What's in your glass can tell a story about where you are. In Minnesota, artisan distillers are opening up shop in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and beyond, serving up inventive libations in inviting settings.
The craft distillery equivalent of taprooms, Minnesota's cocktail rooms are places where visitors can hang out, sip cocktails made from spirits distilled on-site, and learn about what they're drinking, all while enjoying the ambiance of a working distillery.
With more than 20 distilleries now in operation, you're sure to find one no matter where you're going. Here are just a few to check out on your next trip.
Du Nord Craft Spirits, Minneapolis
Located in the vibrant Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis, Du Nord Craft Spirits was the first cocktail room to open in the Twin Cities. The space is rough-hewn and welcoming, dominated by a giant industrial spool that serves as a common table. The distillery serves seasonal cocktails made from their spirits, and the bar always offers Fitzgerald gin & tonics or L’Etoile vodka martinis.
Tattersall Distilling, Minneapolis
Though only a few years old, Tattersall has a lot of history. The Thorp Building where it's located once housed General Mills Mechanical Division, which manufactured top-secret military equipment during World War II under the watch of the FBI and CIA from the guard towers. Today, the industrial chic space serves more than three dozen cocktails made from more than a dozen spirits including vodka, gin and aquavit. Food trucks and live music add to the contemporary yet comfortable vibe.
Vikre Distillery, Duluth
Duluth's booming beer scene isn't the only exciting thing about drinking in this great northern port. Vikre Distillery puts out three varieties of gin, plus whiskey, a bold aquavit, and other seasonal spirits available for sampling in the cocktail room that sits in the shadow of the city's famous Aerial Lift Bridge.
Far North Spirits, Hallock
Should you find yourself in the northwest corner of the state, the tiny town of Hallock (population 981) boasts one of the region's hottest distilleries. The sophisticated flavor profiles and design-forward packaging of Far North Spirits have landed the distillery's products on store shelves across the United States, and their Alander spiced rum and herbaceous Solveig gin can be found in bars and restaurants throughout the Twin Cities.
11 Wells Spirits, St. Paul
Located in the historic Hamm’s Brewery on St. Paul’s east side, 11 Wells has quickly earned a solid reputation for distilling esoteric and lovingly labeled spirits, including rye whiskey, agricole rum and a wheat whiskey. Each bottle in the distillery's prototype series bears information such as proof, months aged, char level, mash bill and more, appealing to the spirits nerds whose thirst for local artisan products is helping to power the craft spirits boom.
Panther Distillery, Osakis
Proudly touting its status as Minnesota's first legal whiskey distillery, Panther Distillery of Osakis also makes bourbon, gin and spiked apple spirits. The distillery offers tours and tastings, with an opportunity to buy distillery memorabilia if you're so inclined.
J. Carver Distillery, Waconia
The gorgeous copper stills of J. Carver Distillery put out a variety of beverages including vodka and gin (in both premium and ultra-premium editions) and a 96-proof barrel-aged brown gin made with wild rice and other local grains, described as “a whiskey lover's gin.” The distillery is in good company, with several wineries and breweries nearby in and around Waconia.
The legal drinking age in Minnesota is 21. Please drink responsibly. Prefer beer or wine? Check out a Minnesota craft brewery or winery.