Twenty-three skiddoo, the bees knees, and achtung jazz babies—Minneapolis is about to get an old fashioned soda counter! No kidding. It will be part of the new culinary-cocktail palace called Eat Street Social, the new bar and restaurant set to open
New Year’s Eve January 9. I didn’t think they’d be open that early either, but I just got off the phone with Nick Kosevich, local bartending superstar, and he told me yes, yes they are.
Here’s the story: Eat Street Social is the second project by Northeast Social owners Joe Wagner and Sam Bonin. It’s in the old Tacos Morelos space on 26th street, right off Nicollet. The food is supposed to be similar to that of Northeast Social. (My thumbnail review; a great bar with decent food, skip the gnocchi.)
But this bar is going to have Ira Koplowitz and Nick Kosevich as head bartenders. That’s a big deal. Koplowitz worked for years at Chicago’s Violet Hour, one of the country’s earliest and most important culinary cocktail bars, and Kosevich is reknowned as one of the original Town Talk bartenders (the bar that started the local booze-milkshake revolution). The two are business partners, founders of Bittercube, a nationally prominent artisanal bitters maker, and haven’t bartended locally for about three years; now they’re both designing Eat Street Social’s bar program, but will actually be bartending there as well. And making egg creams, phosphates, and all sorts of things that haven’t been made in Minneapolis in I don’t know how long—twenty years? Much, much longer?
Kosevich told me that the impetus for the soda-jerk revival came from intellectual curiosity, and the desire to have something interesting to serve at a Minneapolis non-drinking lunch. He has been researching soda-fountain culture for years, learning about phosphates (which used to be made with phosphoric acid, but will now be made with citric acid), flips, rickeys, and the difference between a Bronx and Brooklyn egg-cream. (It’s about the garnish.) Evidently, a real soda-fountain requires far greater carbonation than you typically get out of a soda-gun, so a special soda-fountain tap has been added to Eat Street Social’s physical space, allowing opening treats like:
- Green River Phosphate: A soda made with a lime cordial, cooked down from fresh limes, sugar, and other secret ingredients, as well as blood-orange bitters.
- Rapsberry Ricky: Raspberry Syrup, Lime Juice, Seltzer, Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
- Bronx Egg Cream: Made with a house-made chocolate syrup, milk, super-charged seltzer, and garnished with a pretzel. The pretzel garnish is what makes it a Bronx, and not Brooklyn egg-cream. Think of it as the difference between a Martini (garnished with an olive) and a Gibson (garnished with a pickled onion).
The real cocktail list looks dreamy too, of course! I’m particularly looking forward to trying the smoked-tomato bloody mary, and something called the Witch Hazel, made with brown butter-washed pumpkin spirit (no really, it’s made from pumpkins).
Why haven’t we been drinking more pumpkins? Well, we will be soon. Still, I’m almost more excited about the revival of local soda-fountain culture. There have been other pockets of soda-fountain revival around the country, like at Brooklyn, New York City’s Brooklyn Farmacy, or at Philadelphia’s Franklin Fountain.
And of course, in St. Paul. Where it never died! The St. Paul Corner Drug has been going strong since 1922, and still serves phosphates (the phrase now is used to refer to fruit sodas), ice cream sodas, and coffee for a nickel.
Now, which city gets gloating rights? St. Paul for being on-trend before on-trend was cool, or Minneapolis for being cutting edge? I’m going to guess that your zip code will determine your answer.
Till then, mark your calendars: Soda like it’s 1912 is on our horizon.
Eat Street Social
New Year’s Eve January 9, 2012)
14 West 26th St., Minneapolis