You’ve got a night on the town, and you want to make it count.
You’re in the right spot!
The Twin Cities has tons of amazing bars (as the old joke goes, there’s nothing else to do during winter) and I have tons of love for drinking. So this is pretty much the perfect match.
But of all the many bars in the Twin Cities, which are the best? Which are the “must-visits”?
That’s the impossible question I’m trying to answer today…
But first: a warning. This list is not all inclusive. It’s not a database of all the bars in the city. That would go on far longer than you’d want to read and far longer than I’d want to type! (We are a city for drinking, remember?)
Instead, this list is simply one local’s favorites. It’s filled with the types of places I find myself bringing out of town friends whenever I’ve only got a night or two to show them a uniquely Twin Cities experience.
Consider this a virtual bar crawl with an internet friend. So cheers to you, my new internet drinking buddy!
- Map of the Best Bars in Minneapolis & St. Paul
- My personal favorite place for craft cocktails: Parlour
- The most legendary dive bar in Minneapolis: Grumpy’s
- Best secret cocktail bar: Volstead’s Emporium
- The only bar with a ferris wheel: Betty Danger’s
- The best tiki bar: Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge
- Best whiskey bar: Merlin’s Rest Pub
- Best vodka bar: Moscow on the Hill
- Best tequila bar: Centro
- Best bar for lawn bowling: Brit’s Pub
- For the fancy drinkers: The Hewing Hotel Rooftop Lounge
- The most fun distillery: Royal Foundry
Map of the Best Bars in Minneapolis & St. Paul
My personal favorite place for craft cocktails: Parlour
Parlous is most known around here as one of the best burgers in the Twin Cities, but this awesome spot is also my personal favorite place to grab a craft cocktail in the Twin Cities.
The Twin Cities boasts two permanent Parlour locations, one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul, and the menus sometimes feature slight differences. In Minneapolis, you’ll find the “local distillery spotlight” where they partner with a local distillery to make a craft cocktail specifically around their pour. In St. Paul, the menu features “boozy malts” and the “beer & bump” which is a can of Hamm’s with the shot of your choice. (I can only assume this is a nod to St. Paul’s more blue-collar history.)
- Address 1: 730 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
- Address 2: 267 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102
- Website: Parlour
The most legendary dive bar in Minneapolis: Grumpy’s
Grumpy’s has been operating continuously since 1906! In one of those years, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine called it the single best bar in the Twin Cities, and it’s easy to see why. For an authentic neighborhood vibe, Grumpy’s is the spot.
The clientele here is often a cross section of the city; you’ll have tattooed bikers drinking right alongside suited up businessmen, and despite the name, everyone’s always having a great time at Grumpy’s. There’s a lengthy tap list of the city’s most popular craft beers. And for the more traditional drinkers? They’ve got a long line of tall-boy domestic cans that’d make your dad proud.
- Address 1: 2200 4th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
- Website: Grumpy’s
Best secret cocktail bar: Volstead’s Emporium
Minneapolis has a surprising number of speakeasies, but its original is still the most impressive.
Volstead’s Emporium takes their speakeasy bit seriously. They do zero marketing, their website lists the address as “hidden,” and the location in Uptown is so discreet that you’ll often see people wandering the back alleys, asking for directions.
Maybe I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but here’s how to find it. Volstead’s official address is 711 W Lake Street, but that’s just the start. You’ll have to head down the back alley, turn past several dumpsters, and look for the steel door with a red light above it. Knock on that door, and wait for the doorman to open a peephole that looks like it belongs on an armored car. Descend down into the basement, and voila… welcome to what might be the best cocktail bar in Minneapolis!
- Address: 711 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
- Website: Volsteads
The only bar with a ferris wheel: Betty Danger’s
I’ve gotta include this bar for the Ferris Wheel alone. And yes, I did just say Ferris Wheel and bar in the same sentence.
Seriously, you can order a drink here and then head on up for some great views of the Minneapolis skyline. Did I mention Betty Danger’s also includes a patio with a mini golf course?
- Address: 2501 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
- Website: Betty Danger’s
The best tiki bar: Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge
From the wild mind that brought us Betty Danger’s, Psycho Suzie’s was actually the first of owner Leslie Bock’s one-of-a-kind bars in the Twin Cities.
At Psycho Suzie’s, you’ll find a sprawling Tiki Space right on the Mississippi River. The outdoor patio (straw umbrellas and all) features beautiful views of the water and an atmosphere that will transport you far away from the Twin Cities.
For drinks, you’ll find lots of strong tropical options, all served in enormous and insta-worthy Tiki glasses, of course.
Oh, and don’t worry if it’s winter and the patio isn’t in season. Each year from October to December 31, Psycho Suzie’s indoor space transforms into “Mary’s Christmas Palace.” It’s the most over-the-top holiday lights and decoration display around, and the “Christmas Drinks” menu just makes it that much more fun.
- Address: 1900 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
- Website: Psycho Suzi’s
Best whiskey bar: Merlin’s Rest Pub
For a classic Irish pub, Merlin’s Rest is your best bet in the Twin Cities.
This little corner spot sits in South Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood and is home to “The Whiskey Bible” – a several inch thick beast with endless choices of Irish whiskey and single malt Scotch. How many? Try over four hundred eighty, all broken down by place of origin. Should I lead a prayer of thanks?
- Address: 3601 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
- Website: Merlin’s Rest
Best vodka bar: Moscow on the Hill
Moscow on the Hill serves the most authentic Russian food in the Twin Cities, so it makes sense they have the best vodka bar in the city, too.
Flip over the drink menu at Moscow, and you’ll find the whole back page devoted entirely to vodka. There’s over 50 different brands of Vodka alone, and dozens more martinis and vodka cocktails.
But things really get interesting with their house-made “vodka infusions” – vodka shots that come in over 20 different flavors. We’re talking honey, to horseradish, to dill pickle. Trust me, even your friends who squirm at the idea of vodka… or shots… or the two mixed together… will find something they enjoy throwing back off this menu.
- Address: 371 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
- Website: Moscow on the Hill
Best tequila bar: Centro
Centro is a trendy taco spot in the heart of Northeast Minneapolis’s art district with a lively patio and, most importantly for an article about the best bars in our city, the most impressive collection of tequila and mezcal drinks in the city.
It starts with their “cocktails on tap” which include a fantastic house margarita or mezcal slushy, but the real fun begins on the spirits menu. There, you’ll find about a dozen different tequilas and a dozen more mezcals, each served in two ounce pours for your sipping pleasure.
- Address: 1414 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
- Website: Centro
Best bar for lawn bowling: Brit’s Pub
Sure, not surprisingly, Brit’s Pub is also the only spot for lawn bowling in the Twin Cities, but that’s what makes this place so special. Brit’s Pub has long been one of the original rooftop bars in downtown Minneapolis, and it’s still one of the best.
This classic pub features a full-length bar downstairs and a full-length LAWN upstairs. Seriously, I’m talking a 100-yard football field… on a rooftop… in the middle of downtown Minneapolis.
Yea, Brit’s is definitely one of the Twin Cities most unique spots; there might not be a more “summer in downtown Minneapolis” feeling than being nestled among the skyscrapers, sipping drinks on a massive patch of grass.
- Address: 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403
- Website: Brit’s Pub
For the fancy drinkers: The Hewing Hotel Rooftop Lounge
If you’re looking for a fancy cocktail and an upscale rooftop vibe, then take the elevator up at The Hewing Hotel. There you’ll find $14 cocktails and one of the most impressive views of the city. Plop that cocktail on the railing and join everyone else taking selfies at this impressive spot.
- Address: 300 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
- Website: Hewing Rooftop
The most fun distillery: Royal Foundry
Originally, I planned on leaving distilleries out of this list, since I consider them another animal entirely than bars. But I just couldn’t resist. I’ve ended way too many wild nights with a delicious cocktail or three at Royal Foundry – the only place in the city where you can go 9 pin bowling or play indoor badminton while you drink a top-notch vodka, gin, whiskey, or rum cocktails.
- Address: 730 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
- Website: Parlour
Gone but not forgotten
If I were writing this list pre-covid, these awesome spots would have been total shoo-ins for the best bars in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, these amazing bars are closed at the time of this writing, either temporarily or permanently.
- Marvel Bar
- Al’s Place
- The Commodore