The Spirited Traveler: Bootlegging in Minneapolis

Tue Jan 3, 2012 7:24am EST
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Perhaps Minneapolis never quite got over the Prohibition era of the 1930s. How else to explain the popularity of its iconic cocktail, The Bootleg?

The city's signature drink - heard of by few outside of Minnesota - is a relatively homely one, a fizzy, sweet-and-sour concoction akin to a Tom Collins goosed with mint.

Everyone seems to have their own interpretation. Some are made with frozen lemonade mix and 7-Up, blended until slushy; others are spiked with grenadine, orange juice, even green food coloring.

"It was pioneered by a local Minneapolis country club in the early 20th century and soon became a staple at all the finest clubs in the Twin Cities," explains Dean Phillips, President and CEO, Phillips Distilling Company and a fifth-generation spirits producer based in Minneapolis.

"To this day, many sell club-bottled Bootleg mix to their members and each claims their version is the gold standard."

In other words, unless you're hitting the country club circuit, the average business traveler is not likely to encounter The Bootleg.

Instead, in the business district downtown, fine wine flows at white tablecloth restaurants like Bar La Grassa ( and Manny's Steakhouse (, while a plethora of Irish bars offer access to world-class beers, including many from local brewers.

Sure, you'll find "cocktail magic," Phillips says, at bars such as Bradstreet Craftshouse (, on the first floor of the Graves 601 hotel. Influenced by access to city's rich restaurant scene, many cocktails have a culinary bent.   Continued...