In 2011 the Minnesota State Legislature passes laws easing restrictions on distilling, that has sense led to a boom in distilleries popping up in the cities and small towns around the state. From the towering stills to the humble glass, each liquor seems to be tied to a people and places creating these tasty intoxicants. Whether looking for a lively cocktail room, or a new bottle to round out the home bar, there’s something local for every drinker.Read More
18 Local Distilleries Making Spirits Worth Building a Bar Around
From gin to aquavit to whiskey and ready-pour blends, there is much to discover from grain to glass
Far North Spirits
Michael Swanson is the fourth generation of farmers in Hallock, Minnesota which is, indeed, way, way far north of the Twin Cities. The rich soil grows rye particularly well. All of the spirits that he and his wife Cheri Reese distill honor this beloved land. Their first gin, Solveig was crafted to taste the way the fields smell after a fresh rain fall. The distinctive botanical flavors is a beautiful entry point for drinkers who claim they don't like gin and may just be the best reason we can think of to drive to Hallock and visit the cocktail room. Or, seek out a bottle of their highly coveted Røknar Rye for a spicy Old Fashioned at home.
Emily and Joel Vikre began distributing their spirits in 2014 and opened the cocktail room in Duluth in November of that year. Their current selection includes gin, vodka, aquavit, and a couple of whiskeys. The newly remodeled cocktail room is steps away from Duluth's Aerial Lift bridge and has a Northwoods swank vibe.
Owner Adrian Panther proudly runs the first whiskey distillery in Minnesota, opening its doors in 2011 and utilizing organic, Minnesota-grown ingredients and American white oak barrels. Panther also makes a bourbon ever made in Minnesota and their whiskey and bourbon are the first to be certified Kosher in the nation.
J. Carver Distillery
This distillery makes sophisticated spirits including bourbon, rye, brandy and grappas along with liqueres, vodka and gin. Stop by the swank cocktail lounge on Fridays and Saturdays in picturesque Waconia. Now is the perfect season for a glass of their amaro on ice.
Another veteran-owned distillery, Skaalvenn uses unrefined, non-GMO products to produce its vodka, rum and aquavit. Skaalvenn's habenero rum is no gimmick, but a great balance of heat and flavor. Meanwhile, the vodka imparts a pleasant hint of caramel flavor. Although, there’s no cocktail room, the bottles are relatively easy to find in area liquor stores.
Shortly after St. Louis Park passed an ordinance allowing distilleries in the Western suburb, pals Chris Palmisano, Kyle Kettering, and Brian Idelkope opened Copperwing. Inside the cocktail room cocktails are made with vodka, young whiskey distilled from bourbon mash and something they call Vodskey- a clear, strong spirit, distilled to under 190 proof. The 45 seat, aquarium-like cocktail room has direct views into the workings of the distillery.
Twin Spirits Distillery
Owner Michelle Winchester’s spirit lineup includes M Vodka , M Gin, M Rum, M Whiskey and Mama’s Moonshine distilled monthly on the full moon with Minnesota honey. The cocktail room is cozy and comfy.
Since opening its cocktail room in Tattersall in 2015, the gorgeous distillery has been the place to see and be seen. Tucked into a dock at the Thorp Building on Central Avenue, there is a speak-easy, secretive vibe to the location, but once you manage to traverse the parking lot, there’s a sprawling patio and an elegant yet funky cocktail room. Tattersall crafts an impressive list of spirits that seems to grow by the day. There’s gin, vodka, aquavit, a line of flavored liqueurs, rye, rum, and whiskey.
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Wander North Distillery
Veteran-owned Wander North launched its spirits in 2014 before opening the cocktail room the following year. This distillery offers local mash whiskey, gin, applejack and vodka, all used to great advantage in the comfortable, chill taproom on site. Grab a deck of cards, a cribbage board and cocktail Wednesday through Saturday when the lounge is open.
Norseman, the first legal micro distillery in Minneapolis since the days of prohibition, crafts a notable list of products including an organic, vapor infused gin, an organic bourbon barrel aged rum, a premium vodka and seasonal gins. The sprawling, industrial vibe cocktail room is both comfy and modern, with a fireplace inserted into the wall, giant windows and even a couch or two.
Lawless Distilling Company
The speakeasy-esque cocktail room in an industrial corner of the Seward neighborhood (aka The Hub of Hell) features quirky cocktails from the quirky minds of the Bittercube crew, in a chill, windowless room meant for long, relaxed sips. The cocktail room usually has some kind of theme running, from summer camp, to holiday wonderland, it all changes with the appropriate seasons.
Du Nord Craft Spirits
Du Nord opened the Twin Cities’ first cocktail room in early 2015 and are proud to partner with local farmers for the grains used within. Spirits include L'etoile Du Nord Vodka, Fitzgerald Gin and Apple Du Nord, and an apple liqueur perfect for fall. The cocktail room is simple and comfortable, with lots of seating where a group can easily pass an evening with a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity and a few rounds of seasonal pours.
When Simeon Rossi began making a coffee-flavored liqueur in college, he may not have known it would lead him on a path to becoming one of the first craft distilleries in Southern Minnesota. Partnering with high school friend Mark Schiller, the two have been producing craft spirits since 2014. The cocktail room sits in the middle of the distillery and the feel is rustic. Slide onto a wooden bench and grab a board game while sipping on anything made with Metropoligin, a certified organic gin made with no less than ten botanicals.
The Dampfwerk Distillery Co
Breaking from the usual vodka/gin backbone, Dampfwerk makes all kinds of intriguing brandies. The head distiller at this family brewery is from Germany, and they lean into regional drinks that use fruits, like pear and apple. There are also mixes ready to be poured straight into the glass like the Hegolander, Rabbit in the Rye, and Pfeffersack. Dampfwerk is also working on a new cocktail room in St. Louis Park. Keep an eye on that opening before the holiday season gets into swing.
This distillery is built for the fans of the brown liquor. Making rye malt whiskey, bourbon, and a just-released elderflower and hops flavored whiskey. The cocktail room is under construction and not open yet, but tours of the Saint Paul facility are available.
Royal Foundry Craft Spirits
This massive cocktail room has all kinds of British touches, and plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the gin, vodka, and rum.
Flying Dutchman Spirits
The Flying Dutchman take inspiration for spirited drinking from all over the globe. So, this is the local maker to dip in on some locally made agave spirits, in addition to rum and gin. This Eden Prairie-based still game all the way from Hagyo distilling in Miskolc, Hungary, just to drive home the global reach of this place. The cocktail room affords a view of this beauty, in a spare, modern drinking environment.
Dip way down into the Southeastern corner of the state for a taste of the stunning Driftless region by way of a whiskey glass. RockFilter makes what’s often touted as the state’s best bourbon all with local, non-GMO grain that they farm, and pristine limestone-filtered water. The cocktail room is an ideal road trip destination for Twin Cities’ day trippers.