Famous Bar, 5213 Chippewa, 314-832-2211

Our grandparents' generation was a bunch of drunks, apparently, and the proof is in the movies: In every living room there's a trolley bar with a decanter of scotch on top. Maybe it was nuclear malaise, the Hush Puppies or all that aerosol hairspray, but something drove Grammy and Grampy to drink.

In these films, Audrey Hepburn, queen of elegance, all sprightly and white and slender and gay, pulls on Lucky Strikes while drinking Sidecars and Manhattans. Perfection incarnate, indulging at noon. Tennis, anyone?

Those were the good times. Gregory Peck never once heaved into the toilet after an all-night Rob Roy bender. Grace Kelly never dug through a mound of Lucky butts, jonesin' for some nicotine. Life sure was wonderful when the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed large.

And with that threat -- or some equally horrifying pox alternative -- back in vogue, perhaps it's time to lean on Grandpa's elixirs to dull our senses and make this here mass-destructible life tolerable.

For a half-decade, the Famous Bar has been serving people who like to consume alcohol in the evening, and they offer classic drinks: Rob Roys. Rusty Nails. Sidecars. Real drinks. No "vanilla infusions." No froth. No bullshit. And, for chrissakes, no Red Bull. Just mixers -- grenadine, sour mix, olive or citrus juice -- and booze. (The Famous Bar does offer an array of elaborate shots and martinis.)

In the bar -- a storefront located on Chippewa Street, on the South Side -- thirtysomethings smoke, drink, watch ESPN2, play pool, sip free cheesecake martinis (ugh -- just ignore them) offered by buxom red-feathered Stoli reps and get all loud and drunk. "Happy Birthday" is sung -- twice.

The Famous Bar's celebrating its own fifth birthday this month, and, says proprietor Mark Gray, "we're busier than ever. Our goal when we opened was to offer a creative, classic atmosphere -- to bring back some charm into the experience. Our location's right on the old Route 66, and we wanted to celebrate that."

Like bartenders all over America for the past century, Henry Arcniegega, a Famous Bar-tender, makes his Sidecar this way: He puts a couple of splashes of lemon juice, just as much triple sec (a citrus-based liqueur) and a jigger of brandy into a shaker of ice. He shakes. He shakes again. He pours the mixture, with the ice, into a tumbler. Boom: You've got a Sidecar, and all of a sudden you feel like putting on a cardigan, feel like Hepburn, ready to bury your pretty face in the sand, away from the fear, away from the inevitable war, away from annihilation. Sweet, sour and tipsy. Who's up for a Stinger?

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