Minnesota Historical Society

North Star Cocktails

$ 17.95


Johnny Michaels and the North Star Bartenders' Guild

Author Johnny Michaels

Minnesota Historical Society Press (November 1, 2011)

Award-winning drinkslinger Johnny Michaels, along with the North Star Bartenders’ Guild, move beyond the traditional Martini and Manhattan to offer 125 crafted cocktail recipes with modern flavors.


Recognized as one of the twin cities’ best drink makers, Johnny Michaels is the cocktail connoisseur’s answer to a gourmet chef. His home base is the James Beard award–winning La Belle Vie, but he’s designed the cocktail menus for several of its sister restaurants and other top metro eateries. Together with premiere bartenders such as Pip Hanson, Nick Kosevich, Jesse Held, Thea Sheffert, and others in the North Star Bartenders’ Guild, Michaels shares 125 original, crafted cocktail recipes utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables, tips on barkeep techniques and tools, and guides to artisanal liquors and bitters.

From signature cocktails such as the Handsome Devil with bourbon, Bénédictine, Frangelico, and spicy bitters, to the Chloroform Kiss with citrus vodka, gin, yellow chartreuse, lemon, and cava, to high-end, nonalcoholic beverages and party punches tasty enough for anyone to enjoy, Michaels and the North Star Bartenders’ Guild’s recipes will help you not only learn the art of cocktails forentertaining and relaxing at home but also gain an appreciation for the unique originals, modern flavors, and sublime classics you enjoy on your next night out on the town.

All author royalties earned from the sale of the book will be donated to SPCA International, an organization committed to advancing the safety and well-being of animals.

Author information

Johnny Michaels pouring a cocktail

Johnny Michaels is bar manager for La Belle Vie and partner in the cocktail design company Proof Drink Design. The North Star Bartenders’ Guild is a nonprofit organization made up of a community of like-minded craft bartenders in the Twin Cities.

Michaels is one of the Twin Cities’ top cocktail craftsmen. Bar manager and chief mixologist at the James Beard award-winning Minneapolis restaurant, La Belle Vie, Michaels is the cocktail connoisseur’s answer to a gourmet chef. Michaels has designed drink menus for numerous high-profile sister restaurants and other top metro eateries through the company Proof Drink Design, LLC. Michaels has a knack for creating off-the-wall cocktails with names to match and that certainly do not disappoint. His spirits are infused with creativity and a wide bandwith of flavors.

Earning a "Master's Degree in Perseverance from the School of Hard Knocks and Heartbreaks," "Michaels can claim career that has taken many twists and turns which fuel his drink ingenuity. A regular contributor to MplsStPaul Magazine, Michaels demonstrates his craftsmanship in their series of online videos, "School of Drinks."

All author royalties earned from the sale of the book will be donated to SPCA International, an organization committed to advancing the safety and well-being of animals. Michael's goal with North Star Cocktails is "to make [people] happy while helping some animals who can’t help themselves.”

Johnny Michaels in the media

Reviews and news

“This book is one that is easy to imagine becoming dog-eared with pages stuck together from repeated use, an ideal guide for entertaining, or just to create that perfect end-of-the-day cocktail.”
City Pages

“The book is informative, off-beat, self-deprecating, and genuine, just like the man himself.”
Heavy Table

“With these 125 recipes, he's essentially pulling back the curtain, detailing the stories and methods behind each cocktail. It's like Martin Scorsese allowing viewers inside the editing room. More than 75 recipes are of Michaels' creation, while the rest come from his friends in the North Star Bartenders' Guild, a group he helped form.”
Star Tribune

“In acquainting the reader with 125 drinks, the book namedrops The Smiths, The Cult, The Who, The Sex Pistols, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Sly Stone, Bauhaus, Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, a Spanish electronic instrumentalist of whom you have never heard, J. Lo, and Spinal Tap.”

City Pages interview 2015

Star Tribune feature

City Pages review

City Pages interview

Heavy Table feature


Johnny Michaels' Mogwai are the stars

Mogwai (pronounced mog-why) is a band from Scotland, and they are my favorite. I made up this scotch cocktail in their honor before they played the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis in 2009. -JM

2 ounces Dewar’s blended scotch
1 soup spoon Habanero-Butterscotch Syrup (recipe below)
Dash/drizzle single-malt scotch, preferably Laphroaig

  • To a rocks glass, add Dewar’s and syrup, stirring with spoon to blend. Fill glass with ice, then drizzle a touch of smoky, peaty, Islay single malt on top.
  • Do not garnish drink with a stir or sipping straw. We want the peaty nose of the single malt on top and the smooth, blended scotch in the body.

Habanero-Butterscotch Syrup (Spicy-Salty Habanero Infused Butterscotch Syrup)

  • In large pot, pour 1 (750 ml) bottle of Monin Butterscotch Syrup and another half to three-quarters of that same bottle of cold tap water. Pay attention to the syrup line in the pot before adding the water, which will eventually be cooked off. Because these higher-sugar syrups can really inflate and easily boil over, the pot should be no more than one-quarter to one-third full.
  • The tricky part is adding the correct number of fresh habaneros—anywhere from 4 to 12. I like habaneros that are slightly older looking (though not rotting), a deeper orange, and a little softer. It’s always a good idea to use half the syrup and 3 to 4 peppers in your first attempt at simmering the habaneros: if the mixture turns out too spicy, you can cut it down with extra syrup. I recommend wearing latex or other protective rubber gloves when cutting up the peppers and using the utmost care when doing so. Think of this ingredient as raw meat: clean the cutting board, knives—everything—right after using so as to minimize the risk of forgetting what pepper residue is on what and possibly touching your eye. Believe me, you will make that mistake only once.
  • Cut off and discard the tops of the peppers; halve peppers, remove and discard seeds and veins; mince peppers and add them to the pot. Simmer slowly, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on the pot. Once a little water boils off, the syrup can inflate dramatically and quickly.) The goal is to slowly cook off the added water, so when you strain the mixture through a chinoise and funnel it back into the bottle, it matches the original volume. Before straining, add 3 tablespoons kosher salt to the syrup while it is still hot.
  • When you taste the syrup, it should hit you initially as the right sweet/salty balance, and then the habanero feedback will strike with a nice, even, long sustain without being overpowering—what we call the shooter’s touch. Refrigerate syrup after straining. It will last at least a couple weeks, probably much longer, but I go through mine pretty quickly.

  • 240 pages
  • 30 color and 20 b&w photos
  • 6.5 x 8 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873518376

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