The boys of summer are set to take Target Field on Monday, kicking off a season of sunshine and bleacher-seat boozin’. The only catch: In these parts, winter is slow to unclench its frosty fist.
But we’re blizzard-braving Minnesotans. We shrug off single-digit temperatures and de-ice our cars without a wince. We won’t let a little cold air spoil the Twins home opener (right?).
Hot days and cold beers are in our future. Until then, these bars near the ballpark have some drinks capable of warming you up before or after a chilly day of cheering for the hometown team.
Irish Cream Coffee at Kieran’s Irish Pub
This classic coffee drink is a perfect day-starter for Monday’s matinee. While still a simple mixed drink, Kieran’s version bests your run-of-the-mill spiked cup of Joe, as the pregame hotspot makes its own better-than-Baileys Irish cream in-house (hey, Folliard, start bottling this!). The luscious liqueur could work straight or over ice, but joins with the java and a faintly cinnamony whipped cream topping (also house-made) in a warm, cushiony glass of liquid comfort.
85 6th St. N., Mpls., 612-339-4499
Linie Aquavit mulled cider at Bradstreet Craftshouse
An artisan cocktail joint may not be the most natural environs for jersey-sporting jocks, but a steamy, Grade-A elixir on a glacial game day is universally enticing. Bradstreet offers several hot drinks, including a trio of mulled ciders mixed with an orange cordial, Antica vermouth and different base liquors. Minnesotans looking to embrace their Scandinavian heritage might try the Linie Aquavit option, a Norwegian-made spirit with a soft licorice-y flavor that isn’t offensive like Jägermeister.
601 N. 1st Av., Mpls., 612-312-1821
Sinful Cider at the Local
This Nicollet Mall tavern, too, boasts a signature cider. More soothing than “sinful,” this belly-warmer calls for a cinnamon-infused 2 Gingers, hot apple cider and a touch of brown sugar. The sweetened whiskey blends with the cider so silkily you could serve it to a child (but don’t). It’s the kind of drink you want drawn from a kettle by your Irish grandpa while snowed in at a remote cabin. Or, you know, before an April baseball game.
931 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-904-1000
Bourbon flights at Butcher & the Boar
Smuggling a flask into a cold-weather sporting event is a time-honored (if somewhat tacky) tradition. A nip of the sauce might help in coping with the cold, but rather than being that guy, don your whiskey Teflon at Butcher & the Boar. The benevolent bourbon hounds have assembled a variety of flights for the three-pronged whistle-whetting. Optimize the liquor-layering sensation by aiming high (proof, that is).
1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-238-8888
Worthy Adversary at Fulton taproom
It’s not baseball without beer, so it’s lucky that Minneapolis’ first taproom popped up a bloop single away from Target Field. Fulton invites imbibers into its taproom up to two hours before (but no earlier than 11 a.m.) non-Sunday home games, and at 9.2 percent ABV its Russian imperial stout is like a mitten for your liver. The dark and decadent winter seasonal dominates the palate in ways a “beer here” domestic can’t fathom (a Worthy Adversary, indeed). Sadly, this bold brew won’t last much longer, but it should be on tap during the opener.
414 6th Av. N., Mpls., 612-333-3208
Primebar’s number is up
Too soon to talk curse? When Primebar opened last summer in the Calhoun Square space that long-housed Figlio, there was hope that the contemporary sports/beer bar could bring stability to the location after the ill-fated Il Gatto flopped.
But the Restaurants America-owned chain’s Uptown outpost shut down last Sunday, seemingly out of the blue. A Facebook post Monday morning offered little explanation for the abrupt closure: “To our loyal guests: Unfortunately, we had to close our doors yesterday. We’re sorry to say goodbye, and thank you all for your loyalty. We hope our paths cross again in the future.”
See you upstairs at Republic.
A good spill
Just as Uptown loses a beer bar, it gains a popular wine bar. After five-plus years in downtown Minneapolis, Spill the Wine has headed south to Bryant Avenue and Lake Street into the old Sunrise Cyclery space. Owner Katie Greeman will open the doors to her relocated small-plates-and-vino venture Tuesday, with a few new menu items.
901 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-339-3388
The St. Paul suds whizzes at Happy Gnome are hosting their annual Firkin Fest from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday ($50). The gastropub has gathered more than 85 firkins for this beer-tasting tent party in its parking lot. The cask-conditioned offerings come from beloved locals like Surly and Summit as well as such national big shots as Bell’s, Deschutes and Odell.
498 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-287-2018
Last weekend, longtime Loring Park burger bar Joe’s Garage closed its doors for the last time. “It’s been a good run, but things change, it’s time to move on,” owner Joe Kaplan said by phone. The good news: Kaplan said he’s hooking up with the Butcher & the Boar team, which includes acclaimed chef Jack Riebel, on a new project in the same space. While the concept is still in the works, Kaplan said he hopes to open around the end of the summer.
Michael Rietmulder writes about bars and nightlife.