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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ten Best 3 a.m. Bars in St. Louis

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Inside at Lola. - DIANA BENANTI
  • Diana Benanti
  • Inside at Lola.

Selecting Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis 2011 was no picnic. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned -- until now. In this RFT Music series, we're beeboping and scattin' our way through notable runners up in a number of categories.

Not yet ready to call it a night when the clock whirs past 1:30 a.m.? Then head to one of these bars -- our rundown of the best places to be at 3 a.m. -- for one last round.

  • Diana Benanti

Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester Avenue; 314-775-0755)

Anything and everything goes at Atomic Cowboy. It's the St. Louis version of the Tower of Babel -- these people might not be speaking the same proverbial language, but they're all here for a good time. You'll find some of the city's preeminent DJs, jam bands, burlesque troupes, indie bands or hip-hop showcases at Atomic and in the black-as-pitch venue inside, aptly named the Fox Hole. With housemade vodka infusions lining the bar, you can sip in style or slam vodka Red Bulls till the house lights come up. Too crowded inside? Head to the spacious patio and outdoor bar to spread out by the fire or simply imbibe al fresco.

Mike Talayna's Juke Box Restaurant (1115 Hampton Avenue; 314-647-7600)

You have needs, we all do, and sometimes they can only be alleviated by public embarrassment in a place that looks like RuPaul's sex lair. The blah exterior contradicts the mirrored entrails of Mike Talayna's Jukebox, where karaoke is king and the ceiling is lined with disco balls. This karaoke hall is a see-and-be-seen hot spot, and not even the stench of a few million spilt beers can diminish its renown. While nothing beats hearing an Adele ballad crooned by the drunkest girl west of the Mississippi, half the fun of posting up at Talayna's is in observing the ebb and flow of humanity within its glittery grips.

  • Diana Benanti

Handlebar(4127 Manchester Avenue; 314-652-2212)

Handlebar, the eco-friendly watering hole is on a mission: sustainability, increasing bike traffic on the Manchester strip, supporting local indie craft brewers and artisans, and having a damn good time doing it. Located in the old Church Key/Bar 5 location, it's luckily not entirely a hangout for imperious bike elitists with their weird shoes and their healthiness (we're just jealous). It's just a damn fine place for a drink. With kinetic bike art on the walls and stellar murals by local artists, HandleBar is a unique, fun addition to the well-established block. Be on the lookout for all things local: new pieces by artists, DJs powering the small dance floor, and the newest brews from our city's suds masters.

click to enlarge DIANA BENANTI
  • Diana Benanti

Novak's Bar & Grill (4121 Manchester Avenue; 531-3699)

When it comes to late night in the Grove, bars can be hit or miss, but Novak's is always a hit. Credited with starting the pansexual renaissance on that stretch of Manchester, Novak's is the gay bar of choice among those in the know. There's always something to entertain here -- amateur drag-king and -queen shows, DJs, karaoke, and let's not forget the people watching -- this is where the fabulous congregate, in sky-high platforms and snazzy sneakers alike. Dare we say, it's impossible not to have a gay old time at Novak's.

Sandrina's (5098 Arsenal Street; 314-601-3456)

Picking a 3 a.m. can be a tough prospect when you're with a group and already spifflicated. But Sandy's is easy--the drinks are cheap, there's shuffleboard downstairs and pool upstairs, there are booths for the weary and plenty of standing room for the amped. It's also our favorite place for a late night nosh because their kitchen is open until 2 a.m.--those Panko breaded chicken fingers will cure what ails you.

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