In the immediate aftermath of the March 31, 2005 Minneapolis smoking ban, the only discernible detrimental effect in most local bars was the thick scent of stale beer and piss wafting through the slowly dissipating, formerly fortified smokescreen. Once winter hit, it was the "I'm-freezing-my-ass-off-here-can-you-believe-this-smoking-ban-bullshit?" look from suffering addicts. Luckily, just across the Uptown lakes lies Al's, where smokers and nonsmokers get along just fine. The filtration and ventilation systems at Al's are so good, you might have to ask the bartender if you're allowed to smoke in the bar, even if there's a guy with a stoagie perched right next to you. The drinks are strong, and cheap—with even top-shelf liquor going for around five bucks a drink (and make sure you've got cash because credit cards are a no-no). Frozen pizzas abound if you need an extra layer of grease for your stomach, and the crowd is yuppie without being pretentious; townie without being seedy. With the St. Paul ban recently enacted, it's only a matter of time before smoking bars are a thing of the past. If they were all as well-ventilated as Al's, there'd be no reason for a ban in the first place. Closed Sundays.


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