Review: Brennan's Work & Leisure in Midtown
Brennan’s Work & Leisure at 3015 Locust St., in Midtown is the latest coworking space in St. Louis, but you don’t have to be a member to enjoy the hip surroundings and expertly crafted cocktails and snacks served at the bar during evening hours.
Fans of Brennan’s in the Central West End will be happy to discover a similar attention to quality in the ambiance, drinks and food. The vibe is a relaxed, updated spin on midcentury modern, beginning with large windows facing Locust Street that evoke Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” painting. Warm, brown leather bar stools, a blond wood ceiling and the elegant bar feel vintage, while exposed brick, clean lines and crisp black-and-white accents make the space thoroughly modern.
The bar area is small, with only a few tables and less than a dozen stools. It doesn’t feel cramped, however, thanks to the windows and an open-concept layout that flows into the coworking space in the back, where workers linger after hours.
Once 4:30 p.m. hits, bar patrons are free to join them. This isn’t very clear when you walk in – I visited twice without realizing (or anyone mentioning) that I could go back and, if there’s a large private event, you may not be able to roam around after all.
As lovely as the front bar is, you’ll want to take your cocktail to the coworking space to play bocce ball and shuffleboard or hang out in the record room, where you can spin dozens of artists, from Fleetwood Mac to Alabama Shakes. The feel in back is more like someone’s cool city loft, and there’s a lot more room to accommodate larger crowds.
There’s a general feeling of ease at Brennan’s Work & Leisure. The bartenders play a big role, evoking easy confidence in their craft and occasionally chatting you up as you sip a drink. The soundtrack helps too, with the likes of the Avett Brothers, the Shines and Velvet Underground adding a big dose of chill.
Of course, the drinks help you slip into a leisure state of mind too. The watermelon mezcal paloma is perfect for hot, humid nights. The addition of watermelon makes it surprisingly refreshing and mellow, and it plays nicely with the smoky mezcal and spicy salt lining the rim of the glass.
The smooth, spicy bourbon-based Don’t Worry About It cocktail should appeal even to those who don’t like bourbon, with ginger liqueur and lemon taking the edge off. I also liked the Black Manhattan, made with rye whiskey, bitters and Averna, a caramelly and bitter Sicilian liqueur, served on the rocks. The impossibly smooth drink could easily get you into trouble – perfect if you need extra assistance leaving workday worries behind.
The menu includes a few low- and no-alcohol options, a welcome trend for anyone who likes the taste of a craft cocktail but not necessarily the buzz. One low-ABV option is the seasonal shrub, most recently strawberry-basil, mixed with lemon, soda water and either gin or vodka. This was slightly on the sweet side, but still refreshing. There is also a curated list of beer and wines, including some sparkling options.
The food is as appealing as the drinks, despite the menu currently being in flux as the team revamps its offerings. The chips and dip are great – salty chips and creamy white bean dip laced with zippy romesco are the perfect accompaniment to any cocktail. It remains to be seen whether the 12:48 Sliders, dressed up with cheese, bacon and a garlic-herb-shallot cream, will stay on the menu, but I hope they do.
Brennan’s Work & Leisure feels firmly in the “leisure” camp, and luckily you don’t have to work there to experience it. The bar is relaxed and hip (but not overly so) with great drinks and food along with fun games to keep you entertained.
Stephanie Zeilenga is a critic for Sauce Magazine.