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A small cocktail glass filled with reddish liquid on a wooden bar.
Earl Giles’ cocktail room is now open in Northeast.
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

The Hottest Spots for Cocktails in the Twin Cities Right Now

Pineapple toddies in Near North, swanky hotel nightcaps, and more noteworthy spots for great cocktails

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Earl Giles’ cocktail room is now open in Northeast.
| Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

From subterranean bars to local distilleries, there’s no shortage of excellent cocktail bars to explore in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This heatmap highlights notable spots that have recently opened or reopened around the Twin Cities. Here are a few places to try during winter’s long, chilly evenings: Warm your hands around a mug of solera-aged egg nog, slurp down a dreamy, gold-dusted Jello shot, or grab an Absinthe nightcap at a swanky hotel bar.

Note that these bars and restaurants are listed geographically.

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Emerald Lounge

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St. Paul’s chic Emerald Lounge follows up on the promise of its name, incorporating vivid green details throughout its cozy, living room-esque space. Here, cocktails range from a fall-spiced Old Fashioned to La Petite Mort, a low-proof, effervescent blend of orange aperitivo, cava, and absinthe. Oh, and the bar claims to make the coldest martini in town. Emerald Lounge also offers food and desserts — curl up in one of the booths with a maple and clove creme brulee.

Chip's Clubhouse

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Nestled into St. Paul’s Mac Groveland neighborhood, Chip’s Clubhouse is an understated space with a nostalgic clubhouse style. It serves fresh takes on British pub classics, and has an excellent cocktail menu: Try a Tomcat Collins, made with local Tattersall gin, creme de fleur, lemon, blueberry, or a lime-and-orange Tee Tai.

Gus Gus

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In March, chef Kevin Manley and Anna Morgan transformed the former Stewart’s space on Cleveland Avenue into Gus Gus, an intimate, subterranean spot that’s by turns quirky, elegant, and exceptionally fun. From the drinks menu, Gus Gus’s trademark is Jell-O shots made with Aperol and Tattersall bitter orange, served as shimmery cubes on a plate. If you’re more in the mood for a sip than a bite, any cocktail here is a great bet, from the brown butter bourbon served neat to the effervescent Spritz Salato, made with Fino sherry.

Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery

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Before Earl Giles was ever a distillery, it was an apothecary of sorts — owners Jesse Held and Jeff Erkkila crafted elixirs, syrups, and cordials, playing with sugar’s vital role in the cocktail glass. They finally debuted Earl Giles as a distillery, cocktail room, and restaurant this summer, infusing the entire space — a former stagecoach factory on Northeast Minneapolis’s Quincy Street — with a sense of invention and whimsy. Most everything there is house-made, like the gin in the Rabbit Kick, which tastes like a carrot Dreamsicle, and the black spruce and douglas fir elixir in the Evergreen Collins, which captures the pine-drunk essence of a day spent in northern Minnesota. Twelve sweet nonalcoholic draft drinks (like the tropical ginger beer and makrut phosphate) gush from a row of silver faucets behind the bar.

A cocktail in a copper glass with lots of ice and a dried fruit rind.
Earl Giles has an irresistible sense of whimsy.
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

Meteor made for an inspiring story during the pandemic. A long-time dream by expert barmen and co-owners Robb Jones and Elliot Manthey, the bar almost didn’t come into fruition due to COVID-19 — but a year and a half later, Meteor is standing strong. The interior is all walnut and brick and black leather stools, never trying too hard. But the drinks are imaginative and complex, changing week to week with the bartenders’ latest obsessions. Recent inventions include a pineapple toddy and a solera-aged egg nog.

Skaalvenn Distillery & Cocktail Lounge

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Skaalvenn Distillery quietly debuted a lounge in late 2020, putting Brooklyn Park on the map of exceptional cocktail spots. Owners Mary and Tyson Schnitker put their life savings on the line to open their distillery, and have fostered a remarkable team of alumni from Travail, Fig + Farrow, and other Twin Cities hot spots. (Bonus: They offer health care benefits and PTO to their staff.) The cocktail lounge melds Japanese influences with Skaalvenn’s Nordic bend. The cocktails are nuanced and imaginative, like the Kornstock ‘99, which blends butter bourbon with nixtamalized corn orgeat, orange liqueur, and queso fresco.

A cocktail glass with an opaque red ice cube floating at the top, garnished with mint.
Spirits by Skaalvenn in Brooklyn Park.
Skaalvenn Distillery

Sanjusan

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Sanjusan doesn’t take itself too seriously, which can feel like a rarity in today’s bar scene. Cocktails come with a welcome dose of whimsy, like a cotton candy cloud garnish. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this means the drinks here are sickly sweet — rather, they show the team’s prowess and restraint. Sanjusan is a mix of Italian and Japanese cuisines: A balance of bitter and crisp flavors appear in many of the drinks. Try the Kita highball with boreal genepi, or the juicy yuzu Hana Hachi.

A martini glass is filled with orange liquid on a blonde wood table. It appears that there is a floating cloud above the glass, because a cotton candy puff is placed on it.
This cocktail comes with a cloud of cotton candy.
Joy Summers

Billy After Dark

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Billy After Dark is the clandestine complement to chef Billy Tserentbat’s swanky North Loop sushi restaurant, Billy Sushi. Wander down the alley to the right of the building, and find the back door market with a neon sign. B.A.D. is both sleek and cavernous, the ceiling flecked with L.E.D. stars. Gaze on the collection of fine Japanese whiskies encased in an elegant, back-lit wall display. It’s best to make a reservation in advance.

Miaou Miaou

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Miaou Miaou is the cocktail component to Blondette, chef Danny del Prado’s new “French punk” restaurant at the Rand Tower Hotel. The bar keeps the French theme but infuses it with juicy tropical notes of guava, mango, and passionfruit. It’s a sleek spot for a nightcap.

Bar Rufus

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Bar Rufus, concepted by local chef and restaurateur Danny del Prado, is the newest tenant of the historic Rand Tower Hotel. The bar and restaurant is cloaked in swanky shades of emerald, midnight blue, and bronze — it’s an homage to Rufus Rand, a World War I pilot and the namesake of the hotel. The cocktail list has a sophisticated French influence, from the effervescent kir royale to the Bonne Nuit, made with Rittenhouse rye and anise.

An Old Fashioned cocktail on a small gold plate on a suede emerald backdrop.
An Old Fashioned at Bar Rufus.
Canary Grey

Little Tijuana Neighborhood Lounge

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Late-night neighborhood bar Little Tijuana reopened in the Whittier neighborhood this summer. A long-time Eat Street favorite, Little T’s has kept the name and changed the menu. At the bar, expect a heavy-hitting cocktail menu with plenty of mezcal, pineapple, and craft bitters. There are slushie machines, too, one of them housing a heady pina colada blend. Old cassette tapes and vinyl records are on rotation behind the bar.

A lineup of cocktails on a table in front of patterned wallpaper.
A cocktails lineup from Little T’s.
Gene Pease

Arts + Rec Uptown

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Arts + Rec, an art-themed spot in Seven Points shopping center, is Uptown’s latest bar. The menu is fun and snacky (think Dorito-crusted cheese curds and ham-and-pickle croquettes), but the cocktail list is a little more reserved. The August Bar, an homage to homegrown theater legend August Wilson, takes on a Jean-Michelle Basquiat decor style. Try the Heavy Hitter, made with ancho-infused Dampfwerks gin and lemongrass syrup, or a cranberry Collins.

An orange cocktail with an umbrella in it on a black table.
Grab a drink on the rooftop of Seven Points.
TJ Turner

Petite León

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This reborn neighborhood bistro has a cozy bar featuring co-owner Travis Serbus’ citrus-forward drinks. As of late, cocktails feature notes of avocado, grapefruit, and lime — the Moon Dog, made with mezcal, green chartreuse, and tamarind is a highlight. Try a non-alcoholic Negroni with juniper and bitter orange, or a tepache milk punch. Food from James Beard-nominated chef Jorge Guzmán makes for excellent pairings.

In a coup glass a bright, deep pink cocktail with a white frothy head sits on a black table with a black background. It seems as though there is a spotlight on the drink
A frothy, bright sipper at Petite León.
Lucy Hawthorne

Khâluna

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Talented beverage director Trish Gavin crafted the cocktail menu at Khâluna, chef Ann Ahmed’s latest venture on Lyndale Avenue. The restaurant is designed to emulate a tropical beach resort in Asia, and the bar menu deftly follows suit. The Balinese fruited tonic, made with jujube, calamansi, jackfruit, and frangipani is a highlight.

Emerald Lounge

St. Paul’s chic Emerald Lounge follows up on the promise of its name, incorporating vivid green details throughout its cozy, living room-esque space. Here, cocktails range from a fall-spiced Old Fashioned to La Petite Mort, a low-proof, effervescent blend of orange aperitivo, cava, and absinthe. Oh, and the bar claims to make the coldest martini in town. Emerald Lounge also offers food and desserts — curl up in one of the booths with a maple and clove creme brulee.

Chip's Clubhouse

Nestled into St. Paul’s Mac Groveland neighborhood, Chip’s Clubhouse is an understated space with a nostalgic clubhouse style. It serves fresh takes on British pub classics, and has an excellent cocktail menu: Try a Tomcat Collins, made with local Tattersall gin, creme de fleur, lemon, blueberry, or a lime-and-orange Tee Tai.

Gus Gus

In March, chef Kevin Manley and Anna Morgan transformed the former Stewart’s space on Cleveland Avenue into Gus Gus, an intimate, subterranean spot that’s by turns quirky, elegant, and exceptionally fun. From the drinks menu, Gus Gus’s trademark is Jell-O shots made with Aperol and Tattersall bitter orange, served as shimmery cubes on a plate. If you’re more in the mood for a sip than a bite, any cocktail here is a great bet, from the brown butter bourbon served neat to the effervescent Spritz Salato, made with Fino sherry.

Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery

Before Earl Giles was ever a distillery, it was an apothecary of sorts — owners Jesse Held and Jeff Erkkila crafted elixirs, syrups, and cordials, playing with sugar’s vital role in the cocktail glass. They finally debuted Earl Giles as a distillery, cocktail room, and restaurant this summer, infusing the entire space — a former stagecoach factory on Northeast Minneapolis’s Quincy Street — with a sense of invention and whimsy. Most everything there is house-made, like the gin in the Rabbit Kick, which tastes like a carrot Dreamsicle, and the black spruce and douglas fir elixir in the Evergreen Collins, which captures the pine-drunk essence of a day spent in northern Minnesota. Twelve sweet nonalcoholic draft drinks (like the tropical ginger beer and makrut phosphate) gush from a row of silver faucets behind the bar.

A cocktail in a copper glass with lots of ice and a dried fruit rind.
Earl Giles has an irresistible sense of whimsy.
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

Meteor

Meteor made for an inspiring story during the pandemic. A long-time dream by expert barmen and co-owners Robb Jones and Elliot Manthey, the bar almost didn’t come into fruition due to COVID-19 — but a year and a half later, Meteor is standing strong. The interior is all walnut and brick and black leather stools, never trying too hard. But the drinks are imaginative and complex, changing week to week with the bartenders’ latest obsessions. Recent inventions include a pineapple toddy and a solera-aged egg nog.

Skaalvenn Distillery & Cocktail Lounge

Skaalvenn Distillery quietly debuted a lounge in late 2020, putting Brooklyn Park on the map of exceptional cocktail spots. Owners Mary and Tyson Schnitker put their life savings on the line to open their distillery, and have fostered a remarkable team of alumni from Travail, Fig + Farrow, and other Twin Cities hot spots. (Bonus: They offer health care benefits and PTO to their staff.) The cocktail lounge melds Japanese influences with Skaalvenn’s Nordic bend. The cocktails are nuanced and imaginative, like the Kornstock ‘99, which blends butter bourbon with nixtamalized corn orgeat, orange liqueur, and queso fresco.

A cocktail glass with an opaque red ice cube floating at the top, garnished with mint.
Spirits by Skaalvenn in Brooklyn Park.
Skaalvenn Distillery

Sanjusan

Sanjusan doesn’t take itself too seriously, which can feel like a rarity in today’s bar scene. Cocktails come with a welcome dose of whimsy, like a cotton candy cloud garnish. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this means the drinks here are sickly sweet — rather, they show the team’s prowess and restraint. Sanjusan is a mix of Italian and Japanese cuisines: A balance of bitter and crisp flavors appear in many of the drinks. Try the Kita highball with boreal genepi, or the juicy yuzu Hana Hachi.

A martini glass is filled with orange liquid on a blonde wood table. It appears that there is a floating cloud above the glass, because a cotton candy puff is placed on it.
This cocktail comes with a cloud of cotton candy.
Joy Summers

Billy After Dark

Billy After Dark is the clandestine complement to chef Billy Tserentbat’s swanky North Loop sushi restaurant, Billy Sushi. Wander down the alley to the right of the building, and find the back door market with a neon sign. B.A.D. is both sleek and cavernous, the ceiling flecked with L.E.D. stars. Gaze on the collection of fine Japanese whiskies encased in an elegant, back-lit wall display. It’s best to make a reservation in advance.

Miaou Miaou

Miaou Miaou is the cocktail component to Blondette, chef Danny del Prado’s new “French punk” restaurant at the Rand Tower Hotel. The bar keeps the French theme but infuses it with juicy tropical notes of guava, mango, and passionfruit. It’s a sleek spot for a nightcap.

Bar Rufus

Bar Rufus, concepted by local chef and restaurateur Danny del Prado, is the newest tenant of the historic Rand Tower Hotel. The bar and restaurant is cloaked in swanky shades of emerald, midnight blue, and bronze — it’s an homage to Rufus Rand, a World War I pilot and the namesake of the hotel. The cocktail list has a sophisticated French influence, from the effervescent kir royale to the Bonne Nuit, made with Rittenhouse rye and anise.

An Old Fashioned cocktail on a small gold plate on a suede emerald backdrop.
An Old Fashioned at Bar Rufus.
Canary Grey

Little Tijuana Neighborhood Lounge

Late-night neighborhood bar Little Tijuana reopened in the Whittier neighborhood this summer. A long-time Eat Street favorite, Little T’s has kept the name and changed the menu. At the bar, expect a heavy-hitting cocktail menu with plenty of mezcal, pineapple, and craft bitters. There are slushie machines, too, one of them housing a heady pina colada blend. Old cassette tapes and vinyl records are on rotation behind the bar.

A lineup of cocktails on a table in front of patterned wallpaper.
A cocktails lineup from Little T’s.
Gene Pease

Arts + Rec Uptown

Arts + Rec, an art-themed spot in Seven Points shopping center, is Uptown’s latest bar. The menu is fun and snacky (think Dorito-crusted cheese curds and ham-and-pickle croquettes), but the cocktail list is a little more reserved. The August Bar, an homage to homegrown theater legend August Wilson, takes on a Jean-Michelle Basquiat decor style. Try the Heavy Hitter, made with ancho-infused Dampfwerks gin and lemongrass syrup, or a cranberry Collins.

An orange cocktail with an umbrella in it on a black table.
Grab a drink on the rooftop of Seven Points.
TJ Turner

Petite León

This reborn neighborhood bistro has a cozy bar featuring co-owner Travis Serbus’ citrus-forward drinks. As of late, cocktails feature notes of avocado, grapefruit, and lime — the Moon Dog, made with mezcal, green chartreuse, and tamarind is a highlight. Try a non-alcoholic Negroni with juniper and bitter orange, or a tepache milk punch. Food from James Beard-nominated chef Jorge Guzmán makes for excellent pairings.

In a coup glass a bright, deep pink cocktail with a white frothy head sits on a black table with a black background. It seems as though there is a spotlight on the drink
A frothy, bright sipper at Petite León.
Lucy Hawthorne

Khâluna

Talented beverage director Trish Gavin crafted the cocktail menu at Khâluna, chef Ann Ahmed’s latest venture on Lyndale Avenue. The restaurant is designed to emulate a tropical beach resort in Asia, and the bar menu deftly follows suit. The Balinese fruited tonic, made with jujube, calamansi, jackfruit, and frangipani is a highlight.

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