When Oxford, Mississippi’s Emily Blount was thinking about opening a restaurant, she knew just where to turn for help: her sister- in-law and best friend, pastry chef Joie Blount. Together with beverage pro Joseph Stinchcomb, they opened Saint Leo on the city’s square in 2016—to big raves. The warm vibe and stellar wood-fired pizzas were a welcome reprieve from the neighborhood’s casual digs catering to the college crowd.
The next three years brought two James Beard nods, including one for outstanding bar program. It wasn’t long before they realized their potential was bigger than the tiny space could accommodate and set their sights on a sister cocktail bar. Opened in March, the Saint Leo Lounge is just a few blocks away and strikes the balance between fun and sophisticated: A hexagonal bar puts mixologists at center stage, theater-in-the-round style, while eighteen disco balls bring the funk to the dance floor. “The vibe is like ’90s R&B, sexy but you can bop to it,” Stinchcomb says. And with that decade making its comeback, he crafted a coffee-rum throwback just sweet enough for a grown-up Halloween treat.