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A True Saloon ... Does it even exist anymore?

I'm looking for what I consider to be a true saloon. Here's the description:

-It's narrow. The bar runs along one side of the room and then there are maybe some tables and chairs on the other side.

-It's very dimly lit

-The bar is deep mohogany. There is likely a mirror showing your reflection along the wall behind the bottles

-There are lamps on the bar. Those green banker ones or maybe the softer yellow version. This is optional, but for some reason, it's what I see when I close my eyes and think about it.

-The music is either classic jazz or perhaps some Rat Pack

-The scotch/whiskey/bourbon list is long and extensive

-The staff is dressed professionally and has service to match.

-No dumb gimmicks like darts or pool tables. This is a place where drinks come to be consumed and enjoyed in a proper setting.

The closest thing I've found to this is probably the bar at W.A. Frost, but I'm wondering if there isn't something better that I'm missing. So go ahead, tell me where to go and I'll report back.

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  1. I can think of quite a few in New York and San Francisco. But here...?
    I have to assume you've been to the Monte Carlo?
    Haute Dish's bar is pretty close to this description, although probably has a few too many tables for you. Great drinks though.

    Monte Carlo Bar & Cafe
    219 3rd Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    1 Reply
    1. re: parallevar

      I have been to the Monte Carlo.
      I'm finding that most of the bars that seem to fit the criteria are attached to restaurants, which is OK.

      Monte Carlo Bar & Cafe
      219 3rd Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    2. How about the bar side of Jax?

      I also agree on Haute Dish, but I'm going from memory, I haven't been since it was Cafe Havana.

      I am going to give this some thought...there must be more.

      Jax Cafe
      1928 University Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55418

      1. Erte has a great bar..nice music, etc.

        323 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN

        1. What about the Zombie Den? Dunno about professional dress, but it does aim to be an old school saloon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kevin47

            Never been, that's on the list and will be checked out soon.

            1. re: MplsM ary

              That's a nice choice if you can ignore the fact it is pretty much a niche of the restaurant. Don't know if it tops W.A. on these criterion.

              1. re: kevin47

                There is an elusive time, about half an hour after the theatre rush has vamoosed from the restaurant when the bar feels like a bar. Or late night during winter.

            2. Don't know anything about your area but am chiming in to suggest you look up "Her Foot is on the Brass Rail" by Don Marquis. It's on the internet.

              1. How about The Local? It's been a few years since I have grace its presence, but from what I remember it checks off quite a few of your points...

                1 Reply
                1. re: WeZeL27

                  Runyons or Monte Carlo were the closest I've found in Mpls. Eli's also is sort of like it, but way too bright for my tastes. I like the Local too, but always feel that its more of a pick-up scene vs a classic saloon. Based on the pictures of the Zombie Den, I'm looking forward to getting over to that side of the river to try it.

                  Thanks to everyone who's chimed in. Looking forward to trying some of these.

                  Monte Carlo Bar & Cafe
                  219 3rd Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                2. The bar in the Lexington springs to mind. Yes, it's attached to a restaurant, but it's pretty well separated from the dining area.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: keithinmpls

                    I agree...nice thing about it being attached to a restaurant is you get great food too.

                  2. The bar at American Burger Bar in St. Paul would fit the physical description pretty well, though probably not for the staffs attire in that location's current incarnation. (When it was Matty B's I think it would have defintely fit).

                    I don't know what they are serving for drinks there these days, though. (I mostly know ABB in its previous incarnations...)


                    1. >> No dumb gimmicks <<

                      What you describe as a bar, while quite natural in NYC, in Minnesota, would be a complete and total dumb gimmick.

                      Minnesota is not NYC nor is it SF or LA. It's Minnesota. If you're after authenticity here, go to a Minnesota bar. Like The Gopher or Half Time Rec or Turf Club in St. Paul or Mayslack's or 331 Club in NE Mpls. I'm sure there are plenty of others.

                      The true saloon as you describe, doesn't exist here. Closest place to find one is probably Chicago.

                      Half Time Rec
                      1013 Front Ave, St Paul, MN 55103

                      331 Club
                      331 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                        Thanks Jim for your helpful insight. I was aware that this bar might not be in this town which is why I asked. But I thought I might be missing somewhere as there is only so much time in a day and a week. And because I so rarely ever go downtown St. Paul. Maybe it would be a dumb gimmick here. Or maybe it's just something our downtown areas are missing and a business opportunity. Or maybe somewhere in between. But you can't know unless you ask, but I'll note you say it's dumb.

                        I'll pass on the Gopher. I can't endorse or patronize a bar that proudly flies a confederate flag on the inside along with other questionable and some may say racist decor. I personally find that concept a tad outdated. But I'll give the 331 a shot as it's someplace I haven't tried yet.

                        1. re: Db Cooper

                          I am glad you will not go to the Gopher.

                      2. Town Hall is what you describe. Mostly Beer but an impressive Scotch selection.

                        Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
                        1430 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ibew292

                          I'm looking forward it to trying it here in the near future. Sounds like a fun place.

                        2. Have you been to Pracna on Main? Whiskey selection isn't huge - it's much more a craft beer joint - but it's definitely an historic looking bar. And the staff is very welcoming.

                          1. The Republic (221 Cedar Ave S Minneapolis) might fit the bill. I don't know how extensive their scotch list is but they have plenty of craft beers.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Doghouse Reilly

                              Good call by DR there. For the OP that might be just a touch downscale but they are trying to get there for sure.

                              I'd tell you that outside of the Monte Carlo bar, if you can get up to the small bar at Prohibition in the Foshay right at 5:00, with no one else there, and don't look left or right, that brings me to where you want to be. Just saying.

                              1. re: Lincster

                                i find your description of saloon contains some elements of lounge... i will just toss this out without addressing the fine distinctions... how about mancininni's "las vegas Lounge" ?