This year winter was like a crazy ex-lover in denial. Minnesotans had long been over it, but the breakup was excruciatingly protracted. Surprise snowfalls and lingering cold temperatures were as unwanted as desperate, late-night text messages.
No, we don’t miss you sometimes.
But it seems winter is finally moving on with its life. Spring has sprung, and after months of drinking indoors it’s time to take it outside. It’s hard to go wrong with a cold beer on a warm day, but some signature cocktails are best served sans roof. As you start playing the patio field, these five exceptional cocktail/patio pairings can help you get your groove back.
1. W.A. Frost: New Fangled Riffing on an Old Fashioned, W.A. Frost puts a twist on the institutional whiskey drink. The venerated St. Paul supper spot infuses Old Overholt with turbinado sugar and orange rinds in 2-liter batches for two to three days until the rock-candy-like sugar dissolves, softening the rye spice.
Serious whiskey drinkers might prefer the classic Old Fashioned, but the sweet and smooth nectar (served on the rocks) is a savory pre-dinner potable when dining on the gorgeous garden patio.
374 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-224-5715, www.wafrost.com
2. Amore Victoria: Darling, We’re a Train Wreck … Some things aren’t meant to be. But together, Amore’s Uptown rooftop patio and this cleansing cocktail are as cool as its cucumber-infused vodka. This spring-green blend of house-infused vodka, St. Germaine, lemon juice and simple syrup is a brisk breeze in a martini glass destined for open-air enjoyment. The subtly dill spirit, elderflower liqueur and lemon tartness find a full-flavored equilibrium as rejuvenating as the scent of freshly cut grass.
1601 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-823-0250, http://amorevictoria.com
3. Borough: North Loop Iced Tea This week, Borough unveiled its new patio bar along with a new roster of Jesse Held’s artisanal adult beverages. One dangerously drinkable standout is his North Loop Iced Tea, anchored by Basil Hayden’s bourbon infused with loose tea leaves. Bewitchingly mixed with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, lemon juice, kola syrup and seltzer water, Held’s faintly floral and tobacco-y concoction is far more nuanced than its booze-bombed Long Island brethren. We dare you to have just one.
730 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135, www.boroughmpls.com
4. Icehouse: Brisk Baby The John (or Tom) Collins is a cocktail classic that needs no reinventing. But when crafting Icehouse’s drink menu, local mixology godfather Johnny Michaels subtly put his signature on the iconic elixir by employing an Earl Grey-infused gin. One taste of this refreshing day-sipper will wipe the sweat off your brow. The easy-drinking libation lends itself to repeat orders. As those afternoons on Icehouse’s patio, which overlooks a quaintly picturesque plaza, bleed into the night, its invigorating allure won’t falter.
2528 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-276-6523, www.icehousempls.com
5. Eat Street Social: Neu Jack’s Rose While you’re waiting for its outdoor tiki bar to be built, take this Eat Street treat on the low-key back patio. Easygoing evenings are now in season, and this applejack brandy-based drink can help you unwind on a warm night. The aromatic anodyne also calls for lime, hibiscus grenadine and Bittercube’s molasses-y Blackstrap Bitters, and tinges the tip of the tongue with a playful fruitiness. Neu Jack’s Rose truly blooms during spring sunsets.
18 W. 26th St., Mpls., 612-767-6850, www.eatstreetsocial.com
Beer-a-Whirl Northeast Minneapolis beer bars and taprooms are getting in on this weekend’s Art-a-Whirl action. Stanley’s Bar Room is throwing a bona fide beer fest/block party from 2-5 p.m. Saturday ($59), featuring at least 40 breweries. Also on Saturday, Indeed Brewing is hosting its Rails & Ales party with live music from noon to 10 p.m. Como Avenue Jug Band, Roe Family Singers, the Cactus Blossoms and more are set to perform outside the taproom, as Indeed releases its LSD Honey Ale. The boys at 612Brew are billing their bash as a mini multiday fest, with more hip-hop-tilted lineups Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m.). 612Brew and Indeed’s parties are free.
Stanley’s Bar Room: 2500 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612-788-2529, www.stanleys barroom.com
Indeed: 711 15th Av. NE., Mpls., 612-843-5090, www.indeedbrewing.com
612Brew: 945 NE. Broadway, Mpls., 612-217-0437, www.612brew.com
Pie play in Robbinsdale The first piece of the Travail team’s takeover of Robbinsdale’s dining scene fell into place last Friday, when Pig Ate My Pizza opened in the old Travail space. With Pig Ate My Pizza, co-owner Mike Brown and company are getting into the trendy gourmet-pie game. Two other Robbinsdale restaurants are in the works, including a Travail 2.0.
4151 W. Broadway Av., Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131
Michael Rietmulder writes about bars and nightlife.