Sue Z.'s Local Finds

With spring on the horizon, I’m thinking about sipping something sweet from two Minnesota-made soda-pop companies putting nostalgia in bottles. Launched less than a year ago, Forest Lake’s Whistler Classic Soda puts the fizzy stuff—flavors include cherry-vanilla cola, pineapple, and even watermelon—in returnable glass bottles. Creator Jesse Hopkins now offers tours at their factory store every Saturday to show how he makes soda the way it used to be, with simple syrup and less carbonation. And Hopkins has a mobile-soda-fountain food truck lined up to roam the Twin Cities come summertime (whistlersoda.com). On the other end of the spectrum, Spring Grove Soda Pop, Inc. has been around since 1895. I love pouring the strawberry flavor over ice cream, and the lemon sour serves as a great cocktail mixer—and don’t miss the new rhuberry variety, too (springgrovesoda.com).

At Hell’s Kitchen, chef/owners Mitch Omer and Steve Meyer recently created a 35-foot Bloody Mary bar packed with gourmet rim salts, specialty olives, cheeses, bacon, peppers, and more, plus more than 200 hot sauces ranging from mild to death-defying spice. Open during the restaurant’s legendary brunch hours, it’s a spicy way to kick off a weekend morning (hellskitcheninc.com).

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Sue Zelickson (Sue Z.) is a James Beard Award-winning food media personality, philanthropist, and longtime contributor to Minnesota Monthly and WCCO radio. She has founded the Charlie Awards, the Women Who Really Cook networking organization for women in the local food industry, and the Kids Cafe at Perspectives, Inc., which improves access to nutritious meals for families in need. You can find her buzzing around from event to event throughout the Twin Cities, helping to raise funds for charitable organizations, including some she has had a hand in building.