Gone are the days in which tracking down a quality cocktail is a difficult after-work task. Even the diviest of Twin Cities' dives can stir up a solid mixed drink. While this makes a weekday Manhattan an easy win, the cocktail's newfound ubiquity in the area makes truly craft cocktails even more impressive. These 14 spots (plus one honorable mention) are true arbiters of booze: their precise dedication to libations results in a product that is truly worthy of your buzz.
The flagship of the Jester Concepts bar group has held strong since hiring local craft wizard Jesse Held to lead the team. The Parlour Old Fashioned is now a Twin Cities classic cocktail in its own right, while the layered Wise Beyond His Years (Scotch, spiced vanilla liquor, honey, and lemon) shows off the team’s more experimental strokes.
One of the things that makes Heyday -- already one of our all-time favorite Twin Cities restaurants -- stand out is its addition of an extremely well-executed cocktail program. The bar flaunts its skill in drinks like the Bitter Redhead, a blend of bourbon, Campari, ginger, jalapeño, and lemon that is balanced into a cocktail that’s sweet, sour, spicy, and just a little bit floral.
Like the rest of the Jester Concepts family, Constantine, which just turned one, features cocktails from Jesse Held, but that’s the only similarity between it and its older siblings. Located in the dark basement of Hotel Ivy, the spot doesn’t take itself too seriously, rolling with a menu of cheeky drinks, like the Lumbersexual, which mixes citrus vodka, orange curacao, lime, and cranberry cordials. But don’t let that playfulness make you think this spot is anything but a fantastic bar. Constantine does its cocktail well. Really, really well.
Saint Dinette shines bright under the big shadow cast by its older sister, The Strip Club Meat & Fish. For a sampling of its wares, order the Thanks for Last Night. The drink features tequila, sweet corn tomatillo, Zing Zang, and lime, and comes with your choice of a Sol Mexican Lager; or the Healthy Vacation, an equally impressive concoction of Gosling's dark rum, mezcal, honey liqueur, ginger, lime, and a mixture of bitters. If you show up for brunch, the morning cocktails stand up to the late-night fare, and the staff makes a mean Bloody.
This little bar, situated right along Nicollet Ave’s Eat Street, has been serving up outstanding cocktails for years. The main bar features rotating seasonal drinks like The Drunken Botanist, an aptly named concoction that features gin, strawberry rhubarb, sake, lemon, pineapple, rose, and orange bitters. And you can hit up the special Tiki bar in back for all your fruity, heavily garnished drink needs.
When it first opened, Volstead’s Emporium took a lot of flack in the community for its strict speakeasy approach. No website, Facebook page, or anything more than mere word of mouth to spread info on this Lyndale spot may seem a little too pretentious to some, but the level of quality that continues to match the secrecy makes it all work exceptionally well.
For the sake of the speakeasy, all we can tell you in regard to location is that the door is located in a back alley at Lake & Lyndale, behind a well-known cowboy-themed bar. Once inside, if nothing on the frequently changing menu catches your eye, ask a bartender for help, or trust that the Old Fashioned, or any of the sherry-based cocktails, have yet to disappoint.
Du Nord distillery’s in-house cocktail room features a few signature drinks utilizing its own brand of L’etoile Vodka and Fitzgerald Gin along with a list of various seasonal offerings. If you’re thinking what we’re thinking, a Fitzgerald & tonic can’t happen fast enough.
When it comes to having a reputation that can’t be overrepresented, The Strip Club in St. Paul consistently exceeds expectations, and that also extends to its bar program. Cocktails like the longstanding Cobra Kai, which features Kilo Kai Rum, habanero bitters, and the house-made sour, are simple mixtures, so the ingredients and expertly layered flavors shine.
Having earned a well-deserved national rep for its cocktail program, Marvel Bar continues to deliver one of the best top-shelf bar experiences in the area. Its signature Oliveto cocktail features olive oil, egg white, lemon, Licor 43, and Gordon’s gin, while the Gatsby combines Benedictine, Tomatin 12 Year Scotch, salt, apricot, and water for a truly delicious drinking experience.
Gavin Kaysen’s North Loop dining destination has quickly earned its place as one of the top spots in the Cities to nab a delicious drink courtesy of Robb Jones masterful cocktail menu. A beautiful pisco sour always hits the spot, but Spoon & Stable’s variation makes the classic even better with Macchu Pisco, pineapple, orange flower water, and lemon, while the spot’s play on an Old Fashioned includes Plantation Grande Réserve rum, Angostura, and a muted sweetness from roasted pineapple demerara.
This might be the new holy land for cocktails in the Twin Cities as legendary barman Dan Oskey has created a brand-new distilling empire. While you can find Tattersall's spirits in many of the liquor stores about town, head straight to the source: the bartenders at the massive cocktail room are constantly putting together drinks of the absolute highest caliber.
With a signature drink list laced with outstanding cocktails like the And Fire In The Sky (mezcal, Cynar, maraschino, demerara sugar, and lemon juice) or the Ballad Of A Thin Man (Tattersall Aquavit, pineapple and lime juices, and bitters), Icehouse unfailingly delivers on its cocktails. However, what we are really loving are its $5 sipping shots. Smaller than a typical drink, but fixed on ice to prevent shooting, these drinks might just be the best cocktail deal in the Twin Cities.
With offerings like the Keyser Söze (tequila, ginger, lime, and black currant), the Satan Laughs & Spreads His Wings (a blend of bourbon, hazelnut orange liqueur, and spicy bitters), or the Playing Make Up, Wearing Guitar (a carbonated bourbon Manhattan with cola-cherry bitters), you get your five dollars' worth every. Single. Time.
The godfather of Twin Cities craft cocktails, Bradstreet Crafthouse has maintained its standard (and name) since moving to a new, larger Uptown area location from its original spot in the Graves Hotel, where it’d been since 2009. The signature Bradstreet cocktail, made of Jim Beam Rye, jasmine, ginger, lemon, and egg white, weathered the move in style, but the rest of the menu is equally worth your attention; if you’ve never tried an on-tap cocktail, test the waters with the Professor (gin, lime, ginger, and Angostura bitters).
Perfect for a cocktail novice, Tongue in Cheek breaks its menu down into flavor categories to help guide your palate. Looking for something spicy? Try the Mother of Dragons, which features jalapeño-infused Jim Beam, Mathilde Pêche, and passion fruit. Want to ease in with something sweet? Go for the Ron Swanson, a loaded combination of Bulleit Rye, Luxardo Maraschino, Ferrand Dry Curaçao, and Blackstrap Bitters. If you need more guidance, opt for a flight, which features one from each category, and let the bartenders talk you through the lineup.
The folks behind popular Bittercube bitters just opened this Seward spot at the tail end of June. While it's too new to declare “best,” that Lawless Distilling has culled together an impressive menu of cocktails all made with its own vodkas and gins warrants an honorable mention, and a call for you to grab a spot on the patio ASAP.
Sign up here for our daily MSP email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun the Twin Cities have to offer.
1. Parlour730 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis
2. Heyday2700 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
3. Constantine1115 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis
4. Saint Dinette261 5th St E, Saint Paul
5. Eat Street Social18 West 26th St, Minneapolis
6. Volstead's Emporium711 W. Lake, Minneapolis
7. Du Nord Craft Spirits2610 E 32nd St, Minneapolis
8. The Strip Club Meat & Fish378 Maria Ave, St. Paul
9. The Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis
10. Spoon and Stable211 North First St, Minneapolis
11. Tattersall Distilling's Cocktail Room1620 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis
12. Icehouse2528 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
13. Bradstreet Neighborhood Crafthouse1930 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
14. Tongue In Cheek989 Payne Ave, Saint Paul
15. Lawless Distilling Company2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis
On the lower level of North Loop’s Borough, you’ll find Parlour, a cozy and intimate bar serving up classic cocktails, like martinis and gimlets, with fresh-squeezed juice, house-made syrups, elixirs, and artisanal spirits. The small bites menu touts New American dishes like tuna crudo and the Parlour Burger, made with ground sirloin, ribeye, brisket, and American cheese. The space is equally industrial and warm; the concrete ceiling is complemented by plush, tufted banquettes and small tables that sit in front of a large wall of windows.
When it comes to affordable yet elegant cuisine, Heyday is your spot. It's easily one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, if not the country. Head to this rustic-chic space (it sports exposed brick and a gorgeous wooden-beamed ceiling) for favorites like the chicken liver tart, chilled blue mussels, and grilled quail, which all help to create a downright exquisite menu. Be sure to leave room for at least one of the inventive desserts including pea shell sorbet, and wash it all down with a creative cocktail like the Don't Think Twice with pisco, aperol, grapefruit, and elderflower.
Housed in the luxurious Hotel Ivy in Downtown Minneapolis, this subterranean, slightly vampiric bar is known for its "Whiskey Chapel" and various cocktail offerings, all crafted by mixologists. Constantine also serves a number of elevated bar bites, like fois gras nachos. Despite the decor and fancy dishes, Constantine never takes itself too seriously, which is evident in its cocktail names. For example, one of the best cocktails on the menu is the Lumbersexual, with contains citrus vodka, orange curacao, lime, and cranberry cordials.
Sant Dinette in Saint Paul is famous for its burger, which is a masterclass in simplicity—it’s a rich and succulent double burger engulfed in creamy cheddar cheese between light-yet-buttery toasted buns with a side of sweet pickles. An order of crispy, salty, crinkle cut fries will complete your true Saint DInette dining experience. Don't forget about its amazing cocktail list, which include signature cocktails Thanks for Last Night and Healthy Vacation. If you're there for brunch, make sure to indulge in the killer Bloodys.
Although they have quite a menu for brunch, lunch and dinner, Eat Street's real claim to fame are their drinkables, like their original soda fountain creations and their expertly concocted brunch booze and seasonal cocktails. For a more kitschy experience, hit up the Tiki Bar in the back for fruity, garnished drinks. Every day, Eat Street Social features different drink specials, so make frequent trips to this casual but elegant place to experience it all.
Volstead's Emporium is the pinnacle of secretive in Minneapolis: when it opened, it didn't have a website, Facebook page, or phone number. It relied purely on word of mouth. If you want in, we'll tell you that a door with a red light is located in a back alley at Lake & Lyndale, behind a well-known cowboy-themed bar. The always-changing menu is sure to have something to catch your eye, or you can go classic with a high-quality Old Fashioned.
Serving seasonal cocktails using their own distilled takes on gin and vodka, this South Minneapolis haunt is filling a much needed neighborhood niche. The cocktail room, which is in the distillery, was the first one in the Twin Cities area when it opened in 2015, and since then, it has been named "Best Cocktails" by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It also allows you to bring in your own food or have it delivered to the cocktail room.
Grass-fed beef is the name of the game at St. Paul’s premier meatery, an independent St. Paul chop and fish house, helmed by chef JD Fratzke. Strip House exhibits incredible use of ingredients from small, local farms, but it’s also distinctly unique and almost rustic despite its overall level of refinement and balance. The drink menu changes seasonally and the results are always spectacular, but even the long-standing staple drinks, like the Cobra Kai, are simply stunning.
Upstairs, at the Bachelor Farmer, you'll find a friendly brick-and-wood restaurant offering a variety of organic dishes made with ingredients from its rooftop garden and other local growers, while downstairs is a dimly lit speakeasy with expertly crafted cocktails. There, at Marvel Bar, you'll want to order the signature cocktail, Oliveto, which features olive oil, egg white, lemon, Licor 43, and Gordon’s gin.
The crew puts a lot of work and effort into the array of exquisite dishes and cocktails at this Downtown/Northloop. While nabbing a reservation might still be a little difficult, walking into the bar hasn’t ever really been an issue -- and you can order the full menu there, or choose from the equally delectable bar-only menu. The pastries are a solid choice for brunch, and mix up your typical Sunday mimosa morning with a Coffee 43 cocktail, which features cold-press coffee, Licor 43, tequila, and cream.
Located in the historic Thorpe building in NE Minneapolis, Tattersall Distilling offers distillery tours, private parties, and a cocktail room to fill all your liquor desires. Legendary bar owner Dan Oskey has created a gem in the city by providing a place for the people of the Twin Cities to enjoy expertly crafted cocktails from some of the most famous spirits in the area. The open area, which is adorned with steel and wood, creates a clean and inviting atmosphere for you to sip your cocktails.
This laid-back Whittier spot hosts live indie and jazz music acts daily in a two-story, polished industrial bar and restaurant (complete with plenty of large, comfy leather booths for the whole party). Head upstairs and watch the show, or stay downstairs for gourmet European and American fare like lobster gnocchi or a lamb platter. And it wouldn't be a real night at the Icehouse without going for one of their specialty cocktails or something from its massive top-shelf whiskey collection.
Bradstreet Neighborhood Crafthouse has some of the absolute best cocktails in Minneapolis and a nice array of small plates to go with them. Try the pork neck toast with their classic black walnut old fashioned. For the best cocktail experience, order the signature Bradstreet cocktail, made of Jim Beam Rye, jasmine, ginger, lemon, and egg white. The bar also offers on-tap cocktails, which are a must-try in this hip yet comfortable establishment.
Sleek and modern but still casual, this New American bistro specializes in chef-driven small plates and craft cocktails. The small, curated menu is full of locally-sourced meats and vegetables, with options for vegans and meat-lovers alike. Small plates can be ordered in flights, or you can opt for the six course meat-heavy tasting menu designed by head chef Leonard Anderson. House-infused liquors form the base of many of the unique cocktails on offer, which often use unusual salty, bitter, or spicy flavors. A backyard patio completes the restaurant with a breezy place to sip a drink and watch the city roll by.
Opened by the same guys behind Bittercube, Seward's industrial-chic, community-oriented Lawless Distilling Company creates all of its cocktails with the distillery's own vodkas and gins. The two signature spirits are the Tippling House Vodka, named after houses where alcohol was distilled during Prohibition in Minneapolis, and Greenway Gin, named after the bike highway. The patio is prime real estate at this hot spot, especially during the summer.