Sips in the City brings happy hour to Schnucks

| Managing Editor

Culinaria, an upscale version of Schnucks in downtown St. Louis, offers a monthly happy hour with appetizers and two drinks. A $5 charitable donation is suggested for attendees.

Culinaria, an upscale version of Schnucks in downtown St. Louis, offers a monthly happy hour with appetizers and two drinks. A $5 charitable donation is suggested for attendees.

As Wash. U. students stock up on cases of Natty Light at the Schnucks on Clayton Road, others sip on pinot noir and tasty Belgian beers at Culinaria, an upscale version of Schnucks located in downtown St. Louis.

The event is Sips in the City, a happy hour collaboration between Culinaria, ALIVE Magazine and Anheuser-Busch that usually takes place on the last Friday of the month. The event was created this June.

All of the proceeds go to a different local charity each month, usually one based downtown. The September event benefited Discovering Options, an organization that provides mentoring to students at risk for drug use or other destructive behaviors in St. Louis public schools.

For a suggested $5 donation to the monthly charity, you get all-you-can-eat appetizers (think cheese, crackers, fruit and veggie platters) and two drinks. For now, Anheuser-Busch is offering Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe as the beer options, and the wine choices rotate monthly.

Jill Schroeder, Marketing Communications Coordinator for ALIVE Magazine, explained that the event was created in order to encourage downtown culture.

“There’s so much going on down here, there’s so many people,” Schroeder said. “But there’s never really a chance for everyone to kind of come together on a regular basis. There are always events downtown, but there’s not anything consistently happening throughout the year.”

Sips in the City takes place in the wine bar on the upper level of Culinaria, where you can purchase everything from Franzia to Veuve Clicquot. It stands to reason that when people first hear about the event, many are a bit confused by the concept of happy hour in a grocery store. But once they come and see the space, they realize that Culinaria is not, as Schroeder puts it, “a typical grocery store.”

In addition to shelves upon shelves of wine, the upstairs of Culinaria features a bar and a sizable seating area that, when empty, evokes more of a cafeteria feel than that of a swanky wine bar. But once the scene is set for Sips in the City, you’d never know the difference.

Culinaria organizes the entertainment, which may feature anyone from a guitar-strumming singer-songwriter to a Culinaria employee belting out Kelly Clarkson. Don’t expect to focus too much on the music, though—the event can get pretty loud with a crowd that has consistently hovered around 100 guests since its inception in June.

Schroeder added that Sips in the City tends to bring in a more diverse crowd than you typically see at any single location in St. Louis—consisting of those who work in the area, supporters of the charity and people who just enjoy a good happy hour.

Washington University senior Jessica Spraos, who attended the September Sips, said that although she enjoyed herself at the event, it could be improved.

“I think it’s a great idea, and it’s definitely something that can add to the St. Louis social scene,” Spraos said. “But because of the way the space was organized, it was difficult to interact with people you didn’t already know. There was no incentive to mingle. Hopefully they can encourage more of that in the future.”

Culinaria is located at the corner of Ninth Street and Olive Street, two blocks from the Eigth and Pine MetroLink station. For more information about Sips in the City, visit the calendar section of ALIVE magazine at www.alivemag.com.

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