the patio at the scottish arms in the central west end photo by keyan still

Date night in a new world

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The world is a strange place these days. In our hardest times, we turn to the ones we love most, but rekindling romance when stressed out and (mostly) stuck at home can present a unique set of challenges. Luckily, a few establishments around town are making it a little easier and more private than ever for a romantic evening out.

Start the night with cocktails at Planter’s House in Lafayette Square to be greeted by kind eyes and plentiful safety measures, including an abundance of sanitizer, as well as socially distanced and often blocked-off tables. With staff members decked out in protective gear, their priority is your comfort. The cocktails are truly incredible: Try the Milagro Tequila-based Taco Cat, which features a bit of flair from Mexican spices. There’s also a concise, focused food menu if you’re looking to nibble while you sip. Want to speak to a manager? The owner will gladly come right over, happy to assist with any needs you may have. After a cocktail (or two), head out for your next stop: dinner.

photo by keyan still

Olive + Oak in Webster Groves has moved down the block to a massive, gorgeous new venue, and the team is ready to serve you the same exquisite food and cocktail options you’ve come to love, like a Hendrick’s Gin Negroni paired with some fresh oysters.

Dreaming of fresh air and European romance? The Central West End’s Scottish Arms, with its newly remodeled patio and farm-fresh seasonal offerings, will transport you. The Scottish heritage of hospitality is apparent as soon as you walk in the door, are directed to your table and shown a QR code to quickly access the most up-to-date menu. The staff members are incredibly courteous and are happy to make recommendations, like the Scottish Old-Fashioned made with Monkey Shoulder Whisky and house-made porcini simple syrup.

photo by keyan still

Once you’re ready to slow down for a nightcap, a great place to complete an evening out is Stanley’s Cigar Lounge downtown for a quick dram and a smoke. Stanley’s features whiskeys from all around the globe, including a sweet Scottish offering of Balvenie 14-Year Caribbean Cask, which pairs perfectly with an entrancing Rocky Patel cigar.

If your night out continues into the following day, wrap up the date with brunch. Sqwires in Lafayette Square offers a variety of options and is conscious of dietary restrictions to accommodate everyone’s lifestyle. The staff works as a team to make sure everything is clean and people are comfortably spaced out, and the jalapeno margarita offers just enough spice to put some heat back into your lingering date.

There is a definite focus on safety and comfort at each of these establishments, but if you prefer a quiet night in, they all offer curbside pickup for both food and drink. In an industry that aims to please, these five stars have aimed a little higher.