I have the delightful privilege of running around town with a pack of broads who know a thing or two about cocktails. Like girlfriends everywhere, we meet up to celebrate victories and soothe defeats, although we have the bonus of calling our cackling "work." We thoroughly enjoyed a recent laugh (or three) at the sparkly new Borough/Parlour, the most recent iteration of the Minneapolis upstairs/downstairs restaurant/bar trend.
To date I've shared just small plates at Borough's bar, with large groups of snackers, which is rather perfect in my book because that's how I like to eat. The Scotch egg with a runny yolk is not to be missed, if you're a pork-n-eggs sort of girl, which I most certainly am. In fact everything that flashed by and made its way onto my fork was nicely done: bites of bison tartare, crispy fries with fried eggs, a rosy-pink burger, and roasted Brussels sprouts were all highlights. But chefs Nick O'Leary and Tyler Shipton are sending out more than just small plates; in fact they've organized the menu around seasonal small, medium, and large offerings, and I will most certainly be back to taste my way through it.
Owners Brent Frederick and Jacob Toledo have seen Borough's interior done right, in essence a North Loop-loft chic enough to match the hand-crafted cocktails, with homey touches like box grater-sconced lights and a burnished nickel bar to keep the flannel-clad among us feeling fine.
As lovely as Borough is, I can tell that the real hang is going to be downstairs at Parlour. Not that the drinks upstairs aren't fabulous, because they are. It's more the giddiness, I think, of cradling Jesse Held-designed cocktails while nibbling on something other than Cheetos. It blew my mind a little bit, or a lesser bit, given actual food in my stomach to soften the kablam of Parlour's killericious sips. But even more than the snacks, I fell hard for the luscious seating, sexy lighting, polished concrete floors, and of course those superstar cocktails. Held, president of the North Star Bartenders' Guild, is The Man behind Parlour, which is a very good thing given he's been making and serving all of our favorite drinks all over town for years. Despite the soft light, this is his moment to shine.
Here's what we all love about great bartenders: they remember what we like. The first drink I ever requested from Held was back when he was at The Inn, and I distinctly remember saying, "I love none-too-sweet gin sippiness, mister." Perhaps not the most exact request, but enough to inspire a gorgeous gin something, whatever the heck it was. I was not one bit surprised that when I asked him for a cool cocktail recipe to share with you all, he whipped up an Aviation, a bracingly fresh blast of gin, with just a hint of floral sweetness, to chase away a frigid Minnesota eve. Pair this cocktail with bites of salty ham atop crusty bread and be very glad.