Some restaurants are overtly seasonal. Just try ordering a fish taco at Sea Salt mid-Februrary. Others just seem better suited for certain weather conditions. My favorite time of year to visit Saffron is when the days are short and frigid. The warm paint colors and jewel-toned lighting balance the cool, sleek concrete floors. While Saffron’s chef and co-owner Sameh Wadi can do astounding things with fresh, locally grown ingredients in the summer, I’d rather tuck into a tagine while the rest of me is buried in a bulky sweater and feast with reckless, elastic-emboldened abandon.
From the beginning, Saffron’s bar has been a go-to spot for cocktail aficionados. At this moment, the bar is run by Nikola Govich, possibly the most perfectly suited man for the job of matching the hip, historic Minneapolis location with the global flavors on the food menu. Govich has served us drinks from Meritage and Eat Street Social. His bartending career has brought him from New York City dive bars to the highest echelon of the Minneapolis craft drink crew. He’s dapper, warm, friendly and rather tall, which lends an extra air of authority. You can taste his warm demeanor in the beverages he creates, including the aptly named Charmer.
Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac threads deep, woodsy notes of vanilla and lends a creaminess to the mouth feel inside this drink. It’s softened by pear liqueur and built upon with golden honey notes. A shock of bright lemon acidity perks everybody up and it’s finished with a spritz of of black walnut. That wild, crepuscular perfume coaxes the spirits over the taste buds. Charming might be too nice a word for this seductive little coup. It’s a lovely way to celebrate each long, dark, sumptuous nights.