When the suit comes off, there are two things you need to know about R.T. Rybak. He loves craft beer and he has a fondness for stage-diving, as evidenced by his leap into the First Avenue audience during a recent Trampled by Turtles concert.
That's right: the mayor of Minneapolis knows his politics and apparently he also knows how to party.
I chatted with the Mayor about his top spots over a round of Fultons last week. Joining us were his wife, Megan O'Hara, and daughter, Grace. Both proved invaluable when it came to getting the lowdown on the Mayor's after-work excursions.
The First Lady had a hand in narrowing down the Mayor's favorites, which proved to be a strenuous task. Rybak said it was like choosing his five favorite constituents. Here are a few bars that missed the cut but come highly recommend: Eat Street Social (for the cocktails), the Dakota (for the music) and Psycho Suzi's (for the patio). Rybak is most excited about Icehouse, the restaurant/rock club scheduled to open on Eat Street next week.
Obviously, the Mayor knows his bars and his beer -- but he has a secret.
"I'm a real lightweight," he said. "Admittedly, I can only have one beer, maybe two. That's what happens when you get old."
O'Hara agreed: "R.T. is really fun for about an hour. But at about 10 p.m. things really wind down. He really is a lightweight."
Well then. Let's get to the Mayor's picks before he falls asleep on us.
"It's like sitting in some rich person's living room but you don't have to talk to them -- and they serve you really good drinks. Megan and I will go there, especially after a Walker event or sometime in the middle of winter, when we just want to put an exclamation point on the end of a great night."
- He's drinking: "I always take a recommendation from the bartender. My favorite was an acai gimlet," he said.
"It's where I spent my 50th birthday and turned around to find Tim Pawlenty celebrating his birthday! That was very strange. There's always this guy there dressed up in a [traditional] German outfit, kissing all the women, and you realize he doesn't actually work there. It's the funniest thing. Also, the bottom bar is really fun for dancing. I love to dance."
- He's drinking: The glass boot of beer. Rybak knows the correct technique so he doesn't get splashed in the face. "You just have to be subtle," he said.
"Kings is in my neighborhood. It's the first place I had a Fulton, and you always remember your first time, right? I remember commenting to the waitress 'What a great beer!' and sitting at the next table were the Fulton owners. They said 'Why, thank you.' That's like somebody complimenting me on snow plowing."
- He's drinking: "I've become kind of a beer snob. I can drink more Lonely Blondes, but Fulton's Sweet Child of Vine is my favorite."
"Busters is what you want a bar to be. It's 'Cheers' if it had the good taste to be in Minneapolis. It's also halfway between our house and Megan's family in St. Paul. It's one of our meeting spots. There's just some places I like to go and not have to get dressed up."
- He's drinking: It's a craft beer bar. "I try a lot of different ones. Harriet and Fulton and Surly are my standbys."
"In the early '80s, a friend ran Anthony's Wharf next door. I spent a lot of time on that deck. And it's where Megan and I decided we were in love with each other. I never expected that I would be hanging out down on the riverfront again. Aster has tremendous food, really good beer and outstanding local music. It has the most pleasant patio you can find with an amazing view of the city. It looks like Oz from here."
- He's drinking: "I'll have one of their infused-tea cocktails. Can I admit that they're really good in the middle of an afternoon?"