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WCCO Viewers’ Choice For Best Drink: The Mojito From Smalley’s

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
Matt Brickman is the co-host of WCCO-TV Saturday Morni...
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STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) – After the week of heat Minnesota’s had, a tall cold drink sounds just about perfect.

But what’s the state’s best?

WCCO viewers directed Matt Brickman to Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in Stillwater, Minn.

If you think you don’t like mojitos, the ones they’re serving up at Smalley’s are good enough to change your mind.

“Everything is 100 percent from scratch and you see that in the cocktails, and how they taste,” GM Joe Ehlenz said.

That means fresh mint and lime – plus the extra effort of infusing their simple syrups with flavors to make the cocktail pop.

“That right there gives you that fresh punch in the face of mint,” Ehlenz said. “And on a hot day, it’s 100 degrees outside … that mint flavor, soda, lime and a little bit of rum is very refreshing.”

It’s the perfect summer spirit. If whiskey warms you up in winter, rum was made for hot weather.

“If anybody’s ever been to the Caribbean, too, it’s gonna give you that same feeling,” bartender Joe Pirri said.

That feeling is taken to another level by owner and chef Shawn Smalley, a self-described pirate, whose personality is all over the bar and restaurant.

“It’s just a lifestyle,” Smalley said. “It’s the way I’ve always been, something I’ve loved my whole life.”

And like all good pirates, they take their rum seriously at Smalley’s. Not only do they make their own, but they’ve got more than 200 varieties behind the bar.

Including a bottle, that’s one of only 67 in the world.

There’s about a half-dozen rum options to try, including one with fresh blackberry.

The drink runs about $8 — $6 during happy hour.

Next up is finding Minnesota’s best bike trail.

Tweet your favorite, or email Matt Brickman.

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