As the leaves start to change and the weather cools, we say goodbye to summer and hello to the long pants and sweatshirt months of autumn. The margaritas, mojitos, gin and tonics and other summer drinks just don’t feel quite right anymore. It’s the season of warm apple pie, pumpkins and cranberries, and the cocktails should reflect that. If there’s one thing that Minnesotans know, it’s the seasons, and the bartenders at these local haunts will make you the perfect drink to suit any one of them. For the best drinks of fall, spend an evening at one of the these places.
374 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102
While this Cathedral Hill mainstay might be known for its patio, when the weather no longer allows outdoor seating, the turn-of-the-century restaurant offers one of the coziest, most inviting interiors as well. The bar is stocked full of scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and other blends to warm you up. The cocktail list always features a staff-inspired options, and during the fall, it’s always something the evokes the pumpkin pie, apple orchard season we know and love in Minnesota. Find a spot near the fireplace and let the bartender make you the perfect fall drink.
The Strip Club
378 Maria Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55106
The meat-heavy menu is perfect as the days grow shorter and colder, and the cozy interior of this Dayton’s Bluff restaurant makes for a perfect autumn night out. The cocktails here are perfect. For autumn, try the house-recipe Jamo Toe, made with Jameson, Apfelkorn (a German apple schnapps) and house-made ginger beer. The whiskey will spread warmth all the way down to your toes while it reminds of the apple orchards just outside the city. The brilliance of the bartenders can always be counted on to create something to warm the soul.
Related: Best Hot Drinks in Minnesota
125 Main St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
The quaint little coffee shop/bar fusion on picturesque St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis is the perfect place to end up on a cool fall night. After a stroll along the tree-lined riverside, try the Aster’s Bad Apple, made with 2Gingers whiskey and Angry Orchard apple ginger cider. Or, for something even more unique, order one of the tea-infused cocktails. It has all of the warmth and comfort of a cup of tea with a nice buzz on top. The jalopy, with Lemon Solstice Black Tea-infused 2Gingers whiskey mixed with ginger beer and lemon, is a delicious drink for the season.
The Happy Gnome
498 Selby Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55102
The Happy Gnome’s seasonal beer list is truly something to behold. With over 70 on tap, and an almost countless amount of bottles, it’s the most beer-centric bar in the cities. As autumn rolls around, the summer ales start to disappear and the pumpkin ales, Octoberfest styles and ciders dominate the menu. If you haven’t tried a pumpkin beer, they are delicious. The Southern Tier Pumpking is a great one to start with, with just a slight, nice sweetness to it. The Summit Octoberfest is one of the best from the local brewery, and a great fallback. For a great autumn drink, you don’t have to look any further than the Gnome’s beer list.
5411 Penn Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419
There’s no better place to watch the leaves of Loring Park in Minneapolis change color than sitting in the comfortable seats at Cafe Maude, sipping on its specialty mulled wine. The bistro prides itself on its seasonal ingredients, for both food and drink, and when you feel that shiver of winter coming, Cafe Maude is the perfect choice for a fall evening. There will be other autumn options offered, but the cinnamon and cloves brewing with the warm red wine with brandy remind us exactly why it’s okay to be cold once in a while. Nothing will warm you up like the mulled wine at Cafe Maude.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.