pop in lafayette square photo by carmen troesser

7 St. Louis drink and destination pairings worth a night out now

There’s an art to going out and grabbing a drink. Time, place and vibe are crucial. You would never waste a trip to an upscale cocktail bar to down macro lagers and you wouldn’t throw back green tea shots at a dive on a first date. (Or hey, maybe you would! No judgment.) So what should you do? Sometimes we just want to be told. Here are seven drink and destination pairings worth a spot on your weekend itinerary.

the pineapple sparkling cocktail from pop in lafayette square // photo by carmen troesser

Go to Pop, drink a Champagne cocktail
This sparkling wine bar in Lafayette Square is a real charmer with statement wallpapers, plush banquette seating and a secret garden patio. While a glass of anything from their surprisingly global lineup of bubbles is sure to delight, we zeroed in on the Champagne cocktail section of the menu. Light, refreshing tipples with no-nonsense names like Pineapple (reposado tequila, pineapple, bitters, salt, bubbles) and Cucumber (cucumber and rosemary vodka, sugar, prosecco) are paragons of simple pleasure.
1915 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.8100, popstlouis.com

Go to The Crack Fox, drink a margarita on tap
Depending on the day of week, The Crack Fox fluctuates between karaoke bar, cabaret, stand-up comedy joint, dance club, drag bar and pub trivia spot. No matter which day you choose, you shouldn’t judge this freaky downtown haven by appearances. Craft cocktails with house-made syrups and rotating local beers dominate the menu, but we remain delighted by the margaritas on tap. Milagro tequila, dry curacao, fresh lime, agave and salt ready at the pull of a handle feels like a savior for both a busy bartender and impatient patron.
1114 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.828.5064, crackfoxbar.com

frosty mugs of beer from platypus in the grove // photo by carmen troesser

Go to Platypus, drink whatever is in the frozen drink machine
The cocktail menu at Platypus changes weekly – sometimes daily – and truly any concoction whipped up by this talented team of bartenders is worth trying, but our can’t-miss recommendation is whatever they have spinning in the frozen drink machines. Served in fun-sized 8-ounce pours, there’s nothing like a frosty mug of cheap beer with a frozen Hemingway Daiquiri sidecar. Or a strawberry pina colada. Or something more unique like The Macaw with Cappelletti aperitivo, strawberry rum, citrus, tomato and bitters. We’ve even crushed a frozen take on an espresso martini with fernet. Whatever it is, just try it. Disappointment is impossible.
4501 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.448.1622, drinkplatypus.com

Go to Salt + Smoke, drink a Walnut Old-Fashioned
With a staggering bourbon collection and respectable local beer list, Salt + Smoke has always offered more for the discernible drinker than your average barbecue joint. The Walnut Old-Fashioned is a staple of their house cocktail menu with Old Forester Signature bourbon, walnut and tart cherry liqueurs, brown sugar and orange bitters for a sweet, strong sipper that goes down beautifully with a pile of burnt ends.
Multiple locations, saltandsmokebbq.com

frozen cocktail from platypus in the grove // photo by carmen troesser

Go to Small Change, drink an In a Pickle
Small Change self-identifies as the “dive bar-chic stepchild” of Planter’s House on its website, and nothing epitomizes that vibe more than having Ted Kilgore’s famous In a Pickle cocktail on tap. It says, “We’re here to party, but we have class.” Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain, velvet falernum, lime, cucumber and dill make this the perfect patio treat. Inside, you can also order any classic cocktail mixed to perfection and soak up the unpretentious neighborhood vibes under the dappled light of a disco ball.
2800 Indiana Ave., St. Louis, smallchangestl.com

ted kilgore’s famous in a pickle cocktail // photo by carmen troesser

Go to The Gin Room, drink a spritz
No one knows gin like Natasha Bahrami, and sitting at her Gin Room’s bar on South Grand Boulevard feels like pulling up a chair to a college course on the spirit – except very fun, we promise. Since the connecting restaurant space transformed from Cafe Natasha to Salve Osteria, amaros, digestifs and spritzes have taken center stage on the drink menu. We love the Salve Spritz, a fabulously rich and complex mix of amaro, vermouth, bitters, yuzu and mint topped with fizzy pet-nat, but you mustn't miss the bespoke tableside cart service – just give the bartender some flavor profiles you gravitate toward, and you’ll get a custom-built concoction and a totally unique experience.
3200 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.771.3411, natashasginroom.com

don’t miss the frozen big o painkiller at small change — you can even get a baby size // photo by carmen troesser

Go to The Lucky Accomplice, drink a Secret Agent Man
We can clock a play on a dirty martini faster than James Bond can request his shaken, not stirred. The Lucky Accomplice’s Secret Agent Man cocktail mixes both vodka and gin (martini purists are shaking, we know), Oka Kura sake vermouth, olive and a little touch of magic, which is to say, MSG. It’s a delight to pop in for a happy hour pre-dinner and watch bartender Charlie Martin work masterfully amid the gleaming gold barware.
2501 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.354.6100, theluckyaccomplice.com