St. Louis’ South Grand district has seen its fair share of redevelopment over the past decade or so, making dive bar CBGB all the more impressive for resisting the flow of “progress” aimed in its general direction. Just as its similarly named (and now defunct) New York City cousin, St. Louis’ CBGB is associated with a live music scene that makes use of the compact space to great a vibrant, communal vibe during the shows that take place in the dive bar’s front window. Outside, little exists to suggest that a bar even exists here. There is no massive neon sign but rather a small piece the large front window inscribed with the name of the bar in addition to spray paint that adorns the front door.
The space has been exposed in more ways than one inside, brick walls and hanging beams used as backdrop to contemporary artwork, faded framed photos and the occasional pocket of graffiti. The large windows at the front of the space open up to the street when the weather allows, making expanded use of the short porch in front dotted with picnic tables and plastic furniture. In addition to live music, and sometimes directly after a show has ended, midnight trivia offers a chance to win back a few drinks for the combined team to cap the night.
CBGB is cash only in long St. Louis dive bar tradition, noteworthy given the presence of the gin bucket, one of the bar’s signature drink offerings. The concoction arrives just as it sounds, a cauldron of gin with an assorted set of mixers potent enough to forget a full night’s dive bar activities.