The quest for the perfect cocktail is an adventure not to be missed. Maple Grove has a veritable cornucopia of restaurants that are well-versed in the art of mixology. Each of our picks is exquisitely made and sure to please. And, because all of our featured restaurants have great patios, you can enjoy the beautiful blue-sky autumn days and starlit nights with family and friends in true Minnesota style, drink in hand.
Highlander at Rush Creek
Guests are delighted with this fall favorite at the Highlander. “The secret to its success is our homemade sauce,” says general manager Bruce Michaelson. First, a fresh pumpkin is roasted to tender perfection. The flesh is pureed, boiled down and fused with a blend of apple juice, water, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey, then chilled. The homemade juice is mixed with Smirnoff Cinna-Sugar vodka and Apple Pucker Schnapps over ice. It’s shaken well and strained into a martini glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers ($8, price varies). Enjoyed before or after dinner.
ITALIAN KISS MARTINI
Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
Biaggi’s is the place for a fabulous taste of Italy in a casual, relaxing atmosphere. On your next visit, try the Italian Kiss martini. This cocktail combines Absolut Pear vodka, Pama Pomegranate, St. Germain liqueurs and lime juice with a splash of Prosecco. It is shaken and poured into a martini glass with a lime wedge garnish on a powdered sugar rim. It is both light and refreshing with hints of complexity from the St. Germain liqueur, while the ripe pear and fresh lime juice round out the flavorful mix. ($8.99).
STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC GIN SMASH
Founded as a place for the local community to hang out, relax, and have fun, the Maple Tavern offers a perfect end of summer patio sipper. Be careful though- this Smash packs a punch. Tart lime and balsamic vinegar are balanced with sweet, juicy strawberries and finished with a hint of fresh cucumber. Add in the gin for an herbaceous and refreshing drink and “all that’s left to do is enjoy,” says general manager David Lantos ($7).
Strawberry Balsamic Gin Smash:
Recipe compliments of Maple Tavern
2 1/2 inch lime wedges
2 1/4 inch slices cucumber
1 strawberry (stem removed)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar (reduced by half)
2 oz. of your favorite gin
1 1/4 inch cucumber slice (garnish)
In a cocktail shaker, crush lime wedges, cucumber, and strawberry with the simple syrup and balsamic vinegar a few times, using a wooden muddler to bring out the juices and oils. Add gin and transfer to an old-Fashioned glass filled halfway with ice. Stir mixture, then top off with ice and garnish with a slice of cucumber.
PITTSBURGH BLUE SMOKIN’ COSMO
Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse
This “cut above the rest” steakhouse is a food lover’s paradise that includes a beverage menu which appeals to even the most discerning diner. Be sure to try a Pittsburgh Blue Smokin’ Cosmo during your next foray, or try making one on your own at home. The mixologists behind the bar blend New Amsterdam Citrus vodka witha splash of cranberry and pomegranate juices, along with with freshly squeezed lime juice. Pour into a martini shaker filled to the brim with ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Next, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a twist. For that little something extra at Pittsburgh Blue, a drop of dry ice is placed into the glass for a smoky, bubbling effect that is a crowd pleaser ($12). “You can duplicate the drink, but not the experience,” says assistant general manager Angie Swenson.
Lookout Bar & Grill
To round out our “must try list” of beverages, we finish with a drink that guests have been clamoring for since 2005. Once only a summer beverage, this delicious, smooth, fruity drink holds a generous pour of Malibu rum, peach schnapps, pineapple juice, orange juice and cranberry juice in a 20 ounce hurricane glass. Created by two long-time Lookout bartenders, Lori and Lorie, this cocktail comes highly recommended, no matter the season.
RAGING RYE SMASH
Claddagh Irish Pub
For a tried and true Irish drink, Claddagh has the ticket. There is something for everyone at this pub with a flair for food and more, but the beverage menu is not for the faint of heart. Not to be missed on your next visit is the Raging Rye Smash ($8). “The taste of the rye whiskey really has such a full flavor that one [drink] is just not enough,” says general manager Elaine Cloutier. With a selection of top Irish beers, whiskeys and spirits, guests are sure to make this a new favorite.
Raging Rye Smash:
Recipe compliments of Claddagh Irish Pub
1.25 ounces of Bulleit Rye
.75 ounces of Combier Triple Sec
.25 ounces of agave nectar
.25 ounces of sour mix
2 blackberries and 2 raspberries
Use a 16 ounce mixing glass and thoroughly muddle the raspberries and blackberries with the agave nectar. The mixture should look like pancake syrup. Then, add 1 ½ scoops of ice and remaining ingredients. Shake vigorously and pour into a 12-ounce rocks glass. Garnish with a thin lemon wheel and berries.
JC’s Bar and Grill
A neighborhood favorite for more than 20 years, this mainstay restaurant has lots of new items to delight in. For those who like to drink something more on the sweet side, the Cocotini is a blissful mix of vanilla vodka, Godiva white chocolate liqueur, Crème de Coco Brown, and Crème de Cacao Clear ($7). This delectably decadent blend of all things yummy is mixed in equal parts in a shaker over ice and then strained into a chilled martini glass and drizzled with chocolate. A delicious cocktail that is a perfect transition from summer to those lovely autumn nights.