Taste is pretty much St. Louis’ #1 first date spot—for good reason. With dim edison bulbs and candlelight, dark wood and red walls, this actually feels like a speakeasy–especially if you manage to snag a seat on the couches upstairs, though that might be too intimate for a first date. There is limited seating, so be prepared for a wait on weekends. Taste boasts a combination of inventive small plates in a sexy atmosphere with a list of craft cocktails that’s a mile long, so you’ll be able to appropriately judge your potential spouse on their taste preferences.
Who’d have thought that one day a tiny abandoned gas station in Tower Grove would be one of the city’s sexiest bars? Simplicity is the name of the game at Olio: a marble top, tiled walls, contemporary bar stools, and lights hung on a track, wires and all exposed. At night, a seat at the bar feels dark and intimate, but during the day it’s equally beautiful—just an airy and bright spot, perfect for a day date. The cocktails are a mix of European classics and modern inspirations, and the food is focused on modern Israeli small plates. What makes it work particularly well for a first date is that if things are going well, you can stay for dinner, or head next door to Good Fortune, Union Loafers, or Nixta.
Trendy and photogenic, with Mediterranean-style blue tile walls and a warm wooden bar top, sitting at the bar will make you feel like you’re in Europe—or, at the very least, Chicago. This might be a tad too fancy for some, but hey, some people like to impress. If you’ve been for dinner, you know that Sardella takes its cocktails just as seriously as its food. After a couple of drinks, you could always mosey over to Pastaria for some pizza and gelato. Then you get married.
The bar at Olive and Oak proves that sometimes simplicity is the best choice. Stark white subway tiles, a white bar, and the warmth of the open wooden shelves give this a distinctly California feel. With the pops of color from herbs, orchids, and the glowing red heart, a night at the bar here just feels right. If that’s not romantic enough, even the main bar team is married! The cocktails from Morgaine Segura-Martin and her husband, Charlie, are impeccable. We love doing a bartender’s choice—tell them what spirits and flavors you like and let them work their magic.
Props to Ben Poremba for creating yet another seductive restaurant/bar—this time in Maplewood. The Benevolent King’s food menu focuses on Middle Eastern small plates, but the cocktail menu is what really shines. Drink prices can escalate, so pay attention to prices (and which drinks your date goes for). The vibe is probably the best part, though: mirrored walls painted with gold, trippy artwork on the walls, pillow floor seating near the windows. If things don’t go well with your date, you can always pop over to Reeds American Table or Schlafly Bottleworks and nurse your wounds.
Impress your date by taking them to this brand new stunner in the Central West End. This place is beautiful, with a thought out design from floor to ceiling. The interior is bright, modern, and tropical. It honestly doesn’t feel like you’re in St. Louis at all—you could pick the restaurant up and transport it to any major city and it would fit right in (especially if that city was LA or San Diego). Celebrity chef Richard Blais is behind the food menu, and Retreat’s Tim Wiggin’s is the cocktail mastermind. It’s fun, lively, and a little brighter than, say, Taste.
When the weather is cooperating, Eclipse is a perfect spot for a first date. It’s always crowded and bustling, it’s right in the heart of the Delmar Loop, and drinks are good. Oh, and it’s on the rooftop, which just adds to the sexiness factor.
Photo courtesy of Eclipse
This relatively new rustic gastropub is already a classic cocktail house in St. Louis. What makes it perfect for a first date is that it’s more casual than almost any of the places above. The strong cocktails and comfy atmosphere make it perfect for getting to know someone new; Retreat is a little less “sexy, super impressive date” and a little more “let’s just meet and hang out”. If things go well, you can pop across the street and eat at the very sexy Juniper. If things don’t go well, wash down away the bad date juju with their warm bread pudding.