Head Bartender Marvel Bar, Minneapolis
Now one of the country’s top “it” destinations for fine dining and cocktails, Minneapolis owes much of its craft cocktail rebirth to Marvel Bar. Opened in 2011, Marvel Bar is the basement speakeasy beneath The Bachelor Farmer
. There, bartenders serve up one of the most cutting-edge bar programs in the world. Matthew Voss, who has been at Marvel Bar since its inception, is one of the main forces behind the bar’s success and its singular style of cocktails.
A native Minnesotan, Voss’ first job in the service industry was working at a neighborhood restaurant called the Longfellow Grill while he was in highschool. “It was the first place that I saw you could change the world through service,” says Voss. “That was the start of everything.”
After highschool, Voss landed a bartending position at Cafe Maude where he worked under beverage director Pip Hanson, one of the few bartenders to have studied in Japan under master bartender Kazuo Uyeda, inventor of the hard shake one of the progenitors of the Japanese cocktail movement. “Pip was so gracious to take me under his wing and teach me everything he knew from his time spent at bars in Japan,” says Voss. “He taught me that there is purpose in every movement behind the bar, that the drink is just the start, that the process is just as important. It’s how you’re spoken to, and it’s how cold or warm your seat is. The second a guest orders a Martini, it becomes an important experience between just us.”
Eventually, Hanson tapped Voss to work with him at Marvel Bar, where he became the head bartender after Hanson left to helm the Artesian Bar in London in 2015. At Marvel Bar, Voss uses his training to create incredible cocktails both classic and original. “My style, and the style of Marvel Bar, is minimalist and rigorous,” says Voss. “We tend to stay true to the very classic format of three ingredients. But our goal is to let those ingredients shine on their own. It can be overwhelming to create a cocktail out of nothing, so the restraint of three ingredients can be liberating—but it takes discipline too. Less is actually more if done right.”
The Smoke & Wine cocktail is a prime example. “It touches on Pip’s influence on me and his connection with Japan,” says Voss. “But the drink is also very me.” Made with Suntory’s Hakushu 12-Year Single Malt Whisky, two types of vermouth (Miro Rojo Vermut de Reus and Abbe Rous Matifoc Rancio Sec) and water, the cocktail is almost like a bigger, more brazenly flavorful take on a Rob Roy. “It’s a classic build—but in more of a Marvel way,” says Voss. “We’re taking something compact and stretching it—taking really great, unique flavors, and building them in a way that plays off each other so that no flavor is more dominant than another. And the drink is balanced so that it creates something new and hard to place.”