the interior of tiny bar on locust street photo by jonathan gayman

Review: Tiny Bar

Late on a Friday night downtown, laughter pours out of Tiny Bar on Locust Street. Actually, it’s not that late, since the bitty new cocktail bar closes at 10 p.m. even on weekends. But a raucous happy-hour crowd carries on into evening, stiff cocktails and craft beers in hand, proving that bigger is not always better.

It’s not impossible to find an empty seat at Tiny Bar, but it’s highly unlikely. This is what the PR firm Elasticity counted on, dreaming up this wonderfully unconventional use for a 250-square-foot space in its lobby. The team behind Elasticity and the building’s owner transformed the minuscule room, stocked it with high-end hooch and let it loose on the public in late May. Since then, it’s been building a bit of buzz – for good reason.

made with e.h. taylor bourbon and whiskey barrel-aged bitters, there’s nothing small about the lower manhattan’s flavor. // photo by jonathan gayman

Cocktails are the intentional draw. Tiny Bar hit the ground running with an inspired drink menu helped out by Planter’s House co-owner Ted Charack. The two-page menu is short, sweet and focused on crowd-pleasers rather than haphazard innovation: There’s nothing weird or watered down. Patrons can choose from original cocktails like The 1∕8th (a deliciously bittersweet rum-based cocktail) and house takes on various classics like the Marteenee (made with Small’s Gin), the Lower Manhattan (made with barrel-aged bitters) and the Yellow Brick Road (an Ocho tequila margarita laced with jalapeno honey). The seven standard cocktails are $10 a pop, though vertically challenged guests drink cheaper, as anyone shorter than 5 feet gets a 25-percent discount. While certainly big on flavor, these relatively small drinks are slowly mixed with care and served up for sipping.

If you must do a shot, pair it with a pour from local and regional breweries including Civil Life, 4 Hands, Schlafly, 2nd Shift, Urban Chestnut and Griesedieck Brothers, all on five rotating taps. Tiny Bar likewise offers the littlest rotating selection of white, red, rosé and sparkling wines. All drinks are available in tall or short pours. There is no food menu, but you can bring in carryout if you’re hungry.

Like its drinks, Tiny Bar’s decor is economical and smart. An impressive amount is packed into the space with a seamless contemporary-meets-traditional style. A lounge area with a brown leather and crushed orange velvet couch and two cushy matching chairs backs up to a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Locust. The bar’s apparent patron saint, Eddie Gaedel (the shortest player in the history of professional baseball who pinch-hit for the St. Louis Browns in 1951), makes an appearance on a massive hand-painted mural taking up much of the limited wall space.

bartender ashley lewis serves a 1∕8th cocktail, a deliciously bittersweet mixture of el dorado rum, velvet falernum, orange curaçao, pineapple syrup, grenadine, lime and bitters. // photo by jonathan gayman

Be prepared to stand unless you’re willing to sit on laps. Only 10 seats are available with a mere three stools at the minimalist high-glossed hardwood and steel bar. This is decked out with the gorgeous tap station and two shelves of high-end booze.

Tiny Bar fills up with young professionals who probably work nearby, downtown loft-dweller types and cocktail groupies. Voices are unavoidably loud in the tight space, almost entirely drowning out the hint of modern alternative rock music and lending a vivacious and intimate air to the place. Elbow to elbow, don’t be surprised to be handing back drinks from the bar and passing up cash from the strangers behind you.

Tiny Bar exists as a peculiar and stylish petite urban oasis. Perhaps a dime a dozen in bigger cities, in St. Louis, Tiny Bar is a charming little novelty – the kind we could use more of in the city proper. While you may have to stand, it’s definitely worth dropping in for a quick drink before a dinner downtown or a great pregame spot before a night out on neighboring Washington Avenue.

Tiny Bar
1008 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.478.9833