The sophisticated drinker has more options for drinking about town with every restaurant opening. This year alone has included more openings than ever. Unfortunately, not every menu touting “craft” cocktails is worth the price of admission. Memorize this handy guide for the best ways to imbibe, whether out and about or at your own bar.
Marvel Bar breaks the mold. Led by Pip Hanson, the cocktails are as intriguing as they are delicious. Whether mixing low-proof spirits with kombucha and fish sauce or steeping smoky scotch with a bit of nori for a taste of what it’s like to kiss the sea, Marvel leads the creative drink boom in Minneapolis. They also make a stunning gin martini, if you’d rather stick to the classics.
Parlour Bar feels like a hipper Cheers from descending the stairs, to the easy, laid-back vibe. It’s a room full of friends you haven’t met yet. Best of all, the friends behind the bar mix up disarming takes on classic cocktails like no one else. The Parlour Old Fashioned is an Autumnal requirement. If you’re looking for nerdy insights on the proper way to mix a boulevardier or prefer a simple sip of a couple of fingers of the great brown stuff, the staff is quick to accommodate. (And get the burger. Trust me on this.)
Eat Street Social was built by bartenders. Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz are part-owners of the restaurant, designed the bar, and also run Bittercube Bitters. Some nights you can even find Kosevich there, the man credited with many of the iconic drinks at Town Talk Diner. The prep time that these guys put into their cocktails includes a mile-long list of tinctures, bitters, syrups, and things I don’t even know what to label them as. The results are like an adult soda fountain, everything they’re pouring tastes of barely contained joy and a cheeky promise of bad behavior.
The New Kids:
Hola Arepa was a food truck that opened a restaurant and quickly stocked the bar with not just well-chosen bottles of booze, but some of the best bar talent in town. Co-owner Birk Grudem is a former barman who never lost the knack for mixing a tasty beverage. (The n/a lemonade alone is to die for.) Now the bar is managed by Dan Oskey, known for his work at The Strip Club and his co-owned flavor company featuring bitters, Easy & Oskey. Many of the cocktails are pre-batched and served in bottles, so the quick delivery on an order will make your head spin. So will these deliciously balanced, power-packed cocktails.
Heyday burst on the scene with astounding flavors for our former cover model, chef Jim Christensen. However, before that first pristine bite comes stunning drinks from Britt Tracy and crew behind the bar. The Bitter Lord with bourbon (the spirit of fall), house-made grenadine, and a hit of bright lemon is a long, slow sipper worth worshipping.
The Rabbit Hole has been open just over a year, but I’m continually intrigued by their cocktail program, not to mention forever seduced by the Not Doing Jack in the Morning. Chef and owner Thomas Kim has drank around the country with some of the boldest names in the booze business and brought that inspiration home. Plus, the ridiculous poutine and chili crab, pleasantly dim lights, and cool kid vibe makes this spot inside Midtown Global Market an ideal watering hole.
Spoon and Stable hasn’t yet opened at the writing of this article, but Gavin Kaysen’s restaurant has every tongue wagging from here to the Chrysler building. I’m most excited about the bar program, led by Robb Jones (who I love despite the insistence on that second “b”). His menu will strip down the basics of what a cocktail list can be and return to some classics, like a really good Cosmopolitan. He swears it can be a sophisticated sipper. Remember how much fun those used to be? Even though this restaurant is stacked to the hilt with world-class talent, it’s safe to say that a seat at the bar will be fun in a way we haven’t experienced in years. Now, we just have to jockey for a seat.
The Unexpected Hitmakers:
Saffron is best known for the heady aromas accompanying the beautiful plates of food from co-owner and chef Sameh Wadi, but the drinks are also a draw enough to visit even if you aren’t hungry. The program is now run by Nikola Govich, and early sips of his menu reveal a nuanced understanding of building liquid flavors in the confines of a simple glass. Less is more and more is even better on this list. Just get one of everything new. If you don’t imbibe the booze, make sure to get an order of the utterly addictive, aromatic Turkish coffee.
The Lyn 65 is an unassuming storefront in Richfield, but the bar program inside is one of the most pleasantly surprising and affordable to be found in the Twin Cities. The autumnal cocktail menu is a bewitching mix of sensations familiar to my favorite season: scents of burning leaves, deep spices layered upon each other, and crisp flavors.