Seasonal cocktails, infused vodkas can now be found at Stem
Stem owner Ivy Taheri says she’s reinvented the Nicollet Island-East Bank wine bar.
The tiny boutique watering hole opened early last year near 1st & University and offered a far-reaching menu of globally inspired appetizers and a lengthy wine list. Now that it’s had time to grow, Taheri said the concept has adapted to the neighborhood to serve more cocktails, European flavors and hard-to-find wines.
“While that was great, at the same time, you start to learn your neighborhood, and this neighborhood is so diverse,” Taheri said. “This place is such a neighborhood spot. We’re offering so much more now.”
Taheri, who was behind the North Loop’s Hennepin Steam Room and, before that, the Tangiers, said these new moves are bringing a “crafthouse” vibe to the area. From food to cocktails, she said menus now change weekly.
For food, Stem has opted for a rotating selection of shareable European dishes, from gnocchi to goat cheese-stuffed dates and charcuterie. Chef Sam Cavallaro, formerly of Loring Park’s 4 Bells, said the Southern Mediterranean focus will pair well with wines. He’s also working on bringing oysters to Stem.
“People come in that are regulars and they want the things that they like, but they want to see some new stuff as well,” he said.
The wine lists at Stem change weekly. General Manager Shannon Maloney said having no storage forces them to buy small and intentionally.
Taheri said she’s excited to bring in Eastern European, Hungarian and Croatian wines, among other rare wines. The bar works with companies like Small Lot Wines and Rootstock Wines to get unique wines.
“You won’t a lot of the wines we have in any other restaurant in the city. A lot of it is just exquisite, unique stuff,” she said. “It creates a little bit of adventure.”
The cheapest time to try the hard-to-find wines is on Tuesdays when patrons can buy $25 bottles or get bubbles for half as much.
The biggest change to the bar program is a signature cocktail menu that embraces seasonal ingredients. Maluku Social, a cocktail of Stem’s winter menu, features vodka from Northeast’s Tattersall Distilling that’s been infused with cloves.
Infusions are also a new item at Stem, which now offers $16 flights of infused vodka shots that combine Minnesota’s Prairie Organic Vodka with flavors like apricot cardamom, ginger lime or pepper herb.
“People go crazy over these,” she said.
“[Nye’s Polonaise Room] was still running when we opened. Everything is changing here,” she said.
Stem, at 24 University Ave. NE, is open 4 p.m.–10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m.–midnight Friday and Saturday.