August 29, 2018

Where to Get Drunk in St. Louis if You're Broke AF

Want to wet your whistle but have more thirst than money? Here are our ten go-to spots for when we're getting blasted on a budget. From shots to alcoholic slushies to cocktails so strong you'll need to take an Uber home, with these spots you won't get a financial hangover to match your physical one. At these places you can drink up, buy your friends a round and still pretend like you're a responsible adult. Party on.

Want to wet your whistle but have more thirst than money? Here are our ten go-to spots for when we're getting blasted on a budget.

From shots to alcoholic slushies to cocktails so strong you'll need to take an Uber home, with these spots you won't get a financial hangover to match your physical one.

At these places you can drink up, buy your friends a round and still pretend like you're a responsible adult. Party on.

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The Cat’s Meow
The Cat’s Meow (2600 South 11th Street, 314-776-8617) is unlike any other bar in Soulard. In fact, while tipping back a few at this weirdly well-lit dive, you could completely forget what neighborhood you were in if not for the display of Mardi Gras beads behind the bar. It can still get loud (especially when the jukebox is blaring), but it doesn’t attract the rowdy see-and-be-seen weekend crowd you’ll find down the street at places like Big Daddy’s. Nope, the Cat’s Meow is for people who want to drink cheap and drink hard, with none of that college party vibe that invades the rest of the neighborhood. Cocktails are insanely strong and dirt cheap, though, so make sure there’s enough money in your coffers to catch an Uber home.
Photo courtesy of Jaime Lees
The Cat’s Meow

The Cat’s Meow (2600 South 11th Street, 314-776-8617) is unlike any other bar in Soulard. In fact, while tipping back a few at this weirdly well-lit dive, you could completely forget what neighborhood you were in if not for the display of Mardi Gras beads behind the bar. It can still get loud (especially when the jukebox is blaring), but it doesn’t attract the rowdy see-and-be-seen weekend crowd you’ll find down the street at places like Big Daddy’s. Nope, the Cat’s Meow is for people who want to drink cheap and drink hard, with none of that college party vibe that invades the rest of the neighborhood. Cocktails are insanely strong and dirt cheap, though, so make sure there’s enough money in your coffers to catch an Uber home.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Lees
Nick’s Irish Pub
Ambition in the bar business can go wrong in a lot of ways, persuading over-thinking owners to sanitize wonderfully decrepit dives or re-concept themselves right into a three-customer Saturday night. But Nick’s Irish Pub (6001 Manchester Avenue, 314-781-7806) somehow manages to aspire to a better hole-in-the wall without losing its way. Take the 101 taps. The number alone would normally be a straight line to craft-beer snobbery, but any pretentiousness here is cut with bargain-rate specials. The specials board really is a thing to behold. It’s like a bingo card for the broke bargoer, with something different every day. The crowd pleasers are $2 burgers on Tuesdays and $1 wells (after 10 p.m. and a $5 cover) on Thursdays. The burgers, like most of the food, are excellent, and there is an enclosed smoking porch off the main barroom. It can get a little fratty on busy nights. If that’s an annoyance, come earlier and hang out with the locals.
Photo courtesy of Doyle Murphy
Nick’s Irish Pub

Ambition in the bar business can go wrong in a lot of ways, persuading over-thinking owners to sanitize wonderfully decrepit dives or re-concept themselves right into a three-customer Saturday night. But Nick’s Irish Pub (6001 Manchester Avenue, 314-781-7806) somehow manages to aspire to a better hole-in-the wall without losing its way. Take the 101 taps. The number alone would normally be a straight line to craft-beer snobbery, but any pretentiousness here is cut with bargain-rate specials. The specials board really is a thing to behold. It’s like a bingo card for the broke bargoer, with something different every day. The crowd pleasers are $2 burgers on Tuesdays and $1 wells (after 10 p.m. and a $5 cover) on Thursdays. The burgers, like most of the food, are excellent, and there is an enclosed smoking porch off the main barroom. It can get a little fratty on busy nights. If that’s an annoyance, come earlier and hang out with the locals.

Photo courtesy of Doyle Murphy
Tropical Liqueurs
It took awhile — and a false start in Soulard — but thanks to this summer’s opening of the Grove location of Tropical Liqueurs (4104 Manchester Avenue, 314-899-9404), you no longer have to visit that annoying friend at Mizzou to partake in the pleasures of Trops’ signature boozy slushies. Not only is the new location conveniently located in everyone’s favorite party neighborhood, but it’s seriously huge, complete with a giant open-air patio out back (smoking allowed, hooray!) and a full kitchen run by the talented people at Guerrilla Street Food. A “small” slushie is just $5, with a medium only $2 more than that — and as smooth as these things go down, yeah, we’d say Trops is a cheap date indeed. Happy hour specials, which run from 3 to 6 p.m. each weekday, knock $1 off those slushie prices (or, if you’re boring, draft beer). Come join the party, because this place definitely has one going on.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fenske
Tropical Liqueurs

It took awhile — and a false start in Soulard — but thanks to this summer’s opening of the Grove location of Tropical Liqueurs (4104 Manchester Avenue, 314-899-9404), you no longer have to visit that annoying friend at Mizzou to partake in the pleasures of Trops’ signature boozy slushies. Not only is the new location conveniently located in everyone’s favorite party neighborhood, but it’s seriously huge, complete with a giant open-air patio out back (smoking allowed, hooray!) and a full kitchen run by the talented people at Guerrilla Street Food. A “small” slushie is just $5, with a medium only $2 more than that — and as smooth as these things go down, yeah, we’d say Trops is a cheap date indeed. Happy hour specials, which run from 3 to 6 p.m. each weekday, knock $1 off those slushie prices (or, if you’re boring, draft beer). Come join the party, because this place definitely has one going on.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Fenske
Whalen’s Bar & Restaurant
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has a reputation as a commuter campus for good reason: Once class is over, students pile in their cars and race down Natural Bridge to get home as fast as the ever-lurking Bel-Nor police will let them (which is a whopping 31 miles per hour). If there’s one place that can keep these coeds around, however, it’s Whalen’s Bar & Restaurant (3837 St. Anns Lane, Normandy; 314-385-0829), the undisputed, almost official, college bar of UMSL. This no-frills Irish pub, built from stone in the shape of a miniature castle, has everything you need to decompress after that criminology final: pool tables, deep-fried snacks, a blaring jukebox and cheap pitchers of Killian’s Red. But what’s more important is that it has spirit and a sense of camaraderie, giving a small sliver of community to a campus of passers-by. And did we mention the drinks are cheap? We’ll lift a pint to that. 
Photo courtesy of Doyle Murphy
Whalen’s Bar & Restaurant

The University of Missouri-St. Louis has a reputation as a commuter campus for good reason: Once class is over, students pile in their cars and race down Natural Bridge to get home as fast as the ever-lurking Bel-Nor police will let them (which is a whopping 31 miles per hour). If there’s one place that can keep these coeds around, however, it’s Whalen’s Bar & Restaurant (3837 St. Anns Lane, Normandy; 314-385-0829), the undisputed, almost official, college bar of UMSL. This no-frills Irish pub, built from stone in the shape of a miniature castle, has everything you need to decompress after that criminology final: pool tables, deep-fried snacks, a blaring jukebox and cheap pitchers of Killian’s Red. But what’s more important is that it has spirit and a sense of camaraderie, giving a small sliver of community to a campus of passers-by. And did we mention the drinks are cheap? We’ll lift a pint to that.

Photo courtesy of Doyle Murphy
Friendly’s Sports Bar & Grill
Maybe you are the type of bar patron who is not satisfied by simply pouring cheap booze down your throat while mentally reviewing grudges. In that case, you are not us, but we think we can find common ground at Friendly’s Sports Bar & Grill (3503 Roger Place, 314-771-2040). It is a perfectly good spot for drunken wallowing, but also offers a large number of distractions. The TVs showing the big game of your choice and the pool tables are just the start. Friendly’s also has air hockey, video games and one of those claw machines that frustrates your attempts to own a stuffed animal. A big, partially covered patio has a dual cornhole setup. Add in an appreciation for the America's many cheap fried foods, and you’ve got an above-average hangout.
Photo courtesy of Doyle Murphy
Friendly’s Sports Bar & Grill

Maybe you are the type of bar patron who is not satisfied by simply pouring cheap booze down your throat while mentally reviewing grudges. In that case, you are not us, but we think we can find common ground at Friendly’s Sports Bar & Grill (3503 Roger Place, 314-771-2040). It is a perfectly good spot for drunken wallowing, but also offers a large number of distractions. The TVs showing the big game of your choice and the pool tables are just the start. Friendly’s also has air hockey, video games and one of those claw machines that frustrates your attempts to own a stuffed animal. A big, partially covered patio has a dual cornhole setup. Add in an appreciation for the America's many cheap fried foods, and you’ve got an above-average hangout.

Photo courtesy of Doyle Murphy
Jimmy Mack’s
What do you call a drinking hole that’s a mixture of down-home dive bar and St. Louis sports shrine? It’s not a joke — it’s Jimmy Mack’s (5838 Southwest Avenue, 314-645-5777). Nestled in a crook of Southwest Avenue, the bar would be easy to miss, if not for the vibrant mural covering the western side that depicts a Blues player slap-shotting a full pint into the waiting glove of a Cards player, all while a tipsy Fredbird (who’s clearly followed the painted suggestion on the mural to “Hoist 1 or 2”) excitedly rocks in his chair. And at Jimmy Mack's, it really is economical to hoist more than one: most drafts will only set you back $3, there are frequent specials on $1 jello shots, and a can of Bud Lite or Busch is just $1.75 — and cheaper still on Thursdays, when domestic cans are all $1.50. Inside Jimmy Mack's, you’ve got your classic shotgun bar and a regiment of regulars watching the game (what game? any game) while trading gossip and drinking something cold and cheap. Smokers should step outside, not just for the sake of others’ lungs, but to observe the Zen-like oasis waiting there: a patio complete with burbling fish pond and waterfall. You can’t miss it: The pond is right next to a second wall-sized mural, which shows the Cardinals beating the Cubs, complete with an umpire shouting: “You’re OUT Cubby!” Does it get more St. Louis than that?
Photo courtesy of Danny Wicentowski
Jimmy Mack’s

What do you call a drinking hole that’s a mixture of down-home dive bar and St. Louis sports shrine? It’s not a joke — it’s Jimmy Mack’s (5838 Southwest Avenue, 314-645-5777). Nestled in a crook of Southwest Avenue, the bar would be easy to miss, if not for the vibrant mural covering the western side that depicts a Blues player slap-shotting a full pint into the waiting glove of a Cards player, all while a tipsy Fredbird (who’s clearly followed the painted suggestion on the mural to “Hoist 1 or 2”) excitedly rocks in his chair. And at Jimmy Mack's, it really is economical to hoist more than one: most drafts will only set you back $3, there are frequent specials on $1 jello shots, and a can of Bud Lite or Busch is just $1.75 — and cheaper still on Thursdays, when domestic cans are all $1.50. Inside Jimmy Mack's, you’ve got your classic shotgun bar and a regiment of regulars watching the game (what game? any game) while trading gossip and drinking something cold and cheap. Smokers should step outside, not just for the sake of others’ lungs, but to observe the Zen-like oasis waiting there: a patio complete with burbling fish pond and waterfall. You can’t miss it: The pond is right next to a second wall-sized mural, which shows the Cardinals beating the Cubs, complete with an umpire shouting: “You’re OUT Cubby!” Does it get more St. Louis than that?

Photo courtesy of Danny Wicentowski
Sappington Lounge
Yes, the Sappington Lounge (11569 Gravois Road, 314-842-5316) sits at the end of a strip mall with all the elegance of an old shoebox — but who picks a bar for its looks? The Sap has everything you need inside. Right through the door is a miniature library, complete with thrillers and romances and even an out-of-place tome of Pynchon. Leave those alone at first, though, because all the stories in a bar can be found, one way or another, at the bottom of a glass. You’ll have plenty of ways to get there: bottles are $2.75 or six for $15, and a Bud Lite draft costs just $2.50. Truly, this is a place is a bubble all its own, and as one of the holdout bars that still lets its patrons (legally) light up, the drinks are as cheap as the air is smoky. Peer through the blue-hued atmosphere, and you’ll see a place where everybody knows everybody, the Cards are always playing, and the stories are told through fits of laughter. If all else fails to hold your attention, you can always read a book — but we bet you won’t. And you’ll be better for it. 
Photo courtesy of RFT archives
Sappington Lounge

Yes, the Sappington Lounge (11569 Gravois Road, 314-842-5316) sits at the end of a strip mall with all the elegance of an old shoebox — but who picks a bar for its looks? The Sap has everything you need inside. Right through the door is a miniature library, complete with thrillers and romances and even an out-of-place tome of Pynchon. Leave those alone at first, though, because all the stories in a bar can be found, one way or another, at the bottom of a glass. You’ll have plenty of ways to get there: bottles are $2.75 or six for $15, and a Bud Lite draft costs just $2.50. Truly, this is a place is a bubble all its own, and as one of the holdout bars that still lets its patrons (legally) light up, the drinks are as cheap as the air is smoky. Peer through the blue-hued atmosphere, and you’ll see a place where everybody knows everybody, the Cards are always playing, and the stories are told through fits of laughter. If all else fails to hold your attention, you can always read a book — but we bet you won’t. And you’ll be better for it.

Photo courtesy of RFT archives
The Silverleaf Lounge
If you’re looking to hide out from life, the Silverleaf Lounge (3442 Hereford Street, 314-481-4080) is your new favorite spot. This charming dive is tucked away in the Northampton neighborhood, and its low-key location usually keeps it off the radar of younger party crews. But instead of being a spot for old, hardened drinkers, the ‘Leaf is a warm, welcoming place, a friendly little spot where you can always find somebody to drink with you. Most tiny bars with drinks this cheap ($1.50 drafts and mixed drinks for around $3.50) only attract customers from the neighborhood who can stumble home, but the Silverleaf has loyal regulars from all over town because people simply appreciate its vibe. If you want to forget all of your troubles and maybe make a few new friends, pop on into the Silverleaf.
Photo courtesy of Jaime Lees
The Silverleaf Lounge

If you’re looking to hide out from life, the Silverleaf Lounge (3442 Hereford Street, 314-481-4080) is your new favorite spot. This charming dive is tucked away in the Northampton neighborhood, and its low-key location usually keeps it off the radar of younger party crews. But instead of being a spot for old, hardened drinkers, the ‘Leaf is a warm, welcoming place, a friendly little spot where you can always find somebody to drink with you. Most tiny bars with drinks this cheap ($1.50 drafts and mixed drinks for around $3.50) only attract customers from the neighborhood who can stumble home, but the Silverleaf has loyal regulars from all over town because people simply appreciate its vibe. If you want to forget all of your troubles and maybe make a few new friends, pop on into the Silverleaf.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Lees
Stella Blues
“Many people have eaten in this kitchen and gone on to lead normal healthy lives.” So says the sign that hangs above the kitchen at Stella Blues (3269 Morganford Road, 314-762-0144), the quirky bar in Tower Grove South known for its delicious (and inexpensive) kabobs. Even the priciest of them will only run you a scant $5, and we’re talking fall-off-the-stick-tender steak ones. If meat on a stick isn’t your thing, Stella Blues offers plenty of other budget-friendly food options as well: fried pickles, hamburgers, wings, etc., all at prices even the most thrifty of students can afford. Use that saved lunch money to unwind at the bar, where you will find similarly inexpensive libations, or maybe feed a couple bucks into the virtually hidden pool table located in a room at the back of the bar. We’d argue that there’s nothing especially “normal” about the charmingly weird Stella Blues, but it’s certainly healthy — especially for your wallet.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Hill
Stella Blues

“Many people have eaten in this kitchen and gone on to lead normal healthy lives.” So says the sign that hangs above the kitchen at Stella Blues (3269 Morganford Road, 314-762-0144), the quirky bar in Tower Grove South known for its delicious (and inexpensive) kabobs. Even the priciest of them will only run you a scant $5, and we’re talking fall-off-the-stick-tender steak ones. If meat on a stick isn’t your thing, Stella Blues offers plenty of other budget-friendly food options as well: fried pickles, hamburgers, wings, etc., all at prices even the most thrifty of students can afford. Use that saved lunch money to unwind at the bar, where you will find similarly inexpensive libations, or maybe feed a couple bucks into the virtually hidden pool table located in a room at the back of the bar. We’d argue that there’s nothing especially “normal” about the charmingly weird Stella Blues, but it’s certainly healthy — especially for your wallet.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Hill
Charlack Pub
Located just 2.5 miles from UMSL’s campus, Charlack Pub (8334 Lackland Road, Charlack; 314-423-8119) is a north county institution. For eighteen years the charming little dive has served up suds for the masses in an unfussy, relaxed atmosphere. The drinks are cheap — five bucks will buy you a shot of rail whiskey and a Busch beer chaser — and the bartenders friendly. The pub hosts live music of the rock & roll variety on its small stage every weekend night, and it can get pretty rowdy, but the best time to visit is undoubtedly in the daytime. The bar opens at 6 a.m., and the professional day-drinking regulars filter in soon after. Join them! Bombed that morning exam? Head to Charlack Pub to drown your sorrows. Need to build up your courage for that 11 a.m. oral exam? Drop a mere $20 at the bar and you’ll be the most courageous student that ever slurred his way through a PowerPoint presentation. Your teacher and fellow classmates may judge you, but the good people at Charlack Pub never will.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Hill
Charlack Pub

Located just 2.5 miles from UMSL’s campus, Charlack Pub (8334 Lackland Road, Charlack; 314-423-8119) is a north county institution. For eighteen years the charming little dive has served up suds for the masses in an unfussy, relaxed atmosphere. The drinks are cheap — five bucks will buy you a shot of rail whiskey and a Busch beer chaser — and the bartenders friendly. The pub hosts live music of the rock & roll variety on its small stage every weekend night, and it can get pretty rowdy, but the best time to visit is undoubtedly in the daytime. The bar opens at 6 a.m., and the professional day-drinking regulars filter in soon after. Join them! Bombed that morning exam? Head to Charlack Pub to drown your sorrows. Need to build up your courage for that 11 a.m. oral exam? Drop a mere $20 at the bar and you’ll be the most courageous student that ever slurred his way through a PowerPoint presentation. Your teacher and fellow classmates may judge you, but the good people at Charlack Pub never will.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Hill