In The Spirit
More and more, well-traveled executives have sophisticated and particular tastes in their after-work beverage. Here are options to suit virtually every preference.
In any season, but especially on a dark, raw winter afternoon, the Saint Paul Grill is nirvana for Scotch connoisseurs. Hand your keys to the top-hatted valet and make your way to the cozy bar, illuminated by classic green banker’s lamps and rows of glowing green, blue and amber bottles on glass shelves. Order a dram of the limited edition Laphroiag Cairdeas (pronounced “Car-jis”). Double-aged in bourbon and Amontillado port casks, this mellow scotch goes perfectly with smoky-sweet flavors of the Grill’s signature bacon appetizer. As you peruse the encyclopedic menu of nearly 80 single malts, more than a dozen blended Scotches, and dozens of Irish and American whiskeys, recall the words of Mark Twain, who noted that “Too much of anything is bad, but too much of a good whiskey is barely enough.”
350 Market St., St. Paul, 651-224-7455, stpaulgrill.com
Martini aficionados will enjoy the Mill Northeast, the hip neighborhood hangout at the heart of the Central Avenue renaissance. Its hand-carved wooden bar came from Sotheby’s, the irresistibly hot and gooey cheese curds are Faribault Caveman cheese dipped in batter made from Iowa’s Millstream German Pilsner, and the martinis are stirred, never shaken, as shaking bruises the cocktail. Choose from 18th-century-style Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, anise-y Leatherbee Gin, or herbaceous Distillers Gin No. 6 from Chicago’s North Shore Distillery. And, unless your client, like Alfred Hitchcock, prefers to look at a bottle of vermouth from across the room, the bartender will happily wave a bottle of Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth from the Willamette Valley over the martini glass.
1851 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 612-315-2340, themillnortheast.com
Tequila purists will appreciate the simplicity of Nico’s, situated in a vintage Lowry Hill manse that feels more like San Francisco than Hennepin Avenue. Head upstairs to the bar area with a half-dozen chairs, more than 50 kinds of tequila and mezcal, and a cozy private tasting room with red walls. Treat your client to a flight of three reposado tequilas or a glass of the Cognac-like AsomBroso Gran Reserva made with 100 percent blue agave. As you await fresh guacamole, made to order, and Nico’s delicious homemade salsas, toast to the Olmecs, the ancient pre-Columbian people who called fermented agave “a delight for the gods and priests.”
2516 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-345-7688, nicostacobar.com
On those February days when Minneapolis is as cold as Moscow, invite your vodka-loving comrades to Hammer & Sickle in the Mozaic development in Uptown. With severely chic gray walls, glamorous Swarovski crystal light fixtures and a glowing red bar, H&S has a sexy, James Bond-like vibe that’s a perfect backdrop for the crowd of well-dressed workers and high-performing peasants. As you inspect the menu of 80-plus vodkas from Russia, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Minnesota, do as the Russians do and order a flight of caviars with blini and homemade pierogies to savor between sips. Clink your glass in celebration of your mission-critical business meeting with Za vstrechu!
1300 Lagoon Ave. S., Mpls., 612-367-4035, hammerandsicklempls.com
If your clients have a penchant for sake, take them to Sushi Fix in the Wayzata Village Shoppes, where the low-key exterior belies the sophistication within. Sit at the bar and introduce yourself to owner Enkhbileg “Billy” Tserenbat, a veritable Zen master of sake. Order the Silly Billy (spicy tuna and shrimp tempura wrapped in avocado) or the Naughty Ninja (yellowtail, big eye, snapper and avocado) and adopt an attitude of beginner’s mind as Billy shares his extensive knowledge and humor. As you taste the organic Chikurin Karoyaka Junmai Ginjo, the smooth, clean Blue Hue sake and more than two dozen other varieties, allow Billy to impart some key sake phrases, including kanpai, (“cheers”) and Okinawari—“One more, please.”
862 Lake St. E., Wayzata, 952-473-1364, sushifix.net