Bartender Tony Saputo will helm The Midwestern bar downtown

Veteran barman Tony Saputo is heading downtown to take care of the “drink” portion of upcoming Midwestern Meat & Drink.

As Sauce reported last year, chef Ben Welch, who until recently operated Maryland Heights barbecue hotspot Big Baby Q, will open The Midwestern in early March at 900 Spruce St. downtown.

Saputo, who most recently filled the general manager and beverage manager roles at The Benevolent King, has made a name for himself around town with stints behind the bar at Eclipse, Layla and Atomic Cowboy. He said the new gig will allow him to spend more time with his growing family and represent The Lou to downtown visitors.

“A lot of people come to St. Louis and the only thing they experience is the ballpark,” he said. “[The Midwestern] gives me a chance to be a better ambassador for the city and puts me in front of more people.”

Saputo said the initial cocktail list will include approximately 12 drinks, half of which will be takes on classics. Look for a Manhattan of the Month as well, Saputo said, adding there may be a calendar or book put out at the end of the year with the previous 12 months’ Manhattan recipes.

Saputo also plans on offering some solid wine selections, plus 12 beers on draft and another 40 or so brews in cans.

“There will be some heavy hitters, as well as some more esoteric beers,” he said.

Saputo said The Midwestern is scheduled to open by Saturday, March 2 in time for Mardi Gras with a grand opening to follow sometime in April.

Matt Sorrell is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.