Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

photo by Bonnie Brown

In 2009 cocktails were made of herbs, tinctures, house-made bitters and infusions. And, in some venues drinks were created as tributes to short bald rockers. Here are our top 5 drink of the week selections from 2009.

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

Photos by Steve Neuharth

1. Ten Thyme Splash

88 South 6th Street, Minneapolis
612.656.3255 website

Located in the former Midland Bank building [now The Westin Hotel], the historic renovation of this restaurant was done with sensitivity to the art deco features and an inventive approach to preservation: former bank offices are now private dining rooms, the vault is used as a wine cellar, and there is bar seating at the former teller counters.

Sitting in this room will make you feel like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Eleanor Roosevelt-- you may even start saying the word splendid in the voice of Thurston Howell the Third--the correct term since the drinks actually are splendid.

These are stunning cocktails, made with sparkling fresh herbs, presented so beautifully that they beg to be back lit and photographed at an angle. This is the kind of drink list that transforms a plain-ole bartender into a mixologist. The Ten Thyme Splash stood out among the many tempting choices. This union of thyme, cucumber, lime, and Tanqueray Ten gin--topped with a splash of white cranberry juice was so delicate-- I would dare to call it sublime.

So venture out to the bright lights of the big city, wearing your best feathers, ascots and finery--a marvelous evening awaits you at Bank. 

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

photos by Steve Neuharth

2. Cooper's Union

Bradstreet Craftshouse Restaurant
Graves 601 Hotel
601 First Ave. N., Minneapolis

The Twin Cities has been so fortunate to be at the epicenter of the recent cocktail renaissance. No, a gin and tonic in a plastic cup will no longer do--drink making has become the art it was always intended to be when what is thought to the first cocktail, The Sazerac, was created in New Orleans in the late 1800s.

At Bradstreet drink making is taken to a whole new level with their house-made bitters, flower waters, infusions and juices. Sparkling fresh herbs, spices and fruit adorn the expertly made preparations. With brown-bottled tinctures added from eyedroppers, flaming fruit peels creating fragrant oils, and jeweled toned potions being poured with intense concentration, you almost feel like you are witnessing sorcery while your cocktail is being prepared.

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

Served in a lovely lemon garnished flute, Cooper's Union is a beautifully complex cocktail made with vodka, elderflower liquor, sparking wine and orange flower water. The stratified flavors are light, floral and downright magical.
Here's a toast to the recent blossoming of the Twin Cities drink culture--what a beautiful thing. 

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

3. Phil Collins

Grumpy's NE
2220 4th St. NE, Mpls.

Well, you already have the Tom Collins and the Vodka Collins, why not Phil? So goes the thinking behind one of Grumpy's favorite cocktail sensations the Phil Collins.

Oh yes, the jokes were flying when I tried my P. Collins--"yeah, this drink is a little thin on top," and "you can feel it coming in the air tonite."

You might want know what is in this Phil Collins that we speak and I will tell: gin, sweet and sour, grenadine and a splash of OJ. Basically, a Tom Collins in a martini glass with a splash of orange juice. But oh so much more. This sour/sweet sensation is most certainly a very easy lover. Just stop on by Grumpy's one of these days (or nights) and ask for their signature creation because it is so Sussudio-lious.  

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

Truth or Consequences $12
W Hotel
Foshay Tower
821 Marquette Ave., Mpls.
(Available at either the Prohibition or Living Room bars) website

Truth or Consequences: the name conjures the image of a dive bar in a dusty border town, the bartender with a shotgun behind the counter, and an old dog sleeping out front.

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

The W Hotel is about as far from that scenario as you can get. With the sleek stylings, velvety seating and tony decor-- I doubt an old dog has ever been anywhere near the place. Which does not mean that this cocktail is not worthy of its moniker: this drink could scare off a rattlesnake. I mean that in the very best way.

Made with chile-infused Patron silver tequila and Grand Marnier, muddled with fresh pineapple and cilantro, then blended with agave nectar and fresh lime juice the results are exquisite and complicated. I actually said "This might be the best drink, ever."The flavors are beautifully layered: first sweet, then savory, citrusy, salty and finally spicy. And if all that were not enough, the cocktail is also served with a mini-Corona beer--The Coronita-- a perfect finishing touch.

Although the scaring off of rattlesnakes will likely be unnecessary, you should still pull on your fancy-pantaloons and ramble down the dusty trail to try this drink-- as General Manager Brian Johnson says, "have a few of these and you'll be blurting out the truth without regard to consequences."  

Top 5: Drink of the week 2009

5. Dude-A-Reeno

Bryant Lake Bowl
810 W. Lake St., Mpls.

Inspired by The Dude in The Big Lebowski, I have no doubt that this would be a great drink to have while wearing a bathrobe. Better yet , you can have one on the sidewalk of the BLB while watching the world go by.

The Dude-A-Reeno blends Stoli Vanil Vodka, Kahlua, and Bailey's into peaceful harmony. This is a cocktail that causes drink-envy--don't be surprised if the idea to have one catches on with your friends and other patrons, as did during my visit where we ended up with a table full of Dude-A-Reenos.

I predict a comeback of the White Russian and its variations coming soon. So very tasty, they are not just for ditching out of high school and raiding your parent's liquor cabinet anymore.

Cheers, man!

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