The Slip bar open in Canal Park

Canal Park gained a unique drinking establishment today. The Slip, located in the historic Suites Hotel building at 325 S. Lake Avenue, opened at 5 p.m.

Named for the nearby Minnesota Slip, which is home to iconic William A. Irvin ore boat, the bar specializes in whiskey and features cocktails made with vodka and gin from the nearby Vikre Distillery. In addition to spirits, the Slip has six types of wine and three types of cider on tap as well as five beers from Hoops Brewing.

“I want it to be a place where people can feel comfortable and welcome,” says owner Paul Christensen. “The main focus is on great beverages for everyone.”

The bar occupies a 900-square-foot portion of the space that formerly housed the Timber Lodge Steakhouse. Area craft beer aficionados may already be familiar with the adjacent renovated space, where Hoops Brewing opened a month ago.

It’s the first bar in the state to pose a solution to the conundrum that keeps friends who drink craft beer from hanging out with friends who don’t — as current Minnesota law dictates brewery taprooms can only serve their own malt liquor.

Although the Slip and Hoops Brewing share an address and a bathroom, they are two distinct entities under different ownership. The Slip has its own entrance and is separated from the brewery taproom by a 3-foot dividing wall.

It’s possible to pass between the two businesses through a half door or sit on one side of the wall while conversing with friends on the other. But per state law, drinks from the Slip have to remain within the walled-off area. Likewise, Hoops beers purchased on the brewery side (which has a wider tap selection) need to stay there.

It’s about providing options for everyone, according to Christensen. “People can slip on in to the Slip or slip over from Hoops Brewing to have a cocktail,” he says.

Christensen is an entrepreneur who got his start in the service industry years ago in Utah, at a Papa Murphy’s Take N’ Bake Pizza shop. He moved to Duluth in 1999 to open and operate his own Papa Murphy’s store and went on to open two more successful pizza shops in the Twin Ports, selling all three in 2014.

He says the unusual bar concept came about because he’s always looking for new opportunities. He and Dave Hoops, proprietor of Hoops Brewing, have had a longtime friendship. The pair most recently worked together at Bev-Craft, a local brewery incubator.

The Slip will be open Monday through Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Find out more from the bar’s Facebook page.

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