If you wanted to walk from your house to a bar on a given Thursday night, would you be able to do it? Unless you live in an extremely dense urban area, you, like most of us, are out of luck on the neighborhood bar front. You’d have to find a bus route or pay for a taxi or get in the car (always risky when drinking) and drive somewhere just to enjoy an evening beverage. But if you allow yourself a little creativity and leeway, you might just find the neighborhood spot you’re looking for. In my case, it came in the form of a classy restaurant that moved in a few years ago near my parent’s house. It’s called Cafe Maude and I have made it my neighborhood bar,
Café Maude in Minneapolis, MN is the sort of place where you can bring your friends for brunch, your family for dinner, and your date for a late night cocktail. It can be all things to all people. I make sure to stop in each time I’m home in Minneapolis visiting my parents as it’s just a five minute walk from their house. Perfect. The décor is dark, with warm purple, red and gold accents—enough to feel luxurious but not so fancy that you can’t enjoy a California burger in your jeans on a Saturday afternoon, too. Guests find seats at the bar (always my preference), at a table, or in a cozy booth/couch combo that invites relaxation and intimacy. There’s also a breezy patio out front, although the view from those seats is just a gas station and a hardware store. That’s alright with me though, because it’s a neighborhood bar and it doesn’t require anything more than a drink served by a friendly bartender.
The drinks are an art-form here, and as cliché as that might sound, I mean it. I have never seen someone make a drink with such care, style and creativity as I have at Maude (besides my bartender boyfriend, of course). For example, last summer I ordered my first gin gimlet and watched in awe as the bartender pulled out a homemade, infused simple syrup (can’t remember what it was infused with now), fresh lime juice and top quality gin. He proceeded to shake these simple, but select ingredients with ice, double strain for smoothness, then pour into a chilled coupe, with a tiny bottle of the remaining liquid that wouldn’t fit in the glass on the side. Anyone who’s going to pour me a cocktail in a coupe, and set that little glass bottle of just-a-bit-of-extra-drink-to-top-me-off-later next to it, knows the way to my heart.
If fancy cocktails aren’t you’re thing though, let me address your concerns. First, these bartenders execute their craft with zero pretension. They won’t talk to you about the ingredients unless you ask, and they definitely only shake the cocktail enough to meld the ingredients—no gimmicky shaker-tossing here. Second, they have draft PBR for $4 that comes out of a tap covered with dancing pink elephants. (It looks like this.) So everyone can truly be happy.
That’s probably what I like most about Café Maude. The crowd is casual, low-key, and no one’s putting on a show for anyone else, but rather, enjoying a pleasant evening with a drink or two to accompany it. This is definitely a neighborhood bar—not a sports bar, or a club, or a hipster bar. A neighborhood bar, where even the kids and non-drinkers can find a beverage they’ll enjoy and some olives or mac & cheese to go with it. You can stroll down the block from your house, get a seat easily and hang out for a few hours any night of the week.
Cafe Maude is definitely not cheap, with cocktails in the $10-15 range and entrees around $20. But for an evening out, especially if you’re just grabbing drinks and snacks, it’s well worth it. (And if you’re determined to get a good deal, the afternoon happy hour prices are completely reasonable; $2.75 tap beer, $5 house cocktail, oh yes.)
It’s hard to properly convey the distinct pleasure of walking to down the street to a local joint, except to say point out that one couldn’t possibly find a better evening activity than taking a stroll through one’s own neighborhood (getting to know it a little better) and enjoying a crisp beverage now and again. Please do give it a try.