Ever since Nightingale first opened their doors in an elegantly converted bodega in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood, we knew we could count on them for small plates, late night eats, and gorgeously crafted cocktails. Since those early days in the fall of 2012, the restaurant has evolved into a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. It’s a go-to spot for a stylish and wildly affordable happy hour, and the weekend brunch is a doozy.
While the food menu has never been better, my favorite yardstick to hold is how they do a classic cocktail—very well, in this case. The Manhattan is beautifully balanced with a smoky thread of booze. The Sazerac boasts just the right amount of Absinthe bitterness, and the Aviation is a stone cold stunner.
The Aviation was first mixed early in the 20th century by Hugo Ensslin, who was the head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York. The recipe was published in Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and called for gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème di violette. It’s that final ingredient that gives the drink its gorgeous color. At Nightingale, the ingredients are all top shelf, including just a touch of Luxardo for the whisp of cherry tartness that plays upon the bright lemon and herbaceous, crisp Hendrick’s gin. -Joy Summers