narwhal's crafted urban ice in midtown photo by dave moore

Reviews: Narwhal’s in Midtown

If there’s a better way to while away a warm Saturday night than perched on a patio chair with a boozed-up frozen concoction, I don’t care what it is. Relaxation to the extreme is the scene at Narwhal’s Crafted Urban Ice, Midtown’s new upscale frozen cocktail bar. Here are a few reasons why it’s become an instant hit among local urban professionals and the university crowd.

The Booze Calling these gorgeous drinks slushies is an affront to their excellence. The slow-sipping Bourbon Slush and Black N’ Stormy frozen cocktails were as dangerously smooth as they were potent. Other winners included the Turbo Mojito, made with rum, lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber and mint, and the Pineapple Cilantro Margarita, a clever mix of gold and silver tequilas with pineapple, triple sec, cilantro simple syrup and lime juice, topped with fresh cilantro and lime. If there’s a drink to mentally put you on the beach, this is it. First-timers are well advised to partake in the sample board, Flight of the Narwhal, which provides your choice of three more-than-sufficient 7-ounce pours from the dozen or so options for $14. One simply isn’t enough. Samples are available by request, and servers are happy to help you make your selection. There’s also a full bar for more traditional drinkers, which features a typical draft selection of local brews, a small offering of bottled cocktails and even some barrel-aged drinks like the fantastic rye Manhattan, which utilizes RallyPoint Rye slow-aged in oak barrels with Carpano Antica vermouth and Angostura bitters.

narwhal’s barrel-aged rye manhattan // photo by dave moore

The Crowd Make no mistake: Narwhal’s is primarily a college bar. Just a stone’s throw from Saint Louis University on the formerly dilapidated, now up-and-coming corner of Laclede and Vandeventer avenues, it’s a popular watering hole for a younger demographic looking to embrace quality over quantity – meaning, you won’t see a lot of power drinkers or frat brothers downing shots of Jäger or SoCo and lime. Instead, casually clad groups of friends chill out on the back patio, which is already packed by 3 p.m. on a Saturday. But the main bar is likewise packed with middle-aged couples and friends, some local professional types in suits and ties. It’s a flip-flops and T-shirt type of place for sure, but also a great spot for an unconventional first date or parlay with old buddies.

the bar at narwhal's // photo by dave moore

The Space A nautical theme probably isn’t what you’d expect at a college bar in the Midwest. But somehow Narwhal’s makes the maritime decor work. The result is a clean, slick, imposing space awash in rich blues and turquoise with distressed beach planks, a shining mosaic backsplash and swooping nautical ropes hanging from the ceiling. The main bar houses a long row of frozen drink machines adjacent to a small selection of liquor bottles. The gorgeous back patio could easily have been ripped from a Cape Cod beachside tavern. There’s a mass of tall wooden benches and plastic chairs with multiple gathering spots – several of which perch next to flat-screen TVs, ideal for kicking back and enjoying a summer ballgame. An additional lounge with deep, curved leather couches and several long high-top tables serves as ample space for the overflow crowd.

Anyone familiar with the movie “Elf” knows that narwhal is actually the name of an arctic whale with a massive horn-like tusk protruding from its upper jaw. It’s commonly referred to as the unicorn of the sea. Bizarre and one-of-kind, it’s a fitting mascot for this exceptional, offbeat watering hole. While the joint may be kooky, I can’t recall another with so much energy and cheer. It’s the addition Midtown has needed for some time.

Narwhal’s Crafted Urban
Ice, 3906 Laclede
Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.8388,