When Craft Cocktails Come to Town

Photo by Tj Turner

Like the glass of water starting to ripple in Jurassic Park portending the arrival of the T-Rex, many suburbs surrounding the Twin Cities have heard the clinking of shaker tins and felt the stomping of ironic combat boots coming towards them as cocktail bartenders quickly expand their reach outside of downtown.

When 30-somethings move out to the ‘burbs they don’t suddenly lose interest in having a well-made Manhattan or Negroni, in fact, they probably need one more than ever. Kids and yard work will drive you to the liquor cabinet quickly. But until recently there were not too many places, within a short driving distance, that could satisfy your average suburbanite’s thirst for a Penicillin.

Robbinsdale isn’t exactly far from Minneapolis, but it isn’t the North Loop either. When Pig Ate My Pizza opened they already had some built in trust due to being related to Robbinsdale staple, Travail, but a new venture is never a guaranteed home run. “Travail has always had deep roots in the Robbinsdale community, so I think our clientele, even if it’s their first time at Pig Ate My Pizza, kind of already has an idea of our no pretension but good food and drink ethos,” bar director Nathaniel Smith notes.

Smith strives to make everyone feel comfortable when they come to Pig Ate My Pizza, especially for people who may not have heard of the newest fortified wine that hit the market. “It makes it harder to be skeptical if most palates are accounted for,” Smith says.

The Alchemist in White Bear Lake has been crafting cocktails in the ‘burbs since 2015 and has carved out a nice little niche for themselves. Their menu includes a spiced butterscotch mezcal Old Fashioned, but also Mich Golden. A good way to get people in the door to try something new is to give them something that they want.

And in the end, isn’t giving the guest, suburbanite or city dweller, what they want the way to make them return to your bar? Smith definitely thinks so.

“I mean, at every bar in America that serves cocktails, the Old Fashioned is always going to be your highest seller that’s just a reality. The two ways of looking at that, either try to not accommodate that request by not having one on the menu, or just by making the best damn version of what your guest actually wants.”