Minneapolis is undeniably best known for its craft brewing operations, allowing its small-but-mighty cocktail scene to fly relatively under the radar. Although there’s still work to be done, cocktail bars in Minneapolis play off the city’s Scandinavian roots and cultural contributions during the 1920s (aquavit makes frequent menu appearances, and speakeasies are a-plenty).
Unexpectedly, many of the best cocktail bars in the city are tasting rooms for Minneapolis’ many local distilleries.
Closures of popular cocktail bars in Minneapolis (Marvel Bar, Constantine, Lawless Distilling, and Du Nord Social Spirits’ cocktail room come to mind) have made way for a new guard of interesting, innovative successors in the city.
The following craft cocktail confectionaries are changing the nightlife game in Minneapolis, whether its through hearth-y-feeling neighborhood kickbacks or high-end Japanese haunts.
The Best Cocktail Bars in Minneapolis, MN
1620 Central Ave N E #150, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Tattersall Distilling is a local craft distillery in Minneapolis. Distilling 30 award-winning, natural spirits, Tattersall showcases its work in an industrial-chic cocktail room. This popular cocktail room in Northeast has become a go-to for Minnesotans looking to experience truly homegrown cocktails. The distillery sources ingredients from independent farmers, emphasizing sustainable partnerships.
The cocktail menu at Tattersall Distilling balances old and new, featuring classics like the Cosmo, Gin Fizz, Boulevardier alongside newer creations like the Scarlet Begonia, a herbal concoction of vodka, dry vermouth, blackberry, lavender, ginger, lime, and soda; and Umeboshi Sour, a unique blend of bourbon, sour cherry, simple syrup, lemon, umeboshi vinegar, and black walnut bitters. I ordered the Mango Southside extra hot, made of gin, mint, mango, and habanero. The sweet mango definitely overpowered the heat, but it was refreshing nonetheless.
Tattersall sits at the perfect intersection of price and quality—craft cocktails start at just $8.50, and you won’t find anything at $12.
Don’t expect to find a food menu—due to Minnesota’s brewing and distilling laws, it’s difficult for craft breweries and distilleries to have onsite kitchens. Instead, Tattersall welcomes a rotating lineup of lauded local food trucks.
711 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Volstead’s is located in a dimly lit basement in Uptown. You’ll need to walk down an alley off Lake St, through a back parking lot, and knock on an unmarked door with a sliding eye window. You will wonder if you’re in the right spot, and yes, if you’re alone, you might feel a little uneasy, but you are where you should be.
Volstead’s Emporium is a true speakeasy in Uptown Minneapolis. The whimsical space features all kinds of surprises—no decor is truly as it seems, with hidden doors and windows at every turn. The bar welcomes a range of talent for guests, from live music on the weekends, to standup comedy.
The cocktail menu rotates, highlighting both classic cocktails and novelty drinks like the Juice Box, a mix of Junipero gin, Heirloom genepy, Koval cranberry gin, lime juice, and simple syrup meant to emanate the Capri Sun of your childhood. A personal favorite of mine is the Deadbeet Summer, a beet cocktail made of Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, grapefruit juice, lime juice, house beet shrub, and rosemary syrup.
In all honestly, Volstead’s isn’t my favorite cocktail bar in Minneapolis for the drinks—the drinks are very solid but not necessarily mind-blowing. It’s the coming together of Volstead’s eclectic space, live entertainment, and solid food and drink menu that awards it my top spot (I can’t resist a trip every time I’m in Minneapolis).
If you’re visiting Volstead’s, try making a reservation or getting there early as tables fill up on the weekend. Oh, and don’t skip the house-made chips—the French Onion Dip is dangerous.
Back Bar at Young Joni
165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
The entrance for the Back Bar at Young Joni is located in the alley between Young Joni and Dangerous Man Brewing Company.
The Back Bar at Young Joni is the lesser-known, speakeasy-inspired bar at James Beard award-winning Chef Ann Kim’s illustrious pizza restaurant, Young Joni.
At this semi-secret cocktail bar in Minneapolis, you can indulge in any of Young Joni’s signature pizzas alongside an all-new cocktail menu inspired by TV through the decades. The space ties the concept together, decorated like a vintage-inspired living room with cocktail menus made to replicate retro issues of TV Guide. Paying homage to Minneapolis, the menu’s cover is a shot of the Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicollet Mall.
The cocktail menu at the Back Bar at Young Joni separates drinks into decades. Each drink represents a different television series from the decade it’s located in. The bar goes so far as to cite exactly which episode inspired the beverage. Mocktails are named after popular game shows like The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy.
After much deliberation, I chose The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to start, made of jasmine tequila, charade, aperitif, lime, and chapulines (Sean, my boyfriend, joked that I can’t seem to stay away from cocktails with grasshoppers, à la my grasshopper-garnished cocktail at Arca, my favorite restaurant in Tulum). Sean, always one for whiskey, went for the Family Matters, consisting of bourbon, vermouth, hibiscus, ginger, lime, and hellfire shrub.
Both picks were solid, lifted by the all-too-fun experience of flipping through the TV Guide and seeing how the team at Young Joni envisioned classic shows into cocktails.
For more on the pizza at the Back Bar at Young Joni, read my review here.
17 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
As far as cocktail bars in Minneapolis are concerned, Little Tijuana is a newcomer to the scene. Located in the same space as the now-defunct Eat Street staple restaurant of the same name, Little Tijuana is a joyous display of fusion food, fun cocktails, and good times.
Little Tijuana has previously earned my praise as being one of the best restaurants for late-night food in Minneapolis, but its cocktail list isn’t to be snuffed at, either. You won’t find the most sophisticated drinks here, but that’s not the point.
Little Tijuana is one of the best cocktail bars in Minneapolis for friends. The vibe is communal and the space is vibrant, frequently welcoming service industry workers after long shifts nearby (Little Tijuana doesn’t close its doors until 1 am).
Cocktails pay homage to the original Little Tijuana restaurant, featuring Mexican spirits like mezcal and tequila in cocktails such as a piña colada and “perfect margarita.” I had to go for the Lil’Tea, a cocktail of clairin, mezcal, akvavit, Cointreau, Cocchi, cyan, and lemon. Despite the Latin American inspiration, aquavit makes several appearances on the menu (this is Minnesota, after all).
For more on the food at Little Tijuana, read my guide to the best late-night restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul here.
Skaalvenn Distillery & Cocktail Lounge
8601 73rd Ave N STE 14, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
Walking into Skaalvenn Distillery & Cocktail Lounge’s moody space might feel like a sharp contrast from the sunshine-filled industrial cocktail rooms of competing distilleries in Minneapolis.
The distillery strives to bring a high-end experience to their craft spirits, which means a dimly lit space, resident pianist, and Japanese-meets-Scandinavian inspiration. Drinks include elaborate garnishes not typically found on the Minneapolis cocktail scenes, one going as far as to be topped by a cut of salmon.
Bartending staff at Skaalvenn has earned their stripes—the team’s background includes education at Le Cordon Bleu and stints at prolific Twin Cities establishments, including Travail Kitchen & Amusements and Tenant.
I selected the Secondhand Dandy Lions, an earthy, funky mix of aquavit, vodka, dandelion, strawberry honey, chicory tea, and chive blossom. The habanero rum mixed into my second cocktail of the evening, the Freestone Daiquiri, was what spicy cocktail dreams are made of—I almost walked out with a bottle of it for myself.
My boyfriend ordered The Walken Pig, served in a cheeky ceramic pig tiki mug. The unusual drink, made of fat-washed vodka, Chinese five spice, smoked plum, Hmong pork belly broth, pomegranate molasses, calamansi, palm sugar, almond orgeat, and lime leaf, tastes almost like alcoholic soup broth in a rich, comforting way.
Sealing in Skaalvenn Distillery & Cocktail Lounge as one of the best cocktail bars in Minneapolis is its commitment to uplifting its employees. Bar staff is listed by name on the menu and receives healthcare benefits and PTO—rare in the bar industry.
33 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Sanjusan is Minnesota Chef of the Year, Daniel del Prado’s foray into Italian-Japanese fusion. The sleek space underneath renowned Japanese restaurant, Kado no Mise, is less farfetched than it sounds—the Verdi pizza is given a Japanese twist by the inclusion of miso in the pesto sauce, and arancini becomes a true fusion food with the combination of enoki, onset egg, and togarashi furikake.
Daniel del Prado’s restaurants always seem to have an emphasis on cocktails over wine or beer (the Naked Dani at Colita, complete with bubbles of foam and a rubber duck comes to mind), but Sanjusan might be the star out of any of them.
Sanjusan’s cocktail menu is perfect for the elevated minimalist. You won’t find novelty here—just elegant, understated drinks meant to be sipped slowly. Order one of Sanjusan’s modern takes on Japanese staples, just as the Kita Highball, concocted of whisky, Boreal génépi, birch, and CO2.
Speakeasy in the Sky, 821 S Marquette Ave 27th Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Prohibition is possibly the most familiar cocktail bar in Minneapolis. The 1920s-themed bar is located at the top of the Foshay Tower, in the W Hotel. Settle in early in the evening for a seat by the windows, where you’ll have a rooftop view of downtown Minneapolis.
Cocktails at Prohibition aren’t necessarily innovative, but provide the perfect refreshment for taking in the view below. A favorite among my friends and I is the Verbena, a tequila drink complimented by Monin ginger syrup, lemon juice, and yuzu sour puree, finished off with a Szechuan button for a kick.
The Sonder Shaker
130 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Cozy, neighborhood, intimate—words to describe the Sonder Shaker. This New American restaurant and cocktail bar in Minneapolis has become a favorite in Minneapolis for its rich menu and late night hours.
On the current cocktail menu, the Swizzle, a cocktail of Blanco tequila, mezcal, lime, watermelon, jalapeño, and Peychaud’s Bitters; and the Amelia, a refreshing drink of vodka, elderflower, blackberry, and lemon are my favorites. Overall, the cocktail menu is simple and straightforward, playing off of American classics and familiar flavors.
3012 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Up-Down Minneapolis isn’t like any other cocktail bar in Minneapolis. This lively venue in Uptown is an arcade bar (barcade, if you will). In addition to over 70 retro arcade games and pinball machines, Up-Down offers over 60 craft beers on tap, and a cocktail list inspired by video games (try the Princess Peach’s Chalice for something fruity and sippable).
The bar offers daily specials, even on weekends. Monday to Wednesday, take $1 off certain beers, and from Thursday to Saturday, save on game tokens. Sunday’s special offers a discount on both games and drinks—$25 for a six-pack of domestic tall boys, and 80 tokens.
Cocktails at Up-Down feel more like mildly elevated takes on rail drinks than craft cocktails, but let’s be honest, the bar’s main appeal is the adult arcade. Plus, cocktails are still higher quality than heading to a local dive, and you’ll even find some local Minnesotan spirits on the shelves.
For the best of both worlds, start your night at Volstead’s around the corner, and finish it off with a nightcap and round of Street Fighter.
800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Founded by James Beard award-winning chef, Isaac Becker, the culinary savant behind Minneapolis darlings, Bar la Grassa and 112 Eatery, Snack Bar is a moody, intimate space that feels almost edgy compared to Becker’s previous ventures.
A healthy-sized cocktail program feels fresh and delightful, including the Raspberry Beret, a limoncello sorbet-based drink with raspberry shrub and sparkling wine; and the Coco Limonada, made of Leblon Cachaca, Tattersall coconut aquavit, lime, sweetened condensed milk, angostura, and fresh mint.
If you’re looking for something to soak up that alcohol, schupfnudeln is a must. For my full review of Snack Bar’s dinner menu, click here.
Cobble Social House
213 N 3rd Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Another hidden cocktail bar in Minneapolis, Cobble Social House is a narrow, cozy space. The popular speakeasy is marked only by its signature eye outside.
Cobble Social House is perfect if you’re looking for a cocktail bar in Minneapolis with an intimate, trendy vibe. To be honest, the cocktails here are not my favorite, but the bar still makes the list for filling a much-needed gap in Minneapolis’ cocktail scene.
More Top Cocktail Bars in Minneapolis
I’ve yet to visit the below cocktail bars in Minneapolis, however, they’ve all made their mark on Minneapolis’ nightlife scene, whether it’s by being a local favorite, featuring craft spirits, or offering posh escapes.
Twin Spirits Distillery Cocktail Room
2931 Central Ave N E, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Twin Spirits Distillery Cocktail Room is a creative expression of mixology, fitting for the arts district in Northeast Minneapolis it’s located in.
All cocktails are made using Twin Spirits’ locally distilled spirits and house-made syrups. Drinks are even garnished with flowers and produce grown in their gardens.
The gin cocktails are a local favorite—even for non-gin drinkers. The Ruckus Rosemary hears songs of praise, where M Vodka or M Gin, lime juice, and house-made rosemary syrup come together to form a beryl-toned concoction.
527 S Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Miaou Miaou is one of three Daniel del Prado concepts at the Rand Tower Hotel in Downtown Minneapolis. Overshadowed by sister establishments at the same property, Bar Rufus and Blondette, the sleek, neon pink bar had yet to be scoffed at.
The Frenchy bar’s cocktail program feels playful and sexy, paring rich flavors of whiskey and sherry with tropical fruit. Lounge seating and a menu of light bites make it easy to imagine settling in for a night here.
451 Taft St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
The first micro-distillery in Minneapolis, Norseman Distillery invites Minnesotans to taste their locally-made craft spirits in an airy industrial cocktail room.
Cocktails, some given Nordic names or named after Norse mythology, feel fresh and down-to-earth. Highlights include the Basil Strawberry Gimlet, consisting of strawberry gin, basil, fresh lime juice, strawberry syrup, and rhubarb bitters; alongside the snappy Shark Bait, made of pineapple rum, pineapple chipotle gin, Serrano, orgeat, pineapple juice, aromatic bitters, flaming lime, and cinnamon.
2027 N 2nd St #2202, Minneapolis, MN 55411
Meteor self-proclaims as an “old ass bar with good ass drinks” (sounds like my kind of place). Meteor might be onto something—from my research, it may just be the best unsung hero of cocktail bars in Minneapolis—just ask Reddit.
This low-key joint is designed to be a bartender’s bar. Drinks are straightforward—staying in their lane to hone what they know are strengths. With a hint of snobbery cutting through the grunge spot, you might think that the price point might match that of a trendy restaurant. Instead, Meteor feels perfectly accessible at $12 a cocktail, and fusion-y hot dogs on the grill.
Gori Gori Peku
33 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
One of Minneapolis’ best hidden gems, Gori Gori Peku is a minimalist, brooding Japanese whisky bar. Completing the trifecta of Japanese fine dining in the North Loop alongside sister restaurants Kado no Mise and Kaiseki Furukawa, the sleek and mysterious space shelves hard-to-find Japanese bottles, earning it praise for having one of the best Old Fashioned cocktails in Minneapolis.
Surprisingly, Gori Gori Peku’s cocktail program isn’t whisky-centric. Instead, it adds Japanese flair to classic cocktails like the Collins, Negroni, and Old Fashioned. Take, for example, the Kado Old Fashioned, elevated with fig, koji, and kokuto. Signature creations are also to be found, such as the Sotoku, a refreshing number of vodka, shishito, cantaloupe, pineapple, lime, and yuzu.
If whisky isn’t your thing, Gori Gori Peku also has a menu of sake, wine, and zero-proof mocktails.
2422 Central Ave N E, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Francis’ decadent vegan burgers aren’t the only thing earning this plant-based burger joint praise. In addition to its distinctly American menu, Francis offers a full bar program including several inventive takes on classic cocktails.
The restaurant is the first cocktail bar in Minneapolis to offer an all-vegan cocktail menu. On it, you’ll find playful drinks including the Frosted Tip, nearly an adult root beer float, made of vanilla vodka, custom root beer syrup, Tonka bean foam, and seltzer. The Pickleback Manhattan feels almost distinctly Midwestern, mixed with Keeper’s Heart Whiskey, vermouth bianco, pickle brine, and pickle chip.
Billy After Dark (B.A.D.)
Address redacted. Explore the alley near Billy Sushi to find the entrance.
“Bad decisions make better stories,” so says Billy After Dark’s glowing neon light. The hidden basement bar of Minneapolis sushi hotspot, Billy Sushi, is sleek, sultry, and undeniably Instagarmmable. The bar’s website matches its “if you know, you know” feel—you might just think you’re on a hacked website when you click into it.
Despite its cool-kid status, you won’t find Billy After Dark open past midnight—in the words of founder and renowned sushi chef, Enkhbileg “Billy” Tserenbat, “nothing good ever happens after midnight.” As a result, the bar only opens its doors from 5:59 pm to 10:59 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday; and 5:59 pm to 11:59 pm from Thursday to Saturday.
In a way, Billy Sushi’s bar feels more like a luxury kitchen found in a contemporary mansion than a bar in the traditional sense. There’s no rail seating, in favor of a large, dining table-style island.
Head bartender, Stephen Larson, has dreamt up a cocktail program for the cavernous space that lightly pushes boundaries, complimented by a whisky wall of rare Japanese bottles. Dessert is in the plans for the space, as is a guarantee that nothing will crossover from the upstairs menu.
Basement Bar at Sooki & Mimi
1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
The entrance is down the alley adjacent to Sooki & Mimi.
Beneath the crowds of date night diners and neighborhood locals at Sooki & Mimi lies Basement Bar, the restaurant’s secret cocktail escape. Chef Ann Kim has dreamt up a similarly chic-but-homey space for Basement Bar. While Sooki & Mimi feels intimate and airy, Basement Bar is cozy and relaxed. Per the bar’s website, “It’s like handing out in grandpa’s basement…with better sips and snacks.”
Cocktails continue with the upstairs restaurants’ Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine, pulling in tropical flavors such as soursop liqueur, xila liqueur de agave, and pineapple.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to try Basement Bar yet, but as a fan of Sooki & Mimi (of which, the mushroom birria tacos I dream of frequently) and patron of the Back Bar at Young Joni, a similar Ann Kim concept, it’s difficult to imaging Basement Bar at Young Joni being anything short of stellar.
For my full review of Sooki & Mimi, click here.
730 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
As mentioned in my late-night dining guide to Minneapolis, Parlour, the glowy American, compact space by Chef Mike DeCamp, may be best known for its eponymous burger, but the cocktails don’t go unnoticed, either.
Parlour’s menu is straightforward and simple, a statement that the bar knows exactly what it does best. Cocktails feel fun and approachable, some leveraging Japanese ingredients, while others infusing joy into the classics.
For more on Parlour’s food offering, click here.
Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery
1325 Quincy St NE Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55413
A newcomer in Northeast Minneapolis’ distilling community, Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery is quickly picking up steam, gaining attention as one of the most worthwhile cocktail bars in Minneapolis. A former stagecoach factory, the industrial, art-clad space is overflowing with plants in a way that would make Urban Outfitters jealous.
There’s no denying the sense of whimsy in Earl Giles’ cocktail program. All syrups and elixirs are made from scratch and are all available to purchase for home use. It makes sense—on the mezzanine floor of the distillery, the Drinks Apothecary experiments with over 300 extracts sourced from around the world.
Owners Jesse Held and Jeff Erkkila leaned into ingredients unfamiliar in typical Minnesotan cocktails, such as the prickly pear in the Spritz X SW, and matcha in “Are You My Cardamom?” The menu seems to rotate with the seasons, never straying from striking a balance between complexity and simpleness.
Earl Giles Restaurant and Distillery doesn’t leave non-drinkers out from trying its inventive potions, either—the non-alcoholic beverage program receives almost as much praise as the cocktails.
Cocktail Bars in Minneapolis: FAQ
The Naked Dani cocktail at Colita in Minneapolis’ Armatage neighborhood features a rubber ducky garnish, surrounded by salt bubbles.
Minneapolis is known for the Bootleg cocktail, which actually may not be from Minneapolis at all (its origins are still debated, but its believed to originate at Minneapolis-area country clubs). The citrus-forward cocktail was created during Prohibition to mask the taste of alcohol and is made using vodka or gin. Though you may find beer and Bloody Marys more common in Minneapolis, you can still find the Bootleg at country clubs and bars like Brit’s Pub in the Twin Cities.
Cocktail bars in Minneapolis tend to be casual—if you’re wearing a cocktail dress or clothing akin to clubwear, you’ll likely feel overdressed. Instead, wear casual or smart-casual clothing like jeans with a nice blouse.
Looking for more of the best bars and restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul? Click here, or below:
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