Tag Archives: champagne cocktail

More Marin {Closed}


I know that I’ve already written about my experience at Marin. But I loved it so much the first time that the only way I knew I could get Rob to go was to buy a Groupon. This is one of the most successful ways that I know how to get him to go to restaurants I want to try. Not only does it make it a bit less expensive when you aren’t quite sure about the restaurant; but there is also {and most importantly!} the power of an expiration date.

We have to get there before it expires rather than just talk about it!

{We’ve been talking about La Belle Vie, Saffron, Café Lurçat, Barley John’s and Joan’s in the Park for years.}

So it was a Groupon Living Social Deal that brought us to my beloved Marin.

As you may have read in my most recent post, we just love spending time in downtown Minneapolis on a mellow Sunday evening! Unless there is an event going on, we don’t have to worry about long waits or big crowds.

I don’t know why this place is called Marin, but I did learn that it’s also lesser known county near Napa & Sonoma!


Per our usual, we asked if we could sit at the bar.

It wasn’t included with our deal voucher, but I started with a little apéro…

#3 Champagne Cocktail 10 Lairds, Stirrings Ginger, Peach, Rhubarb Bitters

#3 Champagne Cocktail – Lairds, Stirrings Ginger, Peach, Rhubarb Bitters – $10

Unlike my previous cocktail at Marin, I loved this one! Those flavors together were complex. I loved the ginger in it! I recommended it to our other barmates.

Speaking of those barmates… We overheard the manager telling a story to them about his grandfather’s bourbon. He then stopped over and gave us a little taste because he didn’t want us to feel left out. 🙂 It was so smooth and may have converted Rob from Scotch to bourbon. Maybe…

What I loved about this Living Social experience with Marin is that although they have a specific Living Social menu, you can always order anything else off the regular menu for an upcharge. You are not limited to anything!


I immediately went in search of those scallops I adored… Which now that I think about it, I adored them at Mill Valley, too. They are sister restaurants!

Our choice of House Red or White was very decent! We each had a glass of Thomas Henry Pinot Noir. The white was a solid Pinot Grigio, too. I like the little break from the normal Cabernet or Chardonnay for house wines.


Baby Kale Salad with Manchego, Pine Nuts, Lemon-Chili Vinaigrette – $8

I found this salad to be very salty! However, at that moment, I also decided that pine nuts should now be put in every salad. And I thought maybe that the greens were arugula instead of baby kale because of the spiciness. But now I know it was that chili vinaigrette!

Rob chose the soup of the day, which was supposed to be Caribbean Pork.

How often does one see that on a menu?!


But Rob took one sniff and thought he smelled something fishy.

He asked me if I would try it. First I smelled it. Yes, it did have a sort of fishy aroma; but I reasoned it could be the spices that were used. Then I tasted it. Hmmm… It was a little fishy and the meat did seem more of a fish texture than one of pork. I wasn’t 100% sure, so I told Rob that he should ask our bartender. She didn’t think they would put anything fish-related into this bowl; but she went back to double check.

She came back and quickly whisked it away!

They had just changed it to Fish Stew that day! They were happy to exchange it with Rob’s other choice. He went with the same baby kale salad I did and agreed that it was very salty. He also concurred that all salads should have pine nuts on them. Forever and eva. Amen.

Apparently, scallops are not in season… So I went with the salmon.

Salmon, Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Spinach 26

Salmon with Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Spinach – $26

That sauce is more of a broth, but it was wonderfully flavorful. It made that spinach taste like The Best Spinach in the World. I am quite pleased that scallops were not in season!

This three-course meal was definitely more doable than the huge multi-course meal we had at BANK. Dessert was a scoop of housemade ice cream or sorbet, of which they had four flavors of each!

I can’t even differentiate which is which in the photos. They brought them while I was in the restroom, so they were slightly melted upon my return. No mattter, they were delicious. Rob got the Insight Yuzu Pale Ale Sorbet (really!) and I got the Cardamom Ice Cream. Both were creamy and delicious; but the cardamom ice cream was the favorite of the two!

Rob loved everything about this restaurant, which I knew he would. I think that sometimes it’s the small online menu that turns him off when I suggest a restaurant. This Living Social Deal allowed him to experience the restaurant to its fullest.

But I still need to make it to the Library down stairs! The Library is to Marin like Parlour is to Borough and Marvel Bar is to Bachelor Farmer. (I believe.)

Happy Hour is available in the bar and in the Library (when open) Monday through Saturday from 3pm to 6pm and 10pm to 12am. There is no HH on Sunday, but there is the Sunday Supper. Rob hates the word supper, but I think he’d still go with it because it’s specific three course meal for just $20 per person. This includes only a few featured items, so it’s best to check ahead. They post the menu on line every week. You can add a bottle of their Marin Label House Wine for just $12!

What brings you into a restaurant you haven’t tried yet?





New Orleans: Home of the Cocktail


The last time I was in New Orleans, I tried the famous Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane, which I did not like. I stuck with wine at dinner and enjoyed a cider or two at the Irish Pub when we went out. I was younger then. My palate had not yet developed, nor did I even know this:


{Source: Lonely Planet New Orleans 2012 – highly recommended!}

Flash forward 12 years later and I’m ready to try said Sazerac. I’ve enjoyed a few craft cocktails in the Twin Cities, notably at the Bradstreet Crafthouse, Eat Street Social, Ward 6 and Tongue in Cheek. But I’m no mixologist. Half the time I’m not even sure what makes a cocktail taste better or different. But I did know I wanted to try some of the local drinks in New Orleans where they originated.

This wasn’t something we planned to do before we went to NOLA, but it just happened: Cocktail Bar Hopping!

When you are in New Orleans, you do a lot of walking. Wandering aimlessly throughout the French Quarter and around Jackson Square is a lovely way to admire the architecture and street musicians or pop into an art gallery or antique shop.

But during some downtime on our trip, I decided to take a map and pinpoint all of the places I had read about in my guidebook and online. I had already resigned to the fact that we didn’t have enough stomachs to try all of New Orleans cuisine we wanted to sample. The same was going to be true for cocktails.

But we could at least pop into a joint if we stumbled across one we recognized!

The bars and restaurants listed in this post are ones where we stopped just for a drink. Each stop was a one-and-done sort of experience so that we could check a lot of boxes! You’ll see more fun cocktails included with a few more restaurants in posts to come. For lack of a better way to organize, I’m listing them alphabetically.

NOTE: This was not a crawl! These were locales where we stopped over the course of our four five day trip. A 3-martini lunch was quite enough, thank you very much.


Arnaud’s French 75

This is where the French 75 cocktail was concocted… Well, at least their version, which is made with cognac, sugar, lemon juice and champagne.

The first time we popped in, we couldn’t even fit through the door because it was so packed. We tried again on another occasion. While there was still no place to sit, we were satisfied with standing room only. A waiter took our order for the bar’s namesake cocktail.

While waiting, I admired the decor. I just love these monkey lamps!


I love the classy ambiance in this place. It could’ve even been romantic if we had a seat on one of the couches. The French 75 is known to make the best cocktails in the city. I’m sure they have some other tasty ones on the menu. But our $28 bill for two cocktails that tasted mainly of lemon didn’t thrill us.

And a note from the bathroom:

{Yes, those are pink tiles. I did not alter the photo in any way.}



Molly’s at The Market

By “The Market”, they mean The French Market, New Orleans’ open air market since 1791. It’s just across the street.


Molly’s is an Irish bar of sorts where Rob had the best… wait for it…


…the best Hot Buttered Rum of his life! It was a chilly night and we were making our way through The Quarter to Frenchman Street. What a way to warm up!


I had a Pimm’s Cup, which you’ll find all over New Orleans. I tried one at three different places throughout our trip, until I finally realized that I didn’t really care for them. They are kind of boring!




We recognized Muriel’s because we had recently read that it was haunted. It was a foggy night, one perfect for a ghost tour! We did not take one, but saw quite a few of these groups that evening. We opted for Muriel’s instead.

It’s beautiful inside Muriel’s!


The bar is in the back. It was here where I finally ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz, which was born in New Orleans. I appreciate the intense work needed to put this drink together. There are so many ingredients! But I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. The fizz is fun, but the flavor a bit boring.


Ramos Gin Fizz & Brandy Milk Punch

Rob had a Brandy Milk Punch made with brandy, ice cream mix, vanilla extract and nutmeg, aka an adult milkshake! FYI: Muriel’s boasts an extensive and impressive wine list.


Napoleon House

In the French Quarter, amidst the colorful buildings with ornate balconies, you will find this:


It’s what I picture the exterior of an old stone farmhouse in France to look like. {Well, without the awning or balcony.} When you step inside you’ll find that it’s dark and somewhat eerie. Then you hear the music. Loud classical music! I have  never been in an establishment like this. Truly, one-of-a-kind.

From the Napoleon House website:

The building’s first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815.  He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile.

Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of  the 20th century.

Owned and operated by the Impastato family since 1914, it’s a place that suspends you in time, where you can hear Beethoven’s Eroiqua, which he composed for Napoleon, and the music of other classical masters, while sipping a Pimm’s Cup, and basking in an ambiance that could only be New Orleans.

Naturally, this is where I had my first Pimm’s Cup.


Sazerac & Pimm’s Cup


I considered lightening these photos, but decided against it so you could really get an idea of how dark and ominous it is in here.


The Napoleon House is listed in Thrillist’s post titled NOLA’s Top Bartenders Reveal the City’s Best Everything as one of the best places to spend a rainy day. Rob was begging for a thunderstorm. Classical music to a thunderstorm? It sounds perfect, actually.




Yes, this is one of the Brennan establishments where you can get 25-cent martinis with lunch Monday through Friday. But they do have quite a list of craft cocktails.

The one thing about cocktail bars is that the bartenders are usually so busy crafting them that you barely get time to chat with them. Luckily, our bartender took the time to draw our attention to the Happy Hour list.


It was settled. It was time to order a Sazerac, a New Orleans classic.


The Sazerac has a very distinct flavor. Even if you don’t like anise-flavored beverages, give this cocktail a shot. The flavor is subtle and the drink well-balanced. I’m not even a huge fan of whiskey and the Sazerac grew on me. When in doubt, it’s what I ordered most of the rest of the trip!


I’ve read lists of where you can find the best Sazerac in the city; but to be honest, I don’t think I had a bad one. They all seemed the same to me.

Rob’s takeaway from SoBou? #7 below. 


It stuck with him such that he brought it up later in the trip.



I would have never have known of Sylvain if it weren’t for me sipping a glass of prosecco with dinner one night at Revolution. We were sitting at the bar and met a couple who was semi-local. She saw that I was sipping a glass of bubbly and suggested that we go to Sylvain for their Champagne Cocktail. I’m so glad I did…


She was right. Drops of lavender {oil or bitters?} are added to a sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne flute. Then it’s topped with prosecco. Love and Perfection.

Rob had trouble finding “decent beer” throughout the city. {We are spoiled in MN.} But he found one here he could enjoy. We had already had dinner that night; but seeing the quality dishes delivered to other guests brought us back for dinner the following evening.



Most of the cocktail bars in New Orleans are also restaurants. Bar Tonique is not one of them. It’s a tiny one-room joint that could have been a studio apartment or a small shop. But I adore the interior.

I felt like we were visiting an apothecary. Love these bottles!


It’s at Bar Tonique that I decided to try a Vieux Carré, which is very similar to a Sazerac, but with the addition of brandy and Benedictine or vermouth. In French, vieux carré means “old square.” But don’t pronounce it the French way! In New Orleans, it’s pronounced VOO car-AY.

The cocktail was invented at the Carousel Bar in The Quarter. It’s one that we tried to visit, but was always overflowing with people when we passed it.


Vieux Carré

There was a different clientele at Bar Tonique or at least it felt like it that day. Rob said it felt like there were more professionals because people were dressed up, some in suits and came in groups. I pointed out that it was Saturday. 🙂 Bar Tonique is on the other edge of The Quarter near Louis Armstrong Park and a slew of Voodoo shops.



This was my favorite cocktail bar of all.

And to be honest, it had nothing to do with the ambiance. The bar is narrow and oddly set up. There are no chairs at the bar, but a few small tables shoved up against the wall on the other side. I, personally, would prefer to sit at the bar, but there is no way anyone would be able to walk through and get to the dining room with how narrow it is.

Tujagues {I believe pronounced Two Jacks} is known as the second oldest restaurant in the New Orleans, dating back to 1856. It’s known for its classic New Orleans cuisine. When I walked through the bar back to the restrooms toward the dining room, the food smelled absolutely incredible. How we missed dining there this trip, I do not know. It’s on my “next time” list. I doubt that it’ll close after over 150 years. I like my chances.

There’s also an unbelievable cocktail list. Tujagues is home to the Grasshopper


They were making a ton of Grasshoppers {which are quite common in supper clubs in Wisconsin} while we were sipping our cocktails. They lined them up at the bar. A group of people walked in and just took them straight off the bar. “Wow!” I said to Rob. “Must be nice to have your cocktail waiting for you when you arrive.”

One of the gals heard me and said sweetly, “We’re on a tour. It’s not that magical.” 🙂 Another reason why no seats at the bar. Walking Tours stop here!

And I understand why. Their cocktails are incredible.


Can you guess which one I ordered from that list?

Quarter Moon & French Twist

Yes, that French Twist would be mine. And it was divine. It came with a sprig of lavender that you can’t really see in the photo. This is the only place where we stayed for a second drink because there was another I was dying to try. Can you guess which one?


And Rob found a local stout to enjoy!


NOLA Irish Channel Stout and Rouffinac

And that about tops it off.

Here are a few other places we missed, but are on our list for next time:

  • Bellocq – This is located in the hotel where I stayed the last time I was in New Orleans. It’s under a new name and owners.
  • Carousel – There is really a revolving bar somewhere in here. It was packed to the gills every time we tried to stop.
  • Avenue Pub – Rated the best beer bar in NOLA with over 40 taps and excellent Happy Hour food.
  • Cure – In the Freret street neighborhood.

Have you ever enjoyed a cocktail where it was created?

What did you think?

New Orleans 2015 Trip Posts:




relevé – in French it can mean elevated, sophisticated

Remember when I was excited to try out the new and only Champagne bar in Minneapolis? The Relevé Champagne Lounge is aptly named given the reputation this expensive, world-famous bubbly has.

Well, I think I set my expectations were too high.

I knew that Relevé was part of the Graves Hotel. But what I didn’t know was that it was now just the name of the bar inside Cosmos, the restaurant in the hotel.

We had been to Cosmos once, during Restaurant Week; and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Cosmos is already a swanky little place, so it’s only fitting to combine the two. But this space was nothing new-to-me. And it’s all about me, right? Kidding.

When we walked in, I was surprised that, from what I remembered, there didn’t seem to be any renovation to create this “new” Champagne lounge

It was Just. The Bar. Of The Restaurant.

If anything, some of the seating may have been rearranged and a makeshift extra bar added. Although it looked more like a display/cocktail waitress stand than anything inviting you to order a glass of bubbly.

So we just took a seat at the regular bar.

The Champagne menu was small; well at least by Pops’ standards. But there were more offerings than you’d usually find elsewhere in the Twin Cities, both by the glass and the bottle. So it’s got that.


Although he didn’t say so, I knew Rob dreaded going to this Champagne Bar. But he really had no choice since I was driving, buying and taking him to see Pentatonix perform live. {Seriously, one of the most incredible concerts ever! Even despite the fact that we among the oldest of fans. 😉

We both decided to go with a cocktail instead of the straight bubbly:


Rob kind of boycotted the whole Champagne experience by ordering a cocktail sans Champagne…

Nicollet Punch

Nicollet Punch – Captain Morgan 100, Fresh Orange, St-Germain, Pomegranate

Rob thought it was so good that he ordered a second one. I went with the Passion Forward. Only they were out of the passion fruit sorbet. I didn’t mind, the alternative was blood orange sorbet!

Passion Forward - Mionetto Prosecco, Passion Fruit Sorbet

Passion Forward – Mionetto Prosecco, Passion Fruit Blood Orange Sorbet

I loooooved this cocktail! I may make some on my own when I have friends over sometime. I liked how the fruity sorbet slowly fizzed and melted into the dry Prosecco. My sorbet didn’t melt completely, so I ordered a second glass of Prosecco to pour over the top. 😉 I know. I’m a genius.

They have a nice small bar menu with some upscale dishes as well as a few more approachable items. Rob, of course, ordered some sliders:


Prime Sirloin Sliders – preserved tomato, caramelized onion, garlic mayo & fries

Rob loved them. He also loved the fries so much that they have now made it on his Top 10 Fries in the Twin Cities list. {Which still needs to be updated, especially because there is a new burger that has recently bumped another out of the ranks!} What is it about Champagne Bars and Fries?

I had to go with the Walleye Sliders! They were raved about and it’s just the Midwestern thing to do, especially in a Minnesotan Champagne bar, right?


Walleye Sliders – spicy tartar sauce & fries

These weren’t what I was expecting! I had envisioned a fried piece of walleye on a bun. But they were more like patties, like you’d find a salmon burger or a tuna cake.


I had never had walleye like this before. They were very good and unique. I think it’s a great menu item for a hotel hosting out-of-town guests!

So overall, while pricey, we did like the food and the cocktails at the Relevé Champagne Lounge. I was just expecting more in terms of newness. Others may be impressed by the posh interior if dining there for the first time. And it might be quite different later in the evening if the place gets hopping.

Still, next time, we’d forego Relevé and instead go to the Bradstreet Crafthouse on the first floor of the hotel. It’s where we like to take out-of-town guests for a cocktail if we happen to be in downtown Minneapolis. Although, we never did mention that here.

Name a unique cocktail that you’ve enjoyed.