1 We figured Lyn-Lake's new underground "speakeasy," Volstead's Emporium, would be an exclusive hole in the wall, but this gorgeous hideout is already packed with Uptown's pretty people on weekends. It's hard to believe that Volstead's, cheekily named for the Minnesota congressman who gave us Prohibition, is not a real retro gem. The former office space has been converted into an authentic-looking blend of Old World and Art Moderne, replete with beautiful bar, grand piano and a secret room. The drinks? Prohibition classics with a twist, of course. At the risk of making it officially the worst-kept secret in Uptown: Look for the red-lighted door behind 711 W. Lake St., Mpls. Is there a secret password? Maybe. (Open Thu.-Mon.)
2 Martin McDonagh's codependent drama "Beauty Queen of Leenane" has always felt as if he brought "The Glass Menagerie" to the boondocks of western Ireland. Theatre Pro Rata's staging at Park Square's Boss Stage provides actor Sally Wingert a turn as Mag Follan, one of theater's great hags. Wingert brings an antic feel to her performance. Her voice has the scratchy lilt of a leprechaun — a dotty humor and sly manipulation. Stooped, thin and draped in dreary housedresses, Wingert looks like an Appalachian granny who is more cunning than her pleading image suggests. (Through Jan. 24; parksquaretheatre.org.)
3 Norwegian writer Jo NesbØ's latest novel, "Midnight Sun," is as much love story as crime fiction. A runaway hitman has taken a fake name, Ulf, and fled to the isolated land of the Sámi, or Lapp, people. There, he meets Lea, daughter of a conservative preacher. Ulf gets help from strangers, and the motive for his crime-ridden life is slowly revealed. This book should appeal to anyone who prefers fewer bullets and a low body count.
5 That it includes a lovely version of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" is just one reason among many to check out the New Standards' newest collection, "Decade," which the Twin Cities lounge-pop trio issued last month in conjunction with its popular holiday shows. There's no ho-ho-ho-ing here, but there is a lot of jolly musing, including sly and playful interpretations of T. Rex's "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" and the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," plus a grade-A ballad by co-leader Chan Poling called "Butterfly" and similarly classy renditions of New Order and Joy Division classics.
4 Although Cupcake has shuttered its Minneapolis and St. Paul locations, its Mall of America and Eagan locations remain the places for clever, carefully prepared cupcakes of all stripes; don't miss the "Betty Crocker," a basic, beautifully made yellow cake with a lavish swirl of pink icing and a flurry of colorful sprinkles. There are gluten-free and vegan options, too, and a smile-inducing selection of French macarons. (W384 West Market, Mall of America, Bloomington; 1565 Cliff Rd., Eagan, 651-340-6214, cup-cake.com.)