I never want to drink another Wondrous Punch but I have no regrets about trying one.
Until this weekend, I had never had a “Wondrous Punch,” but I’ve always known the name. Most Twin Cities residents do. It’s the signature drink at Red Dragon, a dive bar located on Lyndale in South Minneapolis. As far as I know, Red Dragon’s always been there. The exterior looks the same as it did when I used to drive past every day ten years ago.
People tell their Red Dragon stories wistfully. They typically occurred a while ago and end in “I don’t remember much,” a brawl, or puking. “The Wonderous Punch is really strong,” they add.
Many things in Uptown have changed. When everything becomes newer and shinier, I’m drawn to establishments that keep serving what they’ve always been serving in an unapologetic, irony-free manner. They don’t serve kale salad or change their menu font from Comic Sans because they don’t want to.
At any moment I expected the bartender to tell Jake, “I’m sorry sir, but we have to cut you off.
“Can you get cut off at a kombucha bar?” I wondered, as he ordered another glass.
Jake’s best described as a beverage enthusiast. He loves all kinds of beverage, from coffee to tea to kombucha to beer. His favorite non-alcoholic drink is definitely kombucha, something I haven’t learned how to make yet. As long as we were at a fermentation bar, he wanted to try everything.
“Do you feel like you’re in a Bob Ross painting?” I asked Jake as he steered our vehicle up and down steep mountains thick with towering trees. “I feel like I’m trapped in a Bob Ross painting on drugs,” he replied, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles. “I bet the woods are full of bears, too,” he added as we passed a Rock Slide Area sign followed by another featuring a truck tumbling off the side of a mountain.
“I want to be a wine baron,” Jake stated as we sat at Buena Vista’s bar illuminated by the glowing picture of Count Agoston Haraszthy.
“Who doesn’t” I replied.
The evening before, our flight landed in San Francisco, thus beginning our road trip weaving east to Tahoe and then up to Portland.
This is a tiny post about a tiny bar where the classic cocktails are listed chronologically. My friend @ArsonistKitten told me so, but I found the idea so fantastical that I almost didn’t believe her.
They are. From the Mint Julep c. 1790 to the Cosmopolitan c. 1985. After going through a stretch where I felt jaded by expensive, unbalanced signature cocktails, I typically stick to Manhattans or whiskey. They never let me down.
I asked the bartender if he could recommend a drink based upon my affinity for Manhattans. He suggested the de la Louisiane made with bourbon, Benedictine, punt e mas, Peychaud’s bitters & absinthe. It was perfect and he was right.