Chuck Briscoe and Donna Henry had a little dinner of Chicken Kiev and a drink at Moscow on the Hill. Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii.

50 places to grab a cocktail for any mood or occasion

Whether you want Japanese whiskey, a tiki drink or a White Russian on tap, there's a bar for every craving.

For fans of a well-mixed drink, no bottled cocktail or canned mixer can replicate the handiwork of the masterminds behind the bar. And after months of just making do at home, those fans are thirsty for something different.

"The people that are coming out, they want to pretend they're somewhere else," said Trish Gavin, bar manager at Lat14, Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine and the soon-to-open Khâluna. Gavin is meeting the moment with a new tiki menu at Lemon Grass, and when Khâluna opens next month, the cocktail list will follow the Dutch East Indies trade routes from Europe to Indonesia, each drink brimming with flavors from the seafarers' stops along the way.

At the same time, drinks with few ingredients and fewer steps were perhaps the most that people could handle making at home, and bartenders are finding a renewed interest in the classics — only better.

Another benefit to keeping it simple in the painfully short-staffed service industry? "You're not putting a lot of labor and special ingredients into the classics," said Travis Serbus, co-owner of Petite León. "Also, there's no need to reinvent the wheel."

Still, some bartenders are reinventing more than the wheel. They're reimagining the whole way a bar works by cutting back on waste and fermenting cast-off ingredients to turn them into something new.

Serbus is forgoing garnishes at his zero-waste bar, and turning citrus peels into cordials. He makes his drinks visually appealing by choosing gorgeous glassware instead.

At Cardamom, bar director Megan Luedtke is introducing Walker Art Center visitors to fermented brines and syrups that echo the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Aegean regions.

"Fermented things add so many different layers, complexity, texture," Luedtke said. "It's the new frontier of bartending."

An added bonus? Some drinks using fermented ingredients can be served spirit-free without sacrificing flavor. (Fresh, modern nonalcoholic cocktails are another rising trend at metro-area bars.)

But whether you're in the market for a newfangled concoction or a classic cocktail, a spirit-forward meditation or a spirit-free sensation, one thing drinkers seem to have in common is that they wanted to be dazzled. And after the industry was put on hold, bars are once again overflowing with inspiration.

Where to go for a cocktail when you want ...

Access Sooki & Mimi's new Basement Bar through a door with a red light in the alley alongside the restaurant.
Access Sooki & Mimi's new Basement Bar through a door with a red light in the alley alongside the restaurant.

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

... to cozy up in a hideaway

Basements, backrooms, alley-side doorways and neon-lit signals. These bars aren't calling out for attention. Instead, they're moody and atmospheric — you just have to know they're there.

Basement Bar at Sooki and Mimi, 1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., sookiandmimi.com/basement

Cobble Social House, 213 3rd Av. N., Mpls., cobblempls.com

Constantine, 1115 2nd Av. S., Mpls., constantinempls.com

Hyde, 24 University Av. NE., Mpls., hydemn.com

Sockdollager, 590 W. 79th St., Chanhassen, sockdollagerbar.com

Vivian Corniea has drinks with husband Ryan at Moscow on the Hill.
Vivian Corniea has drinks with husband Ryan at Moscow on the Hill.

RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII, Star Tribune

... a martini and some history

Whether sidling up to the copper bar in the oldest restaurant in Minneapolis or a four-generation steakhouse in St. Paul, lounging in a landmark Loring Park lobby or amid Old World accordion tunes from a bygone Russia, these institutions will transport you to another era.

Mancini's Char House, 531 W. 7th St., St. Paul, mancinis.com

Monte Carlo, 219 3rd Av. N., Mpls., montecarlomn.com

Moscow on the Hill, 371 Selby Av., St. Paul, moscowonthehill.com

P.S. Steak, 510 Groveland Av., Mpls., psmpls.com

Friends visited over shared plates at Hai Hai in Minneapolis.
Friends visited over shared plates at Hai Hai in Minneapolis.

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

... a tropical vacation

You'll find tiki glassware, flaming limes, fruit and flowers, and more rums than you knew existed at these bars/restaurants that celebrate tropical drinking traditions. The cocktails will take you somewhere much warmer than Minnesota.

Hai Hai, 2121 University Av. NE., Mpls., haihaimpls.com

Hola Arepa, 3501 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., holaarepa.com

Lemon Grass, 8600 Edinburgh Center Drive, Brooklyn Park, lemongrassmn.com

Pau Hana, 14435 Hwy. 13, Savage, pauhanamn.com

Psycho Suzi's, 1900 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., psychosuzis.com

The non-alcoholic shrub at Young Joni.
The non-alcoholic shrub at Young Joni.

Rachael Crew, Young Joni

... something spirit-free

With alcohol consumption on the wane among younger generations, more bars are getting into the zero-proof cocktail game. There's always been the Shirley Temple, but now, you'll find new and improved variations on that classic with housemade grenadine as well as fermented kombucha-like beverages; Italian sodas with inventive syrups; and smoky teas standing in for spirits.

EaTo, 305 Washington Av. S., Mpls., helloeatompls.com

Martina, 4312 Upton Av. S., Mpls., martinarestaurant.com

Norseman Distillery, 451 NE. Taft St., Mpls., norsemandistillery.com

Young Joni, 165 13th Av. NE., Mpls., youngjoni.com

Bartender Brandon Gonzalez mixed beverages for guests at Tattersall Distilling.
Bartender Brandon Gonzalez mixed beverages for guests at Tattersall Distilling.

Mark Vancleave, Star Tribune

... to taste spirits at the source

Because of strict state laws governing what distilleries can serve, bartenders at these cocktail rooms have to get creative, even a bit experimental, to make satisfying cocktails that showcase their spirits. (Who knew radicchio could be a spot-on substitute for Campari?) While there, go ahead and sample everything that's made in-house — whiskey, gin, rum, vodka, even one-of-a-kind apple liqueurs from a cidery.

Minneapolis Cider Co., 701 SE. 9th St., Mpls., minneapoliscider.co

O'Shaughnessy Distilling Co., 600 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls., osdistilling.com

Royal Foundry Craft Spirits, 241 Fremont Av. N., Mpls., royalfoundrycraftspirits.com

Tattersall Distilling, 1620 Central Av. NE., Mpls., tattersalldistilling.com

Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Av. NE., Mpls., twinspirits.us

Stilheart Distillery & Cocktail Lounge.
Stilheart Distillery & Cocktail Lounge.

Provided by Stilheart

... to bar hop in the North Loop

These restaurants, bars and downtown Minneapolis' first distillery are closely concentrated for a high-octane night without the need to drive.

Nolo's Basement and Rooftop Bars, 515 Washington Av. N., Mpls., rooftopbarmpls.com, basementbarmpls.com

Rooftop Lounge at the Hewing Hotel, 300 Washington Av. N., Mpls., hewinghotel.com/hewing-rooftop-sauna

Stilheart Distillery & Cocktail Lounge, 124 3rd Av. N., Mpls., stilheartdistilling.com

Copperwing Distillery's first ready-to-drink cocktail offering, an Old Fashioned.
Copperwing Distillery's first ready-to-drink cocktail offering, an Old Fashioned.

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

... to stay in the suburbs

Suburbanites don't have to stray far to find great cocktails. These distillery cocktail rooms, restaurants and bars are lighting up the metro.

The Alchemist, 2222 4th St., White Bear Lake, thealchemistwbl.com

Copperwing Distillery, 6409 Cambridge St., St. Louis Park, copperwingdistillery.com

J. Carver Distillery, 1320 Mill Lane, Waconia, jcarverdistillery.com

Pocket Square Cocktail Lounge, 7530 42nd Av. N., New Hope, pocketsquarecocktails.com

Volstead House, 1278 Lone Oak Road, Eagan, volsteadhouse.com

Justin Sutherland in his restaurant, the Handsome Hog.
Justin Sutherland in his restaurant, the Handsome Hog.

RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER, Star Tribune

... an Old Fashioned

What seems to be everyone's favorite drink these days is in the midst of a renaissance. Try it with a spirit besides bourbon. Have it smoked. Or keep it classic.

The Butcher's Tale, 1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., butcherstale.com

Handsome Hog, 173 N. Western Av., St. Paul, handsomehog.com

Parlour, 730 Washington Av. N., Mpls.; 267 W. 7th St., St. Paul, parlourbar.com

Whiskey Inferno, 14425 Hwy. 13, Savage, whiskeyinferno.com

A Naked Dani cocktail at Colita held by its creator Marco Zappia.
A Naked Dani cocktail at Colita held by its creator Marco Zappia.

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

... agave

If all you know about agave spirits is that tequila goes into a margarita (and these bars have some great ones!), there's more to know about spirits derived from the Mexican succulent, its many species and the flavors they can summon. Rattlesnake and desert rain, anyone?

Colita, 5400 Penn Av. S., Mpls., colitampls.com

Escondido at Viv!r, 1414 Quincy Av. NE., Mpls., vivirmpls.com/escondido

Nico's Tacos, 2516 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.; 2260 Como Av., St. Paul, nicostacobar.com

Tequila Butcher, 590 W. 79th St., Chanhassen, tequilabutcher.com

The For Here or To Go? cocktail at Yumi in St. Paul.
The For Here or To Go? cocktail at Yumi in St. Paul.

RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER, Star Tribune

... Japanese spirits

How about a daiquiri with Okinawa rum, shio koji and black lime? A peachy cocktail with Suntory Haku vodka and grapefruit soju, served in a paper takeout container? Or a premium Japanese whiskey, served neat.

Gori Gori Peku, 33 1st Av. N., 2nd floor, Mpls., kadonomise.com

Sanjusan, 33 1st Av. N., Mpls., 1st floor, sanjusanrestaurant.com

Yumi Japanese Restaurant & Bar, 400 Selby Av., St. Paul; 217 Water St., Excelsior; 200 Southdale Center, Edina, yumisushibar.com

The pineapple shandy at Nighthawks.
The pineapple shandy at Nighthawks.

Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

... cocktails on tap

There's virtually no wait for pre-crafted cocktails at these bars that keep the good drinks on tap.

Boxcar Bar at the Market at Malcolm Yards, 501 30th Av. SE., Mpls., malcolmyards.market

First Draft Taproom & Kitchen, 324 6th Av. N., Mpls., firstdraftmn.com

Nighthawks Diner & Bar, 3753 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., nighthawksdinerbar.com

A group of friends enjoyed drinks and each other's company around a fire pit in Vikre's Wunderbar.
A group of friends enjoyed drinks and each other's company around a fire pit in Vikre's Wunderbar.

Alex Kormann, Star Tribune

... to peep the fall leaves

The metro area doesn't have a monopoly on great cocktails. Keep these distilleries in mind if you're branching out to take advantage of Minnesota's beautiful autumn. Or really, any time of year.

Cantilever Distilling Co., 2078 Spruce St., Ranier, cantileverdistillery.com

Loon Liquors Distillery, 1325 Armstrong Road, Northfield, loonliquors.com

Panther Distillery, 300 E. Pike St., Osakis, pantherdistillery.com

RockFilter Distillery, 113 Maple Drive, Spring Grove, rockfilterdistillery.com

Vikre Distillery, 525 Lake Av. S., Duluth, vikredistillery.com