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What's hot this week: The Great Northern, worldly dinners, cocktail classes



We all know what Friday is – Inauguration Day of course. And this year’s landmark follows one of the wackiest, most bitter campaigns (on both sides) in recent memory. So whether you’re toasting one president’s exit, celebrating the next president’s future or attempting to drown your misery – a drink or two is called for. 


We've got a few ideas.


First, Surly is tapping a new beer, called 'Thanks Obama,' which you can read/discuss/scream about here


Or, if you think you'll really need the hard stuff, head to the Firelake Grill House and Cocktail Bars in downtown and at the Mall of America, where from inauguration week until the week of President’s Day (Feb. 20), they'll be serving up patriotic cocktails for every taste. There’s the Old Fashioned Stovepipe (Abraham Lincoln) sporting bourbon and butterscotch Schnapps downtown, the Hyde Park Martini (Franklin D. Roosevelt) with gin and olive brine at the MOA and plenty more in between. Most importantly there are no "Trump" or "Obama" cocktails so there won't be any bar fights started over whether your glass is red or blue.


Here are a few other things to get into during the next two weeks:

Monday, Jan. 23

“All That Jazz”: The swilling club at the Commodore in St. Paul (pictured, above) has just announced its 2017 trophy winners, and now they’re holding a bash — for members ($35) and nonmembers ($40). Here’s what you can expect: a “robust” buffet, free dance lessons on how to do the Charleston as well as samples of the previous year’s winners — a last hurrah for the 2016s. Oh, and extra points — and prizes — if you dress in 1920s-era duds. Buy advanced tickets at

Tuesday, Jan. 24

Meritage’s World Expo: Russell Klein, chef at the stellar St. Paul French brasserie, has had the opportunity to travel around the world, tasting foods from various cultures. Now he’s taking his diners on the journey, launching a six-week exploration of global cuisines. The trip starts in Japan, where guests will get to nosh on Tokyo-style pork ramen and green tea cake from Jan. 24-26. Later focuses include India (Jan. 31-Feb. 2), China (Feb. 7-9), Italy (Feb. 23-23), Greece (Feb. 28-March 2) and Morocco (March 7-9). Prices for the menus will range from $30 to $50 per person.

Oskar Blues Beer Dinner at Borough: Chef Mike DeCamp is creating a five-course dinner that will be paired with Oskar Blues Brewery beers, including Ten FIDY Bourbon Barrel Aged and Dale’s Pale Ale, among others. Tickets for the 6 p.m. meal are $75. Find tickets at

Thursday, Jan. 26

Burns Night: Transport yourself to Scotland for the evening at Waconia’s J. Carver Distillery, where the signature spirits will be served up alongside bagpipes played by kilted men and haggis – that’s a savory, sheep organ pudding for you non-Scots. The four-course, family-style feast will be prepared by Craig Sharp, chef of Terra Truck in Waconia; tickets are $67, a cash bar boasting crafted cocktails will be available, too.

Saturday, Jan. 28

Ice Golf: Looking for something unique? This is your best bet. Charlie’s on Prior has opened its “Leinie Lodge” on Prior Lake, where you can park your skis and snowmobiles and warm up with something boozy and piping hot. If you’re seeking more adventure, bring your golf pals (eight or fewer), and hit the frozen links. Pre-register (by Jan. 23) for $25 per person or pay at the door for $30 and receive a golf ball, T-shirt and a 16-ounce beer from Charlie’s. Find more info here.

Monday, Jan. 30

Winter Table: The Great Northern – a new collaborative 11-day winter “experience” spearheaded by Bachelor Farmer and Askov Finlayson owner Eric Dayton – kicks off on Jan. 27 and will be in full swing three days later when the Bachelor Farmer and Spoon and Stable will serve a four-course meal at a 100-seat harvest table in the middle of N. 1st St., surrounded by bonfires. Needless to say, it sounds pretty epic …and frigid. Guests will be treated to icy shellfish towers courtesy of Meritage, wine and cocktail dinners throughout, custom Faribault Woolen Mill blankets and handmade s’mores kits. And if all that sounds expensive – well, tickets for the 5:30 p.m. feast are $395 apiece.

Tuesday, Jan. 31

St. Paul Chef’s Experience: The Great Northern continues with an outdoor bash under the awnings at the Lowertown farmer’s market. Chefs Thomas Boemer (Corner Table and Revival) and Adam Eaton (Saint Dinette) will be cooking up skewered meats, smoked fish, toasted bread, warm maple syrup and more. Tickets are $30 with spiked warm and chilled cocktails available for purchase.

Bittercube at Lawless Distilling Company: The cocktail moguls are primed to teach you everything they know (well, maybe not everything) as a cocktail class series at Lawless continues. Tickets for this event (6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) are $50.

Tattersall pop-up at Psycho Suzi’s: The folks from Tattersall Distilling will be at the island-inspired bar, shaking and stirring five original tiki drinks. Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is free.

Surly Brewing will tap 'Thanks Obama' beer on Inauguration Day



The nation is just brimming with togetherness right now, and Surly Brewing is doing its part to contribute to those warm and fuzzies with its latest beer just ahead of Inauguration Day.

It’s called "Thanks Obama."

Now, before you start throwing things, consider that the folks at Surly intended this controversial moniker to be taken two ways.

First, there’s the popular meme – featuring angry constituents sarcastically thanking Obama for everything from what they see as harmful policies to spilling their coffee.

(Surly suggests you ask a young person if you don’t know what a meme is.)

The other way it can be taken, of course, is sincerely, such as these celebrity thank yous to the outgoing president.

Yeah, Surly is being a little bit of a troll – to both sides – but really, folks, it’s meant to be lighthearted and a little bit funny.

OK, since we’ve gotten those disclaimers out of the way, we can now tell you about the beer. It’s a winter rye IPA using a new experimental hop variety and embodying what Surly is calling a “spicy malt character with candied grapes and vanilla cream hop aromas.”

If there’s anything we can bond over these days, it might be good beer – just feel free to read the label with whatever tone you wish.

(For more info on the beer and the brewery release, go here.)



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