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Three cocktails sit on a wooden table: An orange cocktail, a pink cocktail in a gimlet glass, and a cocktail in an opaque white glass.
Earl Giles is now open in Northeast.
Earl Giles Distillery

The Hottest Spots for Cocktails in the Twin Cities Right Now

A new distillery and bar in Northeast, mezcal pours on Eat Street, and more noteworthy spots for great cocktails

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Earl Giles is now open in Northeast.
| Earl Giles Distillery

From subterranean bars to local distilleries, there’s no shortage of excellent cocktail bars to explore in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This heatmap highlights a handful that have opened or reopened recently around the Twin Cities. Here are a few places to try as the leaves turn: Groove to old records with a Negroni in hand, slurp down a dreamy, gold-dusted Jello shot, or indulge in a little summer nostalgia with a pina colada.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Macanda

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Chef Danny del Prado’s newest restaurant is Macanda, a Lake Minnetonka spot that’s influenced by Latin America’s literary tradition of magical realism. If you’re coming for dinner, sip an acai gin and tonic, or pair an Old Fashioned with notes mushrooms, walnuts, and chocolate with a rich oxtail mole. But Macanda’s true cocktail hot spot is the vinyl lounge and record bar, called the Macanda HiFi. Here, classic highballs, martinis and negronis take fruity and floral infusions (try the banana whey sour for a creamy balance to the tart notes).

Khâluna

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Talented beverage director Trish Gavin is behind the bar at Khâluna, chef Ann Ahmed’s latest venture on Lyndale Avenue. The restaurant’s interiors are 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.

Petite León

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This reborn neighborhood bistro has a cozy bar featuring co-owner Travis Serbus’ citrus-forward drinksr. As of late, cocktails feature notes of avocado, dragonfruit, grapefruit, and lemon — the Moon Dog, made with mezcal, green chartreuse, and tamarind is a highlight. For more classic takes, try a non-alcoholic Negroni with juniper and bitter orange, or a strawberry caipirinha. 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

Arts + Rec Uptown

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Arts + Rec, an art-themed, rooftop spot in Seven Points shopping center, is Uptown’s latest bar. The menu is fun and snacky (think waffle hot dogs, Dorito-encrusted fish, and ice cream sandwiches), and the cocktail list is a little more reserved. Try the Matcha Maker, made with Patron silver, matcha sour, and lime crema, or a rhubarb Collins. There are low-proofs and a few nonalcoholic drinks as well, like a raspberry mint iced tea. This is a great spot for a casual weekend night, or a cool drink after a stroll around Bde Maka Ska.

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

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.

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 one of Near North’s best cocktail bars. The interior is all walnut and brick and black leather stools, nothing that’s trying too hard. But the drinks are imaginative and complex, changing week to week with the bartenders’ latest obsessions. Recent inventions include a Tom Collins-style “Bow Chicka Cacao” cocktail made with Cynar, lemon, and cherry-cacao syrup.

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 Ikkyu highballs with shish bitters, or the Mican cocktail with blood orange and dry curaçao.

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

Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery

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Located in an 18,000-square-foot spot that was once a horse and buggy factory, Earl Giles feels almost more like a stylish greenhouse than a distillery: Co-owners Jesse Held and Jeff Erkkila have filled it with more than 600 plants and two live trees. But the 120 feet of bar space reveals the distillery’s true purpose. Earl Giles was founded as a bottling company in 2015 — back then, it made and distributed cocktail syrups, elixirs, cordials, and ginger beer. Now in full form, it’s serving cocktails like the Rabbit Kick, made with carrot, vanilla, citrus, and black pepper, and draft drinks like hard cherry vanilla colas and tropical ginger beer. A menu of pizza, salads, and sides is also available.

Lawless Distilling Company

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Lawless Distilling Company, which produces an array of vodkas, gins, rum, and liqueurs out of a warehouse in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, also operates a cozy cocktail lounge. The lounge was closed for a stint during the pandemic, but as of this spring it’s open again — this time around, with a slushy machine. The patio, draped in strings of fairy lights, is an ideal spot to enjoy a summer cocktail. Try the ‘Lawless Sling,” made with rum, pineapple amaro, and rootbeer bitters, or the “Spring Fever,” made with the distillery’s Greenway Gin, honey, and heirloom crème de flora.

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. (These are available without alcohol, too.) 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.

Chip's Clubhouse

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Nestled into St. Paul’s Mac Groveland neighborhood, Chip’s Clubhouse is an understated space curated in 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 gimlet blended with mango green tea cordial.

Emerald Lounge

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St. Paul’s chic Emerald Lounge follows up on the promise of its name with green details throughout the cozy living room-esque space. Here, cocktails include a version with three rums, lime, and honey-passionfruit syrup, its take on an Old Fashioned, and a drink, fittingly, with green chartreuse. 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 coffee liquor pudding.

Macanda

Chef Danny del Prado’s newest restaurant is Macanda, a Lake Minnetonka spot that’s influenced by Latin America’s literary tradition of magical realism. If you’re coming for dinner, sip an acai gin and tonic, or pair an Old Fashioned with notes mushrooms, walnuts, and chocolate with a rich oxtail mole. But Macanda’s true cocktail hot spot is the vinyl lounge and record bar, called the Macanda HiFi. Here, classic highballs, martinis and negronis take fruity and floral infusions (try the banana whey sour for a creamy balance to the tart notes).

Khâluna

Talented beverage director Trish Gavin is behind the bar at Khâluna, chef Ann Ahmed’s latest venture on Lyndale Avenue. The restaurant’s interiors are 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.

Petite León

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

This reborn neighborhood bistro has a cozy bar featuring co-owner Travis Serbus’ citrus-forward drinksr. As of late, cocktails feature notes of avocado, dragonfruit, grapefruit, and lemon — the Moon Dog, made with mezcal, green chartreuse, and tamarind is a highlight. For more classic takes, try a non-alcoholic Negroni with juniper and bitter orange, or a strawberry caipirinha. 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

Arts + Rec Uptown

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

Arts + Rec, an art-themed, rooftop spot in Seven Points shopping center, is Uptown’s latest bar. The menu is fun and snacky (think waffle hot dogs, Dorito-encrusted fish, and ice cream sandwiches), and the cocktail list is a little more reserved. Try the Matcha Maker, made with Patron silver, matcha sour, and lime crema, or a rhubarb Collins. There are low-proofs and a few nonalcoholic drinks as well, like a raspberry mint iced tea. This is a great spot for a casual weekend night, or a cool drink after a stroll around Bde Maka Ska.

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

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.

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 one of Near North’s best cocktail bars. The interior is all walnut and brick and black leather stools, nothing that’s trying too hard. But the drinks are imaginative and complex, changing week to week with the bartenders’ latest obsessions. Recent inventions include a Tom Collins-style “Bow Chicka Cacao” cocktail made with Cynar, lemon, and cherry-cacao syrup.

Sanjusan

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

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 Ikkyu highballs with shish bitters, or the Mican cocktail with blood orange and dry curaçao.

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

Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery

Located in an 18,000-square-foot spot that was once a horse and buggy factory, Earl Giles feels almost more like a stylish greenhouse than a distillery: Co-owners Jesse Held and Jeff Erkkila have filled it with more than 600 plants and two live trees. But the 120 feet of bar space reveals the distillery’s true purpose. Earl Giles was founded as a bottling company in 2015 — back then, it made and distributed cocktail syrups, elixirs, cordials, and ginger beer. Now in full form, it’s serving cocktails like the Rabbit Kick, made with carrot, vanilla, citrus, and black pepper, and draft drinks like hard cherry vanilla colas and tropical ginger beer. A menu of pizza, salads, and sides is also available.

Lawless Distilling Company

Lawless Distilling Company, which produces an array of vodkas, gins, rum, and liqueurs out of a warehouse in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, also operates a cozy cocktail lounge. The lounge was closed for a stint during the pandemic, but as of this spring it’s open again — this time around, with a slushy machine. The patio, draped in strings of fairy lights, is an ideal spot to enjoy a summer cocktail. Try the ‘Lawless Sling,” made with rum, pineapple amaro, and rootbeer bitters, or the “Spring Fever,” made with the distillery’s Greenway Gin, honey, and heirloom crème de flora.

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. (These are available without alcohol, too.) 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.

Chip's Clubhouse

Nestled into St. Paul’s Mac Groveland neighborhood, Chip’s Clubhouse is an understated space curated in 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 gimlet blended with mango green tea cordial.

Emerald Lounge

St. Paul’s chic Emerald Lounge follows up on the promise of its name with green details throughout the cozy living room-esque space. Here, cocktails include a version with three rums, lime, and honey-passionfruit syrup, its take on an Old Fashioned, and a drink, fittingly, with green chartreuse. 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 coffee liquor pudding.

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