BEST COCKTAILS - 2007
Readers' Choice: Chino Latino
Finding a bar with a decent wine list is fairly easy. The same cannot be said for places with a great cocktail menu. Babalu, located in the North Loop area of Minneapolis, does just that. The decor is somehow posh and cozy—red velvet drapes, brightly painted walls, and a bar with bottles that glow like a pirate's treasure trove. Though most specialty drinks cost around $10 at Babalu, they're worth it. No painful first sips here; specialty drinks come with the best ingredients. They also come by the pint, so be sure to bring your tolerance with you. A good place to start is the mojito, easily the best in town, loaded with fresh spearmint, rum, sugar, lime, and soda. Light, refreshing, and served with a big hunk of sugar cane, the drink is the embodiment of the user-friendly cocktail. Other hits include the familiar caipirinha, a tall Brazilian sip that is as delicious as it is strong. There's also a smashing margarita, a martini that will get you smashed, and the Babalu Especial—a drink so tropical you might black out and wake up on a beach the next day. Most nights at the club feature live music—usually jazz, Latin, or reggaetón. And though the dance floor is often practice-friendly, Babalu's room-freezing dance-offs should never be attempted after more than one cocktail.