Cocktails from Constantine

Top cocktail bars

Knock back an Instagrammable concoction at one of these creative newish bars, plus one classic institution.


222 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls.
Cocktail at Bardo Renee Jones Schneider

The front cocktail area of this new American restaurant, with its marble tables, striped booths and alluring bar, is becoming one of the most talked about spots in town. The drinks land somewhere between classic and slightly tropical, with pretty glassware and pristine garnishes acting as the finishing touches. Give the It Was All a Seed (mezcal infused with yellow pepper and fennel) a try, or sample agave’s milder spirit in Two Left Feet (featuring tequila, grapefruit, hibiscus and rosemary).

(612) 886-8404


1115 2nd Av. S., Mpls.
Constantine cocktail Jeff Wheeler

Can’t ever decide what to drink? The decisions aren’t getting any easier at this sprawling basement bar with an encyclopedia-like leather-backed book for a cocktail list. Perhaps the better move is to simply tell the skilled men and women behind the bar your taste preferences and place your fate in their hands. Don’t be shocked if fire and smoke or other shenanigans are involved. And do take a stroll around the multiroom sultry space before deciding on one of a multitude of worthy nooks to nurse your sipper.

(612) 886-1297

Gori Gori Peku

33 1st Av. N., 2F, Mpls.
Cocktail at Gori Gori Peku Bre McGee

One can order a cocktail at this unadvertised alcove atop the North Loop’s Kado No Mise, but that’s really not the idea. Instead, consider taking advantage of one of the most obscure Japanese whiskey lists in the area, including a couple of bottles (such as the Hakushu 18-year) that aren’t found anywhere else in the state. The space is small — there are about eight seats and the bar and only a handful more in the tiny leather-infused lounge area — so plan to stand while you sip.

(612) 338-1515

Hai Hai

2121 University Av. NE., Mpls.
Hai Hai cocktails Amelia Rayno

Diners are transported to a southeast Asian paradise — a project that started with a defunct former strip club, which was transformed into a lush, plant-filled haven with bamboo on the walls, bird cases hanging overhead and drinks infused with herbs, citrus, banana leaves and fresh sugarcane juice from the unmissable press located behind the bar. The $9 drinks, incorporating the likes of Thai tea, lemongrass, cinnamon liqueur and peanut orgeat, are reason enough to stop by, but don’t miss snacks such as the water fern cakes and fried wontons.

(612) 223-8640

Hewing Hotel

300 Washington Av. N., Mpls.
Outside Hewing Hotel Carlos Gonzalez

Still see hotel lobby bars as an afterthought? The Hewing Hotel’s rendition might change your perspective. With a program designed by the Bittercube guys, a national cocktail consulting company, the libations crowding the L-shaped bar are anything but predictable. On the docket? Sophisticated potions such as the Vårfeber, a dill aquavit drink highlighted by turmeric, ginger and bee pollen and harkening to the Scandinavian theme of hotel restaurant Tullibee just steps away. Come for the cocktails, stay for the stellar people-watching.

(651) 468-0600

Hola Arepa

3501 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.
Hola Arepa cocktail Aaron Lavinsky

Regardless of whether the sun is shining or snow is falling by the foot, the forecast inside this south Minneapolis gem is always set to tropical paradise. Inside, every element — from the distressed wooden bar reminiscent of driftwood to the pineapples and succulents gracing each corner — screams beach town. As for the drinks? Consider them mini-getaways in a glass. Sporting names like Locked Up Abroad and Fish Out of Water, these rum-heavy refreshments are just as tasty as they are Instagrammable. While you’re there, grab an arepa; they’re fantastic.

(612) 345-5583


4312 Upton Av. S., Mpls.
Cocktails from Martina Greg Mees

One of the Twin Cities’ most creative and off-the-wall bartenders has created a top-notch cocktail program at Linden Hills’ new Argentinian/seafood restaurant, featuring colorful lights and palms galore. Slide onto one of the secondhand wooden stools at the bar and order from the likes of the Sous Les Mers — using a seaweed-infused gin — or the togarashi-spiced Viceroy cocktail. Brunch drinkers don’t lose out on any of the fun, either. A day drink simply dubbed “Egg” arrives in a egg-shaped hollow ice shell made with nitrogen and water balloons.

(612) 922-9913

Marvel Bar

50 N. 2nd Av., Mpls.
Marvel Bar cocktails Bre McGee

Among the first in Minneapolis’ new wave of cocktail bars, this sexy, dark, basement drinkery is nestled beneath another fine North Loop establishment, the Bachelor Farmer. The libations, tapping ingredients such as licorice root, tamari and nori, might be some of the city’s most inventive and certainly revel among the fanciest when consumed at the sleek, marble-topped bar. If you stay for a few after a Scandinavian-inspired dinner upstairs, there could be cause for dancing between the colorful and plush wingback chairs that pepper the lounge.


The Commodore

79 N. Western Av., St. Paul
The Commodore cocktail Brian Peterson

In terms of historical bar value, it would be difficult to surpass this St. Paul institution, which once featured a secret basement watering hole and hosted F. Scott Fitzgerald during Prohibition. These days, the art deco antique space, impressively maintained, is every bit as glamorous. The cocktails still flow like they’ve been banned, too. Classics, such as sidecars and a gin and lemon concoction named after Fitzgerald himself, are the name of the game here. And there’s a full menu, as well, perked up by the recent association with lauded chef Lenny Russo.

(651) 330-5999

Young Joni’s Back Bar

165 13th Av. NE., Mpls.
Cockatil at Young Joni’s Back Bar Bre McGee

Behind the popular Northeast pizzeria bearing the name, an unassuming alleyway marked by a vertical red neon light leads to a hidden cocktail room. Inside, patrons can lounge in one of the Twin Cities’ most intimate settings — characterized by exposed wooden beams and that photo-worthy wallpaper — while savoring craft creations. The Back Bar is probably the closest thing to a true speakeasy in Minneapolis, though it’s way too laid back to call itself such. Bonus: Those famous pizza pies are available here, too.

(612) 345-5719