Some people gripe that their jobs drive them to drink. But magazine editors like me can’t really complain: on occasion, our work requires us to drink.

This month’s cover story on best bars, craft beers, wine deals, and taprooms is a case in point. I’m proud to say that once again our editorial staff has taken one for the team, girding our livers in the name of research, zig-zagging across the Cities and beyond to find the best bar snacks and deals in a glass. Of course, I instruct the staff to “drink responsibly”—but mostly I emphasize the importance of the undertaking: readers take our suggestions seriously, so I don’t want to recommend a bottle shop, dive bar, craft cocktail, or pachinko parlor unless we really think it’s worth your while.

I should admit that when it comes to drinking, I’m hardly an expert. (After two drinks I quickly devolve into the worst kind of drunk: not crazy or lecherous or even mean, just sleepy. Ugh.) So I rely on the good taste, discerning palate, and encyclopedic understanding of food and drink possessed by our recently hired food critic, Rachel Hutton. A former Minnesota Monthly associate editor who left the magazine in 2008 to become the food critic at the Twin Cities’s alt-weekly publication City Pages, Hutton returned to our staff this past spring, bringing her formidable expertise and quirky sense of humor to our pages. And whether she’s reviewing the newest restaurant on Minneapolis’s Eat Street or sampling spaghetti on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair (it really is a tough job, isn’t it?), Hutton’s writing is like a good bottle of wine—something that educated experts and adventurous amateurs alike can enjoy.

Our editorial staff, in fact, is full of talented writers. And longtime readers will attest that Minnesota Monthly scribe Tim Gihring is among the finest journalists in the state. He’s a Renaissance man—comfortable writing about music, history, travel, and even technology. This month, Gihring revisits the plane crash that killed Paul and Sheila Wellstone, along with six others, in 2002. During his two terms in office, Wellstone was seen by many as a bomb thrower, a man out of step with the courtly manners of the Senate. Few of those formalities remain in Washington today, however, and, as Gihring points out, the rough-edged Minnesota senator knew he had to reach across the aisle to get things done—befriending the late conservative Jesse Helms, among others. That kind of bipartisan elbow-rubbing, it seems, has vanished in the decade since Wellstone’s death.
This isn’t the first time Gihring has examined Wellstone’s legacy. A few years ago, he attended and reported on Camp Wellstone, a boot camp for grassroots political organizers that sprang up in 2003. Gihring interviewed half a dozen people, but none so fetching perhaps as a young woman from Minneapolis whom he subjected to an extended interview. In fact, the conversation never really stopped, and this past summer, Gihring and his, er…source got married. Which, of course, gave our staff another reason to raise a glass: Congrats, Tim and Lucy.

Joel Hoekstra, Editor

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Twitter: @mnmoeditor

Joel Hoekstra writes frequently about design and architecture for Midwest Home and has contributed to a wide range of publications, including This Old House, Metropolis, ASID Icon and Architecture Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis in a 1906 Dutch Colonial that is overdue for a full remodel—or at least a coat of fresh paint.