Despite being one of the "best kept secrets," Minneapolis consistently leaves its mark on Esquire's "Best Bars in America."
The latest addition? Young Joni’s Back Bar, which features in this year's rankings alongside hidden gems like Philadelphia's Hop Sing Laundromat and Mister Paradise, a titan of the New York cocktail scene.
Esquire renders our beloved Northeast gem as such:
This back bar with a super-chill basement vibe is like the after-after party, when the host opens up his secret stash. The tunes spinning on a reel-to-reel and your deftly made drink command all of your attention.
This marks the third time in recent memory a Minneapolis bar has been recognized among the nation’s finest. First, in 2006, during the heyday of the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band, Nye’s Polonaise made the cut. Then Palmer’s was listed alongside the nation’s finest watering holes in 2014, sparking equal amounts of pride and laughter from anyone who's visited the legendary dive. Both selections boded well for Esquire’s taste.
It’s worth noting that since their coronations, Nye’s and Palmer’s underwent significant transformations. The former was ripped down and rose again in an entirely new form. Some might say the new incarnation is not what it once was. The latter was acquired by Tony Zaccardi and now finally accepts credit cards. Most seem pleased by the changing of the guard at Palmer’s, though shaking up anything in such an old establishment requires an adjustment period.
Out of this local batch, Ann Kim (Young Joni’s chef-proprietor) is unique in that she's the only one to take home a James Beard award in the same season as her establishment appears on Esquire’s list. Hopefully the powers of this recognition will prove talismanic in terms of preserving what we've forever known makes the Back Bar special.
Sure, the Greenbrier—another fellow Best Bars listmate—may have a real, vintage nuclear bunker in its guts, but riding out the apocalypse in a tried-and-true, fire-tested Northeast den with great tunes sounds plenty fine to us, thanks.