Top 10 martinis in the Twin Cities

Categories: Cocktails

​Life keeps getting better for Twin Cities cocktail lovers. New and exciting craft cocktails are being conceived, and classic cocktails are being rediscovered. No list of classic cocktails would be complete without the martini.

It's clean, elegant, sexy, and its simplicity is part of it genius. The original martini was equal parts gin (or vodka) and sweet vermouth with a dash of orange bitters. The recipe has evolved to be made with dry vermouth, and far less of it (I use a ratio of 3:1). Some omit the orange bitters, and some (heathens) even skip the vermouth altogether.

But the martini is more than just the sum of its parts; it's also an experience. You just can't order a martini anywhere; the room itself is part of the experience. It can't be a cookie cutter chain restaurant. It has to have character and sophistication to match the cocktail.

To name the top 10 martinis in the Twin Cities wasn't easy. There are so many great bartenders making great martinis. These are the bars that are pouring the martini that my great-grandfather would have wanted.

Marvel Bar
10. Marvel Bar

Nobody loves martinis more than the Japanese. The cocktail culture in Tokyo really began in the 1950s, and the bartenders of Japan (and their patrons) have had a love affair with this cocktail ever since. Our Twin Cities ambassador of Japanese bartending, Pip Hanson, and his team of mavericks hand chip the ice used in their martinis before stirring or shaking them to the perfect temperature. The cocktail list at Marvel is half classic cocktails and half original recipes. The classic cocktails are made with a passion and professionalism to rival any cocktail bar in any town.

La Belle Vie
9. La Belle Vie
In a bar known for its creative cocktails, one might think it ill advised to order a drink as simple as a martini. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bartenders at La Belle Vie, headed by Johnny Michaels, treat the classic cocktails like an old friend and are happy to make it however you like. The attention to detail at LBV starts long before you order a drink. When a new bottle of vermouth is opened it is immediately transferred to smaller bottles to minimize oxidation, and it's refrigerated to prevent spoiling. Over the years Michaels has created several subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) twists on the classic martini.

Cafe Maude
8. Café Maude
Café Maude is one place that really has it all: sexy lighting, stimulating music, intriguing artwork, delicious food, and most important, their bartenders really know their drinks. When ordering a martini at Café Maude you will have several gins (or vodka, if you must) vermouths, and even bitters to add. No matter how busy they get, the people behind this bar will help guide you through the ordering process, line up the ingredients in front of you, then build the drink and stir or shake it while you enjoy the show.

Meritage's martini with Nikola Govich
7. Meritage
Since expanding the restaurant and adding the new sexy bar, Meritage also added a couple of ace bartenders to their team. Nikola Govich and Rob Jones, formerly bartenders at Bradstreet Craftshouse, have stepped in to ensure the cocktails are given as much attention as the food. Govich acts as bar manager and also works the dining room, while Jones is the head bartender.

Bradstreet Craftshouse
6. Bradstreet Craftshouse
A bar that really takes its drinks seriously, the innovative bar staff at Bradstreet have really put themselves on the map as a destination cocktail bar. In addition to their creative house recipes, they offer a very user-friendly classic cocktail section, which was one of the first in town to bring back the orange bitters.

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