St. Louis Bars of Interest(s)

click to enlarge Shameless Grounds owners Michelle and Andrew Mueller run the sex-positive sanctuary in Benton Park. - TRENTON ALMGREN-DAVIS
Shameless Grounds owners Michelle and Andrew Mueller run the sex-positive sanctuary in Benton Park.
You're into stuff — people watching, comics, erotica, whatever. As part of the RFT 2021 Bar Guide, we've got suggestions where you can get a drink and enjoy your interests — or at least have an interesting night out.

Historic Crossroads
2201 South Seventh Street, 314-807-2013

"Whose living room are you taking me to?" a longtime Soulard bartender recalled asking the first time she walked into Historic Crossroads. The former cigar factory, which has its back to the neighborhood as it faces the street most of us refer to as Broadway, does have the feeling of being in someone's home, and for owner Margie Drury and her patrons, it is a home of sorts. The scrappy Drury worked three jobs for years, saving the $20,000 needed to buy the then-dilapidated building — "It had four inches of bird shit and feathers in it," she recalls — and $180,000 for the rehab, much of which she did with her own two hands. Customers say Historic Crossroads has the best jukebox in town, with festive regulars who often sing along. The spacious patio, where there's always a fire, has Arch views and is regularly the site of crawfish boils, corn roasts and live music. Be sure to try the pickle shot. —Chris Andoe

The Wood Shack
1862 South 10th Street, 314-833-4770

Soulard's ubiquitous golf carts line up at the Wood Shack like boats at a marina, which makes sense considering the neighborhood's buggies are known as "the Soulard Yacht Club." Tucked away on one of the historic district's picturesque tree-lined blocks, award-winning chef Chris Delgado and wife Hope Blumeyer have created one of the most popular day-drinking spots around. Sip a spiked strawberry lemonade on their front patio while enjoying the exciting food options and prime people watching. Men, however, need to be aware that a ghost in the restroom likes to pull their leg hairs. Chris Andoe

The Fortune Teller Bar
2635 Cherokee Street, 314-776-2337

Will your relationship work out? Is your life really on the path you think? Should you try a gimlet? (We'll answer that third one: Sure, they're delicious.) Friends, you have come to the right place, because the Fortune Teller Bar is not just some gimmicky name. The stylish Cherokee lounge has real-life tarot card readers regularly rotating in to sort you out. And whatever the answer, you can count on reliably excellent meals from Gooseberries, which now operates food service for the bar. Even if you're fated for disaster, you won't be sorry that your destiny has carried you into the Fortune Teller Bar. —Doyle Murphy

Apotheosis Comics Lounge

3206 S Grand Boulevard; 314-802-7090

Maybe you're the read-your-book-in-bar type. It can be a little awkward, right? The drunk dude telling you about The 0x000ADa Vinci Code. The midday maniac who decides to pump "Pour Some Sugar on Me" on the jukebox. The messy breakup a seat away. It can all be a lot to deal with when you're just trying to have a drink and slip out of reality for an hour. And then along comes Apotheosis, which has smartly incorporated the drinking-and-reading experience into a comic book store. The concept worked so well at its South Grand Boulevard location (a formerly cursed storefront that had seen some rapid bar turnover in prior years) that Apotheosis is opening a second shop on Cherokee Street in what was once Foam Coffee & Beer. The new, superhero-themed spot will be even bigger with a variety of events planned. The rise of the bar reader is upon us. —Doyle Murphy

Shameless Grounds
1901 Withnell Avenue, 314-449-1240

A sex-positive sanctuary in Benton Park, Shameless Grounds draws visitors for its unique crowd, boozy drinks and diverse menu. But it's the enormous in-bar library that sets this establishment apart, its shelves covering human sexuality, gender studies, history, academic research and, yes, other more spicy selections. To be clear, this isn't your run-of-the-mill "adult bookstore" — it's a bar for adults, with adult books. The selections range across the spectrum of sexuality and gender, from Victorian-era romance advice to photography to Simone De Beauvoir. It means there's much more to be gained with a visit than just a good drink and a bite to eat. After all, it's been said that the brain is the body's largest erogenous zone — why not give it some new material? —Danny Wicentowski

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