By Tammy Sproule Kaplan

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March 7, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Together at last
Together at last</b>

Coffee and alcohol. Two things we are supposed to enjoy in moderation. Well, they've paired up for a glorious riposte in many a Downtown restaurant.

Thanks to the recent launch of Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, quite a few dining establishments are placing coffee-flavored martinis in the limelight. Morton's Steakhouse, 555 Nicollet Mall, is shaking things up with "high-octane" concoctions like its Mochatini and Caf con Leche, made with the new liqueur and Absolut Vanilla vodka.

You will also see the liqueur poured at: Oceanaire and Manny's Steakhouse, both at 1300 Nicollet Mall; Brit's Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall; Origami, 30 N. 1st St., Monte Carlo, 219 3rd Ave. N.; Babalu, 800 Washington Ave. N.; Rossi's, 80 S. 9th St.; Applebee's and Bellanotte, both at 600 Hennepin Ave. S., McCormick & Schmick's, 800 Nicollet Mall; and Le Meridien, 601 1st Ave. N.

Or you can purchase the Starbucks liqueur in liquor stores and improvise your own alcohol-coffee creations at your next cocktail party.

The high-power potion is made with Starbucks' perfectly roasted coffee beans blended with spirits.

Even Border's Caf, 600 Hennepin Ave. S., is vying for a piece of the action with some frou-frou coffee beverages. The Block E establishment is pouring a Kahlua-flavored coffee syrup in its Mocha Mudslide and other specialty drinks. These drinks will gratify the teetotaler set, however, as the product is completely alcohol-free.

Zeno Coffee and Dessert Bar, 800 LaSalle Ave. (entrance on Hennepin), has gone beyond the mere commingling of coffee and booze in the same glass - it has built an entire concept based on the imbibing of coffee and/or cocktails in the same venue.

The locally and independently owned, full-service coffee bar opened for business Downtown mid-February. Like the flagship Zeno in Uptown, it offers a wide selection of French-press coffees, ground-to-order espresso drinks, 40 wines by the glass ($7-$15) and also has a full liquor license.

Naturally, Zeno has its own version of the coffee-liquor combo: an espresso martini. Made with Stoli Vanil vodka, Kahlua, Tia Maria and espresso, the drink has been a real hit according to General Manager Tonya Dunn.

Soon you'll also be able to lap up bargain drinks at Zeno. Dunn said they plan to launch a Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. happy hour in the coming weeks. Featured specials will include $4 tap beers, rail drinks and house wines by the glass, plus appetizer specials.

In addition to coffee concoctions and cocktails, Zeno offers a full food menu. Dunn spoke especially highly of the desserts, including a carrot cake that tempts even those "who aren't into carrot cake."

Besides a hefty lunch and after-work crowd, Zeno gets a lot of theatergoers stopping in for a little something before or after a Hennepin Theatre District show, Dunn said. She also noted that anything on the menu is available to-go, and that Zeno offers catering and delivery services for the office-bound.

More savory sips

Vic's, 201 SE Main St., recently launched a new wine pricing structure that it has dubbed "contrary to popular wine pricing."

The list includes 21 bottles priced at $20 or less. The restaurant cites deals such as a Beaulieu Vineyard "Tapestry" 1999 cabernet sauvignon priced at $44 (previously $119), a Shafer 2000 merlot priced at $36 (previously $95) and a 1996 Dom Perignon champagne now $121.

The wine list does change regularly. You can browse the current one at www.vicsdining.com.

It may seem a little early in the season for strolls along St. Anthony Main, but these deals serve as good bait until the snow has melted. Owner Victoria Barlow says the low prices are here to stay.

Brit's Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall, has extended its holiday tea service into spring. Monday-Saturday through March, high tea will continue to be served in the Long Room.

The cost is $20 per person, and includes Taylor's of Harrogate teas, tea sandwiches, English cheeses and sweets such as carrot cake, lemon curd, scones with jam and cream, and fruit tarts. A choice of one glass of wine, sparkling wine or port is also included. Reservations are required.

Send your food-related tips to tammysproule@yahoo.com.