Hpnotiq on the rocks

Plush, 1820 Market Street (in Union Station); 314-436-7578

Jun 22, 2005 at 4:00 am
Mark our humble words: The double-bass kick that drives the amazing beats pouring out of Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Brazil will soon consume American pop culture. The new rhythm has been sneaking onto American hip-hop and pop stations for the past half-decade via Beenie Man, Sean Paul and Timbaland. But now with Lil Jon and Kanye West dabbling with the beat, soon we're gonna witness a tropical landslide.

Who'd have thought that Union Station, notoriously uptight about gold teeth, 'do rags and all things ghetto, would end up hosting the party? Plush resides in the former Have a Nice Day Café space at the west end of Union Station. But where the café made history as one of St. Louis' cheesiest clubs ever, Plush kills, especially on Wednesday nights, when Beat (100.3 FM) DJ Dwight Stone rolls in the dancehall, reggae, reggaeton and calypso for Reggae Wednesdays.

On the Beat's Web site, the vibe is described as "grown and sexy," and the dress "casual." The few hundred bouncing along have arrived grown and sexy, dressed for a backyard throw-down. When Stone goes all tribal on their asses and starts dropping Puerto Rican reggaeton, the percussion gets dirty, and people abandon their drinks and head onto the floor.

Red Bull's riding hard here, as is the vodka. Pinot grigio? None to be seen. A few are drinking beer. Others carry a mystical aqua-blue liquid, garnished with a cherry, which they tipple all night long. Looking straight outta Kubrick's 2001, it's Hpnotiq (pronounced "hypnotic"), and it's one of the most visually lovely concoctions this side of chartreuse. It glows like it's plugged into a socket.

Among drinking aficionados, Hpnotiq is a polarizing force. Some decry its in-your-face vulgarity; it's like a piece of fancy candy, nearly a Now & Later. Others -- including Drink of the Week -- are big fans. Sure, we're suckers for flamboyance, but it's also the sheer weirdness of Hpnotiq that we love.

The French creation is a combination of Cognac, vodka and a blend of tropical fruit juices. Served on the rocks with a maraschino cherry, the drink attacks the mouth at different places simultaneously. While your cheeks and throat are experiencing a lychee brand of sour, the tongue is enjoying a citrusy sweetness, like a grapefruit sprinkled with sugar. It's an increasingly popular base, as well. Try a POM Pilot (shot of Hpnotiq, shot of POM pomegranate juice). It's a nice change of pace.

On the dance floor a woman with a too-short skirt and a too-tiny-for-her-booty G-string is wobbling her thunder thighs in time. Next to her, a panther of a woman is grinding on the knee of a dude wearing white-framed sunglasses and a tweed blazer. Another dancer has his hands on his knees, doing the classic knee-swap move. With new rhythms come new moves. With new moves come new rhythms. It's the perfect circle of music, from music to dance to music to dance ad infinitum -- and a hell of a party at Plush.