2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners

Wine List at a Bar or Restaurant – Bar La Grassa

Bar La Grassa’s wine list is full of solid selections from all over Italy. From the Barbera and Barolo of the north to the Primitivo and Frappato of the south and the Cannonau and Nero d’Avola from the islands, they’ve got everything to match their lineup of legendary pasta. 

Silver: The Bachelor Farmer

Bronze: Red Rabbit

Photo via Surdyk’s

Wine Shop – Surdyk’s

The Heart Healthy sales are legendary, the selection is bulletproof, and the staff are some of the most knowledgeable people in the business. When we want a fine bottle of vino, there’s nowhere in town quite like Surdyk’s.

Silver: France 44

Bronze: The Wine Thief & Ale Jail


Photo via St Croix Vineyards Facebook

Minnesota Winery – Saint Croix Vineyards

Working with Minnesota’s cold-hardy wine grapes isn’t the easiest feat. But the veteran staff at St. Croix Vineyard coax the finest qualities out of La Crescent, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, and the rest of the state’s bounty.

Silver: Crow River Winery

Bronze: Carlos Creek Winery



Photo via Sociable Cider Werks Facebook

Local Cider or Apple Graff – Sociable Cider Werks Freewheeler

Freewheeler is the versatile, easy-going, fizzy sip made from the fruits of Minnesota—Haralsons, Honeycrisps, and SweeTangos. It’s dry, light, and crisp. It’s got tons of flavor on its own but is still a great candidate to mix into cocktails. 

Silver: Milk & Honey Heirloom

Bronze: Sociable Burnout


Photo via Sociable Cider Werks Facebook

Minnesota Cidery – Sociable Cider Werks

Not only do they have a great lineup of apple grafs and throw some of the most rocking block parties in Minneapolis, but they’re now the home of chef Yia Vang’s Union Kitchen. No wonder they continue to be your favorite cidery in the state. 

Silver: Milk & Honey Cidery

Bronze: Duluth Cider Co.


Photo via Mount Royal Facebook

Liquor Store (Greater MN) – Mount Royal Bottle Shoppe, Duluth

Our checklist when we hit the North Shore: a latte at Duluth Coffee Co., a sandwich at Northern Waters, and then a browse through Mount Royal—the finest place in Duluth (and you might say, all of Greater Minnesota) to get bottles of the finest spirits of the North Country and beyond.

Silver: Historic Casanova Liquors, Hudson

Bronze: The Liquor Hutch, Hutchinson

Photo via Haskells Facebook

Liquor Store (Metro Area) – Haskell’s, White Bear Lake

You might know Haskell’s as The Wine People, but the folks in White Bear Lake know them as the Spirits People too. They’re kind-of-a-big-deal for their great deals on all the best bottles from local, regional, and national distilleries. 

Silver: Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits, White Bear Lake

Bronze: Blue Max Liquors, Burnsville


Photo via Surdyks

Liquor Store (Mpls & St. Paul) – Surdyk’s

You can always count on Surdyk’s to throw something interesting at you in the liquor aisle—a bourbon you didn’t know about, a hard-to-find rye, a great price on an aged Caribbean rum. We like to go browsing there with no agenda and let their sales and selection guide us to something wonderful.

Silver: France 44

Bronze: Zipps Liquors


Photo by Daniel Murphy

Craft Cocktail Bar – The Back Bar at Young Joni

It’s cozy, it’s clandestine, it’s Minnesotan through-and-through. The Back Bar at Young Joni is staffed by a top-notch team led by Adam Gorski. The menus are whimsical, but the cocktails are serious, and there’s no bar we’d rather hunker down in this winter. 

Silver: Marvel Bar

Bronze: Volstead’s Emporium


Butcher & the Boar // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Butcher & the Boar // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Whiskey List at a Bar or Restaurant – Butcher & The Boar

Beef and whiskey. Name a more epic duo. We’ll wait. But while we wait, we’ll be sipping on Butcher and the Boar’s extensive list of the finest bourbons and ryes you can find in the state. 

Silver: Merlins Rest

Bronze: Marvel Bar


Photo via Tattersall Facebook

Bartender – Bennett Johnson, Tattersall Distilling

There have been a lot of fine drink-makers to have taken up the stick at Tattersall Distilling. But when we’re craving a respite during the Fringe Fest or Art-A-Whirl, we’re seeking out Bennett Johnson and just saying, “Surprise me!”

Silver: Nathaniel Smith, Travail

Bronze: Ian Lowther, Red Rabbit


Photo via Tattersall Facebook

Local Gin – Tattersall Gin

We love a good mixing gin. Something with juniper flavor, but not so much that it shouts down any other flavors you add to your cocktails. Tattersall’s fits the bill—a balanced profile of juniper and spice that’s a versatile base for all your favorite gin drinks.

Silver: Vikre Boreal Cedar Gin

Bronze: Norseman Gin

Photo via Tattersall Facebook

Local Specialty Spirit – Tattersall Orange Crema

Triple Sec needed an upgrade. Every time that sticky stuff from the bottom shelf appears in a drink, it hardly ever made things any tastier. Enter Tattersall’s Orange Crema, the finest orange liqueur in town, to make your margarita and sidecar kind of a big deal.

Silver: Vikre Øvrevann Aquavit

Bronze: J. Carver Apple Brandy


Photo via Tattersall Facebook

Local Rum – Tattersall Blackstrap Rum

Most of the industry-standard white rums out there are flavorless. They’re for drowning in Coca-Cola and not much else. But Tattersall’s is a whole different animal—those funky, unrefined molasses notes are still there, even a hint of smoky flavor. Make a daiquiri with this stuff and taste the difference. 

Silver: Norseman Barrel-Aged Rum

Bronze: Far North Ålander


Photo via Tattersall Facebook

Local Vodka – Tattersall Bootlegger

On a hot summer day, we love to whip up a batch of Bootleggers. But we don’t always feel like picking mint leaves or dealing with a blender. So cheers to Tattersall for adding lemon, lime, and mint to their vodka, for a just-add-club-soda Bootlegger we’ll be bringing on every boat trip from now on.

Silver: Norseman Vodka

Bronze: J. Carver Premium Vodka



Photo via J. Carver’s Instagram

Local Whiskey – J. Carver Straight Bourbon

J. Carver has a whole lineup of ultra-premium bourbon and rye on the shelves now, but you’re calling for their classic straight bourbon—a solid mixer at a good price that’ll make the perfect highball to toast the end of a long workday.

Silver: Vikre Sugarbush

Bronze: Brother Justus Single Malt American Whiskey



Tattersall Distilling // Photo by Aaron Job

Local Craft Distillery – Tattersall Distilling

A full lineup of award-winning premium spirits and secondary liqueurs, a whiskey program that’s coming into maturity in delightful fashion, a gorgeous cocktail room staffed by some of the finest drink-mixers in town—Tattersall Distilling continues to set the bar for distilleries in the state of Minnesota. 

Silver: Vikre Distillery

Bronze: J. Carver Distillery 

More 2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Winners:


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