Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thrillist: Best New Bars / New Year's Eve Bars

'Tis the season for festivities and debaucheries of all stripes...


Red Cow's drink menu is considerate and thoroughly on point. 

If you're looking for some hot new places (and reliable favorites) to grab a cocktail or delish small snack this holiday season and beyond, look no further than my latest piece for Thrillist about the best bars in the Twin Cities. It's got a little bit of everything, from sports bars to breweries to wine bars, fermentation bars, and everything in between.

You can find the whole piece by clicking here, but I also wanted to point out a few new options that popped up since this posted (or didn't make my editor's cut) that are always great possibilities. And let me know; what did I miss? Is there a favorite haunt not included here? I'd love to hear any additions you have!

Red Cow: Serving the Best Hi-Low Atmosphere 

I was lucky enough to visit Red Cow in the North Loop last week to preview some of their upcoming wine and cocktail options and let me tell you: there are some stunners available. The seasonal cocktail menu ranges from herbal infused cocktails to unusual ingredient mixes to one kickass hot toddy; who doesn't need a good hot toddy this time of the year? As impressive as the cocktails was the thoughtful, accessible array of wines, almost all of which can be sampled by the glass. Budding oenophiles like myself are really lucky to have access to one of Red Cow's five locations, as it allows you to try a range of high quality wines served exactly as they're supposed to be without having to commit to a full (and often expensive) bottle. Red Cow is doing extensive wine and cocktail trainings for their staff, and here's to hoping they open the series up to the public very soon. The fact that you can get an excellent burger (I had the Spanish burger with manchego, prosciutto and smoked aioli - oh yeah) with your snobby and delicious drink is the icing on the cake. Definitely check this out for an affordable yet reliable place with something to please anyone.

Brother’s Bar: Sports with a Side of Sass

There’s a reason that Brother’s is packed to the gills every weekend. From the clubby basement atmosphere on Saturday nights to the low-key sporting events, Brothers has something for everyone. This chameleon of bars can offer drink specials or a full on dining experience depending on your preferences. It’s also an excellent haunt for any swinging singles who need a reliable place to go to get their grind on. If you’re not quite ready for a quiet wine bar atmosphere but too old for basement frat parties, Brothers is here for you. If you’re going for New Year’s Eve plan on long lines and a packed atmosphere.

Punch Bowl Social: If You Can’t Find a Game Here to Love, You Never Will 

What if your New Year’s Eve crew has a group of people who are wildly difficult to please? No one can come to a consensus on drinks, or games, or snacks, and they certainly don’t want to brave inner city traffic to have a good time. Look no further than Punch Bowl Social, one of the many indoor, adults-only gaming bars to grace the Twin Cities. Punch Bowl Social has everything you could want, from bowling to ping pong to giant Jenga and board games of all stripes. A plethora of servers and two separately located, fully stocked bars also mean that despite busy crowds you’re sure to have a short wait between drink and food orders. For picky, difficult groups (or if you just don’t feel like leaving the Western suburbs), look no further: Punch Bowl Social is here for you.

Can Can Wonderland: Indoor Minigolf, Alcoholic Milkshakes, and a Boardwalk Arcade

If you want all the fun of Up-Down or Punch Bowl Social but can’t venture that far west, I got you: head to St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood and check out Can Can Wonderland. Can Can Wonderland specializes in indoor minigolf, but also features a flank of arcade games that fulfill anyone’s inner nostalgia. Simple is not the name of the game here (although you can order that too, if you want): Can Can Wonderland’s menu is stacked with a dizzying array of specialty cocktails, punch bowls, high balls, and our personal favorite: super boozy malts and milk shakes. For those who want to turn up super hard on New Year’s Eve, this is also a perfect pick. Can Can Wonderland is celebrating NYE with three sets by none other than the Brass Messengers and a NYE Vaudeville Spectacular that includes champagne towers, a balloon drop, wearable art, artist-designed mini golf, individual party favors, artist-made custom environments and photo ops, face painting, butler service noshes and more. 

Dangerous Man Brewing: Bringing a Spirit of Service and a Paul Bunyan Aesthetic to the Local Craft Brew Scene

It can be difficult to distinguish between the dozens of breweries that have sprung up after the passing of the Surly Law, but Dangerous Man Brewing clearly stands above the rest. Why? For one, the beers (brewed on-site just down the street from Young Joni) are universally excellent, from the standards like Session IPA to seasonals like Peanut Butter Porter or Pecan Brown Ale. Dangerous Man also makes a clear point of being heavily involved in their community. Between donating proceeds of certain beers to local causes to working with Brewing a Better Forest and hosting weekly volunteer events that include free beers, what’s not to love? Put on your warmest skull cap and fluffiest beard and head to Dangerous Man for a holistic and charitable beer lover’s experience. 

J. Selby’s: Making Veganism Accessible

J. Selby’s has exploded onto the local dining scene with their encyclopedic vegan menu that appeals to even the most die hard carnivores. From biscuits and gravy to protein packed veggie and rice bowls to corn dogs and falafel burgers, J. Selby’s works hard to prove that anyone can enjoy vegan food. What occasional patrons may not know is that you can order a side of alcohol with your meal, taking the restaurant’s appeal from novelty foods into fine dining territory. At the moment, most of the offerings stick to a straightforward list of wine and beers (locally produced, if possible, and always using vegan manufacturing methods). An interesting standout includes canned wines, which might be the first time I’ve seen this new trend on an official restaurant menu. Give veganism a shot with a trip to J. Selby’s, and order a drink to share to keep your spirits high (see what I did there?).