After a successful maiden voyage in May, Eleven’s Urban Exploration team set its sights on Downtown St. Louis for the month of June. On Thursday, June 16th, we hooked up with five of our favorite bars (plus a secret bar crawl pre-game at Flamingo Bowl) for a night we could hardly remember.
Speaking of secrets: We officially kicked the night off with one of our favorite underground (both literally and figuratively) spots in St. Louis: The Thaxton Speakeasy. Owner Peter wasn’t planning on coming in that night, but he was gracious enough to open his doors specially for the Eleven crew. The Thaxton is always verbally password protected (Thursday’s was an easy one: “pub crawl”), and is physically protected and enforced by one mean-ass looking bouncer waiting by the back door. No pat-downs, fortunately.
Immediately upon arrival, we had Peter serve up the Thaxton’s house special: Cherry Moonshine. No, seriously. Moonshine. The drink after which they coined the term “blind drunk,” after statesmen in the ’20s began to experience eyesight problems due to heavy use. The Thaxton brews that. And the fact that it’s cherry belies the true potency of the stuff—we, of course, told none of our guests that each cherry was actually loaded with 100-proof liquor until after they each bit in.
Above, Kyle, Tyler, and Krista mere moments before biting down.
And then, Kate and Jon mere moments after. Heck, even the camera’s vision started to get a little fuzzy.
After an hour of regaining focus and settling our nerves, we bid farewell and headed to our next watering hole: The Crack Fox.
Just off the beaten Wash Ave path, The Crack Fox on Olive is an Eleven downtown favorite for cheap drinks, live music, and a crowd that’s way less stuffy than some of the mainstream downtown joints. Official drink specials for the evening were a choice between the house’s Magic Shots, or the (half-shown above) Greaser’s Lunchbox combo of a shot of Amaretto/Jameson with a PBR. Eleven, however, tends to opt for the unofficial special of finding co-owner Carrie behind the bar and asking her to mix one of anything. The results are varied—one can never predict the liquor, flavor, or even color of the finished brews—and at the same time, consistent: they’re a sure bet to lead to happy faces.
With a wildly varied concoction of mixed drinks already stirring in our bellies, we make our way North to Washington Avenue’s biggest and baddest Irish pub, the Dubliner. Here, we add beer to our checklist of consumed alcohols. The Dubliner’s dollar deal on mini-pints was a total knockout for our crawl: Cheap to buy, fun to drink, and easy to buy again.
Nate (above, left) and Samantha enjoy their mini-Guinnesses (Mini-uinnesses?), and exhibit an ongoing, unwritten Eleven policy: throw up the Eleven rock horns while you’re being photographed, and you’re 111% more likely to get featured in the coverage. Word!
Kelly (above, left) goes on to be the winner of the night’s surprise bonus prize, a pair of door passes to the following week’s STL Loud Vol. 2 release party at the Firebird. She and friend Cassie (middle), seem pretty happy about the news. Kelly also won at bowling earlier at the Flamingo, but we’ll note here that beating Eleven executive staff members at competitive events is not often a path that leads to prizes.
Our next destination, a dive bar in the middle of Washington Avenue, is a bit of an anomaly. The Hair of the Dog (“Harry the Dog” colloquially—if not drunkenly—in our circle) is a spot frequented by us on our downtown nights for its lower tempo modest atmosphere. And, of course, for its shuffleboard table.
Already heavily buzzed and having difficulty keeping track of the time (we’re at least sure it’s between 10 and 11…roughly), “Harry the Dog” offers a challenge and a bargain to Eleven’s Urbex explorers: $6 buckets of PBR or Stag. Juan and Mario (above) are up to the task.
As the witching hour approaches, we land (some, above, more literally than others) at our final bar in the crawl: Lola. The band and DJ are already playing at respective stages inside Lola’s main area and Absinthe Bar as we arrive. The drink specials here are varied, with deals on the gamut of Lola’s unique Strippertinis and Burlesque beverages. It’s difficult to recall precisely who ordered which cocktail—all that rings true to memory were the dance-able beats which allowed the Eleven faithful an hour to shake and sweat off any inebriated jitters.
At long, long last, cabs were called and rides were arranged to go home. Some continued to press onward into the bevy of yet-unsampled downtown bars, while others turned back to revisit a favorite joint from earlier in the evening. Tonight, our mission is unquestionably accomplished.
A big thanks to our friends Matt, Peter & Kim, Carrie, Patrick & Eddie, Dom, and Chris at the respective Flamingo, Thaxton, Crack Fox, Dubliner, Hair of the Dog, and Lola, for helping to set everything up. We’ll be sure to see you guys again soon.