If you’re the type of person who needs to be entertained while you drink, well, your dream bar is about to descend upon the Twin Cities.
Can Can Wonderland will open to the public on Thursday, unveiling its wild labyrinth of art-inspired mini golf, stage-top shows and Bittercube cocktails – including boozy versions of slushies, snow cones and malts.
The building, near Hamline University in St. Paul, originated in the 1800s with several uses, but the longest tenant was the American Can Company – thus the name Can Can. Now, it holds various businesses including trailer manufacturers, coffee roasters, furniture makers and artist studios.
The newest addition, Can Can, has been six years in the making by founders Christi Atkinson, Rob Clapp, Chris Pennington and Jennifer Pennington – the folks behind the former haunted basement in the Soap Factory and the Walker Art Center’s artist designed mini-golf course.
“I got some gray hair in the meantime,” Jennifer said. “Literally.”
The result is a sprawling 20,000-foot space featuring 1980s arcade games and a winding interactive mini-golf course through and around giant structures in the warehouse-style expanse. Don’t try too hard to decipher it all.
“It is a dream or it is drugs, whatever you take that day,” joked Zoran Mojsilov, one of the artists who created much of the work.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the massive room, red velvet curtains open, revealing a stage where the owners plan to hold a weekly variety show with live acts and a house band. The area will also host DJs for a 1980s new wave DJ night, some daytime kids programming and amateur wrestling tournaments or ping-pong bashes.
Yeah, you won’t be bored.
“We’re hoping every time you come, you have a different experience,” Jennifer said.
And now for what some might argue is Can Can’s biggest draw: a mouth-watering lineup of Bittercube cocktails that are unlike anything they’ve done so far.
For starters, expect liquor-infused slushies, malts and snow cones, as well as sober varieties for underage drinkers and a list of creative housemade sodas. There are malts made by blending the drinker’s choice of cereal and another featuring Fig Newtons. There is Cheddar cheese ice cream. There is a cocktail celebrating wild rice. There is a drink that arrives with a beach scene and another that is served in a flower pot topped with edible dirt and actual carrots. Then there is the Happy Birthday cocktail, which can be ordered regardless of whether it’s one’s birthday, and a drink that mimics confetti cake that will arrive with song and a popper. And of course there are other, less adventurous concoctions, wine and beer.
“This is the craziest drink list we’ve ever done,” Bittercube guru Nick Kosevich said of their latest project.
Food, meanwhile, sticks to Circus-inspired snacks – pizza, cotton candy, pop corn and toasties, among other items.
(Cocktails above, from top to bottom: The Carrot Drink [rum, sherry, pineapple, carrot, Corozon bitters and edible dirt]; Beach Life [tequila, coconut water, agave, blackstrap bitters and edible sand]; Orange Dream [Vanilla orange syrup, cream and orange bitters])