Best Restaurants

2012 Best Restaurants: Tastemakers

Here's to four bright lights of this year's dining scenes


Bittercube/The Barmen

If you want to see where the mixology movement is going, look no further than the boys of Bittercube. Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz are bonded by bitters. They became friends out of mutual admiration for each other’s skills and became partners as they launched the Bittercube line of handcrafted boutique bitters, which have received national acclaim. But they have a bigger design on the world than merely a dropper full of flavor. The other two arms of the biz are events and consulting, which brings us to their latest project with Eat Street Social bar and restaurant.

On what was the seventh day of cocktail training before the new Minneapolis spot opened, Kosevich and Koplowitz put the bartending team through the paces. Drinks were made and remade if they weren’t up to par. Considering the amount of booze being slung, you’d think it was a bash. Instead there was nothing but serious professionalism and respect for the art of the drink. They craft next-level drinks, as composed an experience as anything you might get from the kitchen. Each has layers of tastes, thanks to hand-wrought syrups and flavoring agents such as Minnesota maple syrup, constructed into something that, for all its complexities, delivers beautifully and simply. It’s less about flash and dazzle than it is about a satisfying revelation.

Some think this is just another hipster-than-thou fascination, but consider that the North Star Bartenders’ Guild, of which Kosevich and Koplowitz are founding members, is out to educate any bar slinger (approximately 50 members as of press) with the desire. Pushing forward and educating the younger set means a happier and better bar scene for us all.