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Cocktail Confidential: Bartenders' Favorite Hidden Gems

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In honor of Cocktail Week, Eater convinced 9 bartenders in the Cities to disclose their go-to hidden gems when sitting on the other side of the bar. From dive bars to neighborhood spots, these eight picks span the Cities and suburbs, offering up cocktails, mixed drinks, and lots of places to get some good straight whiskey (do we sense a bartender trend here?).

Without further ado, here are 9 favorite hidden gem bars from Eat Street Social's Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz, Marvel Bar's Pip Hanson and Peder Schweigert, The Strip Club's Dan Oskey, Parlour's Jesse Held, Saffron's Robert Jones, Café Maude's Elliot Manthey, and, in a late addition, cocktail man-about-town Johnny MIchaels (of La Belle Vie, Icehouse, and Union).


· All Coverage of Cocktail Week 2013 [Eater MPLS]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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The Muddy Pig

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Marvel Bar's Peder Schweigert has been going to the Muddy Pig for ten years. "It feels like my neighborhood, it is my neighborhood," says Schweigert, who lives 6 blocks away. He goes for the conversation, and also for the obscure beers and extensive whiskey list, with no particular favorite: "I frolic amongst."

Merlins Rest

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Marvel Bar's Pip Hanson picked Longfellow spot Merlin's Rest, known for its "Whisky Bible" as his hidden gem. "I'm not there as often as I'd like," Hanson says, "but I love going there when I do."

Tracy's Saloon

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The Strip Club's Dan Oskey chose Seward's Tracy's Saloon as his under-the-radar pick. "No frills, no bells, no whistles, but Tracy's Saloon over on Franklin is a good place just to get an honest cocktail," says Oskey. Usually Oskey gets a mixed drink, and he mentions that they also have really good bar food.

Knight Cap Bar & Lounge

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Eat Street Social's Nick Kosevich picked Northeast's Knight Cap for his hidden gem. He says, "I'd have to say the Hidden Gem in my life would be North East's Knight Cap. I always never want to go, I always never want to leave, and I curse its name every morning after. I think this is because I drink whatever good whiskey they have until it runs out and then I move on to the next. "

Sample Room

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Saffron's Robert Jones shares his hidden gem pick: "The Sample Room, I think, is still off a lot of people's radars for some reason. I like getting cocktails from Ryen Goldsmith, not one in particular but whatever he's messing with at the time."

Liquor Lyle's

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Eat Street Social's Ira Koplowitz comes to Minneapolis frequently from his homebase of Milwaukee. When he's here, he's usually working on the Eat Street menu, but he's had some good times at a few "cool divey spots." He says, "At the top of the list is Lyle's Liquors. When I'm there, it is definitely a shot of bourbon and a beer."

Rainbow Chinese

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Cocktail man-about-town Johnny Michaels (of La Belle Vie, Icehouse, and Union) says that Eat Street's Rainbow Chinese is an underrated place to get an excellent cocktail: "If you want to check out an emerging DrinkMakingStar who's flying just under the general public's radar, go to Rainbow Chinese Restaurant (Eat St, by 28th and Nicollet) and sample what Jimmy Vongsouvahn has been producing. Rainbow Chinese, the original destination restaurant on Eat St (they just celebrated their 25th anniversary this past year, yeah..25 Years!!!) has always been known for the magical food Chef Tammy Wong has lovingly made for her customers. Now, Jimmy has blossomed out of nowhere and is making cocktails equal to Rainbow's excellent cuisine. He's a very shy young man, but has style for miles and miles, and also the game to compete with the cocktail destinations we already know about. Check him out before his bar gets too crowded."

Bunny's Bar and Grill

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Café Maude's Elliot Manthey explains his hidden gem pick thusly: "I have a real affinity for Bunny's on Excelsior Blvd in St Louis Park. They have great bar food, pull tabs, free popcorn, and some pretty decent stuff on tap. It's a few blocks from my parents' house and we walk up there in the snow during the holidays when its time for the 'adults' to go bed. They have the coldest bottle of Bud in town. They have a few rye whiskeys, too."

Gold Nugget

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Parlour's Jesse Held's hidden gem is Minnetonka's Gold Nugget. For drinks, Held usually orders a seasonal craft beer and a bourbon. For food, Held likes the cheese curds, and he points out that they also offer a great weekly burger special.

The Muddy Pig

Marvel Bar's Peder Schweigert has been going to the Muddy Pig for ten years. "It feels like my neighborhood, it is my neighborhood," says Schweigert, who lives 6 blocks away. He goes for the conversation, and also for the obscure beers and extensive whiskey list, with no particular favorite: "I frolic amongst."

Merlins Rest

Marvel Bar's Pip Hanson picked Longfellow spot Merlin's Rest, known for its "Whisky Bible" as his hidden gem. "I'm not there as often as I'd like," Hanson says, "but I love going there when I do."

Tracy's Saloon

The Strip Club's Dan Oskey chose Seward's Tracy's Saloon as his under-the-radar pick. "No frills, no bells, no whistles, but Tracy's Saloon over on Franklin is a good place just to get an honest cocktail," says Oskey. Usually Oskey gets a mixed drink, and he mentions that they also have really good bar food.

Knight Cap Bar & Lounge

Eat Street Social's Nick Kosevich picked Northeast's Knight Cap for his hidden gem. He says, "I'd have to say the Hidden Gem in my life would be North East's Knight Cap. I always never want to go, I always never want to leave, and I curse its name every morning after. I think this is because I drink whatever good whiskey they have until it runs out and then I move on to the next. "

Sample Room

Saffron's Robert Jones shares his hidden gem pick: "The Sample Room, I think, is still off a lot of people's radars for some reason. I like getting cocktails from Ryen Goldsmith, not one in particular but whatever he's messing with at the time."

Liquor Lyle's

Eat Street Social's Ira Koplowitz comes to Minneapolis frequently from his homebase of Milwaukee. When he's here, he's usually working on the Eat Street menu, but he's had some good times at a few "cool divey spots." He says, "At the top of the list is Lyle's Liquors. When I'm there, it is definitely a shot of bourbon and a beer."

Rainbow Chinese

Cocktail man-about-town Johnny Michaels (of La Belle Vie, Icehouse, and Union) says that Eat Street's Rainbow Chinese is an underrated place to get an excellent cocktail: "If you want to check out an emerging DrinkMakingStar who's flying just under the general public's radar, go to Rainbow Chinese Restaurant (Eat St, by 28th and Nicollet) and sample what Jimmy Vongsouvahn has been producing. Rainbow Chinese, the original destination restaurant on Eat St (they just celebrated their 25th anniversary this past year, yeah..25 Years!!!) has always been known for the magical food Chef Tammy Wong has lovingly made for her customers. Now, Jimmy has blossomed out of nowhere and is making cocktails equal to Rainbow's excellent cuisine. He's a very shy young man, but has style for miles and miles, and also the game to compete with the cocktail destinations we already know about. Check him out before his bar gets too crowded."

Bunny's Bar and Grill

Café Maude's Elliot Manthey explains his hidden gem pick thusly: "I have a real affinity for Bunny's on Excelsior Blvd in St Louis Park. They have great bar food, pull tabs, free popcorn, and some pretty decent stuff on tap. It's a few blocks from my parents' house and we walk up there in the snow during the holidays when its time for the 'adults' to go bed. They have the coldest bottle of Bud in town. They have a few rye whiskeys, too."

Gold Nugget

Parlour's Jesse Held's hidden gem is Minnetonka's Gold Nugget. For drinks, Held usually orders a seasonal craft beer and a bourbon. For food, Held likes the cheese curds, and he points out that they also offer a great weekly burger special.

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