Thursday, August 25, 2016

25 Excellent St. Louis Bars to Get Your Drink On — No Matter What Your Mood

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 7:18 AM

click to enlarge CBGB will cure what ails. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • CBGB will cure what ails.

There is no such thing as a bad bar — only a bar that isn't right for you at a particular time or place. When you feel like tying one on, you'd be a fool to pay $14 a drink. And when you're feeling fancy, you don't want to trip over the local drunks crying into their whiskey. There are excellent St. Louis bars catering to both moods, and many, many more. Choose wisely!

After extensive field research, we've compiled a list of 25 bars that are perfect in key situations. From Brentwood to Downtown, your first date to your third date, from drowning your sorrows to celebrating your bachelorette party, these bars won't just get you what you want — they'll get you what you need.

1. When you want to drink wine: Sasha's

It's not just those incredibly lengthy wine lists — now on iPad, complete with voluminous tasting notes — that make both Sasha's (Sasha's on Shaw at 4069 Shaw Boulevard in Shaw, Sasha's on DeMun at 706 De Mun Avenue in Clayton; both www.sashaswinebar.com) such a mecca for oenophiles. It's the way the servers won't hustle you along if you're lingering over a glass instead of ordering a meal. It's that, if you want a bite, the kitchen is open late. And, more than anything, it's the convivial atmosphere. You'll eat, drink and be merry at Sasha's; that you'll try something new too is merely the cherry on top. Or is that a grape?

2. When you want to drink beer: International Tap House

If you can't find a beer you like at International Tap House (locations in Chesterfield, Columbia, the Central West End and Soulard, www.internationaltaphouse.com), you won't find one anywhere. One look at the chalkboard behind the bar will tell you why: iTap boasts 40-plus draft choices at each location. And if that's not enough to satisfy you, the coolers are packed with a varying (but ridiculously large) assortment of beer. The vibe will be just as good as your drink, with comfortable seating, plenty of TVs for catching the game, live music on some weekends and staffers happy to recommend a brew for even the most selective of drinkers. It's the laidback atmosphere you didn't know you needed.

Ted Kilgore plies his trade at Planter's House - PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Ted Kilgore plies his trade at Planter's House

3. When you want to drink clever cocktails: Planter's House

There's a reason Ted Kilgore's mixology mecca Planter's House (1000 Mississippi Avenue, Lafayette Square; 314-696-2603 or www.plantershousestl.com) is always at the top of those lists naming the best cocktail bars in the city: It is, without question, the very best. It's the best for savoring a classic drink or trying a new concoction; it's the best for putting your trust in the bartenders' hands and letting them work their magic. There's not a bad cocktail on the list — and, more impressively, not even a boring one. Cheers.

4. When you want a super-cheap happy hour: Tower Pub

If you're looking for a friendly crowd and cheap drinks, Tower Pub (3234 Morgan Ford Road, Tower Grove South; 314-771-7979) has you covered. There are fantastic happy hour specials ($2.75 drafts from 3-7 p.m.), but also great specials from 7 p.m. to close. On Monday, all drafts during those hours are $2. On Tuesday, a $2 "flip for it" special lets you flip a coin for the possibility of a beer or well on the house. On Wednesdays, ladies drink certain specials for $2. There's also trivia on Thursday and shot specials on Friday. Even if you're broke, you basically have no reason not to drink here every night of the week.

click to enlarge The patio at McGurk's: a special kind of place. - RFT ARCHIVES
  • RFT ARCHIVES
  • The patio at McGurk's: a special kind of place.

5. When you want to drink on a patio: McGurk's

You may think you've outgrown John D. McGurk's (1200 Russell Boulevard, Soulard; 314-776-8309 or www.mcgurks.com), the sprawling Irish pub that brings revelers from across the region to Soulard. You may think there are more original choices for drinking outside. But then you step outside onto its lush patio, and once again you find yourself shocked by how vast, how beautiful, how green it is. Order a drink from the bar and grab a table (if you're lucky), and you'll remember why you come here — and why you'll never stop coming back.

6. When you want to drink above the people: Eclipse

Leave behind the Delmar sidewalks lined with Pokemon hunters and take the Moonrise Hotel elevator up to Eclipse (6177 Delmar Boulevard, the Loop; 314-726-2222 or www.eclipsestlouis.com). This quirky-cool rooftop bar overlooks the Loop and plays host to everyone from students to socialites to the occasional Pageant headliner. Sure, it's great that the kitchen is open late (until about 11 p.m.), and there are two different bars at your service, but what will really catch your attention are the details: the star-studded ceiling, funky chairs, the space memorabilia lining the walls and the world's biggest man-made moon poised overhead After all, it wouldn't belong on the Loop without a dose of kitsch.

click to enlarge Food at Three Flags Tavern: Worth sobering up for. - COREY WOODRUFF
  • COREY WOODRUFF
  • Food at Three Flags Tavern: Worth sobering up for.

7. When you want really good food with your booze: Three Flags

Three Flags Tavern (4940 Southwest Avenue, Southwest Garden; 314-669-9222 or www.threeflagstavern.com) is that rarity among St. Louis' top restaurants — a place where you can just as easily enjoy your dinner from a barstool as from a table, and really dig in without being jostled. That's because the bar here isn't just a counter tucked into a busy dining room; it's in its own room, providing plenty of elbow space for those who prefer to dine solo or just eat a bit more informally. The "board of fare" is consistently top-notch, so don't waste your Three Flags visit by drinking on an empty stomach; order some wings, tacos or the excellent burger and see how good eating at the bar can be.

8. When you want to go dancing: Upstairs Lounge

There's no arguing that the best way to dance is to dance like nobody's watching, and at Upstairs Lounge (3131 S. Grand Boulevard, Tower Grove South; 314-358-2004 or upstairslounge.net) you can do just that. At this small, unique bar, everyone's too busy enjoying themselves to judge you. Upstairs Lounge is home to weekly and monthly events that cater to many tastes, with various sub-genres of electronic as well as hip-hop and New Wave represented. Its straightforward setup and simple drink list coupled with numerous talented performers show there's only one focus here: the music. You don't have to be a great dancer to have a kick-ass time here; all you have to do is go upstairs to get down.

Turn the page for more amazing St. Louis bars — including two karaoke spots.

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