Posted On: 07/01/2007
Even the most exquisite fine-dining restaurant has a limited number of sensory-pleasing dishes and libations to keep patrons around for more than three hours. Similarly, even the most skilled Lothario has a limited number of saccharine compliments and charming yarns to woo his date into a second rendezvous. Hence, the perfect nightcap locale bridges both of the aforementioned limitations, ending the night proper for those looking for an uplifting change of scenery, and ending the date proper for those wanting a deal-sealer. In St. Louis, there is no better spot for an uplifting/deal-sealing nightcap than Baileys’ Chocolate Bar.
Proof of uplifting: “We have a lot of regulars who come in for their Baileys’ martini, for one drink, and then head home,” said proprietor David Bailey. Proof of deal-sealing: “We’ve had several people get engaged here,” said Bailey. “Beyond that, we’ve had several people have their first date here and now they’re married.”
OK, but why is the Chocolate Bar so great for a nightcap? Three reasons, as described by Bailey and obviously agreed upon by Sauce readers: quality of drinks, atmosphere and service.
For drinks, this place genuinely offers something for all. The 25 martinis are easily some of the best in the city. “We use only the finest chocolate vodka, chocolate liqueurs, espresso liqueurs, real fruit liqueurs, ice creams and sorbets to make our martinis,” said Bailey. Sure, they’re mostly sweet and chocolaty, but they’re also strong like bull.
The beer list is robust with 99 selections – sweet jebus, 99 beers: wheats, pales, ambers, bitters, bocks, porters, stouts and more. Nearly all the grape varietals are represented on the by-the-glass wine list. (Yes, you can buy a bottle, but this is the favorite nightcap category. Who are you? W.C. Fields?) There are more than 25 super-top-shelf spirits (scotch, tequila and rum) so good they don’t need a mixer. And lastly, if you’re driving or trying to bring back temperance, the drink menu has a whole page of delicious N.A.s – hot chocolate, shake, float, coffee and espresso.
For atmosphere, Bailey said it best: “We purposely made the entire place sexy.” (Prince would love it.) Here, it’s like you’re living inside one of the desserts. The bar side is seemingly appointed in huge chunks and swooping shavings of dark chocolate. The dining room side’s red walls channel strawberries and cherries; the flowing drapes, whipped cream. The lighting is dim and flattering. Again, Bailey said it best: “Everyone looks good at the Chocolate Bar.”
While nearly all ages dot the crowd, patrons –
mostly 21 to 40 – grow younger as the night grows older. Expect to see first dates, prom parties, groups of ladies and regulars. All pay little attention to their fellow patrons or the bar’s music and instead stare lustfully at their cocktail, dessert or date.
Obviously, STL loves sexy, as on almost every weekend night, there’s a line in front of the hostess and a wait for a table. The fact that a bar has a hostess, let alone a knowledgeable, dedicated wait staff that knows more than how to flirt with the bar-back and yell for more Bud Light bottles, shows that service is taken seriously. For my nightcap, I like being waited on hand and foot and getting counsel on what to drink. Baileys’ counsels and waits. With class.
The straight 411 …
For an uplifting/deal-sealing martini or beer nightcap, head to Baileys’ Chocolate Bar.
Anightcap is one of the best parts of an evening out. A nightcap at Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, followed by one of its decadent desserts, is just icing on the proverbial cake.
Owner David Bailey accidentally stumbled on the idea of opening it one night when he was dining across the way and heard that the space would soon be available. It was formerly The Chocolate Bar, and Bailey decided to keep the original name and simply add his moniker. This name often leads to confusion with Baileys the booze, but adding an apostrophe at the end takes the bar from corporate to cool.
Nightcaps, including those made with Baileys, aren’t hard to come by here, considering the drink menu is 10 pages long. Drinks range from a dreamy list of chocolate concoctions and dessert wines to beers on tap and tequila. And at Baileys’ you can have your cake and drink it, too. Chocolate martinis are served hot or cold and come in 14 flavors, including Thin Mint and a newly introduced black licorice.
You would be hard-pressed not to find something you like to drink at Baileys’ – as long as you are not looking for an Anheuser-Busch product, that is. But beer drinkers, Bailey wants to make sure you have lots to choose from – he just increased the number of beers to 99.
But a visit isn’t complete without a selection from the dessert list. I’m a sucker for Baileys’ Chocolate Brownie. It is a sinfully delicious fudge brownie that’s served warm and topped with – what else? – Baileys Ice Cream and caramel sauce.
And with offerings such as the Lovers’ Plate, which is filled with aphrodisiac tastings for two, it should come as no surprise that Sauce readers also voted Baileys’ Chocolate Bar their favorite place for a first date. Bailey thinks he knows why it is a hot spot for romantic rendezvous: “We have everything you need for a first date: chocolate, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.”
The best part about nightcaps and first dates at Baileys’ is that you don’t have to limit your outings to the typical weekend night. The Chocolate Bar is open until 1 a.m. every night except Sunday, when it closes at 10 p.m. Hip twenty- and thirtysomethings surround the bar every night of the week, sipping their cocktails and conversing about the latest happenings. The environment is conducive to everything fabulous, with its curved, chocolate shaving-looking wood panels, nude pictures painted with chocolate syrup and blood-red walls.
The only downside to having a nightcap at Baileys’ is that it’s tough to have just one drink and head home. The bar is so enveloping that you usually have to remove yourself from your chocolate-induced coma when the closing lights go on, rather than drink your solitary single-malt scotch and leave.
The straight 411 …
Mmmm … chocolate. Mmmm … nightcap. Mmmm … chocolate nightcap.
Want to comment on this article? Login or sign up on Sauce.