730 Washington Av. N., Mpls. • 612-354-3135 • www.boroughmpls.com
Presided over by Jesse Held and his merry band of cocktailers, this subterranean hotspot beneath the restaurant Borough shakes some of the best drinks in town. Miller High Life ponies rain from the heavens/cooler, cleansing palates between superb seasonal Manhattans or the in-yo-face Noe Way, Noe How. Since debuting in 2013, the menu has grown to a solid 24 drinks and its immaculate smash-style burger has triggered thousands of beef-gasms.
Hola Arepa *NEW*
3501 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. • 612-345-5583 • www.holaarepa.com
Drinking is supposed to be fun, and the folks at this food truck-turned-restaurant get it. The raucous Latin American street food joint makes mean, unpretentious drinks at modest prices. Opening-day bar leader Dan Oskey has moved on, but the turquoise cocktail shack keeps south Minneapolis rocking with vaguely Latin-inflected cocktails and porron pitchers (think a Spanish das boot). Come summer, Hola’s outdoor barstools at the flip-up window are the best seats south of Lake Street.
Spoon and Stable *NEW*
211 N. 1st St., Mpls. • 612-224-9850 • www.spoonandstable.com
All-Star chef Gavin Kaysen’s name is on the metaphorical marquee, but lead barman Robb Jones is pretty handy with a jigger (to understate his talents). Jones’ simply but astutely tweaked classics — such as a smooth rum and roasted pineapple Old Fashioned and, what the hell, a Cosmo — reflect a back-to-basics shift from his more adventurous Saffron days. Best of all: No reservations needed in the bar.
Brasserie Zentral *NEW*
505 Marquette Av. S., Mpls. • 612-333-0505 • www.zentral-mpls.com
Cozy up with some killer duck consomme and one of drink-master Trish Gavin’s creations in the low-key bar area at this four-star Austro-Hungarian restaurant.
3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-877-7263 • www.libertinempls.com
Big-wig chef Tim McKee’s redux of Uptown Cafeteria was a welcome one. The La Belle Vie boss invited his drink-making accomplice Johnny Michaels to devise a roster that plays well in the lower-level dining room and party-magnet rooftop. Look elsewhere to geek out on amari and obscure spirits. As the local cocktail scene pioneer once put it, these are “drinks for the people.”
Marvel Bar’s meticulous whiskey list might be the drink-nerdiest thing in the Twin Cities. Making mere age statements look amateur, this boozy-pedia lists everything from mashbill to barrel char level, much to whiskey geeks’ delight. Let your bartender play whiskey sherpa or choose your own flight of high-rye bourbons, Heaven Hill brands or whatever you fancy. (50 2nd Av. N., Mpls.)
Owner Kevin Sheehy is a bon vivant with a yen for travel, especially the exotic Middle East. He’s a proponent of “civilized leisure,” the notion that relaxed chat over good food and a fine cocktail is a human right. (5411 Penn Av. S., Mpls. • 612-822-54111 • www.cafemaude.com.) (Mecca Bos)
Eat Street Social
Arguably the most exciting place to drink in the Twin Cities. This Whittier hangout’s menu changes with the seasons, revealing new stunners. ESS maintains a deep roster of talent empowered to contribute, and pop-up tiki adventures in the Torpedo Room are too much fun. (18 W. 26th St., Mpls. • 612-767-6850 • www.eatstreetsocial.com.)
La Belle Vie
There’s a comfortable regality to the cocktail lounge at this fine-dining paragon; the timelessly seductive bar area is fit for any night out. Since taking the reins from enigmatic cocktail leader Johnny Michaels, Adam Gorski has smartly modernized the bar program while retaining some longtime favorites.(510 Groveland Av., Mpls. • 612-874-6440 • www.labellevie.us.)
The Bachelor Farmer’s basement speakeasy is the supermodel big sister — “that place,” the one that doesn’t need a name, just a hard-to-find underground locale, intriguing purple door and $15 cocktails that go way beyond “craft.” (50 2nd Av. N., Mpls. • 612-206-3929 • www.marvelbar.com.) (M.B.)
The Rabbit Hole
Not only does a full bar await at this Midtown Global Market restaurant, but it’s the only spot in all the land where honest-to-goodness Korean street food pairs up nicely with your “cocktail on tap.” (920 E. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-336-4526 • www.eatdrinkrabbit.com.) (M.B.)
Having sufficiently set the Twin Cities food scene ablaze, the boys of Travail are tackling cocktails at the Rookery. Co-owners Bob Gerken and James Winberg lead an evolving drinks program. (4124 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale • 763-535-1131.)
Even when mix master Robb Jones helmed the bar, this Mediterranean restaurant felt somewhat underappreciated as a cocktail destination. Eat Street Social alum Nikola Govich is more than capably carrying the torch while gradually making his mark. (123 N. 3rd St., Mpls. • 612-746-5533 • www.saffronmpls.com.)