Drink of the Week: Heartland's Gibson

Winters in St. Paul are magical. White twinkle lights are wound around trees and street lamps. The old buildings glitter with freshly fallen snow and the city parks are blanketed with just a few stone steps peeking out from beneath the pristine cover.

When Heartland first opened inside the Lowertown neighborhood, there wasn’t much there beyond the farmers market. Now, the neighborhood has grown up around Lenny Russo’s restaurant. As times change, more restaurants spring up and a stadium takes shape nearby, Heartland is also undergoing some changes. The market attached to the restaurant has been closed for a remodeling. The space will be reborn with more deli room for eating their fantastic cuts of meat and baked goods.

The bar has also been given a small makeover with the addition of a menu ideal for working through before a ball game. The dishes include three burgers: pork, beef and bison. There are hearty, humble, classic dishes like fried local fish and coq au vin. The cocktail menu much like the food is locally sources where possible and filled with elegant takes on classics.

The Gibson might just be the most ideal of these drinks ($10). North Shore #6 gin meets North Shore aquavit and is served over a pickled shallot. That’s it: so deceptively simple and the result is such elegant sophistication in a glass. The #6 gin has a gentle juniper spice, like a bracing December wind, amped up with a floral, peppery finish threaded with a lemon-curd soft citrus. The light-handed addition of aquavit enhances the pink peppercorn flavor with a few additional hints of spice that tastes near cardamom with a breezy note of lemongrass.

“I want to take this Gibson girl out and walk her around the park!” enthused my date. He sighed, “I want to tell her all the things I know.”

This cocktail whispers her own sweet nothings over your cool evenings, drawing you inside her warm embrace.