DULUTH – The Boreal House is widening the selection of craft beers and cocktails in a part of the city where the bar scene hasn’t changed much in recent years.
West Duluth’s newest drinking spot pairs brick walls and wood beams with birch bark and greenery, simultaneously an ode to the neighborhood’s industrial past and the city’s outdoorsy appeal.
Katie Fast, 31, lives just five blocks away from the small building on the corner of N. 57th Avenue West and Grand Avenue that she owns and manages with her business partner, Julie LaTourelle.
For years, Fast said she’s been a frequenter of West Duluth establishments like Mr. D’s Bar and Grill, the Rustic and the Kom-On-Inn. But she and LaTourelle also liked to check out other happy hours around Duluth and elsewhere to sample a variety of food and drink options.
The duo isn’t jumping into business to try and compete with the local stays. Fast is hoping to give neighbors a different type of bar within walking distance, one that could help get more people out and hopping between places on summer nights.
“We needed a place like this,” Fast said. “Something a little bit different.”
The Boreal House, a 1,100-square-foot joint that once housed a credit union, only holds 35 people. But when it warms up, a garage-style window will open to a patio that doubles the venue’s size.
For $5 to $6.50, the bar offers 14 craft beers, about half of which will rotate regularly to allow customers to try new local and regional brews. They also have two light beers on tap, tall boys, canned wine and a small snack menu.
But Fast said the surprising success of Boreal House’s opening last weekend was their cocktails. Ranging in price from $6 to $9.50, the bar offers a mixed drink menu that will change at least quarterly.
It currently features a trio of mules (spins on a traditional favorite) and the signature BoHo, an upgrade on a whiskey sour (Pinhook Rye, Tattersall sour cherry, maple syrup and orange twist).
The Boreal House is open from 3 to 11 p.m. during the week, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Though Fast said if there’s more interest from patrons, those hours could change.
She added that she loved seeing a mix of clientele that trooped in last weekend: a pair of college students, a retired couple out for a drink, a set of parents and their two small children.
Brenda Denton, a board member of the West Duluth Business Club, said ventures like this are testament to the “ongoing change” happening in West Duluth.
“People from other parts of town have been encouraged to come out here more and more,” she said. “It’s not just your local bar club anymore.”