A reader named Brian recently wrote in with this query:
My husband likes to drink good beer. Good for him. But why does he get a wall of choices but I get Coke products? A typical exchange at a bar:
“What do you have without alcohol?”
“Well, we have O’Douls.”
“I’m sorry, I mean sodas.”
“We have Coke products.”
“Oh boy. Do you have ginger or root beer?
“We have ginger ale from the wand.”
So the other Brian [Editor's note: This is a two-Brian marriage] gets a choice of 20 beers and I get a Canada Dry. Greaaaaaaaaat.
Am I the only freak in Minneapolis that wants something other than Coke and Sprite?
No, Brian, you are not! I put out the call, and boy did our local barkeeps respond.
As I take it, Brian, you are looking for quality sodas in a range of inspired flavors. You are not looking for mocktails, per se, though there are lots and lots of bars that are very handy with an n/a cocktail shaker these days, too. And you are specifically looking for good sodas served at bars, where other Brian can enjoy a beer or cocktail.
Well, search no more, Brian and Brian. Here are 10 spots that will quench your thirsts, without offending either Brian:
Bad Weather Brewing Company
Taprooms are great for beer-drinkers and non-beer-drinkers alike. Bad Weather on West Seventh Street offers not only a constantly rotating list of beers, but a constantly rotating menu of house sodas, too. They come in unique flavors like cherry vanilla and tart elderflower.
414 W. Seventh St., St. Paul
Eastlake Craft Brewery
In the Midtown Global Market, Eastlake welcomes all kinds with several flavors of botanically brewed soda in bottles. There's ginger beer, lemonade, rose lemonade, cherry cola, and cola, as well as Deane’s Kombucha made with fruits and hops (some Kombucha does contain a trace amount of alcohol so might not be appropriate if you’re strictly avoiding alcohol) for a hoppy taste without the buzz.
920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis
One of Northeast's most popular breweries serves vintage-style pure cane sugar local sodas from Whistler as well as Kombucha from Prohibition and even Nitro coffee on tap.
1300 Second St. NE, Minneapolis
Northeast Social and Eat Street Social
These two places, where the Bittercube cocktail wizards first made their mark, both produce five housemade sodas. And even though these sodas veer into mocktail territory, we think Brian will be pleased with the inventiveness of the flavors. Try the Oh Pear! with pear syrup, lemon, seltzer, orange, and Jamaican #1 bitters or the Figgy Honey Bear with fig-honey syrup, cream, seltzer, cherry bark, and black strap bitters.
359 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Eat Street Social
8 W. 26th St., Minneapolis
Gyst Fermentation Bar
In keeping with its mission to serve all fermented everything, GYST serves seasonal Shrub Sodas and Fentiman’s rose lemonade brewed with fermented botanicals.
25 E. 26th St., Minneapolis
Punch Bowl Social
The new bespoke adult games bar with a real restaurant and craft bar serves a “fancy fizz” with house-made syrups, shrubs, juices, and seltzers.
1691 Park Pl. Blvd., St. Louis Park
District Fresh Kitchen
If you happen to be in the western 'burbs, check District Fresh Kitchen in Wayzata for a whole list of “natural refreshments,” non-alcoholic sodas with a ginger beer base combined with various vegetable juices, honeys, fruit juices, and even coconut.
300 Superior Blvd., Wayzata
St. Paul's Merriam Park neighborhood gem serves Boylan pure cane sugar sodas, locally made Joia ll Natural fruit, herb, and spice sparkling waters, Fentiman's botanically brewed beverages, and housemade kombuchas.
2186 Marshall Ave., St. Paul
Zen Box Izakaya
Just the thing to go with sushi and ramen? Zen Box Izakaya's exotic housemade sodas in flavors such as matcha lemonade, yuzu basil mint, ginger lemonade, and pomegranate ginger.
602 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis