The Bull Tadpole

Posted: January 17, 2010 in Dive Bar, STL: Holly Hills
Tags: , ,

For those of you following me on twitter, you know I’m a little bit behind on this post. We went on Friday and I’m just now getting this one. What can I say? It’s been a bit of a busy weekend. So, apology over, and let’s get down to it!

I first discovered this South St. Louis gem about 5 months ago. The wife and I were finishing up taking photos of the St. Louis neighborhood signs and we just saw this bar and I decided right then and there that the 13 Blog was going to make a visit. I handed her the BlackBerry and said

take a picture so I won’t forget it. Well, I did, but after I’d rediscovered it when going through a thread on the stltoday.com forum that Joe Bonwich hosts. That was when the decision was reached. What was great about this night, is that I was with a fellow blogger friend on our first bar outing together. My buddy writes for madolive.com and also runs urbanbacon.com, which is still in its infancy.  I recommend reading and follow him on twitter as well.

Now that I’ve pimped up my buddy, let’s get on the real show here.  This place was actually really great.  I have to say the St. Louis sports mural on the wall about killed me.  When I saw this, I knew that this was a really old bar.  I mean, St. Louis Steamers and the Big Red??  What made this great was that it’s so well maintained.  It looks like it was painted last week.  The Blues logo there is also from the early 80’s.  I’d wager this was painted around 1983 at the height of the Steamers’ popularity due to that fact. When was the last time you saw Steamers anything at any place other than one of their games.  Just awesome.

So, I clicked the picture, and for the first time since Riverside Cafe, the bartender noticed my photo taking.  At which point I lied.  So I took the rest of my shots on the sly from there on out.  After we sat down at the bar, we ordered up our first round, bourbon and coke for me.  It came and I handed her a fiver.  She took it and walked away.  It was really hard to tip this woman if I’m being honest.  So, I had to make up for those early rounds later in the night.  I think it evened out.

My bourbon and coke was only $2.50.  OK, that’s right in line with what a dive bar should charge for drinks.  On top of that, the best bourbon they had was Jim Beam, so that’s under Wild Turkey, so they’re right in line as to what a dive should be.  I did notice that there was a lot of light in the bar and no music playing.  These are strikes.  However couple that with the broken window in the front door and the welcoming feeling of the place, we can forgive it and call the Bull Tadpole a dive bar, not a faux dive.

The bourbon and coke was a bit weak.  On my next round, I switched from my old friend Old Crow to DN 1843, which is a 100 Proof bourbon.  I thought this would give me a better kick.  This turned out to not be the case.  I wasn’t looking to get hammered or anything, but I just needed a bit more of the bourbon.  So, on my next round, I asked for a Bushmill Irish Whiskey on the rocks.  Now, here’s where things get awesome.

It was only $2.50.  It wasn’t a giant pour, but it was a goodly amount, especially for that price.  Remember, no high quality bourbon, so I couldn’t get a bourbon on the rocks.  All of a sudden, we were in business.

So, I was sampling their whiskey selection for the rest of the night until we’d settled on Crown Royal on the rocks.

One of the things about this place that really caught my eye was their bar.  It wasn’t wood, but ceramic tiles.  The front of it was padded.  I was confused.

The clientele was exactly what I’d expect out of this place.  Mostly middle aged to retired age local folks.  I’d expect my mother to come popping in at any time really.  She’s actually the reason as to where my love of dive bars comes from, but we’ll get into that another day.  I could tell that the crowd we were seeing was the usual crowd.  Each time somebody who walked in, that wasn’t us, there would be a yell of “There he is!” “Where have you been?” etc.  This was actually the bartender’s first night back in a month.  She had been gone and was thrilled to be back.  She engaged us quite a few times and she was really funny.

They had a few TVs and I think this would be a good place to check out a game over a few beers or a few whiskeys.  No HD or flatscreens though.  Remember, it’s an old school dive.  I did hear the bartender saying, she’d love to watch some hockey, but the Blues didn’t play till Saturday.  Right there for me, is a great thing.  Many places you have to ask, fight, claw, and beg to get the Blues on the telly.

When I consider the clientele, the bartender, the prices, the feelings of this bar, I wish it were closer to my house.  This is the only place I’ve been to where you can get good whiskey for the same price as a rail bourbon and coke.  However, I think I could go a little bit nutty there left to my own devices, so I’d need a DD for here.  I really cannot recommend this place enough and I feel like this is a good place to check out and have a pint or a jigger.

the 13 Blog’s links: email, twitter, facebook, formspring.

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