If you’re looking for a particular spirit, it’s easy to get discouraged by a bar’s lack of selection. If you know what you like, you know what you like and there’s no reason to settle.
These local bars understand your struggle.
Here is a list of watering holes, from classy to casual, with bars representing a specific liquor. They have a selection of everything else, these are the places to go when you have that one particular liquor in mind.
The true spirit of St. Paul: Whiskey
St. Paul is a classic American city, so of course whiskey is well-represented.
Handsome Hog‘s bourbon list is 40 strong, but there is plenty of love shown to other members of the whiskey family as well. This is a place dedicated to brown spirits, and if you’re curious about learning more about them, they break everything down for you in their Brown Bible.
Dark Horse is another great place for whiskey, with over 100+ different types lining the walls and a ladder needed just to reach them all. Plus, their tower of Powers (their rail; you’re welcome industry folk) is impressive in and of itself.
The St. Paul Grill is king of scotch. True enthusiasts can join the Scotch Club to take a tour of the world’s finest. If you try a pour of every single one on their list, you’ll get to sample Macallan 55 (a spirit that is both very rare, and very expensive) on the house.
Emmett’s on Grand Avenue will take you out of downtown to enjoy a hefty selection of Irish Whiskey. The happy hour, where you can enjoy any Minnesota-brewed beer with a shot of Tullamadore Dew for $7, is one of the best deals in town.
Gin, Tequila, Vodka, Absinthe
Those who prefer lighter spirits need not despair.
Amsterdam Bar and Hall is a gin bar, and you can find selections of the love-it-or-hate spirit here that you won’t find anywhere else. Check out the menu here. And, like the St. Paul Grill, they offer a club which allows you to sample their featured spirit, and, good news, this one will be much easier on your pocketbook.
Barrio, one of the earlier bars to embrace the Lowertown nightlife renaissance, offers 150+ different tequilas (and is another place where some bottles are unreachable except by ladder). Pro tip for those in the service industry: your first shot of any tequila is half-off.
Moscow on the Hill features over 200 different types of vodka. You can find just about every type, from local, national, and international distilleries, but don’t leave without trying some of the house-infused, their famous (and very best) horseradish vodka.
If you’d like to spend your evening embracing the artistic spirit of Montmartre, Meritage serves absinthe by the glass (and in the traditional way, complete with sugar cube) at their downtown bar. Things probably won’t get as wild as they did for Toulouse-Lautrec, however, as you’re only allowed to order two glasses of the 150 proof+ spirit.
And it doesn’t have to be so boozy: Beer&wine
You won’t have to go far when looking for a cold glass of beer or glass of wine either.
With craft beer still booming in the capitol city, it seems any bar worth its salt has at least a couple of local brews on tap. For happy hour, or just a quick drink with friends, beer is often a better choice. While you can go right to the source and kick back at one of the many breweries in the city (and plenty more to come, read more here), sampling a variety at one of the many beer bars is a great way to go. Happy Gnome is still the reigning champ (World of Beer, which is a national chain, notwithstanding), but you’ll also find impressive selections at The Muddy Pig, Sweeney’s, The Bulldog, aforementioned Dark Horse, Ward 6, and Alary’s.
For red, white, or bubbly, the newly-remodeled Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar is a great, bohemian place to relax with a glass. Best-kept-secret Joan’s in the Park also has a magnificent wine list, as does Meritage (if you don’t want absinthe), and W.A. Frost.