Chances are, if you've tippled at any number of local bars, you've had a drink created or inspired by Johnny Michaels.
Now Michaels, the local craft cocktail godfather, is leaving his long term station at La Belle Vie. Michaels has been with the James Beard Award-winning restaurant since 2005, and has used this home base as a stage for leading the local craft cocktail revolution. He has created impressive drink lists for other restaurants (including Union, Masu and Icehouse) and authored Northstar Cocktails, the Northstar Bartenders Guild book, but always maintained his place at La Belle Vie.
La Belle Vie's owner, the James Beard Award-winning Chef Tim McKee was able to confirm, "Johnny is no longer with us." That was all the much-lauded chef was able to say regarding the circumstances, though he did go on to add, "I would be surprised if we didn't work together again in the future."
Going forward, guests will see little change behind the bar at La Belle Vie. The cocktail list created by Michaels will remain intact. The Iron Bartender 2012 award-winning crew will hold down the bar as the powers at La Belle Vie continue their search for a new bar leader.
McKee assured us, "Jesse, Brian, and Jason are all there. The catalog of cocktails are all there, all the old favorites... you just won't see Johnny's smiling face."
Michaels did not immediately return our requests for comment.