John Garland

About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.

Change Agents: A series of fermentation projects at Colita is making old cocktails taste fresh and new

We squeeze past the crush of people in the entryway and snag two seats at the end of the bar at Colita. This is how we usually eat there—take a drive on Penn Avenue, slow down at 54th Street, assess the regular chaos (is that a new crowd or the six o’clock crowd finishing up?) … [ Read more]

The Taste Test: What we learned from blind tasting 70 hard seltzers in search of the best

Hard seltzer came upon us suddenly. It materialized out of nowhere at a Fourth of July barbecue. In a cooler on a fishing trip. At the concession stand of a townball park. We don’t recall asking for it, and yet there it appeared in some faint shade of berry or lime, conjured into our hand … [ Read more]

Supatra’s Thai Cuisine to Close December 28

We’re all Crying Tigers at Growler HQ today: Supatra’s Thai Cuisine will be ending its 15-year run on West 7th Street on Saturday, December 28. A sign posted at Supatra this morning reads: “We have accepted an offer to sell our business and we want to express our gratitude for the support we have received … [ Read more]

Strong tea and sweet honey are the recipe for the perfect non-alcoholic cocktail

It’s all about layers,” Erik Eastman tells me. “It should taste complex without being complicated.” Director of sales for Minnesota Ice and proprietor of Easy & Company, Eastman knows a thing or two about mixing a cocktail. But he’s received tons of great feedback lately—through social media and at a meeting of the Sunday Sober Supper … [ Read more]

Loon Liquor’s Experimental Series puts Frankincense and Myrrh in the Christmas Spirit

Loon Liquor Co. of Northfield has spent considerable effort over the last few years perfecting a lineup of liqueurs. Their coffee liqueur is well known to The Growler staff as what re-endeared us to White Russians. Their blueberry liqueur has the purest, most clarion fruit flavor of any berry spirit we’ve tasted. And their elderflower liqueur … [ Read more]

2019 Year in Review: Wine & Spirits

Ready, Set, Drink! Local distilleries mounted a full-scale invasion of the ready-to-drink (RTD) category in 2019. Canned and bottled cocktails are up 40% nationwide over 2018, riding the same wave as hard seltzers and canned wine in which drinkers are gravitating towards new flavors in convenient packaging. Vikre Distillery of Duluth launched Frenchie, a pink … [ Read more]

Time after Time: We drink The Lynhall’s new temporal cocktail menu

We didn’t know what to make of The Lynhall when it opened in 2017. At the time it seemed torn between minimalist coffee shop and shiplapped Insta-brunch hang (with a TV studio somehow in the mix?) The food was rote, but at least there was espresso and lots of room to spread out your laptop … [ Read more]

Variety is the Spice of Whiskey

Whiskey aficionados know which grains they like in their spirit. They can distinguish between the sweet softness of corn, the mellow creaminess of wheat, and the sharp grassiness of rye. But do they know which kind of corn or rye they like best? Probably not. But this might be the direction that craft whiskey is … [ Read more]

New lounge cocktails at P.S. Steak: serious, fun, seriously fun

In the past decade, the lounge of the 510 Groveland building has been the site of some legendary drink-making. So how does P.S. Steak’s new bar manager Keith Mrotek step into this space? With confidence, but also reverence. “This space has been synonymous with Johnny Michaels,” he says, noting the former La Belle Vie barman … [ Read more]

The Taste Test: Blind Tasting 48 Oktoberfests

No beer style in the world is more appropriate for its season than Oktoberfest. It’s right there in the name—a celebration of autumn. Balancing the richness of Munich malt with the subtle spice of noble German hops, each sip of Oktoberfest practically feels like the leaves crunching beneath your feet. It’s tempting to think of … [ Read more]

Travail’s homage to Solera debuts Friday and we drank all the drinks

When Solera opened on Hennepin Avenue in 2002, it was a BFD in the local restaurant scene. Tim McKee and Josh Thoma were basking in the early critical glow of then-Stillwater-located La Belle Vie, and the tapas they installed next to the Orpheum were a revelation. It was a foundational restaurant for many in the … [ Read more]

5 Exceptional Minnesota Wines for the Harvest Season

September is harvest time for our local grape-growers and it’s an excellent month to head out to the vineyard. You might catch a glimpse of the harvest in progress, and some wineries even organize days for the public to help out. It’s hard work but a satisfying experience—being out amongst the vines on a breezy … [ Read more]

What Do Minnesota Grapes Taste Like?

You’ve probably noticed our local wineries don’t grow chardonnay and cabernet grapes like their California cousins. Our wicked continental climate is only suitable for wine grapes engineered to withstand the biting cold. But in the absence of those recognizable grapes, how do you know what flavors to expect from our wines?  Here are the four … [ Read more]

Bubbles That Won’t Break the Bank: A Buyer’s Guide

In my wine-buying experience, there’s no single purchase that can be more variable and unpredictable than a mid-priced bottle of sparkling. At around $10–20, you can get nuanced, estate-driven, interesting bubbles just as easily as industrial, one-note, sickly plonk. And if you’re a newbie to the cage-cork aisle, it can be maddening to tell the … [ Read more]

Dashfire unveils six(!) single-serve canned cocktails

There’s been lots of recent activity in the local ready-to-drink beverage scene. Vikre Distillery is canning a pink and bubbly French 75, Crooked Water Spirits has announced a bottled Negroni, and Plain Spoke Cocktail Co. from Madison, Wisconsin, has just introduced a canned mojito to complement their Bourbon Smash and Moscow Mule. Now perhaps the … [ Read more]