Food+Drink New Restaurants Cocktails

Speak Easy, Menomonie

The Gin Mill offers tasty cocktails and everyman brews

Danielle Zinsli, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

There’s a new speakeasy in Menomonie. But it’s OK – you don’t have to keep it a secret.

The Gin Mill, (228 Main St.), a new bar with a hidden twist, has taken over the recently closed Zanzibar space downtown. The rich colors and almost tropical feel of the previous bar and restaurant have been replaced with neutral gray walls and simple cocktail tables. The large, cozy booths are still there, however, along with their checker- and backgammon-patterned tabletops (and yes, there are game pieces so you can play a round or two).

Up front, the focus is on upscale drinks, but a short hallway leads the way to Toby’s Speakeasy, which – in true speakeasy form – is hardly noticeable from the front door.

Toby’s has a more laid-back feel. The space was previously the kitchen and has been completely gutted except for the original hood, which now adorns the small bar.

You can still order food, but Toby’s is all about cans rather than cocktails. You’ll find Schlitz, Hamm’s, Old Milwaukee (and Old Milwaukee Light), High Life, and others.

“Some of (our regulars), they’ve come in here and they didn’t really feel comfortable in the front,” manager James Smiley said. “It was a little too upscale for them. So they went in the back and they had a really good time.”

The Gin Mill bartenders are more than ready to assist any dive-bar types looking to branch out.

“I would really just say talk to your bartender and they’ll really guide you through it,” Smiley said. “We’re all pretty knowledgeable about everything that goes into all the martinis. We’ll kind of ask you what you’d like – like what you normally like to drink and just kind of go from there.”

The Gin Mill’s current bestseller is the Bee’s Knees. It’s a prohibition-era cocktail consisting of gin, honey water, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and soda water.

For those looking for something to snack on with their martinis, the kitchen offers small plates with a focus on local ingredients. There are also more substantial food specials on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Some recent examples include prime rib pretzel bun sliders and garlic parmesan shrimp skewers.

And don’t forget about brunch: Every Sunday you can get bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys, and screwdrivers – plus food, of course.

Going forward, Smiley said, expect bands, possibly some special events and a whole lot of changes. “We’re still adding things every day,” he said.

The Gin Mill is located at 228 Main St., Menomonie and is open 4pm-2am Tuesday-Saturday and noon-2am Sundays. For more information, visit The Gin Mill Menomonie on Facebook