Restaurateurs Brent Frederick and Jacob Toledo aren't trying to reinvent the wheel with their latest venture, Borough. Once they found their new North Loop space in a renovated 1920s warehouse, a restaurant and a craft-cocktail lounge just seemed to be an organic fit.
"We don't have a concept, exactly, first," Frederick said. "I think we do it a little backwards, but it hasn't failed us yet."
Before landing the dual-level space in one of downtown Minneapolis' hottest neighborhoods, the former college buds behind the Pourhouse, Maple Tavern and the former Cowboy Slim's said they pondered something along the lines of the "exotic sausage grill"-meets-beer-hall model of Los Angeles' Wurstküche. But after falling in love with its warehouse-chic look and loading-dock patio, Toledo said they let the space dictate the concept, deciding on a dinner-only destination coupled with a below-ground cocktail bar they dubbed Parlour.
While the restaurant-plus-spirit-sanctum isn't exactly novel (see the popular and nearby Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar), head barkeeper and Northstar Bartenders Guild President Jesse Held is making this cocktail cubbyhole his own. "[We're] doing some very out-of-the-box things with drinks," he said. "It's going to be a fun little playground."
A peek at Parlour's cocktail menu supports Held's claim. The Eat Street Social and Marvel Bar alum's Flippin' Good Drink, for one example, blends Buffalo Trace bourbon with Brau Brothers' Moo Joos stout and a whole egg, while the Plummer Crack calls for a spunky sugar-plum-infused Bombay Sapphire. Classic-cocktail connoisseurs will find familiar drinks, but with a twist. An Old Fashioned on the Parlour list is made with Old Grand-Dad 114 and a rye whiskey, and Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters.
By mid-February, Held hopes to roll out cocktail carts so bartenders can mix his potent potations tableside, bringing "the quote-unquote show" to guests away from the bar. Also unique to Borough and Parlour, Held plans to create cocktail flights this spring to pair with its contemporary American cuisine, coordinating with chefs Nick O'Leary and Tyler Shipton (both of Travail).
"The kitchen and the bar aren't that different," Held professed. "They have different herbs and spices [and] I look at each spirit as a different herb and spice."
A defining characteristic of Parlour is its large windows that open the garden-level bar to Washington Avenue, which Toledo and Frederick say give it a "Cheers"-like feel.
After helming Cowboy Slim's in conjunction with the After Midnight Group and the Pourhouse with two other owners, Toledo said he and Frederick had creative control over Borough and Parlor's concept, and it's the comfortable, sophisticated hangout they have always wanted.
"It's kind of like with an entry-level job," said Toledo, 32. "You don't get your dream job out of college. You slowly get a leg in there and finally push it open and you're like, 'All right, now I'm finally able to do what it is we want to do.'"
Where: 730 Washington Av. N. Mpls. 612-354-3135 or www.boroughmpls.com. Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. daily.