongue-and-groove honey maple that "floats" atop an inch of gentle-on-the-knees rubber—played host to rug cutters from across… More >>
  • Best Time Machine

    Study Hall

    Back in high school, time capsules were all the rage. You'd fill a box with treasures ranging from folded notes from your B.F.F. to torn yearbook pictures of your elusive Ÿbercrush. While popular capsule burial points usually included backyards and football fields, it seems that some tossed theirs into the great Mississippi, to be found by the masterminds behind Study… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Chez Marilyn

    "A man takes a drop too much once in a while," waxes The African Queen's Charlie Allnut. "It's only human nature." What better place to get your human nature on than at Chez Marilyn, a black-and-white-movie palace of a lounge decorated with classic-film one-sheets, full-length mirrors and strategically placed votives that ensure everyone benefits from movie-star lighting. Though large after-work… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton

    "Worst-case scenario" has become your life's theme. From the nasty breakup on Valentine's Day to the flat tire on the way to the job interview to the pathetic toilet-paper incident caught on the JumboTron, you've had it rough. You've tried to be strong and keep a stiff upper lip, but sometimes you feel too despondent to breathe. When the tide… More >>
  • Best Place to Swing

    Boogaloo

    Tables? Booths? Stools? Standing upright like the animal you are? That's no way to enjoy specialty martinis like the Cuban Cheesecake and Afterwhile Crocodile. The fine folks at the mood-drenched, Caribbean-tinged drinking-and-dining establishment Boogaloo have taken the idea of bar seating to the next level with a row of thick wooden swings. Not only are these polished perches securely fastened… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Attitudes

    Attitudes is the Sandra Bernhard of lesbian bars: A little bit dirty and a little bit crass. Untamed and wild-eyed, teeth smudged with lipstick. When legs curl around its go-go cage bars it exudes sexiness, but it can intimidate, too, what with its raised-seating perimeter, which allows patrons to judge the moves on the scuffed dance floor. It has a… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Faces

    Buff cage-dancers in boxer briefs, cabaret-style drag queens, weekly fetish nights and tri-level dance parties till the break of dawn: The only way a gay club could possibly get better would be to combine pool cues, phallic porn and hot-dog roasters. Well, sweethearts, leave it to Faces to raise the bar that high. This east-side nightclub keeps the beats pumping… More >>
  • Best Omnisexual Bar

    Atomic Cowboy

    In a world where the term "sexual" is combined with just about any prefix—hetero, homo, bi, trans or metro—Atomic Cowboy welcomes all connotations. The bar's name conjures local versions of John Wayne: rugged, quiet types moseying and smoking under the open sky and sippin' their whiskey neat. But it could just as well adhere to the new brand of Brokeback… More >>
  • Best 3 a.m. Bar

    Mangia Italiano

    As the clock strikes 1:30 a.m. on South Grand, choruses of "Get out!" ricochet through the strip of bars. It's the witching hour, the nightly ritual of the great hipster migration. Those still seeking alcohol stretch out their arms for balance, shuffling like the living dead, drawn to their three-o'clock mecca: Mangia Italiano, a bar whose worldly selection of beers… More >>
  • Best Martini

    The Subcontinental

    Bloody marys are so damn cocky: "Look at me! Not only am I deliciously alcoholic, but my tomato-juice base and celery swizzle stick make me nutritious, to boot!" Well, Bloody M., we hate to break it to you, but there's a new anti-oxidizing alcohol in town: the Subcontinental. The mad geniuses at the Royale have mixed up a martini of… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Prickly Pear Margarita

    In the name of journalistic integrity, we've conducted exhaustive research on the topic of Margarita Superiority. (We'd call it legwork, except it mostly involves planting our ass on a barstool for a long round of, um, "investigative reporting.") While we give major props to Pueblo Solis' perenially tasty Grand Marnier 'rita and Atomic Cowboy's worth-every-penny $10 version (hint: there is… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Absolutli Goosed

    Who declared the bloody mary a hangover cure? When did this spicy, sexy cocktail become a sidekick to your greasy potatoes and sunny-side-ups? We're the last to scoff at a little hair o' the dog, but a good bloody mary is a treasure unto itself, something far greater than a vodka-spiked balm for your sorry-ass headache. So don't just drink… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    Penny Pitchers

    Hey Peter Piper, care to wet your whistle? Well then, pick the popular Penny Pitchers at Saint Louis University fave Humphrey's. The multi-roomed sports pub offers great deals: a seemingly endless Monday-through-Friday happy hour—11 a.m. to 7 p.m.—featuring $5.75 pitchers and $2.25 select bottles. But from 11 p.m. till midnight on Wednesday, the brick-and-wood watering hole tops even that: If… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Modesto

    We know why you read the RFT: Because it's free, dammit! We also know that you toss it to the side as you dig through the couch cushions for change. Fear not, small spender, your secret is safe with us; and since you've been so candid, we'll share a li'l tidbit with you: Those nickels and dimes can buy you… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection
    in a Bar

    Llywelyn's Pub

    You can only drink one beer at a time—unfortunately—and (on a good night) only a half-dozen or so will cascade into your belly. To ensure that your body purrs like a kitten when you start it up, it's important to go with the high-grade material, which is available in copious quantities at Llywelyn's Pub. Though they've recently opened in Soulard,… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking

    Venice Café

    Things that are fantastic: 1) Drinking. 2) Outdoors. Ever the keen observers, the folks behind the Venice Café combined the two and even added some accoutrements. To wit: food, waterfalls, music, art and a veritable rainforest canopy. There's no better place in town—or maybe anywhere—to becalm outside avec beverage. Why stew beneath a beer-logoed umbrella when you could relax under… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    The Scottish Arms

    The apostle Paul offered an opinion about those who drink lots of beer and eat lots of food: "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." But if we're headed to Gluttony in a handbasket, we're going via the Scottish Arms. Fish and chips, crisp and flaky (vinegar… More >>
  • Best Nighttime Pick-Me-Up

    Espresso Martini

    It's ten o'clock Saturday night and you've done it again: eaten yourself into a food coma. Snap out of it! The night's way young, and so are you. Here's what you do: Make tracks to Zöe Pan-Asian Café and order your sleepy self an espresso martini. Don't let the powdered-sugar rim fool you; this glassful is the liquid equivalent of… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Dreams

    This town has a problem keeping hip-hop clubs open. (We're not great at keeping rock clubs open, either, but that's another story.) In the past twelve months or so we've lost Toxic (formerly Club Candela), Seven, the Ambassador and Suite2Fifty. (That last one was known as the Improv Theater and staged both comedy and hip-hop shows.) Dreams is still kicking,… More >>
  • Best Bouncer

    Dan "Danny Mack" McGuire - CLOSED

    Mr. Clean-bald, six-foot-four and, as some bartenders say, "two tons of trouble," Dan "Danny Mack" McGuire has been bouncing the riff-raff out of the Delmar for more than six years. Yet despite his overbearing appearance, he manages to keep things smoove. Says one staff member: "Even though he's a bouncer, he never raises his voice. He always does his job… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    The Way Out Club

    The field has narrowed over the past year, what with the closings of Frederick's Music Lounge and the Hi-Pointe. But even in a crowded field, the Way Out Club stood out as a beacon of rock and revelry. The venue books many of this town's finest rock bands and the occasional touring act, and its tall-ceilinged music room is acoustically… More >>
  • Best Rock Club to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Frederick's Music Lounge

    Drive past 4454 Chippewa Street and sigh. The Michelob sign is still there, as is the sign on the door warning minors to keep off the premises. The name of the original owner, Boettcher, is still etched in the cement façade. Frederick's Music Lounge began as an obscure dive, became what Rolling Stone called "the best, most authentically St. Louis… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    CBGB

    How underground of a club is CBGB? They don't have a MySpace profile. They don't have a Friendster account. They don't have a Web site. Hell, they don't even have a phone number. News of shows spreads via word-of-mouth (or by showing up to inquire what's going on). It's so 1995 — in the best, photocopied-zine sort of way. Locals… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    The Pageant

    Sarah? Ohmygod! OK, so, tonight is the big H.I.M. show at the Pageant. We HAVE to go line up early, just like we did for AFI, Dashboard Confessional and Panic! At the Disco. And don't you dare say no! And yes, I'm aware it's 100 degrees. Who cares? Tommy just called me and he's totally there already—and you know how… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Jazz at the Bistro

    Now heading into its eleventh season, Jazz at the Bistro is St. Louis' best jazz club, if not one of the top jazz rooms in the nation, thanks to its simple, straightforward approach to music. The venue books well-known touring jazz musicians and the cream of the local crop and presents them without undue fuss in an attractive room with… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups

    Though it took several tries for 700 South Broadway to catch on as a music venue, BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups recently celebrated its tenth anniversary at that very address—and so it's easy to imagine that it was always meant to be here. Like the blues, the nineteenth-century brick building that houses BB's is old, funky and full of stories,… More >>
  • Best Punk Rock Venue

    The Slaughterhouse

    Mohawk Girl: "Dude, are you going to the punk show tonight?"Crust Punk: "What show? There's nothing listed on STLpunk."MG: "Yeah, cause this show is too punk for that."CP: "What do you mean?"MG: "This isn't some, 'I just dyed my hair black and went back-to-school shopping at Hot Topic insta-punk' kind of place."CP: "Well, Ms. High-and-Mighty, what's it like then?"MG: "It… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Upstairs Lounge

    St. Louis is suffering a new era of prohibition, one that restricts the distribution of quality dance music. Every neighborhood, from Washington Avenue to the Central West End to the Grove, is blaring Top 40, and while Luda and Rihanna certainly have their place, isn't it about time St. Louis liberated some more danceable digs? Consider, then, the Upstairs Lounge,… More >>
  • Best Dance Club to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Velvet

    Back in June, subscribers to Velvet's mailing list received an e-mail alerting them to the fact that the shuttered, once-legendary hot spot was for sale for $100,000—or at least the sound and lights, booths, and other items from the interior of the club were available for purchase. The e-mail was kinda heartbreaking, but no one could ever really sell Velvet.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Croc's Sports Bar

    Logistics can really get in the way of an otherwise fine night of drinking, especially when it comes to last call. After doing some quick math, you decide that getting one last bucket of beer is the way to go. But what's this? Lights flip on, the bartender who's been so nice all night is now kicking your ass out… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Main Street Jazz & Blues

    Despite the name, Main Street Jazz & Blues is not dedicated solely to jazz and blues. Earlier this year the Belleville club hosted a weekly show featuring another American-birthed music—hip-hop—and paid a steep price for it. In March police swarmed Main Street during a set by the Fu Fops; though Chief Dave Reubhausen cited suspicions that armed gang members were… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    Slo Tom's Lounge

    The best neighborhood bars aren't necessarily the ones where everybody knows your name, but rather those where everybody asks your name. You might be a stranger when you walk in, but by the time you leave, you've got a few new friends who'll help load you out. Slo Tom's on South Broadway is legendary; the Bottle Rockets wrote a song… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Double D Lounge

    If Slo Tom's, winner in the "City" division of this very category, is the bastard cousin of Cheers, the Double D is its antithesis—but again, in a good way. After a hard day at the office, some of us are looking for nothing more or less than a dark room where not only does no one know our name, but… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    Gino's Lounge

    The in-crowd know to get to Gino's Lounge before 6 p.m. Why so early? Because that's when Gino's stops serving the "set-up": a mini-bottle of liquor, ice and your choice of mixer. Can't get your drink on that early? No worries. There are plenty of other reasons to head over. From blues and free food on Monday to vocalist Chuck… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Riley's Pub

    The music biz has become as homogenized as the dairy industry. Nowhere is this fact more evident than at bars where satellite radio and Internet-wired "jukeboxes" promise patrons a virtually unlimited selection of songs but deliver little more than the Top 40 tripe served up from here to Tuscaloosa. Used to be that a jukebox reflected the musical leanings of… More >>
  • Best Place to Slow Dance

    The Hide Away Restaurant & Lounge

    Slow dancing is an anachronism. But then the Hide Away is, too. With its padded bar, disco ball, mirrored walls and airbrushed paintings of shipwrecked damsels, little at the Hide Away has changed over the past 30 years—aside from the advancing age of the patrons. Every night of the week, the bar packs in blue-hairs who've come in droves to… More >>
  • Best Place to Line Dance

    Wild Country

    In the middle of Nowhere, Illinois,Sits Wild Country for all the girls 'n' boys.It's the premier place to dance a line,C'mon now, you're doin' fine!In the early eve they teach a class,An' learn you how to shake that ass.But if you miss out, don't be blue,Projectors show the moves to you!The floor is corralled by a fence,Which adds some Western… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Tom's Bar & Grill

    Ah, the siren song of the tone deaf: "Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night/I can see paradise by the dashboard light." As the sound bounces off the steep cabin rafters, wannabe Meat Loafs (and Madonnas and Marky Marks) find themselves inexplicably drawn to the karaoke sanctuary that is Tom's Bar & Grill. Every Friday and Saturday… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Night

    Chippewa Chapel Traveling Guitar Circle and Medicine Show

    When Frederick's Music Lounge shuttered in February, the freaks and geeks who made the Noiseday Hootenanny such a spectacle of south-side lunacy went into survival mode. Drifting from bar to bar, they looked for some spot with a hint of the Chippewa institution's soul. They haven't found it yet, but with the blessing of former Frederick's owner Fred Friction and… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Night to Die in the Past 12 Months

    The Hi-Pointe

    Every Monday night the hungriest rappers in St. Louis were drawn like iron to a magnet to the world's largest Amoco sign. Not for $3 gas, but for the Hi-Pointe's open-mic night. Though folks walked around carrying Coronas and rum-and-Cokes, if you looked closely you'd see that the night wasn't so much about good times as about scouting talent. Established… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pinball

    Beatnik Bob's (in the City Museum)

    Anyone can play video games at home, but privately owned pinball machines are fairly rare, vintage ones from the sport's heyday even scarcer. And so we give thanks for Beatnik Bob's (official name: Beatnik Bob's Museum of Mirth, Mystery and Mayhem), located on the third floor of the City Museum. The vision of local artist Bill Christman, Beatnik Bob's appeals… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Pink Galleon Billiards & Sports

    "Pink, it was love at first sight/Yeah pink, when I turn out the light/And pink gets me high as a kite/And I think everything is going to be all right/No matter what we do tonight." Not everyone knows it, but Señor Aerosmith is referring to 9-ball, and, more specifically, to playing said game on the hot-pink tables of the sea-themed… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    Blueberry Hill

    Darts at Blueberry Hill is a no-brainer. One night long ago, we happened into a south-city dive that timelessness forgot. Meaning: Though the place was run-down and weathered (which can make for a fantastic watering hole), the owners of this one had decided to spruce things up in all the wrong ways—with an Internet jukebox and three arcade-size electronic dart… More >>
  • Best Comedy Club

    Westport Funny Bone

    A comedy club is as good as the talent it books. With Howard Stern Show regular Jim Florentine, Bob and Tom favorite Mike Birbiglia, Last Comic Standing winner John Heffron and SNL vet Kevin Nealon treading its brick-backed stage, the 'Bone is St. Louis' hot standup spot. It sure doesn't hurt that the room feels cozy but not overcrowded, the… More >>
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