Martina | Eliesa Johnson
Food & Drink

The Best Bars in the Twin Cities to Drink at Right Now

Updated On 01/02/2018 at 01:41PM EST
Republic • Seven Corners

Republic

Seven Corners

A safe bet for cheap drinks and burgers
Despite the sad fact that Republic’s Uptown location recently closed, the original is still going strong. Republic consistently tops lists of best drinking establishments for a reason. Their excellent selection of beers and cocktails (both on draft!) pairs well with any number of the delicious food on offer, with unusual combinations like peanut sauce-topped duck burgers and soba noodle salad. Thirsty patrons can enjoy flights of beer or two different whisky brands, and even better, Republic has a happy hour that just won’t quit. One of the best deals in town, Republic’s twice-daily happy hour knocks prices down on all tap beers, house wines, cocktails, and even includes a $6 burger. For an affordable, guaranteed good drink, Republic is always a safe bet.

The Happy Gnome

The Happy Gnome

Downtown St. Paul

Excellent beers and St. Paul’s best fire pit
This good old St. Paul standby features 89 craft beers on tap, making this an absolute must-visit for any beer aficionado. They also offer a ton of different tasting events and beer dinners that help educate beer nerds and showcase the joys of craft brewing. Slide into a booth and enjoy what’s on tap or opt for a speciality cocktail like The Bees Blood Orange Knees (local Bare Honey infused Hendrick's gin, Meyer lemonade, and blood orange juice). Additionally, Happy Gnome boasts an excellent food menu and a variety of liquor options for drinkers who just can’t stomach more beers. Make sure to take at least one peek outside, even in the cold: Happy Gnome features one of the best patios in the Twin Cities. It's accessible year-round thanks to its enormous outdoor fire pit.

The Muddy Pig

The Muddy Pig

Downtown St. Paul

St. Paul’s OG beer temple that has served over 2,000 beers on draft
Before there were Surly, Summit, and the plethora of other beer temples, there was the Muddy Pig. One of the first bars in the Twin Cities to emphasize craft beer, the Muddy Pig features more than 40 beers on tap, including a lot of local brews. Since July 2016, the bar has served over 2,000 different types of draft beer. That equates to a lot of rotating options for beer enthusiasts. As comfy as a well-worn sweatshirt, the Muddy Pig is a safe bet for beer lovers who need options, and those who think they don’t like beer at all; with so many possibilities it’s impossible not to find something you’ll love.

Buster's on 28th

Powderhorn

A neighborhood bar focused on hard-to-find beer
Buster's is a gem that puts the celebration back into drinking beer, especially when those beers are interesting, weird, or hard to get a hold of -- which is why Buster's is usually a good spot for special cask events and tap takeovers. The bar also offers a build-your-own flight option, which varies in price depending on the styles you choose, but it is a great way to explore new brews from their rotating options. The filling pub grub menu also guarantees you can (somewhat) hangover-proof your visit, even if you need vegetarian options. If you’re smart enough to plan your visit around one of their many events, you can win sweet giveaways like record players.

Tattersall Distilling

Tattersall Distilling's Cocktail Room

Northeast

A fancy cocktail bar in a vintage space with innovative drinks
Housed in the 115-year-old Thorp Building, this place is technically a distillery, but its cocktail room is designed to perfectly show off everything that they’ve got working. Everything you’ll drink here is made in-house or directly made to Tattersall’s own contemporary specifications, and you can’t possibly go wrong with any of the options. Tattersall serves a broad array of house-made liquors (our last count was at least 22 different varietals), so there is sure to be something for everyone. If you make a night of it, make sure it’s in a tight party, as Tattersall does not allow groups of 15 or more. 

Miracle at Lawless

Lawless Distilling Company

Seward

Custom-made liquors for custom-made cocktails
When the folks behind Bittercube announced that they were opening their own distillery and cocktail room, it became an instant classic. This overdue addition to the Twin Cities cocktail boom came onto the scene hard -- using its own brand of Tippling House vodka and Greenway gin along with their custom line of high-class bitters -- and its bartenders easily pour some of best and most interesting cocktails around today. Lawless also has a kitchen and is serving up tasty bar fare on a revamped menu; they even allow you to bring your own food, if you'd prefer.

Volstead's Emporium

Volstead's Emporium

Uptown

Possibly the truest speakeasy in the Twin Cities
For the novelty factor alone, Volstead’s Emporium is a surefire crowd pleaser -- if you can find it, that is. Located in an alley behind several other local businesses, Volstead's has sometimes been accused of being a bit pretentious -- but the long weekend lines can only be attributed to the fact that their bartenders kick ass at what they do. While the cocktails tend to rotate seasonally, the Brooklyn (a twist on a Manhattan) is definitely a drink we find ourselves going back for. If you fancy your nights out Prohibition-era style, swing by for a classy indulgence.

Rival House

Rival House Sporting Parlour

Downtown St. Paul

Rival House goes beyond hotel bar expectations
This beautiful St. Paul spot may be a hotel bar, but it’s got a surprising amount to offer rabid sports fans. A great place to start is the 24 cicerone-approved craft taps and a menu that specializes in top-shelf bar food made with locally sourced ingredients in mind. On top of that, Rival House has added Instagram-worthy interiors and a lively sporting parlor that includes Skee-Ball, ping pong, and bubble hockey for all of your vintage gaming needs. Add in the ability to do all of this while watching all of the games on the big screens? Now you’ve got yourself a pretty solid game day setup.

Half Time Rec

Half Time Rec

Downtown St. Paul

A classic, award-winning Irish sports bar
When it comes to sports bars, there are three things you need: beer, food, and TVs. This little St. Paul institution just so happens to have those three things in spades. There are more than 20 beers on tap, multiple big screen TVs, and seriously delicious Irish-style bar food courtesy of the Paddy Shack. Just in case you need a little more, they’ve also got bocce ball in the basement, as well as pool and bean bags. Don’t worry about dressing up here; you can definitely roll in with your best pair of torn jeans and ugly sweater and fit right in. Try to avoid underestimating Half Time Rec’s low-key charms; it’s won awards for best burger and best dive bar for a reason.

Up-Down Minneapolis

Up-Down

Lyn Lake

Great pizza, flowing beer, and a dizzying selection of video games
Up-Down is the ultimate fantasy fulfillment for gamer fans. Showcasing a unique collection of over 50 different classic arcade games, pinball machines, and Skee-Ball alleys, along with several N64 setups, life-sized Jenga, and Connect Four sets, this is definitely a spot for people who like to play. Make sure to troll their website for ongoing updates on available pinball and arcade games, as well as daily drink and experience specials. If you feel like spending New Year’s Eve out of the house but in comfy clothes, this is your spot for interactive fun -- just make sure to get there early enough to snag your favorite games. The selection of 64 craft beers on tap, excellent pizza by the slice, and the fact that it’s always 21+ place it a notch above.

Vegas Lounge

St. Anthony Park

A den of karaoke and meat raffles
If there’s nothing you dream of more than bright lights and an open mic, look no further than the Vegas Lounge. This is a karaoke bar through and through. From the top-notch song selection to an excellent sound system, you’re guaranteed to have fun any night of the week. It serves up more than just karaoke, too, with a weekly lineup that includes bingo, meat raffles, $2 drink specials, and two-for-one happy hours. Release your inner pop star and swing through, especially on nights you know will get rowdy.

Troubadour Wine Bar

Troubadour Wine Bar

Uptown

An all-natural wine selection you can feel good about drinking
Troubadour advertises itself as an all-natural wine bar. That matters because -- as health-conscious oenophiles know -- cheaply or poorly made wines can often contain undesirable ingredients like added sulfites, pesticides, and unfiltered farm residues. Troubadour’s mission is to sell wines that are as clean, safe, and delicious as possible, and the bar pulls it off. Its menu has recently included rare varietals like Nebbiolo and Picpoul, as well as a solid range of the classic varietals like pinot noir and others you've probably already heard of. Troubadour’s current seasonal menu features wines exclusively made by women winemakers, so, by all means, support these ladies of the grape. Troubadour also has a small selection of beers on tap for those of you who don’t dig wine, but overall, it’s just a great little spot to just sit back and relax.

Bev's Wine Bar

North Loop

The wine bar that started it all in the North Loop
This place has been a North Loop institution since before it was known as the North Loop. For over 20 years, Bev’s has been serving up all kinds of wines by the glass and the bottle, along with a variety of nibbles and pizza for more substantial snackage. It’s also the sort of quaint little place where you can actually have a quiet conversation -- fueled by a simple, but high-quality, wine list. Bev’s keeps relatively short hours depending on the level of foot traffic, but don’t forget to reserve the space for private events.

Jackie Adelmann Photography

GYST Fermentation Bar

Uptown

Every food and drink item is somehow fermented
What if you need somewhere to go that offers interesting drinks with and without alcohol in them? Look no further than GYST Fermentation Bar, one of the more unique upstarts to grace Uptown’s dining scene. Everything on its menu is fermented. When it comes to food, this means things like pickles, cheeses, and pickled fish. Non-alcoholic beverages include a bracing range of kombucha, kvass (spiced brines, such as beet or pear brine), shrub sodas, and brine shots. Alcohol-wise, the tightly curated menu includes intriguing combinations such as sherry and cider or vermouth and kombucha, as well as a solid range of wines, beers, ciders, dessert, and fortified wines. Swing by for the afternoon happy hour or sign up for one of the many fermentation classes GYST hosts on subjects like making your own kombucha at home.   

The Restaurant Project

Young Joni

Northeast

Speakeasy great for drinks and wood-fired Asian-fusion pizza
The lines can be long to get in, but this hot spot, which only just opened, is so worth the wait. From creative, Asian-cuisine-inflected pizzas to gorgeous wood-fired side dishes, Young Joni’s perfectly executed menu is sure to surprise even the most wizened foodie. But Young Joni also has a secret back bar in addition to the main restaurant out front. Those facing a long wait can add their name to the list and hop down the alley to a speakeasy-style hole in the wall featuring Young Joni’s trademark creativity, but in cocktail form. Drinks include combinations like gin, saki, butterfly pea flower, and cucumber brine.

Bulls Horn

South Minneapolis

A true dive bar with extremely serious food
"Great food, no bull" is this bar's tagline, and you should pay attention to it. Bulls Horn is a local dive that was recently purchased and renovated by acclaimed local chef Doug Flicker. Reflecting a labor of love and an homage to Flicker’s favorite local haunt, he kept the bar's original vibes (which likely date back to 1935) but revamped the important stuff, like the food. You can’t go wrong here: one of the most acclaimed local chefs delivering delivered perfect chicken gizzards, pizza burgers, and adult-themed lunch trays like dill pickle fried chicken and ring bologna? In a dive bar with a respectable, affordable range of straightforward brewskis and a few wine selections? Keeping it simple can be oh so good.

Eliesa Johnson

Martina

South Minneapolis

South American flavors made to drink in the cold North
One of the most hotly anticipated debuts of 2017 is finally open, and boy was it worth the wait. With an astonishing Argentinian-inflected menu that includes fried blowfish tails, sea bolognese, and grilled octopus with bone marrow, you could be forgiven for never wandering past Martina's food menu. Don’t overlook the cocktails, however, which are just as creative as the dishes. The Kind of a Kalimotxo mixes red wine, rosso vermouth, amari, kola, lime, and nitrogen into a mix-and-matched wonder, and the Promiscuous includes a chest hair-raising vodka blend and basque olive brine. Non-drinkers can choose from a carefully prepared list of mocktails, and anyone who requires simpler tipples can order from beer, cider, or the encyclopedic wine list. Reservations are already nearly impossible to get, so book far ahead of time.

Up Next
Food & Drink

Where to Watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the Twin Cities

Published On 06/08/2018
T he World Cup only comes around once every four years, making it a perfectly justifiable excuse to day drink and watch a lot of TV from June 14 to July 15 this year. Unfortunately, Team USA isn’t vying for a title this time, but don’t let that stop you from scouting a spot at the bar to watch Russia host 31 other teams from around the world. The time difference from Moscow to Minneapolis is about eight hours, so prep for some late nights and early mornings with pub grub and pints. We’ve been doing some recon to scope out the best bars in the Twin Cities to watch the World Cup this summer, and even checked in with sportscaster John Strong, who's part of the FOX World Cup broadcast team for his Twin Cities picks, too. Since it’s early yet, be sure check back for updates on opening times and food and drink specials.
The Local

The Local

Downtown Minneapolis

Best for: Commingling with Ireland fans
OK, so Ireland is also out of Cup competition, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t party like it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Fans of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Everton, and Arsenal FC have gathered here in years past, and many days the bar opens early just for football fans. The Local offers good grub specials and $4.50 Guinness, Newcastle, and Heineken pints, plus pours the largest volume of Jameson in the world, which is reason enough to stop by for the Cup.

Nomad World Pub

West Bank

Best for: Tottenham Spurs (London) fans
Nomad is the little brick pub that could when it comes to catering to true football fans. With nearly all Premier League matches and select Champions League matches shown during the season, the World Cup is the crown jewel in the bar’s already busy soccer schedule. We think it’s no coincidence it’s also home to the “Midwest’s largest free toast buffet,” as you’ll need some carbs between your morning Bloody Mary and afternoon beers during back-to-back games.

Merlin's Rest

Merlins Rest Pub

Longfellow

Best for: Fans of the British Isles who love scotch
Merlins is a beloved dive bar and neighborhood haunt a bit off the beaten path with lots of character. They're also a bar that celebrates the four “isles”: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. As such, they will most definitely have the Cup on. While you're there you should order a single-malt; they boast one of the best scotch menus in the region.

Brit's Pub

Downtown Minneapolis

Best for: Fans of England
You can almost close your eyes at Brit’s and imagine you’re in England instead of downtown Minneapolis... especially at World Cup watch parties. Brit’s brings drink specials like $4.50 Strongbow, Guinness, and Heineken pints along with free parking before noon on the weekends, a coveted Downtown amenity. When the weather suits, The Cup will also take over the pub’s more than 10,000-square-foot rooftop lawn with games shown on a large projection screen and outdoor TV’s.

Sisyphus Brewing

Sisyphus Brewing

Loring Park

Best for: Fans of other sports -- and dogs
If your idea of “watching” the World Cup is occasionally glancing at a TV over the shoulder of your significant other and you’re a dog person, Sisyphus has you covered with The World Pup Cup. Ahead of the games, on June 9, the brewery will bring two teams of “free agents" -- aka puppies from local animal shelters -- to compete in a friendly soccer game. Afterwards, all the dogs will be available for adoption. The event is sponsored by the Minnesota United supporters’ group, Dark Clouds. Oh, and the real Cup will be on, too.

Kieran's Irish Pub

Kieran's Irish Pub

Downtown Minneapolis

Best for: Team USA fans commiserating
Kieran’s touts itself as Minneapolis’ “official” US soccer bar. We’re not quite sure how they got this designation, but even though Team USA isn’t competing in the Cup, Kieran's will be packed at match time. Known for lots of Irish whiskey -- 23 different kinds, to be exact -- this is the perfect place to drown your sorrows if you’re a serious Team USA fan.

Hammer & Sickle

Hammer & Sickle

Uptown

Best for: Fans of Russia
This bar, named after the emblem of the former Soviet Union, is not typically a sports spot. However, with Russia hosting the Cup this year, its TVs will sporadically show the games -- and definitely when the motherland is playing. Order a plate of pierogies, a Moscow Mule, and a caviar flight, and pretend you left the country to watch the matches live.

City Works

City Works

Downtown Minneapolis

Best for: Craft beer and a surprising watch venue
This Hennepin hangout is always packed during Timberwolves games, with walls of TVs, a super-open layout, and more than 90 craft beers on tap. Probably best known as a place to watch basketball, it’s a lesser-known fact City Works televises Premier League soccer matches throughout the year, as well as non-mainstream international games, so they’ll definitely have the Cup. Who would have guessed a spot so close to Target Center had some serious soccer game?

Jake O'Connor's Public House

Excelsior

Best for: Fans in the ‘burbs
If you live west of the city, look no further than Jake O’Connor’s to have your back with hard-to-find Cup matches. With 50-inch TVs, one 100-inch TV, and match time drink specials, it’s your best bet for a place to go cheer on (civilly, mind you; it’s in Excelsior) your favorite international team without having to hop on the highway downtown.

Crooked Pint

Crooked Pint Ale House

Downtown Minneapolis

Best for: Team USA fans getting rowdy
Crooked Pint is known for being close to US Bank Stadium, having a massive space, and tons of TVs. But, a little-known fact is they’re also the “official” bar of the American Outlaws, an unofficial supporters’ association for the US Men’s and Women’s national teams that ESPN once called a “raucous group.” You’ll be able to catch the Cup, sip on nearly 30 craft brews on tap, and maybe even watch things get a little rowdy during close matches.

Town Hall Brewery

West Bank

Best for: Fans near campus
Town Hall was a brewery before breweries were trendy. If you’re looking for a chill, no-frills place to catch the Cup where no one will yell at you for taking up a table by yourself, this is it. During the season, Town Hall shows every MNUFC match, and current and former Loons players stop by often. For the Cup, Town Hall will offer $3 select pints during each match along with app specials.

Half Time Rec

Half Time Rec

Como

Best for: Fans in St. Paul
This dive bar is best known for two things: its bocce ball courts and the fact it made an appearance in the movie Grumpy Old Men. Somehow, both of these things draw people here, as well as the fact that they’ve shown the World Cup for as far back as anyone recalls. With more than 20 beers on tap, the Twin Cities Burger Battle Champion title, and some good old-fashioned service, it’s the best bet east of the river to catch all the action.

MackKenzie Pub

Downtown Minneapolis

Best for: Fans of Scotland
Right on Hennepin, Mackenzie advertises itself (literally, with a sign) as an “American bar with a Scotch flavor,” and so naturally, they’ll have the Cup. Forty-two-inch TVs, a massive craft beer selection, and traditional Scottish fare like Scotch eggs make this an ideal spot to stop over your lunch hour or after work to catch up on the day’s upsets.

Food & Drink

The Best Bars to Watch the Super Bowl in the Twin Cities

Published On 01/26/2018