As mentioned in episode five of the Reducer Podcast; Mrs. Headchef and I recently attended the Sip & Savor tasting event at the W Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The Twin Cities iteration of the W opened up the three bar/restaurants on the premises of the Art Deco Foshay Tower for what amounted to an upscale pub crawl.
We’ve stayed at the W once before for our anniversary, had a cocktail at the Prohibition Bar on the top floor, and spent many a birthday at Manny’s Steakhouse before this event, so in the interest of full disclosure, we admit we were already fans of the place.
The attendees were split into three “shifts”; with each group of about 30-50 people alternating between the three venues for roughly half-hour periods. Our shift began at Manny’s, a place we were already intimately familiar with (Best Damn Steakhouse in Minnesota).
The offerings from Manny’s were simple and delicious. Two wines (a Pinot Grigio and a Merlot) which were both perfectly serviceable, and a selection of their more esteemed menu items. These included Mac & Cheese and lardon-style bacon pieces (neither of which I tried, but Mrs. Headchef swore by) sauteed mushrooms (delicious) and “Bludgeon Bites”; generous pieces of Manny’s signature Ribeye steak “The Bludgeon of Beef”. Ribeye is easily my favorite cut of beef; but there are ribeyes and then there’s the bludgeon; which is less a piece of meat than a tribute to the steak that busted Fred Flintstone’s car.
It was tough not filling up on perfectly cooked and seasoned steak, but before long we were ushered into the Living Room, where we had never been before the event.
The first thing you realize about The Living Room is that the emphasis is much more on cocktails than food. The food provided was tasty, to be sure, but relatively low-key with a cheese platter, slightly upscale pigs in a blanket (both of which I skipped, but Wifey dug the sausages) and what were called Kobe beef sliders, but were really just hot beef sandwiches on little buns. They tasted great, but on a serious note, the name “slider” means a White Castle or Krystal style hamburger- as in a ground meat patty- not pulled brisket, potato sticks or fish heads.
Anyway… Like I said; the drinks are the main atraction at The Living Room
Don’t let the ridiculously marked-up hotel prices on the bottles sway you either. Ignore the bottle service altogether and go for the cocktails, which during Living Room’s happy hour are actually a great value for downtown. The two signature cocktails we tried during the Sip ‘N Sample were the Bluphoria and the Epiphany.
The Bluphoria featured Stoli Blueberry, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, lime juice and fresh blueberries. It was tasty, drinkable and highly girlie. If I had drank more than one; I might have grown an ovary.
The Epiphany, on the other hand was a much more sophisticated affair.
The St. Germaine took center stage for this drink; along with Grey Goose pear vodka, champagne and an edible orchid bud. This was a drink for the grown and sexy, and the first one where I went back for another round.
Before we knew it we were herded upstairs to the top floor of the Foshay tower where the Prohibition Bar is located.
Here’s where things got a little sketchy. First off; the only two food items available at this stop were sushi (which they quickly ran out of) and Thai-style shrimp (which would kill me if I ate them. Lousy anaphylaxis.). Maybe they had more at some point; but by the time our group got there they were pretty much out of food.
Further compounding this problem was that the better of the two drinks they offered, a Prarie Vodka and citrus based cocktail called The Perfect Pair, disappeared without my getting a second one or Mrs. Headchef getting a first. I hate to complain, but the sudden evaporation of good food and drink was even more pronounced due to the fact that the following monstrosity was the only thing they had left…
This is the “Local Manhattan”; although its flavor profile and liquor content has more in common with a Long Island Ice Tea. The major crime this cocktail is guilty of is being made with RASPBERRY BOURBON. That’s berry-flavored whiskey; a crime so heinous it caused me to send out an angry tweet.
Out of protest; I drank three of them.
Despite the missteps of The Prohibition Bar; all in all it was a fun experience. We ate a decent amount of good food, met some neat people and sipped some tasty cocktails (And one awful one. Seriously. Raspberry bourbon?). We must have liked it, because after the official event was over; we went back down to the Living Room to knock back a few Perfect Pairs, some champagne and, of course, tequila shots.
Two weeks later; my brain still hurts.