Review: The Library Annex in St. Louis

Midtown residents and college students have much to be thankful for in The Library Annex, a sharp new saloon on the ground floor of the McGowan Bros.’ Spring Street Loft development located within easy stumbling-home distance of Saint Louis University.

Designed to be a part-time eatery and study space (with free WiFi), The Library Annex transforms after dark into one of the most intelligent-looking and hip bars this writer has encountered in some time. The look is distinct and immediately impressive: Dark wood tables, two handsome bars and wooden archways stuffed with hardcover books combine for a classic-cool design that is essentially a throwback to Ivy League schools of old. But not much reading is getting done. Boasting an array of flat screens, shuffleboard and billiard tables, and an enormous iPod-shaped jukebox exploding with familiar bar favorites, the Annex is a frat boy’s dream (complete with a permanent beer pong table and Natural “Natty” Light on tap). Adjacent to the main bar is a cozy dance floor tucked between private wooden booths and a DJ/band stage (both were empty on all of my visits).

Wanting to get the female perspective on the scene at The Library Annex, I questioned a friend, who described the vibe as pure testosterone. In her words, “Leave your girlfriend at home.” I have to agree. Dark, boisterous and masculine, the Annex is an ideal clubhouse for an afternoon or night out with friends. Accordingly, the bar is a major draw for sports fans on game days, when early drinking overflows into late-night revelry. The clientele is what you’d expect: tipsy undergrads, 20-somethings, frat guys, young professionals (pretty much 35 and under). No dress code to speak of, but on weekend nights, the stools of the Annex are filled with attractive girls dressed to the nines, chirping into their cell phones, downing pints of brew and vying for attention.

The fun details aside, the Annex does have some serious kinks to work out – namely the booze. Here’s my slip for the suggestion box: Management should either advise bar staff to add more alcohol to their drinks or replace said staff entirely with persons who have a clue as to how to achieve an enjoyable alcohol-to-mixer ratio. A general boycott of mixed drinks might remedy this problem. As such, I’d advise sticking with beer and/or straight shots, otherwise you’ll be sipping on water all night; my party was met with utterly worthless drinks on several Friday and Saturday nights. Nothing much to report on drink specials or signature cocktails, neither of which the Annex seems to have yet (hopefully not for long once the bar gets its act together). On the upside, the wait staff and the bartenders were attentive – which works out well if you’re anxious for the arrival of your next watered-down cocktail.

I first caught wind of the Annex on a tour last summer of the upstairs loft development – at that time unfinished and unimpressive. I was quick to dismiss the news that the building would include a bar, which sounded then more like a pathetic little add-on for the residents, a bullet point in a brochure. Happily, I was wrong. The Library Annex is one of those instantly established places that people are immediately drawn to. Most nightclubs and college bars have notoriously short shelf lives, but with its classic ambiance and versatile charm, The Library Annex is on its way to becoming an institution.


Check it: A fully functional beer pong table.         
Hipster or Hoosier: Frat boys, sports fiends, power drinkers, daddy’s girls, pool sharks, preppies.
Suds or ’Tinis: Until further notice, stick with beer and straight alcohol – no mixers.
Where: The Library Annex, 3693 Forest Park Ave.,
St. Louis, 314.652.8484
When: Wed. to Fri. – 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., Sat. and Sun. – 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.