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The Cocktail Heatmap: Where to Drink Right Now

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With the help of the Eater 18 and the Eater Heatmaps, it's a breeze to find out where to eat right now, whether it's a hot newcomer or an old neighborhood standby. Now it's just as easy to find out where to get a good, stiff drink in this town.

Thus, we offer the Eater Cocktail Heatmap, which includes both brand new spots and perennial favorites that have recently upped their cocktail game with new must-try drinks. In honor of Cocktail Week, we're updating the map with three spots that were left off last time around: La Belle Vie, Café Maude at Loring, and the Butcher & the Boar.

So, without further ado, and listed in roughly geographic order, here are the 13 places to drink right now in Minneapolis and St. Paul, bringing you everything from house-made bitters to barrel-aged flights to all things tiki.

Happy drinking, and as always, feel free to tell us where you're drinking and why in either the comments or by emailing the tipline.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Eat Street Social/The Torpedo Room

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The Torpedo Room - housed in the side room of cocktail favorite Eat Street Social - just opened this fall, serving artisanal, Midwest-takes on tiki cocktails. Eat Street's head bartenders Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz designed the drinks along with Eat Street's staff, including alcoholic sno cones, drink umbrellas, and, of course, fiery finishes. Try: the Corn Tiki, a variation on the classic tiki drink the Painkiller, but with sweet corn cream instead of coconut cream and mulled apple cider instead of pineapple and orange juice.

Icehouse

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At this Eat Street bar/restaurant, you should head straight to the "Rocks" section of the menu (cultivated by Twin Cities bartender-about-town Johnny Michaels). Labeled "sipping shots," these mini-drinks are larger than shots but smaller than full-on cocktails, and come with a smaller price tag ($5 each) and more inventive and adventurous combinations. New rocks drinks are always being added (just ask your server what's new), but definitely try menu standby and favorite For His Majesty (sazerac, black pepper gin, and a pine smoke absinthe rinsed glass).

Nightingale

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This Uptown cocktail and small plates spot often seems to fly under the radar, but it's got an extensive (and impressive) cocktail menu. Try: the Alabama Worely (Rebel Yell Bourbon, Laird's Applejack, cinnamon and brown sugar syrup, and lemon), returning to the menu after a long spring/summer absence. And remember, there's a daily $5 cocktail during happy hour (every day from 4-6 pm and 11 pm - 1 am).

La Belle Vie

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This Loring Park institution has been a top cocktail spot in the Twin Cities for ages, but it still gets a spot on the heatmap because, hey, it's still worth a reminder once in a while. Consider this the flagship Johnny Michaels cocktail spot, and remember, you can go to the lounge to get a cocktail and a bite without reservations (or as hefty a check).

Cafe Maude At Loring

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The original Cafe Maude has long been known for its cocktails, but its year-old second restaurant in Loring Park is slinging great drinks, too. Try the Snap Dragon, with dry vermouth, benedictine, absinthe, and grapefruit bitters.

Butcher & the Boar

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It's no surprise that this downtown favorite has a bourbon-heavy cocktail list (8 out of 13 cocktails are bourbon-based), plus a slew of bourbon flights, and an extensive bourbon menu, organized by distillery.
At recently-opened Marin, head straight to the patio bar for a pricey but singular take on the classic gin and tonic. For $14, you are presented with a menu in the form of a faux periodic table; you choose a gin (from 12 varieties) and your aromatics (choice of 12 again, including orange basil, nasturtium, and anise star), and they're combined with house-made tonic.

Bradstreet Craftshouse Restaurant

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This downtown bar - nestled away in the 601 Graves Hotel - has the most extensive cocktail menu around; nicely divided by your liquor of choice, there are almost too many drinks to choose from. If you're going with whiskey, try the Duckhunter (Pritchard’s Sweet Lucy, lemon, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, egg yolk, house orange bitters).

Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

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Saffron bartender Rob Jones recently competed in the United States Bartenders Guild's Most Inspired Bartender competition as the representative from Minnesota and was also named City Pages' best bartender of 2013. Try his innovative drinks for yourself at Saffron, where you can get the Cornballer (Old Weller 107 Bourbon, roasted sweet corn essence, and sea salt) or the Black Betty Old Fashioned (Old Weller 107 Bourbon, cherry heering, black peppercorn, Bittercube blackstrap, and absinthe).

Marvel Bar

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Just last month, this North Loop basement bar rolled out a new, expanded menu with spirit flights, a much larger punch program, a section for house traditions (ginwater, anyone?) and non-intoxicants, and seven brand new cocktails from barman Pip Hanson. Try: new cocktail Marley's Ghost, featuring Cardamaro, Punt e Mes, Smith and Cross, and Appleton VX. And get a $5 cup of the weekly punch while you're at it, assuming it hasn't run out yet (starts serving on Monday for the week, and when it's gone, it's gone).

Parlour

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One of the newer additions to the Twin Cities cocktail scene, Parlour has been mixing craft drinks since the beginning of the year under the direction of lead barman Jesse Held. With the recent addition of table-service bar carts, the bar's vision is now fully complete. So feel free to sit at a table - rather than the bar itself - and you'll still likely be able to see your drink made up close and personal (the carts aren't on the floor every night). Try the classic Parlour Old Fashioned or the Age Before Beauty (Bacardi Superior, El Dorado 5 yr., falernum, grapefruit, lime, Bittercube Jamaican #1).

Sea Change

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While the bar at Sea Change is somewhat oddly separate from the main restaurant, it's worth the strange seating arrangement to try the barrel-aged cocktails. That's right: Barrel. Aged. Cocktails. Because they're produced in such limited quantities, there are no set drinks on the menu, but there will always be two or three available for the foreseeable future, just ask your bartender or server what your options are.

The Strip Club

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Bartender Dan Oskey mixes up a constantly-changing cocktail list at this St. Paul restaurant (known for its meat and fish, which give the place its name). The classic Oskey drink is the Cobra Kai (Kilo Kai Rum, habañero bitters, egg whites, and sour), which never leaves the menu. For a fall drink, try the Up in Smoke, with bourbon, averna, and hickory maple syrup.

Eat Street Social/The Torpedo Room

The Torpedo Room - housed in the side room of cocktail favorite Eat Street Social - just opened this fall, serving artisanal, Midwest-takes on tiki cocktails. Eat Street's head bartenders Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz designed the drinks along with Eat Street's staff, including alcoholic sno cones, drink umbrellas, and, of course, fiery finishes. Try: the Corn Tiki, a variation on the classic tiki drink the Painkiller, but with sweet corn cream instead of coconut cream and mulled apple cider instead of pineapple and orange juice.

Icehouse

At this Eat Street bar/restaurant, you should head straight to the "Rocks" section of the menu (cultivated by Twin Cities bartender-about-town Johnny Michaels). Labeled "sipping shots," these mini-drinks are larger than shots but smaller than full-on cocktails, and come with a smaller price tag ($5 each) and more inventive and adventurous combinations. New rocks drinks are always being added (just ask your server what's new), but definitely try menu standby and favorite For His Majesty (sazerac, black pepper gin, and a pine smoke absinthe rinsed glass).

Nightingale

This Uptown cocktail and small plates spot often seems to fly under the radar, but it's got an extensive (and impressive) cocktail menu. Try: the Alabama Worely (Rebel Yell Bourbon, Laird's Applejack, cinnamon and brown sugar syrup, and lemon), returning to the menu after a long spring/summer absence. And remember, there's a daily $5 cocktail during happy hour (every day from 4-6 pm and 11 pm - 1 am).

La Belle Vie

This Loring Park institution has been a top cocktail spot in the Twin Cities for ages, but it still gets a spot on the heatmap because, hey, it's still worth a reminder once in a while. Consider this the flagship Johnny Michaels cocktail spot, and remember, you can go to the lounge to get a cocktail and a bite without reservations (or as hefty a check).

Cafe Maude At Loring

The original Cafe Maude has long been known for its cocktails, but its year-old second restaurant in Loring Park is slinging great drinks, too. Try the Snap Dragon, with dry vermouth, benedictine, absinthe, and grapefruit bitters.

Butcher & the Boar

It's no surprise that this downtown favorite has a bourbon-heavy cocktail list (8 out of 13 cocktails are bourbon-based), plus a slew of bourbon flights, and an extensive bourbon menu, organized by distillery.

Marin

At recently-opened Marin, head straight to the patio bar for a pricey but singular take on the classic gin and tonic. For $14, you are presented with a menu in the form of a faux periodic table; you choose a gin (from 12 varieties) and your aromatics (choice of 12 again, including orange basil, nasturtium, and anise star), and they're combined with house-made tonic.

Bradstreet Craftshouse Restaurant

This downtown bar - nestled away in the 601 Graves Hotel - has the most extensive cocktail menu around; nicely divided by your liquor of choice, there are almost too many drinks to choose from. If you're going with whiskey, try the Duckhunter (Pritchard’s Sweet Lucy, lemon, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, egg yolk, house orange bitters).

Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

Saffron bartender Rob Jones recently competed in the United States Bartenders Guild's Most Inspired Bartender competition as the representative from Minnesota and was also named City Pages' best bartender of 2013. Try his innovative drinks for yourself at Saffron, where you can get the Cornballer (Old Weller 107 Bourbon, roasted sweet corn essence, and sea salt) or the Black Betty Old Fashioned (Old Weller 107 Bourbon, cherry heering, black peppercorn, Bittercube blackstrap, and absinthe).

Marvel Bar

Just last month, this North Loop basement bar rolled out a new, expanded menu with spirit flights, a much larger punch program, a section for house traditions (ginwater, anyone?) and non-intoxicants, and seven brand new cocktails from barman Pip Hanson. Try: new cocktail Marley's Ghost, featuring Cardamaro, Punt e Mes, Smith and Cross, and Appleton VX. And get a $5 cup of the weekly punch while you're at it, assuming it hasn't run out yet (starts serving on Monday for the week, and when it's gone, it's gone).

Parlour

One of the newer additions to the Twin Cities cocktail scene, Parlour has been mixing craft drinks since the beginning of the year under the direction of lead barman Jesse Held. With the recent addition of table-service bar carts, the bar's vision is now fully complete. So feel free to sit at a table - rather than the bar itself - and you'll still likely be able to see your drink made up close and personal (the carts aren't on the floor every night). Try the classic Parlour Old Fashioned or the Age Before Beauty (Bacardi Superior, El Dorado 5 yr., falernum, grapefruit, lime, Bittercube Jamaican #1).

Sea Change

While the bar at Sea Change is somewhat oddly separate from the main restaurant, it's worth the strange seating arrangement to try the barrel-aged cocktails. That's right: Barrel. Aged. Cocktails. Because they're produced in such limited quantities, there are no set drinks on the menu, but there will always be two or three available for the foreseeable future, just ask your bartender or server what your options are.

The Strip Club

Bartender Dan Oskey mixes up a constantly-changing cocktail list at this St. Paul restaurant (known for its meat and fish, which give the place its name). The classic Oskey drink is the Cobra Kai (Kilo Kai Rum, habañero bitters, egg whites, and sour), which never leaves the menu. For a fall drink, try the Up in Smoke, with bourbon, averna, and hickory maple syrup.

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