meredith barry photo by izaiah johnson

New Society cocktail lounge will open inside Grand Spirits Bottle Co. on South Grand in April

New Society, a new “experimental cocktail lounge,” will open in mid-April in the basement of Grand Spirits Bottle Co. at 3194 S. Grand Blvd. The bar is the fruit of a partnership between Grand Spirits Bottle Co. owner Michael Fricker and Meredith Barry of Platypus, with a soft opening set for April 13. 

Fricker said New Society is approximately half the size of Grand Spirits, with room to seat about 20 to 22 guests – 10 at the bar, and about 12 seated in the lounge area on chairs and couches. The bar will be decorated with mid-century modern furniture and original art from St. Louis artist Neeka Allsup and an artist from Oaxaca, Mexico, where Fricker formerly lived. Fricker said the atmosphere will be “personable, very inclusive, and intimate.” “We’re very excited to be able to hone in on intense and warm hospitality,” he said.   

A statement from New Society’s owners said the bar would aim “to push the boundaries on what bespoke cocktail bars can be, drawn from secret societies of the past blended with modern techniques and flavors.” The bar’s name is inspired by the headline of a 1917 newspaper article, published by the Tacoma Times, that credited St. Louis socialite Clara Bell Walsh with creating the concept of the cocktail party. 

“The name comes out of that, but the name for us engenders so much of what we want to do,” Fricker said. “The ‘new society’ is kind of all-encompassing into who we are as people, and the idea of complete inclusivity, but also us pushing the boundaries of our own creativity.” 

Barry and Fricker will explore their creative impulses by utilizing culinary techniques and equipment like roto-evaporators, centrifuges and sous-vide ovens. “Things that are used to condense, intensify, deepen the flavor within individual products or modifiers. Our goal is to blend culinary and beverage through technique, process and philosophy,” Fricker said. 

Barry said they’re excited to get creative behind the bar, while keeping things fun for the guest. “I don't want these techniques to be in people's faces and pretentious,” she said. “I want it to be fun.” Attention to detail will be prominent not just in how the drinks at New Society taste, but also how they are presented. “We want there to be a little bit of a wow factor,” Barry said.  

The cocktail list itself will be divided into four categories, each with two to three drinks, according to Fricker. A list of “classics plus” cocktails will offer fresh takes on traditional favorites. However, to find out exactly what Fricker and Barry have up their sleeve at New Society, you’ll have to pay them a visit. “We're not going to be releasing a ton of information or photos of the space, because we do want guests to experience it without preconceived notions.” In keeping with that ethos, New Society will also offer secret off-menu items, with clues to be dropped on the bar’s Instagram feed. The bar will offer a small menu of snacks, with Grand Spirits also set to announce its own food concept very soon. 

“I want to have fun and be playful and play off of childhood nostalgia,” Barry said. “Flavor profiles that I might be obsessed with at the moment, and then twisting it up a little bit and surprising people.” Barry said that element of surprise is important. “I find a lot of joy in it, and I want to share that joy with others,” she said. 

Fricker said New Society offers an opportunity to do something a little different from what he and Barry currently do with their other projects and partnerships. “Our bars have certain concepts and certain programs and styles, and we wanted the freedom to really experiment and be open to ultra-creativity, and it just came organically,” he said. “Meredith is an incredible human being, an incredible friend and an incredible bartender. I’m massively lucky to be her friend, but also to be partnering with her on this. It’s going to be fun, and Meredith and I are going to be behind the bar the entire time.”

New Society will hold a soft opening on April 13, after which the bar will be open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday to Saturday and from 5 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.