We've got a fresh blanket of snow and the holiday music is impossible to avoid: time to think about winter drinking, shopping and the general seasonal readiness.
—Johnny Micheals promises a spirit-fueled celebration of nostalgia in a glass out at The Alchemist. The former La Belle Vie barman/craft cocktail Svengali and author of The North Star Cocktails is bringing back some menu favorites from the lounge at 510 Groveland. While he's still putting the final touches on the menu, we've been promised the return of his expertly named concoctions, "Your Family Is Insane (But I Love You Anyway), The GrinchNog , ElfyContinPunch, The Mistletoe" and more.
—Another holiday drink to get excited about is the return of Robb Jones' Tom & Jerry mix at Spoon and Stable. Forget that gloppy goo from your parents cocktail parties, this is decadent drinking at its finest. He only makes it when six inches of snow have fallen or more. Anyone counting how many we've gotten today so far?
—Now, that we're all liquored up, seems safe to consider present shopping. The Mall of America is welcoming several new eateries (in addition to that Shake Shack we're stuck waiting until next summer for.) Say what you will about the retail behemoth, out of town guests love seeing the stores they know and love in mega-sized proportions. Stephanie March of Mpls./St. Paul Magazine has a full run down of the new, like Burger Burger (from the company that brought us Crave), Cantina Lared (upscale Mexican), Cedar + Stone (the "urban" table in the suburban setting) and many more.
—Wondering what to get the gluten lover in your life? How about a stake in Brake Bread? These ambitious bakers have been delivering freshly made bread along West 7th in Saint Paul by bike once a week, all year long, more reliable than the mail. The team is now ready to expand into a real bakery. Tales of the crust and hearty chew on this stuff has reached legendary proportions. Micah Taylor and Nate Houge are committed to doing more for the neighborhood than making great bread. It's about being a dedicated part of the community, helping neighbors, coming together - real It's-a-Wonderful-Life type stuff. They're Kickstaring the "brakery" which is slated to open in 2016 across West 7th from Mojo Monkey Donuts.
—Speaking of opening, Domo Gastro is now open in Northeast! Right by Lush, the neon green painted eatery is serving ramen, Korean twice fried chicken, bun (noodle salad), kimchi fries and more. They also job share, which means your chef is your bartender is your server, depending on the night. (My sister! My mother! My sister! My mother!)
—Also open is i.e. Italian Eatery. The menu is stacked with what you want to eat in the winter: pastas; veal, pork and beef meatballs; charred octopus and brussel sprouts (no respectable restaurant is allowed to open without them these days.) If the food lives up to the menu, this could be a game changer for the neighborhood.