Happy Hour Picks – Burgers & Brews

This post wasn’t originally intended to be all about burgers and beer – but as I started writing this I realized they all had a common theme. The following three places I visited are all at the top of my list for favorite spots in Minneapolis. I highly recommend each place.

The Freehouse

This place is seriously one of my new favorite places (I know, I have said this more than once). There is something about the vibe I really like – the well-dressed crowd (staff and Freehouse-menucustomers alike) and the fun, busy atmosphere keeps me coming back again and again.

Two great things you need to know: they brew their own beer and they have amazing customer service. As a service industry veteran, I am always pleased when I have exceptional customer service each time I visit.

Another fun thing, I don’t know if they do this every night, but one busy Friday night as we were waiting for our table we were offered *free* snacks and a server came by frequently to take any drink orders while we waited.

Here’s the breakdown of happy hour:
Monday-Friday 4-6
$4 Freehouse taps
$5 select wines
$4 rail cocktails
$6 Freehouse featured cocktail
$5 select beer bites

I highly recommend this place – especially once summer hits. The patio is lively and fun.

PS. As a marketing/advertising junkie – the branding is amazing. It’s clean and very eye-catching.

Freehouse-happy-hour

JL Beers

A newbie to Northeast, they originated in North Dakota. Word on the street is this Northeast establishment is expanding and you’ll see more popping up around the JL-Beers-beermetro within the next year.

Because they are a newer place – they don’t have the proper licenses yet to hold “happy hour”, but this place is worth a visit.

Two great things you need to know: If you are craving a good burger and beer, this place serves just that. Literally. They also serve a huge variety of craft beer that’s always changing – you can try something new each time you visit.

Something fun to try: a beer flight – they range from $8-$9 and you get five to sample, it’s always fun if you aren’t sure what types of beer you like.

This place is on the smaller side, so I suggest going during the slow hours. It will give you a great opportunity to get to know the friendly staff and have attentive service.

JL-Beers-flights


Surly Beer Hall

I thought I loved Surly before I went to their new destination brewery. Wow was I impressed. The food was beautiful (it was like eating art), delicious and reasonably priced.

I had the Surly Burger – it was so good I forgot to take a photo! I am pretty sure the sauce they use is what makes the burger.

Two (sort of) great things you need to know: Plan to spend some time there. It’s still such a new place, so there is usually a wait. It’s great though, they have a station where you can order beer while you wait. Second, the seating is community-style, so you can meet fellow beer lovers. It’s a great time because you’re surrounded by great food, great beer and great conversation.

If you are looking for a quiet, more intimate setting – I don’t think this is the place to go, unless you are there during off hours. (late at night or midday). 

Surly Beer

Weekday Happy Hour Picks – Let’s Talk Uptown

Who doesn’t love a good evening rendezvous in Uptown? A couple of cheap drinks and good eats are in order, especially after a hard days work.

I explored the streets of Uptown over the last week and found a new favorite, an old classic, and a highly overrated cocktail bar/restaurant (in my opinion).

Coup d’état

Happy Hour: 5pm – 7pm  and 10pm – Midnight

I still can’t seem to get the pronunciation down. The word is French for “the sudden and illegal seizure of a government.” I’ll have to find out why it’s named this next time I visit.

This hidden gem was featured in the January issue of the Mpls St. Paul Magazine so I had some high expectations going into it, and my time there on a Tuesday evening exceeded those expectations.

Beer and a BumpAlthough this decision may not be a final one, this may be the best happy hour spot I have found so far on my journey of food/drink in Minneapolis. Let’s talk drinks first: you can order a Beer and a Bump for $5 (I ordered a PBR and a shot of Jameson) and some delicious specialty cocktails for $6.

Now for the eats: try the mussels. That is all. For less than $8, you’re getting enough to share with 1-2 people. The sausage pizza was also another great pick – drizzled with truffle oil.

If you’re not feeling the happy hour specials they have an outstanding selection of tap beer. (pictured below)

Uptown Bar Happy Hour

The Libertine

Happy Hour: 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm Everyday & 10:00 pm – 12:00 pm Sun-Thurs

At first glance this place looks chic, inviting and the perfect spot to chill after a long Libertine Happy Hourdays work. If only I hadn’t tried the food I may still be intrigued by this place. The “happy hour” menu seems enticing at first. they have a short list of $5 snacks that all sound different and delicious – but don’t get too excited.

We tried the fried pig ears for fun and the chicken korokee, both were mediocre and not shareable. Both snacks weren’t even enough for one person. The fried pig ears tasted like burnt bacon. I love trying adventures food and thought this would be the place to do so, not so much with this snack menu.

I also found they don’t have any tap beers on special during happy hour – only 16oz cans. Huge bummer for me – but the price sans happy hour wasn’t all that bad for Uptown. ($6 for most craft beers)

I won’t rule it out yet because I have heard they make some mean drinks. I’ll have to go back sometime for their speciality cocktails.

Stella’s Fish Cafe

Happy Hour: all day on Sundays

If you haven’t graced this Uptown classic, it’s a must. However, if you are a Minneapolis residentStella's-Fish-Cafe I am sure you have been here at least once (probably at 1:00 am on a Friday night). I am including this in my weekday happy hour picks because it’s a great Sunday happy hour spot. Yes, I am counting Sunday as a weekday… because my adult self has this “adult life” I have to get to every Monday. (sigh… I miss college.)

If you want to truly do Sunday Funday right, Stella’s is a good place to go. 2 for 1 drinks is really all I need to tell you. What’s even better is they aren’t giving you crap beer like Coors Light – you get Stella. (I can’t confirm all of the beers that are part of the special, so I’ll have to go there again and let you know… 🙂 )

Stella's-Fish-Cafe

Reflecting on 2014. Bring it on 2015!

Hello New Year! Holy shit. I wasn’t quite ready for that one. What a crazy wild ride 2014 was – filled with many changes (good and bad). I lost a job, was rejected by new jobs more times than I can count, moved to Minneapolis, traveled to 2 brand new cities… and a lot more.

Loss is a terrible, but uplifting thing

Something most twenty-somethings/Millennials have probably happened across at some point in their young adult life is loss, in some tangible or intangible way. So what do we do about it? We can’t use our adolescence as an excuse anymore, and may not have the support system we once knew so well. I can say from direct experience I have and still encounter the gut-wrenching feeling of loss quite frequently.

Let me back up for a brief moment to help those reading (if anyone is reading this, that is. Hello? Ok, it might just be me here) understand my background and reason for this specific post.

I am an only child, and my mother was diagnosed with an extremely rare Erin_Familystage 4 sarcoma cancer when I was 14. I spent my teenage years in major denial because my mother was selfless enough to make my life as normal as any other family. I still haven’t quite figured out if that was a good or a bad thing for me. Three days shy of my high school graduation, she lost her battle. My life didn’t, and still hasn’t stopped. I went off to college at summer’s end, and started my new life at St. Cloud State, an hour away from my hometown.

How I Persevered

Reflecting back to the four and a half years I spent as an undergraduate, I didn’t stop once, not even to breathe (it felt like, at times). What was pushing me to move forward? Why didn’t this crippling loss put me into a downward spiral? Is there something wrong me? No, because everyone heals differently. I healed (better put, am still healing) by surrounding myself with things and people I love, that is what made me feel better.

Once I graduated, things still didn’t stop. I immediately went into a full-time job that I lost 6 months later. Worst. day. ever. All of my hard work clearly didn’t pay off, and I was unemployed at 23.

2015_Accomplishments_JarBut looking back, it was life’s way of telling me to slow down and find myself. It was a tough few months, but I learned how to live on an extremely tight budget and basically had to reinvent myself as I looked ahead to my future. What did I want to do with my life? The opportunities were endless (not totally endless… considering my unemployment status), and this was my chance to land my dream job and begin to pave the way to my future.

Positivity is Key

The only way to keep moving is to stay positive. I maErin5de the mistake of moving too quickly, and staying positive for too long – so that brought me way down at times. But it’s really all about balance, because each and every person goes through some form of loss all throughout their lives. Keeping a positive attitude and outlook on life has truly been my key in persevering through all of life’s hardships.

Cheers to 2015 as I start my next adventure!

 

Appreciation: The Feel-Good Fuel For Success

This post was originally written by me on my company’s blog, and it was posted almost six months ago. I wanted re-purpose this on my personal blog as I am starting a new chapter in my life, but I will never forget the amazing experience I had working at Leighton Interactive. The people alone are so kick-ass, I am going to miss them all terribly, but the best part was the job was extremely challenging and always exciting.

Enjoy!

Line

No matter what career path you may choose, or what industry it leads you to, we have one thing in common: we are all human.

As human beings, we all need physical, emotional, and mental support at one point or another throughout our lives. If we didn’t have support and appreciation from those around us, we would feel useless. Everyone strives for fulfillment in their lives, so why wouldn’t we strive for that in the workplace as well?

I’m Appreciated Already!

It’s a scary thing going into a new job where you don’t know anyone, or what role you’ll play in the success of the company. That initial fear I had prior to joining the Leighton Interactive team was gone within the first few days. The team was far from shy in getting to know me right away, and gave me a lot of positive encouragement. It was a breath of fresh air.

This quote is all too true: “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” That can transfer across many platforms – work, home, family, or friends. When someone takes the time to notice your work and determination, it makes you want to push even harder to succeed.

Appreciation Can Go a Long Way

Feeling AppreciatedWhen I was in high school and college, I worked part-time in the hospitality industry. I worked at a variety of restaurants and bars since I was 16. I have fond memories of each place I worked at, establishing relationships I will have for life. It’s a great industry to work in, but it can also be very heartbreaking.

Working in that industry helped me to understand early on that appreciation can go a long way. I remember some of my worst nights on the job, when I would receive disapproving comments about the food or service, even though I was doing everything I could to make that table’s experience spectacular. That one negative comment always outweighs the positive ones. But on the other hand, it’s a night and day difference when you feel appreciated by your customers, co-workers, and management. We’ve all experienced this, no matter what industry you’ve worked in.

First Impressions of LI

Since I started at Leighton Interactive, I have observed – on many occasions – the outpour of appreciation and comments like “great work” and “thank you for all that you’re doing” across all of the LI team members. It shows that everything, big and small, is being noticed. Words of encouragement are consistently flowing. I believe that is what keeps a team cohesive and hard-working. Every single “thank you” or “nice job” contributes immensely to the success of the project, company, and most importantly, you as a professional.

Practice the Golden Rule

Everyone knows the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated). We were all taught it at a young age, and we need to keep living by that rule throughout our lives.

Those who feel appreciated will work harder, and appreciation should be utilized across all platforms. You will see increases in productivity, and a general positive ‘buzz’ around the office. Appreciation can drive anyone to success!

Remember the most important thing: We Are All Human!

Weekend Happy Hour Picks

This being the first post of many – let me give a little background on why I chose to blog about something that may seem irrelevant to some.

Here’s the ultimate dream:

Have enough money to travel, sample and sip delicious food and drink all over the world – and find the best bang for your buck while I’m doing it.

Everyone possess that crazy, sometimes unattainable-feeling dream – whether it be in your career, personal life, or family life – we all have them. Why not do whatever it takes to get there? My eclectic dream of traveling the world, meeting new people, and finding the best food and drinks around is something I’m working towards… but right now I’m taking baby steps and scoping out the best (in my personal opinion) spots in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Being a twenty-something has it’s pros & cons

I love being in my twenties, seriously. I thought my life was over when college ended (still kind of stings to think about that amazing experience) but let’s get real: our lives have just begun. First, a pro – I finally have a steady job where happy hour is a must because one, I can afford it and two, sometimes I need to complain about my busy day over cocktails & appetizers. On the other hand there are cons. For example, I may have a steady paycheck, but I am in no means to do what I love (travel) because the savings account is still looking a little dry. (and that’s okay. I am still young!)

Before I go on a tangent, let’s jump right in:

Billy’s on Grand – St. Paul

This place is one of my new favorites. Centered right in one of the coolest and most Billys on Grandhistoric places in the Twin Cities (Summit Ave., anyone? Have you seen those houses?!) it’s a perfect spot to grab a drink and a bite.

At first glance they look like your average sports bar, but they are really much more that that. The happy hour specials are amazing for one, and to top it off – the food is outstanding. Check ’em out sometime. Here’s what I found as I wandered in on a Sunday afternoon:

 

$3.50 Absolute Screwdrivers, Mimosas, and Screw Ups
$3.50 Bloody Mary bar with Absolute (I love a good Bloody Mary bar, this one had everything)

Bills on Grand Food An almost-empty plate. A seriously delicious chicken sandwhich

Raku Sushi – St. Louis Park, West End

If you aren’t a sushi lover, then I am sorry to hear that. If you are a sushi lover, or are Raku_Sushiitching to try some, I was very impressed with not only their prices, but the sushi was incredibly fresh and well presented. I didn’t get a chance to get a photo of the happy hour menu, but I took down a few notes when I got home:

$5-$8 a roll – $5 for more traditional rolls like California Roll or Yellowtail Roll, $8 for some of their speciality rolls (you get 8 pieces) and it’s so worth it. 
$2 off taps and rail drinks + great deals on Sake 

Cooper – St. Louis Park, West End

This place is the happy hour goers dream. I’m serious. They have a special every single night, so you’re bound to find one of them you like. Not to mention the interior is so Cooper_BloodyMaryartfully crafted, you feel like you’re sitting in a real Irish pub… in Ireland. I think I like to go there so much because it reminds me of my time abroad which I miss every single day of my life.

I am not positive on the exact times for these specials, they have so many, so be sure to call to find out exactly what times/days they have the drink specials. The food specials, however, stay the same (noted in the photo).

Here’s the lowdown on a few in particular:
$4.75 big gingers 
$1 off wines
$9 Bloody Mary (WITH A BURGER ON IT) during brunch on Saturday’s & Sunday’s

Cooper Happy Hour

If you have any suggestions for me of places to try – please pass them my way! I love trying new foods and drinks, and it doesn’t hurt when it’s for half the price!