Best of the Beverage Scene in St. Louis
By Cheryl Baehr
The beverage scene in St. Louis rests on a solid foundation of one world-ranked brewer, almost 65 craft breweries, countless distilleries, regional wineries, bustling bars and some very talented mixologists.
What’s not to like? Or, better yet, what’s not to order? Options to imbibe in St. Louis are limitless. From local beer, cider and wine to delectable cocktails and even boozy ice creams, this city can satisfy any thirst.
Midwest Brewing Innovation
Let’s start with St. Louis’ fixation on beer. More than 165 years ago, German brewers found the naturally cool caves under St. Louis ideal for fermenting their lagers, while the proximity of the Mississippi River provided one of their recipes’ key ingredients – water. Today, Anheuser-Busch, home of Budweiser, serves as a hub for brewing innovation, producing more than 30 brands of ice-cold beer.
Nestled throughout St. Louis, dozens of craft breweries follow suit. Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. has two locations: The Midtown spot feels like a European biergarten, while the brewery in The Grove is a European-style bierhall. Formerly a paper company built in the 1920s, Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery and Bierhall offers rotating beers on tap, with American- and Bavarian-style lagers, Russian imperial stouts, pilsners, pale ales and Munich Dunkels served at large, communal, picnic-style tables under strands of twinkling lights. With names like Zwickel, Schnickelfritz and Stammtisch, you’ll want to order pretzel sticks and twice-fried pommes frites with Bavarian mustard to pair with your suds.
Let the Spirit Move You
Just a “pint away from the ballpark,” 4 Hands Brewing Co. pours a wide range of beers, including seasonal and limited releases. The brews are great, but this fan-favorite brewery also produces two lines of local spirits: 1220 Spirits, botanically-inspired spirits and liqueurs, and Withered Oak, its family of whiskeys. The two-story tasting room includes food from Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. and free arcade games such as Pac-Man and Skee-Ball.
If the spirit moves you, as they say, check out StilL 630. The award-winning craft distillery, just south of downtown, offers tours, tastings and bottle sales of its “Indomitable Spirits,” including Cask-Strength Missouri Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Gateway Barreled Gin and Expedition Rum.
If cider is your thing, head to Brick River Cider Co., housed in former Engine House Number 32. Just a few blocks north of Union Station, Brick River’s ciders are made from fresh-pressed Midwestern fruit. The building, constructed in 1892 as the largest fire station west of the Mississippi River, is now a laid-back tap room and gastro pub with garage-style doors that open on nice days. Semi-sweet and dry ciders impart hints of apple and peach, getting you as close to the orchard as possible in St. Louis.
Shake It Up
If it’s a cocktail you seek, shake things up with mixologists at the Central West End’s Brass Bar, Webster Groves’ Olive + Oak, Vicia in the Cortex Innovation Community and Pop Sparkling Bar & Restaurant in Lafayette Square. Sipping on cocktails such as Nordland Night Train and Lost in Translation (Brass Bar), #111 with reposado gin, amaro, bitter orange, vermouth and cacao (Olive + Oak) and a selection of European bubblies (Pop) will put your taste buds in hyperdrive.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of unique drink menus, though. Other must-stops include iTap for an incredible beer selection; Acero, with its Italian wine list; Mission Taco Joint for margaritas; Salt + Smoke for all things bourbon; Art Bar for rooftop cocktails in the Grand Center Arts District; Small Batch for whiskey; and Sidney Street Cafe for sophisticated sips in a wood-paneled bar.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, you’ll want to swing by Bella’s Sweet Treats & Boozy Shake Shop, Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery and The Fountain on Locust, where spiked sweets round out the offerings.
Awaken your thirst buds and explore the drinks frontier that is St. Louis.