Sauce Magazine – First Look: Saturn Lounge on Cherokee Street in St. Louis
First Look: Saturn Lounge on Cherokee Street in St. Louis
Saturn Lounge is a unique new entry on Cherokee Street, equal parts cocktail bar and listening lounge. The bar, which is co-owned by KDHX DJ Doug Morgan, is located at 1915 Cherokee St. in South City.
The Saturn Lounge is housed in an attractive free-standing building set back a bit from the street, allowing for a street-side patio, rare among nearby venues. The bar’s charming interior is the result of a two-and-a-half-year rehab, with attention to detail evident in many design features, from the lighting and furnishings to the mix of artwork art. “We probably looked at 300 lights before settling on these,” Morgan said. The entire site has an interior capacity of 49 people, with five cabins in the forward saloon and 10 stools at the bar. Larger groups can sit in the back room, centered around a large sofa.
Some eagle-eyed patrons might recognize the main bar, which was salvaged from the old Balaban’s in the Central West End. “My partner was walking down the street when they were demonstrating the place, and he worked there as a bus boy 30 years ago,” Morgan said. “They said, ‘If you can get it out of here, it’s up to you. He sawed it off, then we put it back together. The back room cabins were also salvaged from Balaban when it closed.
Morgan has been a DJ on KDHX for 32 years, along with former co-owners of bars such as Boogaloo and the now closed Delmar Restaurant & Lounge. His show, The Record Sto’, airs from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays. Morgan said his idea for a listening lounge was partly inspired by the Kissaten culture that flourished in Japan in the aftermath of World War II. Kissaten were nominally teahouses, but are often closely associated with coffee in Japan. Before record players were a common household item, the local kissaten was the place to go to listen to new music, including overseas imports. “There was usually a guy in there pouring tea or maybe whiskey and playing records,” Morgan said.
At the Saturn Lounge, Morgan is that guy who “reads the mood” to lead guests on a distinct and eclectic musical adventure. Morgan is happy to discuss music with customers, but reserves the right to refuse requests. “It’s not a jukebox,” he said. Instrumental to the vision is a crystal-clear audio system, whose bass rumbles pleasantly without drowning out the conversation. “You go to a lot of places and maybe there’s good music, maybe not, but whatever music is playing, it tends to be mostly in the background, just wallpaper , or it’s too strong,” he said. “Good quality sound doesn’t have to be so loud.”
Even in the early days of the bar, the cocktail menu evolved based on customer feedback. Morgan said current favorites include Violet Fizz (gin, violet liqueur, simple syrup and soda) and Bolero (pineapple-jalapeno tequila, mezcal, cilantro liqueur and pineapple), plus an off-menu ginger mojito. . A total of seven cocktails are listed on the menu, but any standard cocktail is available on request. The bar also offers eight wines by the glass, a figure that Morgan says is set to rise. A wide selection of draft, canned, and bottled beers is dominated by local beers, and the non-alcoholic beverage list includes NA beers and alcohol alternatives as well as Sump cold ale.
Food will be added to Saturn Lounge offerings “hopefully within six months,” Morgan said. The kitchen will be located in an adjacent building and Morgan said he is considering a menu that will focus on small plates. “A bit upscale, but approachable,” he said.
Saturn Lounge opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday with a closing time depending on the crowd. “On weekdays there have been nights at 10 p.m. where the place empties out, but if there are still people hanging around, we will stay open,” Morgan said.