How going out helped my fear of going out…

…or, a love letter to the bartender.


Head over to my drinks focused blog to read my story about how drinking helped my social anxiety, but not in the way you think.


Epic Weekend Day One: @TurfClubMN – 11 Wells – @FlatEarthBrew – @MarvelBar – Trylon


When we first booked the tickets for Notes on Creativity, we kind of consciously blocked out the rest of the weekend in case we needed to recover from the awesomeness of the talk and tasting. When I’m REALLY excited about something, I often have a bit of an adrenaline drop afterwards and have to just chill out. For almost two months, we kept Saturday and Sunday completely free of preplanned events.

Then one of us noticed a movie we’ve been wanting to rewatch would be at the Trylon Microcinema on Saturday night. Figuring that a movie is pretty low key, we bought tickets. Then I noticed that 11 Wells would be open for the art crawl so we penciled that in. When we found out you could sign up for a free class and tasting, it went from pencil to permanent marker. And then, Friday afternoon, my partner noticed a “Tunes ‘n ‘Toons” brunch at Turf Club on Saturday morning. Since we had a Groupon to use and needed to eat before the 11 Wells class, that went on the schedule. Oh, and we found out about a fancy fundraiser for Mia being hosted at The Bachelor Farmer, with Ferran Adria as the guest of honor. We couldn’t afford the $2,000 dinner but did hear that Marvel would be open so that got added  to the list as well.

This, my friends, is how my life goes. And that is not a complaint!

Let’s break it down a bit more…

A little over a year ago, the Turf Club reopened after a bit of a face lift and started serving food. Living just a few blocks away from a place serving a damn good brunch has been a dangerous but awesome problem. This is no stuffy brunch – this is hearty “lay a foundation before going to a distillery” brunch. And every Saturday in October it’s also “Tunes ‘n ‘Toons” brunch from 10am to 2pm. The TVs are playing classic Saturday morning cartoons while a local record store spins (and sells) some vinyl. Our other favorite thing about Turf Club brunch? It’s served until 4pm.

11WellsClassFrom brunch, we fought road closures over to the Hamm’s Brewery for our class at 11 Wells. The distillery got their bottle sale license just in the nick of time before the art crawl so now they can sell half-bottles (375ml) at the distillery. (The law only allows one bottle per person per day, but it’s a start!) We saw several familiar faces as most of the people involved in 11 Wells are often found behind bars (of the cocktail variety) or at cocktail events. Head Distiller Lee Egbert gave a fabulous class on the history behind some of their spirits, why they’ve chosen their line up of products, and cocktail technique. More about the class (I took notes!) will be posted over on There are some exciting new things coming out of this tiny space, and I can’t wait to try what’s next!

We knew that Flat Earth was near 11 Wells these days, but we didn’t quite realizeFlatEartTap how near. (This become a theme for the weekend.) With a bit of time to kill, we decided to go check out their new taproom, also in the historic Hamm’s Brewery complex. I never made it to their old brewery but the new space is spacious, sunny, and elegant. Lots of historic details remain including unique curved ceilings and exposed brick. The elegance of the taproom feels a bit incongruous  in a building that looks like it’s barely holding itself up, but I’m so glad these spaces are being used instead of destroyed or forgotten.

Hamms4There’s no way I’ll go climbing up and in these old buildings, for a variety of reasons. But I will happily walk around them and peek inside, looking for remnants of history. Some corners look like they were just abandoned yesterday, with chairs and work gloves waiting to be reclaimed. Other areas have been covered in graffiti and look worn down by time, people, and nature. I find a strange beauty in urban decay, use and disuse.

After our walking tour of the Hamm’s complex, we headed over to Marvel Bar. Now, if you’ve read this blog or my tweets at all, you know that it takes literally zero persuading to get me to Marvel. I love the place and I love the people. But I admit, we specifically went in the hopes of “crashing the party” this time. The Bachelor Farmer and Spoon & Stable co-hosted an amazing dinner with chefs from all over town as a fundraiser for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts – TBF posted about the restaurant being closed for the event but Marvel still being open. MarvelWe couldn’t resist the chance to pop in at 5pm and enjoy the people watching! We ended up extra glad we’d gone as there were a few amazing Patisserie 46 nibbles left up for grabs and we got to sample four special drinks made for the event. It looked like the tail end of a fabulous event and I can now say I’ve had a drink [while in the same room] with Ferran Adria. Hey, I’m counting it.

From Marvel we made our way to Trylon Microcinema for a screening of Eyes Wide Shut. If you’ve never been to the Trylon, it’s a great little theatre with only 50 seats and a constantly changing list of films. As you might expect, the October focus is on thrillers and horror films. I am by no means a film buff, but I’ve been here for two events and really enjoy the space, the crowd, and the delicious popcorn. Definitely worth checking out!

After all this, we went to bed. Then we got up on Sunday and did some of it all over again.

More Hamm’s photos…

Continue reading “Epic Weekend Day One: @TurfClubMN – 11 Wells – @FlatEarthBrew – @MarvelBar – Trylon”

Coming Soon: The Sheridan Room

I was on my way to a much needed haircut at Bourbon and Bows, above the 331 Club, when we noticed paint and construction happening in the former Modern Cafe space. It turns out the restaurant space was purchased by Jon Oulman, who is very familiar with and in the neighborhood as owner of the 331 Club, along with his son Jarret and their business partner Joshua Mandelman. The trio also own Amsterdam Bar & Hall and Como Dockside.

The retro guts of the Modern Cafe appear to be staying intact but the Oulmans have been rearranging booths and preparing the space for reopening as the Sheridan Room, serving Midwestern Americana seven days a week. There will also be a full-service cocktail bar.

The official word is “opening by the end of the year.” The unofficial gossip is November 15th.


La Belle Vie closing October 24th

I am damn near speechless right now. On one hand, I’m not as surprised as I’d like to be – fine dining is an expensive and challenging niche. I was able to eat the full tasting menu twice and enjoyed the lounge a couple of times as well, they weren’t cheap meals but they are some of my most memorable and worth every penny.

The local restaurant and bar scene owes damn near everything to La Belle Vie. The chefs who worked their way through Tim McKee’s kitchen have gone on to be a who’s who of the MSP dining scene.

Jim Christiansen, of Heyday, and Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone of forthcoming Brut. But the list would also include Sameh Wadi of Saffron and World Street Kitchen, Jack Riebel of Il Foro, Mike DeCamp of Monello, Don Saunders of The Kenwood, Matthew Bickford of Icehouse, Lucas Almendinger of Co-op Creamery, Sean Smalley of Smalley’s Barbeque (which McKee still partly owns), pastry chef Diane Yang of Spoon and Stable, Adam Eaton of Saint Dinette, and many, many more.

Then there’s the cocktail scene. At the first week of Iron Bartender, I remember that LBV was going up against Saint Dinette. I *love* Saint Dinette’s bar program but I still thought it was a bit mean to put the newest restaurant up against an icon like LBV. But then…when the Saint Dinette team did their introductions, both of them said their name, and followed it with “Of Saint Dinette, formally of La Belle Vie.” The four competitors, two from a 17-year-old icon and two from a months-old rising star, had all worked together at the La Belle Vie bar.

La Belle Vie was also enormously influential in crafting Minnesota’s beverage landscape. Longtime La Belle Vie sommelier Bill Summerville, now an independent wine consultant, was responsible through his list at La Belle Vie for some significant part of Minneapolis’ focus on wines from small European vineyards. The restaurant also started the local craft cocktail revolution with longtime maverick bartender Johnny Michaels; just last week La Belle Vie’s current bartending team, led by Adam Gorski, won the city’s top bartending competition, Iron Bartender.

Much of my current passion for cocktails exists because of the scene that Johnny Michaels started out of LBV.

I didn’t eat or drink at La Belle Vie as often as I would have like, and I know that makes me part of the problem. As McKee stated, “The simple math of it is: I know a ton of people are going to let us know how much La Belle Vie meant to them. If all of those people would have come in twice more a year, we’d still be open. It’s so important that if there’s a restaurant or business in your community that you feel is important, you’ve got to make it your mission to support them. Otherwise they will close.”

Get out there, support our amazing local bars and restaurants, vote with your feet and your wallet. The reward is so much greater than a little red sticker, it’s more great places, innovative food, and amazing cocktails.

Weekend Highlights – Sep 18-20 (plus one)

Here are a few of the things on my radar for this weekend…

  • Autumn Brew Review – Saturday 1-5pm – Unfortunately, this event is sold out. One of the beer fests thrown by the MN Craft Brewer’s Guild, ABR is held at the historic Grain Belt brewing complex in NE Minneapolis. It looks like the weather this year will be PERFECT. The Guild generally does a great job of organizing their events and this is always a favorite.
  • Odell ABR Tap Takeover – All weekend – Odell Brewing is taking over 11 taps at Republic-Calhoun Square in honor of ABR weekend. Didn’t get tickets to ABR? This, plus the usual great lineup at Republic will help you forget your pain.
  • Street Pub Twin Cities – Saturday 2-10pm – Still sad about missing ABR after your trip to Republic? I’ve got one more for the beer drinkers, the Deschutes Brewery Street Pub. A 402-foot custom bar will have 40 taps in this pop-up pub event with all proceeds going to Second Harvest Heartland. Food vendors include Happy Gnome and Potters Pasties. Music by Big Wu, Solid Gold, Step Rockets, and BBGUN.
  • Iron Bartender Week Two – Sunday: Doors at 7, Competition at 8pm – Held at the Pourhouse in Downtown Minneapolis, this week the remaining eight teams will go head-to-head in this secret ingredient challenge. The $10 cover charge (free to members of the US Bartender’s Guild) gets you into the event and generous samples of eight cocktails from the competing bars.
  • Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony Party – Friday 5-8p – Nomad World Pub will be airing all of USA’s Rugby World Cup matches and they are kicking things off with a party!
  • A Prairie Home Companion Street Dance – Saturday 5-10pm – I’m sure you’re thinking “Whaaaaaaat??” but hear me out on this one okay? It’s not particularly cool to like PHC these days, as evidenced by a petition asking “all people under 100” to help cancel the show. But you know what is cool? The music of JD McPherson. McPherson will be playing the inaugural show of Garrison Keillor’s final season and then heading out to Exchange Street to play. The event is free except for the $5 meatloaf supper. Music begins at 7pm.

Also, though not exactly this weekend, the 2015 Ivey Awards are on Monday at the Historic State Theatre. Tickets are still available for the show, after party, and VIP reception at Marin before the event. If you love theatre, this is a great way to get out and support the community!