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Absolutli Grand 

Martini madness at a new South Grand watering hole

Despite the "redevelopment" efforts of a redoubtable few, and such vile blots upon the realm as the St. Louis Bread Co. (Need a sandwich? For God's sake, cross the street to MoKaBe's!), South Grand is still a lovable mutt of a neighborhood. Virtually unspoiled by the ravages of corporate hubris, it retains a robust gene pool of quirky shops, cheap housing and ethnic miscellany that distinguishes it auspiciously from the city's more gentrified sectors.

In fact, if an anthrax epidemic were to take out the rest of St. Louis, South Grand could survive just fine on its own. It's got all the essentials: gay bookstore, vegetarian Sunday brunch, S/M clothier, Vietnamese video rental, late-night cybersushi, a place to buy beanbag chairs, Planned Parenthood, the indispensable Jay International grocery, an infinite supply of non-English-speaking restaurants and two fine dens of iniquity.

And, as of late, a martini bar: Absolutli Goosed is a goofy name (we file it as "Ab-Goo"), but the joint is a welcome reprieve for those who like to soak up their top-shelf hooch in a somewhat more soigné milieu than has been previously available to neighborhood boozehounds. Goosed owners Deb and Melissa have converted an old storefront into a comfy, well-groomed alcove off the scrappy boulevard, where it is possible to hold forth in a normal speaking voice while swilling from evolved glassware. Understated furnishings show the glowing aqua bar top to full advantage. A drink menu the size of Guam lists roughly a gazillion variations on the martini theme, some with rather dramatic titles (admittedly, we were too afraid to order anything called Porky Pig in Leather.)

The relative luxe of an Absolutli Goosed martini will run you six or seven bucks a pop, but here on South Grand, at least you won't have to pay for parking.

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