By Coco Mault

For cocktail connoisseurs who enjoy drinking in a low-light atmosphere, the lights at the Bradstreet Crafthouse are playing a winning game of limbo. Thank goodness the restaurant and bar employ a host to lead visitors to the tables, which are marked by small points of candlelight. It’s a comfortable atmosphere, one that is instantly soothing. Even moreso when spotting the brightest spot in the place — the bar. Or rather, the shelves which house the bottles. These shelves climb all the way to the ceiling, along a softly lit wall that is embellished with ornate, carved decoration shown off in silhouette. But it’s hard not to get distracted by all those attractive bottles on display. At some point, visitors may notice a long row of very small bottles along the barback — these are full of house-made bitters, a staple ingredient in many classic cocktails, which is what the Bradstreet Crafthouse specializes in.

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The atmosphere is quite contemporary despite the pre-prohibition themed drink menu. Go into the very back room and suddenly if feels as though you’ve boarded a mod spaceship. Add drinks to this mix and it’s a positively good time.

After perusing the cocktail menu and ordering something, there is that awful point in the process where one must wait for the drink to actually come to fruition. The folks at Bradstreet must understand how tedious this can be, so are prepared to ease the wait with an amuse bouche, “a tingler for the tastebuds,” as Wikipedia states, or “tidbit” in French. Servers may surprise guests with these treats, bringing small, delicate tall-stemmed glasses full of something aromatic, and alcoholic, as compliments before the main cocktail.

(credit: Coco Mault)

Their drink menu was created by New York City mixologist Toby Maloney, and is organized into the following categories: Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey, Brandy, Vodka, Cordials, Bradstreet Classic Cocktails, Rye, Beers, and Wine. This is the only place in town to get a proper Sazerac — it will transport anyone who sips this most savory cocktail straight to the French Quarter. The Fox & The Forest ($10) is quite an adventure. Made with lunazul blanco, lime, green chartreuse campari, and mint, the drink is layered red and green. It is slightly spicy at first, with a soothing finish. Looking for more spice? Try the Conquistador Margarita ($10) made with lunazul blanco, licor 43, and Bradstreet’s very own hell-fire bitters. The Dark and Stormy ($10) is positively addictive, made with Cruzan’s black strap rum, ginger syrup, and a generous lump of candied ginger.

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Bradstreet is a great bar to try a familiar cocktail — it will probably taste better than ever because, thankfully, the folks behind the bar aren’t afraid to measure ingredients. But don’t be shy around those unfamiliar cocktails; it’s easy to become fast friends at Bradstreet.

Get there at 601 Hour and get happy with a selection of cocktails priced at only $6.01. Drinks on this menu include The Professor made with plymouth gin, ginger syrup, fresh lime juice, Angostura bitters; the Honeysuckle made with brugal anejo, honey syrup, fresh lime juice; or the Sweet Lucy made with Prichard’s Sweet Lucy Liqueur, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice.

There’s food on this menu as well, including the Toast Plate ($4.01) with tomato-parmesan, caper-chevre, feta-olive, apple-cheddar; beef sliders ($6.01) with aged cheddar, shoestring fries, pickled onions, house ketchup; and Quesadilla ($6.01) with duck confit, raclet cheese, and apple kimchi.

Sitting at one of the tables is comfortable enough, but taking a lingering glance at the bar is highly recommended. Note the pyramid of fresh eggs that will be used in frothy “flip” cocktails, smell the freshly squeezed juices and eye the mounds of fresh garnishes. Most impressive is the array of ice the bartenders have on hand. For the cocktails that require rocks, there are, according to Bradstreet’s website, “five different kinds of ice, including Kold Draft ice, which is 40% colder than regular ice and triple filtered ice, assure that each drink resists water and flavor dilution and is kept at the appropriate temperature.” There are large oldfangled-looking cubes, but most impressive are the solid balls of ice that accompany some of their lowball cocktails. Unlike cubes or crushed ice, these balls of ice offer more surface area to keep drinks cool longer, but the shape also inhibits melting too quickly. Which means a cold drink won’t become watered down too quickly. Isn’t science in the bar a lovely thing?

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Bradstreet Crafthouse
601 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 312-1821
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m.