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Oldest Bar in Missouri: The Anvil, Ste. Genevieve

The Anvil is located in historical downtown Ste. Genevieve.

The awning and building feel like home.

Historical downtown St. Genevieve is one of the cooler places that we’ve visited on the Bars & Pars Quest.

Ste. Genevieve was settled in the early 1700s by the French and is Missouri’s oldest town. What’s cool about it today is the much of the downtown core is preserved from the 1700s and 1800s. This includes many old buildings, narrow streets, and fenced or walled gardens.

Right in the middle of it all is the Anvil Restaurant & Saloon. Set in a brick building built in about 1850, the Anvil has a verified history stretching back to 1855 serving up drinks for the local population. In fact, to this day, there have been only five owners of the saloon. And the original Vaeth family owned it up until the late 1970s.

Wood, wood, and more wood. Exposed brick walls. Really cool place.

The interior of the Anvil takes you back in time to 1855. Exposed brick structural walls, polished but worn maple floors, wood support beams, and period-looking French-style wallpaper greet you when you walk in the door. The establishment isn’t terribly large, but there is additional seating upstairs.

The bar and bar back are sturdy and solid. And, perhaps most importantly, original. They weren’t always intended to end up at the Anvil. But when the steamboat that was transporting them up the Mississippi in 1855 got stranded on a sand bar right by Ste. Genevieve, old Joe Vaeth saw an opportunity to procure it for the good people of the town. He obtained it and had it carried by oxcart to the Anvil, where it has been ever since.

Located in the upstairs dining room, this 1855 bar and bar back are used for special occasions or when the place is really busy.

However, to see this old bar and bar back you have to go… upstairs. At some point, the owners decided to move the old bar upstairs and install a new one downstairs in the main bar area. Evidently, the Anvil gets pretty busy at times and they operate both bars simultaneously.

The Anvil prides itself on its onion rings and they may be great. But we feel the rest of their menu is a little underrated, especially if you’re not used to seeing specialties such as liver dumplings, breaded and fried gizzards, and liver and onions on the menu. Of course, they do have All-American favorites on there too, so everyone can find something good to eat.

The Anvil menu’s cover has a short history of the saloon on it.

I ended up taking the plunge and ordered the liver dumplings as an appetizer. Chopped small and served with gravy, it was actually amazing outstanding! So go ahead and try something new when you visit the Anvil. You may just be pleasantly surprised.

Paddy Malone’s of Jefferson City gets on the honorable mention list.

Paddy Malone’s has been the name of this old bar since about 2000. Before that, it went by many names but has been in continuous operation since 1870. The old Boulevard sign from the 1980s has strangely never been taken down.

Paddy Malone’s Irish Pub claims to be the oldest continuously operating pub in the state. The owner may be playing with words here but we definitely do not think it has a credible claim to be the oldest bar in the state since the Anvil clearly goes back to 1855. Nevertheless, Paddy Malone’s has a long, documented history stretching back to 1870 (or even 1863) that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Originally on the far west side of town, it was the last opportunity for travelers to get a drink before traveling in that direction. Appropriately named the West End Saloon in those days, it used to have one of those typically Western second-story decks protruding over the front with wooden support beams.

With a number of Irish draughts on tap, and dad joke’s on the blackboard behind the bar, Paddy Malone’s continues the former West End Saloon’s tradition of serving up drinks since 1870.

Over the years, it changed ownership and names multiple times but appears to have been in continuous operation. Even during Prohibition, there are records that indicate that local lawmen raided the joint and found the operators to be serving liquor.

Today, still set in the original two-story brick building, it’s just wide enough on the inside to fit a few tables and the bar. The trappings are all modern, including the custom branded bar, and the flavor is all Irish. This includes about half the drafts (or draughts as they call them), including your Irish favorites Guinness, Smithwick’s, and Kilkenny.

Not much room inside here for gunfights. We’re sure that fistfights ended up in full-blown brawls back in the day.