Shaken and Stirred

Martinis for purists and lovers of fruity mixed drinks alike

Joe's is a deceptively large place with a casual overall vibe (there are two levels to the restaurant--three in the summertime when the rooftop patio opens). A window seat on the second level or on the rooftop gazing at the Basilica are the choicest spots to sip your drink while waiting for your side of fries. JOE'S GARAGE 1610 Harmon Place, Minneapolis; 612.904.1163,www.joes-garage.com

 

JETSET
JetSet is lined with museumlike benches that somehow seem to transform the fashionable clientele into art as they pose against the blank walls. Which is great, because for some the true allure of the martini is how glamorous you look holding one in a smashing new outfit. Hidden in what is probably the only quiet spot in the north Warehouse District, JetSet is easy to miss. But once inside, patrons find a cozy yet minimal setting buzzing with chatter and ambient tunes. Although JetSet is often billed as a gay bar, the crowd is generally mixed in age, gender, and sexual orientation, and actually manages to give a vibe that is both friendly and hip at the same time--a sort of Minnesota nice meets New York edgy.

Darin Back

Location Info

Map

Moscow On the Hill Restaurant

371 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Joe's Garage

1610 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

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Martinis are served cold and true to classic form. The adventurous can opt for one made with flavored vodka for a still strong yet tasty mix. Ask the bartender to mix up something fun ($7 to $9 a pop) and what you end up with is certainly colorful, but still strong enough to win the good fight against complete sobriety. The bar is closed Sundays and Mondays. JETSET; 115 N. First St., Minneapolis, 612.339.3933

 

MARTINI BLU AT THE GRAND HOTEL
The ambience here is consciously trendy: Dark woodwork throughout, brushed steel panels, dimly lit tables, and a bar nicely backlit with a soft glow. Blue, of course. Television screens to be found in every direction show snippets of movies ranging from It's a Wonderful Life to Requiem for a Dream, while a trip-hop DJ spins tunes, making "name that movie" an easy conversation-starter among the generally youngish trendster crowd. The martini list is varied, and includes drinks both strong and old-school as well as new wave.

Of the strong and straightforward variety, I would recommend the cheesy martini, a drink not as horrific as it sounds. It's a classic vodka martini served with plump blue cheese-stuffed olives, perfect when dining from the popular sushi menu. The wasabitini, with its wasabi-stuffed olive, also works splendidly, but be forewarned--it's hot. And there's the Cuban cowboy, vodka with fresh mint and lime juice--tart, refreshing, with a kick.

For the indulgent there is the Snickers bar martini--basically an alcoholic candy bar in a glass (my sweet-drink-loving friend swooned over it), or the mighty-but-sweet cosmotini: citrus vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, and lime. Martini Blu also occasionally offers a walk on the weird side. One night I was offered a special called the rose petal, a super-strong martini that oddly tasted exactly like a rose. MARTINI BLU AT THE GRAND HOTEL; 615 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612.752.9595, www.martiniblu.com

 

NYE'S POLONAISE ROOM
If someone were to transport a cheap hotel bar from the mid-'70s to the present, you would probably end up with something like Nye's Polonaise Room. With its gold vinyl chairs, miscellaneous patches of red velvet, and a piano bar any lounge singer could call home, it's kitschy, but it's an earnest, unironic kitsch. Order up a chocolatini or orangini and you'll probably get a blank stare or a slap upside the head. None of those nonsense cocktails here. Drinks are served classically and generously strong, and the martinis are no exception. NYE'S POLONAISE ROOM; 112 East Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612.379.2021,www.nyespolonaise.com

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