the silver ballroom photo by ashley gieseking

Review: The Silver Ballroom in St. Louis

Pinball, booze and punk rock all have it out for a spot center stage at The Silver Ballroom, a new drinkery in the Bevo neighborhood that is fast becoming something of an underground sensation.

Tucked away on a nondescript part of Morganford Road, The Silver Ballroom was hard to spot on an initial visit. The Ballroom’s welcoming committee, a crew of hard drinkers and a surly bartender, immediately tried to size up the new arrival ambling into their rock ’n’ roll clubhouse wearing a Polo shirt and chirping on a cell phone. Noticing all the stares, I motioned to the bartender, ordered a straight whiskey, fired up a smoke and settled in. By the time I was on my second round, I felt at home. It’s hard not to; though it’s rough at first, the Ballroom quickly embraces all comers. 

Divided into two sections – arcade and barroom – the Ballroom houses an impressive bar, fully stocked and plastered with local concert and music venue posters. A dark space, the barroom is surrounded by imposing red walls above a black floor dotted with flecks of glitter, upon which rest a few secluded booths and a number of high-top tables for friends to lean against and rest their tall cans of Stag. The jukebox, the center of the action, blasts out punk rock tunes that fill the bar and seep into the adjacent arcade, where the cool kids sip their PBRs and pump quarters into wonderfully vintage and campy pinball machines such as Apollo 13, Elvis, Dr. Dude and Champion Pub. Above the line of 10 or so machines, Jack Daniels bottle lights hang from the ceiling, bathed in cigarette smoke that emanates in steady streams from randomly placed ashtrays. The Ballroom’s playful mix of old-school arcade and off-color roadhouse makes every beer taste as good as those you used to snag out of your parents’ fridge. The clientele, much like the décor, is an enjoyable mix of hard drinkers, hard rockers, hipsters, couples, posers and, ahem, the occasional prepster.

the silver ballroom’s bar, dubbed the retox center // photo by ashley gieseking

The Silver Ballroom’s bar, dubbed the Retox Center, according to its sign, houses a variety of cheap (and I do mean cheap) drink options to please all palates. Surprisingly, this is much more than the beer-’n’-shot-type place that it appears. The specials board boasts a number of original cocktails for around $5: the Electric Cat Piss, the Sucker Punch, the Slutbucket, along with other innovative gems such as a cherry-infused Martini that comes in a Pop Rocks-rimmed glass. Sadly, there’s no beer on tap, but in consolation, patrons are welcome to purchase 24-ounce tall boy cans of PBR, Natty Light, Miller High Life, Stag and Busch for only $3. High rollers can partake of bottles of New Castle, Guinness, Woodchuck cider or Hoegaarden for $4. Brews are served ice-cold, and service is prompt, regardless of a crowd that increases steadily as the night progresses.

In addition to booze, the Ballroom offers an impressive but small bar menu featuring products from local G&W Bavarian-Style Sausage Co.: fresh sausages, knockwurst and salsiccia – all for around $5.50.

Though still in its infancy, The Silver Ballroom is one of those places that feels immediately established. Moreover, its punk persona is legitimate. This place isn’t trying to be cool. It just is cool. And if you don’t like it, feel free to close your tab, hand over your bar stool and get the hell out.