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Feb 7, 2009 11:44 AM

Bradstreet Craftshouse (MSP)

Last night me and a group of friends went to the Bradstreet Craftshouse Restaurant. It is located on the street level of the Graves Hotel. The basic idea is a place to showcase amazing cocktails, I think. The cocktail part of the menu goes on for pages, with each being $10. There is a three page list of small plates for food and a few beer and wines. The food ranged from $3-$10 or so and the beer and wine were very inexpensive.

The night started with four of us and grew to 6 total. The four of us each had four drinks (it was a drinking night) and the two others each had 2 drinks. There was a total of 2 duplications, so you can do the math on how many different drinks we had, all cocktails. Each drink was passed around the table for all to try. We also had about 8 small plates, we were not there to eat really.

The drinks were great. I'm not much of a cocktail kind of girl, I prefer wine, but I really liked the majority of the drinks. The ones I didn't like everyone else did, so it was a preference thing. We were told that all juices were squeezed in house each day. All syrups were made in house each day and the bitters were also made in house. My favorite drink (and most everyone else's) was the Dark and Stormy. Made with homemade ginger ale, it was spectatular. Also really good was the Winter Sidecar and the Conquistador Margarita. Each drink is clearly made by skilled bartenders with detail paid to garnishes and the shape of the ice.

The food was pretty good, though not as high of quality as the drinks. I really liked the Oyster Spring rolls which are served with a cheese sorbet, the pasta nachos, and the sliders. I wanted to try the foie gras, the duck wings and the salmon cakes, but it was just the wrong crowd. There were also some soups and salads, but there were too many of us to share that type of thing.

The atmosphere was great, as was the service. It was attentive and the servers knew what each drink tasted like and could explain every item on the menu.

We will be going back often.

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  1. Great review - thanks! I've been hankering for some great cocktails, and the Dark & Stormy sounds like just the thing (once the weather warms up a bit). In the meantime, there's that Winter Sidecar. What made it different from a standard Sidecar, I wonder? ....

    Cheese sorbet, eh? What was it like? I'm just dying to know!


    11 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      The cheese sorbet was one of the weirdest things I've ever tasted. I'm not sure what the cheese was, but it tasted like cheddar. It was cold and icy and sweet and cheesy. I can't explain it, but I liked it.

      The winter sidecar was made with cognac. It included a great presentation where the waiter set orange rind essential oil (direct from the orange) on fire with a quick spritz. It was awesome to watch. He said it changes the drink completely, though we didn't taste it before. It was a very nice drink.

      1. re: churchka

        Igniting the essential oils from the peel is traditional, in one of the most traditional of cocktails. So we know what makes Bradstreets sidecar different, but what makes it "Winter"?

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          Assuming they're doing the same stuff that The Violet Hour is doing, Toby Maloney posted the ingredients on eG as such "Cognac, Lemon, Orange Curacao, Allspice Tincture."

          Their regular sidecar is "Hennessey VS Cognac, Lemon, Cointreau"

          The Dark and Stormy at TVH is "Brugal Anejo, Cruzan Black Strap, Lime, House Made Ginger Syrup".

          Toby Maloney, in case not everyone knows, is the master mixologist who develops the recipes (and many of the bitters, etc.) at TVH in Chicago, and he also did BC. Bummed I missed the soft opening.

          1. re: prasantrin

            I just had Brugal for the first time last week - its definitely got the body and depth for a dark and stormy. Its dominican, and a friend had some seriously fond memories tied to it, so she spent all day driving around the metro trying to track some down - Zipp's on franklin carries it.

            Im curious about Cruzan black strap - ive only had cruzan rum once or twice in the Virgin Islands and for some reason i associate it with crappy malibu knock-off overly sweetened super artificial tasting light rums. Anyone know if its easily available? I remember having to do some searching for Goslings a few summers ago, but i think its gotten more avaiable since then.

            this thread is making me whistful for warm summer afternoons with a cold gingery drink . . . damn you grey rainy gloom.

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              I was reading the eG topic on BC, and it seems the ingredients are different from those at TVH. Sorry about that. As posted by Toby, the ingredients at BC are:

              Dark & Stormy Matusalem, Lime, Cruzan Black Strap, Ginger Syrup

              Winter Sidecar Maison Surranne Cognac, Lemon, Pineapple, Fresh Nutmeg

              I think I'd like:

              Honeysuckle Brugal Anejo, Lemon, Honey Syrup

              Hemingway Daiquiri Flor de Caña 4yr, Lime, Luxardo Maraschino, Grapefruit

              Black Walnut Old Fashioned Bulleit Bourbon, Demerara Syrup, Nux Alpina Black Walnut Liqueur, House Orange Bitters

              1. re: prasantrin

                The Hemingway Daiquiri was very good.

                Everyone really liked the Black Walnut Old Fashioned, except me, when I was there.

                1. re: churchka

                  What didn't you like about the Black Walnut Old Fashioned? Was it bitter at all? Walnuts tend to have a bitter flavour, which I dislike, but I don't know if black walnuts have that bitterness, too. I don't normally care for bitters, either, but I know how they can transform a ho-hum cocktail something really special.

                  I'm curious about the Honeysuckle because it sounds like something I'd like in principle, but I could also see how it could turn out to taste like cough syrup or lemon-flavoured Halls.

                  1. re: prasantrin

                    None of the drinks I tried (ordered or stole a sip) last week were overly sweet so I think your chances are probably pretty good with the honeysuckle. I agree that the Hemingway Daiquiri was good.

                    The housemade orange bitters are not very bitter, but they do do have a lot of flavor. (I tried all of the orange bitters they have while I was there after asking a question about them...)

                    1. re: prasantrin

                      It tasted too much like brown alcohol for me. I don't like a lot of brown liquors. It was just a preference, I believe it was a very good drink based on everyone I was with.

        2. re: AnneInMpls

          Cheese Sorbet. WTF? Maybe somebody thought that because cheese is made into a souffle... why not a sorbet. If they're trying to raise the bar in Minne-ap-town I'd suggest keeping the ball on the fairway. Pacojets Gone Wild - what happens when crazed pastry chefs try to justify the largest toy on their counter top? What's next? Lollipop sous vide?

          1. re: keg

            We had a cheese "ice cream" at La Belle Vie about a year ago—it was made with barkham bleu and described by the server as "kind of our own... unusual take on the cheese course" I loved it. My wife loathed it. Pacojets gone wild indeed. Either way, I'm pretty sure it's not ALL that earthshaking.

        3. Sounds like an interesting place. I much regretted not being able to sample the cocktail menu at Cafe Maude the other night.

          Quick question: Did you mean to say that the cocktails are all UNDER $10? This is what the website claims. I've encountered dishonest restaurant sites before, but it would be a pretty audacious claim if literally no cocktails were under $10 :)

          If they are under 10, what is the price range?

          5 Replies
          1. re: kevin47

            No, all cocktails are $10 exactly, at least the ones on the menu.

              1. re: kevin47

                For Toby's cocktails, $10 is a steal. I've only had four (at TVH), and although I didn't care for all of them (they were all gin-based, and I don't particularly care for gin), I could see how much care goes into making not only the drinks, but choosing the ingredients in the drinks. Making the perfect housemade bitters/syrups, adding just the right number of drops, choosing just the right alcohol, and if needed, selecting the perfect ice. He really gives a lot of thought not only to mixing classic cocktails, but also creating new ones.

                1. re: prasantrin

                  And there are lots of places downtown that would charge $14 for the same drink. We thought it was a fair price. They are really beautiful drinks.

                  1. re: prasantrin

                    It is a steal with all the labor that goes into making these cocktails. Go over to the W and order the same thing and it will be at least $14, $15. We were there about 10 days ago and tried a manhattan, some sort of sidecar and a mint julep, all made by Toby.

                    For small plates we had the lamb ribs, shrimp with some sort of hot pepper and pomegranate sauce, and the grass-fed sliders. All were very good for the price point; under $10.

                    A special place for drinks after work.

            1. This is amusing...they have or had a cocktail at the Red Stag that was Myers Rum and house-made ginger beer...called The Dark & Stormy.

              Wonder how it compares...I guess we'll have to find out!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Foureyes137

                The Dark and Stormy is a fairly traditional "cocktail" of bermuda. As such many purists think it should be made only with Goslings black seal rum. Meyers would work in a pinch but it doesnt have the body of Goslings.

              2. Since moving from Boston last year we have been on a search for good cocktails in the Twin Cities. We have really enjoyed Strip Club Meat and Fish in St. Paul, but we were still looking for more places to go. Based on the small write-up in the Star Trib and these reviews, we decided on a whim to go last night. I was quite impressed. The cocktail list is nice - inventive, but they have many well made classic drinks as well. I liked them all, but I think my favorite was the Juliet and Romeo with gin, lime, mint, cucumber, bitters and rose water. It had a nice balance of herbs and citrus. All the drinks on the menu were $10, which I think is a very fair price for the quality of the drinks. They take their ice very seriously. The lowball drinks come with an ice orb - apparently made from a square block of ice by a heated copper mold. I would like one at home, but they look very expensive. The service was really excellent. For example, we were discussing orange bitters with Toby and he got out 5 glasses and put a small amount of each type of orange bitters they had in the glasses so we could appreciate the differences between the different types. We will definitely be going back as well.

                4 Replies
                1. re: LauraB

                  Not to get off topic, but if you appreciate a good cocktail, you should try the lounge at La Belle Vie. They make some of the best cocktails in town. The same goes for Cafe Maude in South Minneapolis.

                  1. re: BigE

                    I'd also add the Town Talk Diner for cocktails. They have a creative, constantly changing drink menu, and the bartenders are excited about mixing up off-menu concoctions for customers that may be in the mood for something, but not sure what they want. They seem to thrive on that. The area behind the bar looks like a chemistry lab with bottles and jars labeled with weird infusions and stuff that Nick is trying out. The bacon manhattan sounds crazy, tastes good, and is one of those things people should try just to say they have.

                    This is my second Town Talk rec today, and I swear I'm not a shill. I do frequent them a lot since I live in the 'hood.

                  2. re: LauraB

                    This sounds positive.
                    Did you get a chance to try anything with grenadine in it? This seems like as good a shot as any for a non homemade El Presidentes in this city.

                    1. re: frittering_away

                      I did not try anything with grenadine, but they seem open to experimentation so assuming they have homemade grenadine (it would be weird if they did not) I would imagine they would try to recreate an "El Presidente" for you. Even though they have a long list of drinks, the bartenders did make a couple of off menu drinks based on what we said we liked.

                  3. I love the Bradstreet. I had my reservations about the location since I couldn't really see myself frequenting a bar inside a hotel, but it's decidedly worth it. I've been there a couple of times since they've opened and will be coming back often (or whenever I get up the nerve to go into downtown)...mostly for the drinks, but the food's not bad either.

                    The service is excellent and very knowledgeable. It's incredible that the bartenders can memorize 50+ of Toby's intricate and intensive drink recipes AND know the history and flavor notes of everything going into the drinks. The cocktails are crazy delicious and have so much depth. I've loved everything I've tried (Fairview Manhattan, Black Walnut Old-Fashioned, Winter Sidecar, Juliet & Romeo, Cooper's Union, Maltese Cross, and some off-the-menu drinks that Toby made...I am a fan of his signature shake and can't help but smile).

                    Not that I've tried the oyster spring rolls, but I believe the "cheese" sorbet is a parmesan, which makes more sense and sounds a lot better than a cheddar sorbet. I've only had vegetarian things on the menu, but I hear they do meat very well there, especially anything with lamb. Foodwise, the only thing that I find myself still daydreaming about is the flourless chocolate torte. I'm not even a huge dessert fan, but the combination of the perfect chocolate torte and black sesame ice cream blew my mind and tastebuds. The polenta fries are also pretty good and have a nice texture. Nice attempt with the pasta nachos, but I'm just not into them. I find myself wishing that they could narrow their focus with the food (something more like the Strip Club) and not have so much fusion. I cringed a little when I saw edamame, hummus, and Spanish cured meats all on the same menu, but they work it better than I expected.

                    Go there for the drinks, sit at the bar, learn more than you'll ever need to know about bitters and their selection of rare imported liqueurs. And try something with St Germaine elderflower tastes delightfully like lychee.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mmmmmmpls

                      Also you can now go to Surdyk's and buy your own bottle of St. Germaine, by the way. . .