One of the best places to hide from the cold is in a cozy bar, drinking enough booze to warm yourself from the inside. Minneapolis has such a great bar scene out of necessity, you see. Here are our eight faves out of this Twin City.
There’s always a line out the door for this amazing wood-fired Asian-fusion pizza place in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. When the red light is on in the alley, that means the speakeasy-style bar in the back is open for business. Put your name on the list for a table at the restaurant, then head back to the bar to enjoy a creative craft cocktail or two while you wait.
Young Joni’s inventive drink combinations have names to match, including the Sousaphone Player Wanted, made with rye whiskey, Cynar (an Italian bitter amaro liqueur), honey, tobacco(!), and herbsaint, which is an anise-flavored liqueur. Or how about the Free Jetski, which combines gin with lemon, oat milk orgeat (steel-cut oatmeal cream), and fino, the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of sherry.
“Social hour” is from 4-6pm, Sunday through Thursday, when a tap beer costs four bucks, a glass of wine or classic cocktail is only $7, and a cheese pizza costs $6.
The most award-winning micro-distillery in the city is housed in the historic Thorp Building in the Logan Park neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. The vintage space is contemporary yet classic, intimate, yet open. In Tattersall’s craft cocktail room, you’ll find a wide array of house-made spirits, concocted into innovative cocktails by award-winning bartenders with expert level mixology skills.
The team is constantly coming up with new inventions, but the 22&Spruce—Tattersall gin and house-made spruce tip tonic—is always available on tap. You can actually see Tattersall’s gin, which is one of the country’s best barrel-aged gins, being produced through the large glass windows as you sip on it. Their cocktail menu includes a sweetness scale, so you can almost control the severity of your hangover.
Did you know that there are over 72 legal additives allowed in winemaking, several of which end up in your glass? You won’t find any additives at Troubadour. This homey Uptown wine bar specializes in all-natural vino. Forty wines from around the world are offered on the boutique wine list, bottle or glass, including rare varietals. They also offer a small selection of beers on tap and a small food menu of sandwiches, cheese, and charcuterie boards, designed to pair with the all-natural wines. This snug spot is a great place to unwind with a glass of red or white after work or bring a date to enjoy some live music.
This basement bar in the historic North Loop neighborhood of downtown Minneapolis is known for its high-end cocktails and famous Parlour Burger. The cozy subterranean spot is welcoming and intimate, with dim lighting and tufted banquettes.
Parlour’s craft cocktail menu takes the usual suspects—gimlets, martinis, and old fashioneds—and elevates them with freshly squeezed juice, house-made syrups, elixirs, and rare artisanal spirits. Jesse Held, the former president of the North Star Bartender’s Guild, helms the bar of award-winning bartenders.
There’s a small food menu of New American fare from neighboring Borough’s heavily lauded kitchen, but you’d be remiss to miss out on the famous Parlour Burger. The smashed double patties are served with American cheese and pickles on a toasty bun. In 2018, Parlour opened its second location in St. Paul, near the Xcel Energy Center.
This corner pub on Lake Street in the Longfellow neighborhood is home to the legendary Scotch Bible. Merlins Rest boasts over 340 single malt Scotch whiskies and 140 Irish whiskies, both single malt and blended. That’s the biggest selection in the state! The good book of booze outlines the location and history of each distillery, plus the whisky’s flavor profile, bouquet, and perceived nuances.
Have a wee dram or a full measure, or attend the monthly Single Malt Scotch Tasting for a little taste of everything. Merlins invites you to “journey across the whisky regions of Scotland and Ireland – one dram at a time” on the first Thursday of the month, from October through June. The neighborhood bar also has a wide selection of imported taps and serves English pub fare such as fish n’ chips and bangers and mash. The dive also offers live music practically every night—from jazz and blues to open jams and Irish music.
Martina is the hottest cocktail bar in the city, located in one of the Minneapolis’ most prized ‘hoods, Linden Hills. This South Minneapolis gem serves authentic Argentinian cuisine cooked over a wood-fire grill, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The airy ambiance is rustic with wooden tables and high exposed ceilings, but modern touches make it chic.
Boy wizard Marco Zappia is the mind behind MARTINA’s small yet imaginative craft cocktail menu, their housemade vermouths, and a 49-page-bartending-manifesto. The cocktails are not only tasty, but they are also beautiful, garnished with unexpectedly with things like peacock feathers. There are a mere 16 seats at the expansive white subway tiled bar, topped with forest green marble. Reservations are not a bad idea, especially for weekend brunch, from 10am-2pm.
This iconic club didn’t waste any time opening when Prohibition was repealed. At one time, it was the most well-known beer joint in the five-state area. Local rockers memorialized the unassuming corner bar for all of time in their song, “Here Comes a Regular”. This low-key dive starts serving cheap pitchers and bar food before noon if you’re craving a breakfast beer.
Don’t let the unassuming exterior in a suburban strip mall locale fool you, this cozy Richfield New American eatery and bar is undeniably hip. Lyn 65 offers an ever-rotating selection of craft beers on tap, plus classic cocktails, bottled beers, wine, and punch made with wine, liquors, and seasonal ingredients.
However, we’re here for the creative craft cocktails. Interesting combos have interesting names, like the Mexican Drugs 2.0, which is a reposado and mezcal tequila blend mixed with Cocchi Americano (a quinine-laced Italian aperitif wine), and Licor 43, the top-selling Spanish liqueur which is only made in Cartagena, Spain. This little chef-driven spot also offers small plates, but it’s always busy, so make reservations if you want to try the food!