Sweet Haven has sweet grand opening weekend

Photo by Clay Schuldt Sweet Haven Tonics owner Leah Treleven works the bar at her cocktail lounge during Friday’s grand opening.

NEW ULM — Sweet Haven Tonics saw a beyond-capacity crowd for its two-day grand opening on Friday and Saturday.

The new downtown cocktail lounge, owned and operated by Leah Treleven, is located at 116 N. Minnesota street in the former Herberger’s building. Sweet Haven Tonics began as a cocktail concentrate business. Treleven would sell concentrates that could be mixed with spirits and sparkling water to create refreshing drinks in a variety of flavors.

Last year, Treleven was given space in the former Herberger’s building to expand the brand and open the cocktail lounge in the storefront. Based on the response over the weekend, the lounge is a hit within the New Ulm community.

The lounge opened at 10 a.m. on Friday. Server Danielle Scriver said people were coming in all day to sample the concentrate drinks and try out Sweet Haven’s drink menu.

“It is safe to say we are a big draw,” she said.

The lounge saw a surge in customers after 5 p.m. Servers set up a waiting list as they reached capacity.

Early patrons of the lounge were impressed with the new establishment. Jeff Gulden said Sweet Haven represented another great change for New Ulm’s nightlife. This was a sentiment shared by many.

Sweet Haven Tonic was unique to the downtown because of its lounge quality. There is traditional bar seating up front, but most of the space is lounge-style, with sofa seating. The cocktail concentrates can be mixed with several spirits, but non-alcoholic options are available. Saturday afternoon several families were able to gather in the lounge space and sample the charcuterie board.

“We need more places like it,” said Bookshelves & Coffeecups owner Jerry Chamberlain, who visited Sweet Haven Saturday afternoon. Chamberlain was excited to have a new business open across from his bookstore and was a fan of the menu selection.

“The atmosphere is delightful and the conversation informative,” he said during his first visit. He also liked the business had off-sale products as well.

The concentrates were available for sale in the store to customers who wanted to experiment at home.

Treleven said she was overwhelmed by the community support during the grand opening. She saw and spoke to many customers over the two days. Treleven was frequently seen behind the counter mixing up cocktails for customers. She believed the most ordered cocktail was the old fashioned.

One of the quirks of Sweet Haven’s opening night was a blizzard that hit Friday evening. The storm made driving difficult. Few vehicles passed down Minnesota Street once the snow started to fall, but it did not slow down the customers. Sweet Haven was at capacity all night. A waiting list, 40 people long, began to form. Many people were seeking shelter from the storm in the lounge. In effect, Sweet Haven was a haven from the blizzard.


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