Twin Cities Best Bars
Cocktails. Tap rooms. Beer. Bourbon. It's all here, ready for your consumption
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Restaurants without hard-alcohol liquor licenses sometimes pour cocktails that substitute in sake, but the result often leaves you longing for the traditional version of the drink. Not so at Moto-i, locally known as the first sake brewery/restaurant outside Japan. There, the saketails and saketinis complement the floral flavor of the fermented-rice beverage. The Japanhattan is a mild Manhattan, sweet with cherry and vermouth; the Lychee Splash tastes like a crisp white wine. And, during Sunday brunch, the vodka-futsuu Bloody Marys cost just $1 a pop. —R.H. 2940 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-821-6262, moto-i.com
Eat Street Social
A quality craft cocktail at Eat Street Social is a given, considering that the talent behind the bar mixes drinks concocted by Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz. Eat Street serves everything from a seasonal gin-and-tonic with house-made tonic to a liquid version of the restaurant’s famed dessert, the rosemary panna cotta. And don't forget about the non-alcoholic soda-fountain drinks, such as phosphates, egg creams, and rickeys. But it’s the social aspect of Social that truly sets it apart. It’s quickly become home to Eat Street’s hottest bar scene, where you’re just as likely to bump into somebody you know as introduce yourself to someone you don’t. —R.H.
18 W. 26th St., Mpls., 612-767-6850, eatstreetsocial.com
Ice Cream Drinks
Jax Café and Erte do a fine Grasshopper and Pink Squirrel, but Burger Jones leads the new era of hard shakes. You probably haven’t enjoyed ice cream this much since you had to stand on your tiptoes to order it from the side of a truck. And now, there’s nobody to tell you to share. The Up All Night is a culmination of very adult flavors: rich, dark chocolate; intense espresso; and, of course, liquor. But a tall, cherry-topped glass of the creamy treat will leave you feeling like a kid again. Then again, that’s probably just the alcohol kicking in. —A.B.
3200 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-746-0800, burgerjones.com
A Minnesotan's Guide to Craft Beer
Artisan breweries are booming. Taste the range of Minnesota’s brewing talent with our picks for some of the best beers in the state, available in bottles or cans.
(1) Schell’s Pilsner
One of the oldest breweries in America, New Ulm-based Schell’s introduced its “specialty” beers some 30 years ago, including this light-but-full-bodied Pilsner. It's one of the best American examples of the classic Bohemian beer, an accessible step up from mass-market lagers.
(2) Lake Superior Kayak Kölsch
The Duluth brewery has been making this brew since opening in the 1990s. We've been guzzling it, their take on the ultra-crisp, refreshing German Kölsch, ever since.
(3) Lift Bridge Farm Girl
Founded in 2008 and named after Stillwater’s most iconic transportation infrastructure, Lift Bridge has become a household name with this sweet, yeasty, citrus-kissed Belgian farmhouse ale.
(4) Third Street Brewhouse Rise to the Top
Fans of New Glarus Brewing’s famous Spotted Cow have been digging this Cold Spring, Minnesota-based newcomer’s Cream Ale, which is mild and easy-drinking with a floral, slightly funky flavor and creamy head.
(5) Olvalde Farm Auroch’s Horn
As assertive as you’d expect from an ancient ale once consumed from the horn of the auroch (a now-extinct wild bull), this fruity, honey-sweet, high-alcohol beer with a thick, almost chewy texture is brewed at a one-man operation in southeast Minnesota.
(6) Boom Island Brimstone
Northeast Minneapolis’s new Boom Island Brewing Company specializes in Belgian beers, and this brand-new tripel has mild, fruity, bread-y flavors that belie its strong alcohol content.
(7) Brau Brothers Bancreagie
With a last name that’s the German word for beer, these three southwest Minnesota brothers were practically destined to brew such gems as this challenging-but-beguiling reinterpreted Scotch ale that’s intensely smoky, with a whiff of barnyard.
(8) Summit Extra Pale Ale
Minnesota beer drinkers can’t get enough of their hops, and this St. Paul brewery’s flagship brew whetted the local palate for pine needle-sparkle way back before craft brew was cool, in 1986.
(9) Surly Furious
This bellicose beer came out of a Brooklyn Center warehouse in 2006 and spawned Minnesota’s recent craft-brew revolution, with a throat-searing 100 IBU—the maximum rating on the International Bitterness Unit scale. All those hops give Furious a grapefruit aroma and a juicy bite.
(10) Fulton Sweet Child of Vine
One of the easiest-drinking hoppy beers, the Minneapolis brewery’s favorite son has more balance than bite, with a smooth, smoky finish.
(11) Steel Toe Size Seven
This St. Louis Park upstart’s Northwest-style IPA is an aggressive kick in the hops.
(12) Flat Earth Cygnus X-1 Porter
As dark as its namesake black hole, this smooth riff on an English porter from St. Paul’s quirkiest microbrewery is rich with roasty flavors of chocolate and malt.
(13) Grain Belt Nordeast
In 2010, the iconic northeast Minneapolis Grain Belt Brewery was honored with the introduction of this mild amber lager, considered a “gateway” craft brew with more flavor than Grain Belt Premium.
Find these Minnesota brews at such specialty beer shops as The Four Firkins (5630 36th St., St. Louis Park, 952-938-2847, thefourfirkins.com) or other fine-liquor stores.