Nestled right next to the Seventh St. Entry in a space formerly occupied by a pizza joint and an Unbank, the Depot Tavern is an idea so staggeringly good, it’s amazing it’s taken this long to come to fruition: A bar and eatery owned and run by First Avenue. The people who bring you touring acts and big events in the main room and up-and-comers both local and national in the Entry are now in the business of serving you drinks named in honor of Twin Cities music acts and fattening you up on State Fair-worthy creations like the Diamond Dog (a giant all beef hot dog wrapped in pepper bacon and deep fried, then served on a pretzel bun).
Begin your liquor tour of Minnesota music history with a “Versus God” ($8), named for seminal punk/hardcore band Dillinger 4’s 2000 album. The drink combines Jameson with sour mix and homemade ginger syrup in a tall glass with ice and a lime. It’s less sweet and more refreshing than the “Hidden Beach” ($8), which takes its name from the secluded Lake Calhoun spot notorious for late-night skinny dipping and other shenanigans. The drink’s one-two punch of 7up and coconut rum with a dash of lime juice makes it suitable for your tropical fantasies, but be careful: the sweetness makes for easy drinking, and you could quickly find yourself in the deep end.
Less Minneapolis-centric (but no less delicious) is the “Long Hot Summer Night” ($8), a Hendrick’s Gin Martini (spelled Hendrix on the menu, natch) with cucumber. Also worth noting is their formidable beer selection, featuring seasonal selections from Bell’s, Surly, and Summit alongside standbys like Two Hearted, Furious, and Summit EPA.
It’s also now worth it to get to shows early so you can partake in the Depot’s Happy Hour from 3 pm to 6 pm, with $3 domestic taps, $4 import taps, $3 well drinks, and $3 house wine, plus half-price small bites. Or else stay late when they do it again from midnight to 2 am, although no half-price apps for you then. If you’re more interested in just tossing back some American lager, you can get your usual selection (Bud, Bud Light, MGD, etc.) for $3 each between 11 am and 11 pm. And you can even pick up tickets for upcoming shows at First Ave and the Entry; doing so even nets you a Depot Dollar (a $1 coupon) for each ticket you buy. It’s practically a reverse handling fee!
The Depot Tavern
17 North 7th St.
Hours: Daily 11am – 2 am
Steve McPherson is a writer and musician who has lived in the Twin Cities since 2004, where he teaches writing and music at McNally Smith. His dog is named after both a drink and a guitar. He tweets from @steventurous.