The bar, at 12th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, was still in build-out mode. But Riebel's excitement was palpable. If the bourbon and beer arrived today, he'd be ready to serve customers right on the spot.
He's not alone in his enthusiasm. The weather is finally cooling, but a warm front of new bars is about to hit the Twin Cities. Stepping back from his own project, Riebel sees a trend among this new crop:
"People want neighborhood bars," he said. "There was a time when every neighborhood needed a bar -- and I think there's a renaissance going back to that."
Of course, he's not talking about dive bars. Yes, the following six spots will cater to locals (in Riebel's case, thousands of nearby condo dwellers), but each one has the potential to draw crowds from all over the Twin Cities.
BUTCHER AND THE BOAR
Opening: First week of February.
Who's behind it: Jack Riebel. Also: Tim Rooney of Bar La Grassa and Barrio.
What to expect: The hot trends in bargoing right now are craft beer, heritage liquor brands and artisanal bar food. Butcher and the Boar feels like a culmination of all that. The bar's all-American stance will include 30 domestic craft brews on tap, 50 bourbons and a serious selection of smoked and cured meats (wild boar from Texas!). Best of all: The beer garden out back will seat 150 people.
Find it: 1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-222-7171. www.butcherandtheboar.com.
EAT STREET SOCIAL
Opening: Late January.
Who's behind it: Joe Wagner and Sam Bonin, owners of Northeast Social.
What to expect: Cocktail nerds have been pulling their hair out as they await the opening of this drinking destination. And for good reason. While the new restaurant's farm-to-table menu is enough to coo about, much of the fervor relates to the bartending wizards behind its beverage program. Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube have a vaunted pedigree (the former opened Town Talk Diner, the latter spent time at Chicago's Violet Hour). They've designed a stunning drink list and are training the staff in the art of the cocktail. Also on tap: a real-deal soda fountain, featuring 19th-century-style phosphates, egg creams and other non-alcoholic concoctions.
Where: 18 W. 26th St., Mpls. www.eatstreetsocial.com.
Opening: Monday (maybe sooner).
Who's behind it: The owners of Eli's Food & Cocktails.
What to expect: The guys behind Eli's in downtown Minneapolis didn't travel far for their second location. Just a couple miles away, they've rehabilitated the old O'Brien's Decoy Pub on East Hennepin, outfitting it with Eli's classic-comfy style. The dark wood interior will feature antique lighting, buttoned leather booths and a copper-top bar. Some of Eli's signature plates (like the mac and cheese) will migrate to the new spot, but much of the menu will be new and a bit more polished. Bartender Richie Rivera has designed a new cocktail list, too.
Find it: 815 E. Hennepin, Mpls. 612-331-0031. www.elisfoodandcocktails.com.
Opening: Early February.
Who's behind it: Erik Forsberg, owner of the Ugly Mug.
What to expect: If downtown Minneapolis is missing anything, it's a craft-beer gastropub like the Happy Gnome in St. Paul. Forsberg thinks that concept will work wonders in the space formerly home to short stays by Subo and the Inn. He's remodeling the place, adding a larger front bar and building a brand new bar in the back. He'll have 40 draft lines and American bistro grub. What's with the name? "We're taking a break from the norm," Forsberg said, "and creating a new argument."
Find it: 89 S. 10th St., Mpls.
BLUE DOOR LONGFELLOW
Opening: Late April, early May.
Who's Behind it: Blue Door Pub owners Jeremy Woerner and Patrick McDonough.
What to expect: "We like to joke that we're going from tiny to small," Woerner said of the Blue Door's second location, located three blocks north of the Riverview Theater. Unfortunately, the St. Paul burger joint's slightly larger Minneapolis outpost is still in the paperwork stages. Woerner said they've signed a lease and are working on getting the beer/wine license this month. In the meantime, diehard Blucy lovers will have to contend with 45-minute waits in St. Paul.
Find it: 3448 42nd Av. S., Mpls. www.thebdp.com.
Who's behind it: Matthew Bickford and Mike Ryan, owners of Be'Wiched Deli.
What to expect: The long-talked-about rock bar/deli/cocktail den still has a long way to go. But they finally broke ground this month near the new Vertical Endeavors on Eat Street in south Minneapolis. The Be'Wiched guys have high hopes. An intimate listening room will have seating for 125, but also include a mezzanine. On the bar side, their secret weapon is La Belle Vie star Johnny Michaels, who's designing a cocktail bar built for churning out complicated drinks at high speeds. "He's gonna have his own little cockpit," Bickford said.
Find it: 2528 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.
- Follow Horgen on Twitter: @tomhorgen