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Aug 22, 2014
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Swanky sipping in the sky
By Matt Berkley • Photos by Ashley Gieseking
Posted On: 09/01/2009   

Normally I’m reluctant to lay down $13 for a single beverage (a sum that, during my undergrad days, could have funded an entire booze-fueled night out), but for a Dirty CEO martini at the Cielo Sky Terrace, I’m willing to make an exception. The sublime blend of Belvedere Vodka, olive juice and a hint of dry vermouth are poured tableside into a deep, massive stem. A cold sip. A smooth finish. An immaculate buzz. It may not be perfection, but it’s not far off.

Since opening in 2008 in the Four Seasons Hotel on Laclede’s Landing, Cielo has been busy making a name for itself among the downtown elite, socialites and jet-set crowd, who came to be seen and stayed, well, because it was just that good. The “in crowd” is definitely still in residence on a Friday night, along with the obligatory 20-something gold diggers who strut across the terrace batting thick lashes and flipping perfectly groomed manes. Formally attired patrons mingle with casually dressed beer drinkers, their ages ranging from 25 to 65. “The big tippers are pretty much gone right now,” our server informed my table. “We’ve got a lot more $30,000-a-year millionaires.”

People hit the bars on weekends for the same reason they go to the movies – to skip out on reality for a while. To that end, Cielo is ideal. It’s high-end escapism at its best. After handing cars off to valets, patrons enter through a sleek passageway to a pair of elevators that deposit them on the eighth floor. A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows sits behind Cielo’s painstakingly polished, marble-topped main bar, from which two or three well-dressed cocktail-slingers work their magic at a sharp pace. A nice bar in itself, but the real party is outside – arguably the best patio in the city. The enormous terrace is dotted with oversized gray club chairs, some surrounding a green mosaic fountain that spews fire into the night sky. Off to one side, a few hotel patrons lounge around a lavish pool. Farther back, a few couples lean over a glass barrier to enjoy an impressive panorama of the downtown skyline, the riverfront and the Gateway Arch.  

The drink menu is simple, comprehensive and delivered quickly by a tableside staff who pamper without being too aggressive. Accordingly, don’t be surprised at the East Coast prices for even the cheapest options ($6 for a Budweiser). Draft options start at $7 and include Peroni, Schlafly Pale Ale and Hoegaarden. If a martini doesn’t suit your palate, take your pick from a fine list of decadent cocktails like the Citronade (Absolut Citron, lemoncello, lemon sour, sparkling wine). There’s also a decent selection of 10 or so scotches ranging from $11 to $40 a dram. If there’s any trouble making a choice, do yourself a favor and ask for the Oban 14 year ($15) – the flavors are enough to convert the most ardent of Scotch-haters.  

For a prime seat outside, your best bet is to synchronize your arrival with sunset. Sit back and sip it in. After dark, the terrace takes on the air of a torch-lit festival of indulgence. On a warm night, Cielo is an ideal date spot or a pre-/post-party spot for groups who don’t mind dipping a little deeper into their wallets for a higher-end experience. And though I won’t be making a habit of it, I’ll definitely be back. That martini keeps calling my name.

Check it: The swankiest patio in the city with a phenomenal view of the downtown skyline.
Hipster or Hoosier: Well-dressed couples, chic social climbers, flirty hair-flippers and the men that love them, serious cocktail connoisseurs.
Suds or ’Tinis: Start with one of the top-shelf martinis before sampling a cold import bottle.
Where: Cielo Sky Terrace at The Four Seasons Hotel, Eighth Floor, 999 N. Second St., St. Louis, 314.881.5800
When: Mon. to Thu. – 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri. and Sat. – 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sun. – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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DATE: 09/01/2009 01:29PM    POSTED BY: palankl
Umm, by "East coast prices" I think you mean "NY prices"- that is the city, not the state. I have bought drinks up and down the east coast and even in Boston or Philly, a $6 Budweiser would be a very high price.

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