Located at the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Cherokee St. (2926 Cherokee), ‘Ssippi natural wine bar has been ingratiating itself among locals since its opening in early July. The modern yet quaint neighborhood hangout offers a rotating selection of natural wines, cocktails, and a simple menu of snacks, plus a spacious patio in the back.
Co-owners Brogan Drissell and Emily Kostiuk started planning for their concept in late 2019. Then, like many business owners, their plans were put on hold by the Covid-19 pandemic. It took them nearly two years to open ‘Ssippi, but now that the bar is open, things are going well. “It’s been a good mix of neighbors and people from the Central West End and suburbs,” says Drissell.
Drissell’s experience working at a natural wine bar in Los Angeles inspired him to bring the concept to St. Louis. “I love St. Louis, I grew up here and I feel like it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. So I wanted to come back and put something here that I thought was missing.”
Natural winemaking is a production of wine using simple or traditional methods. Drissell generally defines a natural wine as one that has had nothing added, or taken away during production. “Some makers add a little bit of sulfites to the wine to preserve it slightly, but some of the wines we have are 00 which means they’re just grapes, fermented, then bottled.” Natural wines have gained in popularity in recent years, seeing a 17 percent increase in production volume year over year since 2017.
Drissell also wanted a European cafe feel to the space. He was inspired by cafes he’d been to in Europe, where espresso was served during the day before a gradual transition to serving beer and wine at night. He also took inspiration from many bars in Los Angeles, where “you experience lighter, airier feeling,” he says. “I wanted to take advantage of this space with these windows. In the afternoon, the light floods in, so it's kind of in opposition to the typical St. Louis dive bar.” Natural light has no problem finding its way into ‘Ssippi through the several windows on the north and west sides of the building.
‘Sippi has plans to bring music and events into the space soon. The main bar room houses a piano, which will be used for piano nights on Sundays. The bar also recently met with a local DJ to discuss a monthly party. (Keep up with events on the street in Cherokee Street's events calendar.)
‘Ssippi also seeks to be a source for those looking to pick up bottles of natural wine for the home. In a week or two, ‘Ssippi will launch an online store, where you can shop natural wines to be picked up from the shop.
“I want it to feel comfortable for everyone to come in,” says Drissell. “I think a wine bar has a lot of connotations that people come to, but I wanted to make the space feel inviting. Even the way we discuss wine here: If you want to talk about it, you can. You can also just enjoy your drink.”
‘Ssippi is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 5pm to midnight, and Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to midnight. For more information, follow the bar’s instagram account, @ssippi_stl.