Sneak Peek: The Vandy Will Open Next Month in the Grove

The bar is the first brick and mortar from the popular mobile cocktail brand STL Barkeep


click to enlarge The Vandy, from STL Barkeep, is slated to open this December.
Emily Johnson
The Vandy, from STL Barkeep, is slated to open this December.

For the past six years, St. Louisans have been enjoying STL Barkeep libations through its mobile bar at pop-ups, farmers markets and special events around town. Soon, imbibers will have a permanent go-to for their favorite cocktails when the brand opens its first brick and mortar, the Vandy (1301 South Vandeventer). The forthcoming bar will open on the southeastern edge of the Grove this December.

"At our core, we are bartenders; we want to make good drinks, do things in the right way and have everything done in the aspect of proper bartending technique," says Patrick Gioia, beverage director for STL Barkeep and the Vandy. "Now we have the space we need to show that off. We've always been limited by the nature of mobile bartending, but now we have the space, the tools and the ability to really refine our ideas and work through a lot of stuff we have always wanted to."

As Gioia explains, STL Barkeep might have been predicated on a mobile format, but he and owners Matt and Jess Longueville have always seen the brand's purpose, first and foremost, as serving the best, most innovative cocktails they can offer. It's the reason they grew from a small pop-up operation based out of a home garage into one of the city's most visible cocktail brands, showing up everywhere from the Missouri Botanical Garden's Garden Glow to Tower Grove Farmers Market to the Repertory Theater of St. Louis.
click to enlarge The bar will have a welcoming feel.
Emily Johnson
The bar will have a welcoming feel.

However, Gioia also admits that the mobile format has limited what he and the team can do. Because STL Barkeep has to set up all of their bartending events offsite, they simply cannot bring everything with them. Now, in a permanent space, they are able to expand their offerings and get a little more creative.

"We did Such and Such Farms dinners, and that showed us how, when we had a stable audience, we could do so much more," Gioia says. "Here, we will get to bring on a food partner or do pop-ups that will allow us to build out pairings, and we can also be more conversational with our guests  about what they want."

To that end, Gioia describes the Vandy as a speakeasy-style place — not in the sense that it is hidden, but more that it has an intimate, tucked away feeling. He and the team hope to create a low-key space people can come to on a date or to unwind after work, especially industry folks who might be looking to kick back after a busy night in the Grove.
click to enlarge The Vandy will offer creative takes on old standards, like this seasonal riff on a Bees Knees.
Emily Johnson
The Vandy will offer creative takes on old standards, like this seasonal riff on a Bees Knees.

"If you want a relaxing time and somewhere cozy and friendly, that's what we are going for," Gioia says.

Gioia says he and the Vandy team are dedicated to locking down their cocktails before tackling any other aspects of the business. (This includes a robust zero-proof list that is near and dear to Gioia's heart.) However, he does hint that the bar is exploring prospective food offerings and is tossing around the idea of having a stable food partner or doing regular pop-ups. Until then, he is just happy to be adding another voice to the area's already-thriving cocktail scene.

"There are so many people in St. Louis doing great work, and we want to be able to help support that growing cocktail movement," Gioia says. "St. Louis is in a great place right now, and we are excited to plant our flag as part of that."

Scroll down for more photos of the Vandy.

click to enlarge A mosaic mural adorns one of the walls at the Vandy. - Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
A mosaic mural adorns one of the walls at the Vandy.

click to enlarge A seasonal riff on the classic Bees Knees features spiced pear.
Emily Johnson
A seasonal riff on the classic Bees Knees features spiced pear.

click to enlarge The small bar will provide and intimate setting for enjoying great cocktails.
Emily Johnson
The small bar will provide and intimate setting for enjoying great cocktails.


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About The Author

Cheryl Baehr

Cheryl Baehr is the dining editor and restaurant critic for the Riverfront Times and an international woman of mystery. Follow her on the socials at @cherylabaehr
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