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.

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]

The Taste Test: Hazy IPA

The Growler’s editorial staff partnered with official BJCP judges in a blind tasting to determine the best Hazy IPAs in Minnesota. The results may surprise you.

Now Open: Alexandria’s Ida Graves Distillery launches honey-based vodka and organic gin

Brock Berglund and Anna Wilson’s 77 acres outside Alexandria, Minnesota, are beautiful, bordering on idyllic. The land is enrolled in the Minnesota DNR’s Conservation Reserve Program, in which private land is set aside to encourage wildlife habitation. It’s full of native grasses and pollinator plants. The DNR even installed a berm to create a wetland … [ Read more]

Ticket Giveaway: Bittercube + Bar Brigade’s ‘Hemingway’ cocktail pop-up on July 8

If you’ve ever had a Bittercube-designed cocktail (and if you’re reading this, the odds are high that you have) you know that they’ve pretty much mastered things in the way of fun, citrusy rum drinks. A special pop-up on Monday, July 8, at Bar Brigade in St. Paul will put these skills on full display … [ Read more]

Hi-Lo Diner goes full dad-bar tonight

In the past three years, the theme-night cocktail pop-ups at Hi-Lo Diner have grown increasingly elaborate, wacky, and just downright fun. The bar that recently gave us the Booze Brothers and Hi-LoWeen tonight will transform into the bar of every dad’s dream. Dad Bar: A Hop On Pop-Up will feature a dad joke contest, a … [ Read more]

Eastern Promises: Shochu and baijiu are entering the Minnesota market—getting them right in a cocktail takes a delicate touch

The bottle in question was some type of clear spirit, purchased on a business trip to China, secondhand gifted to me. Its only English lettering was the word “Taiwan” and a three-digit number that I figured to be the spirit’s proof. It smelled like an auto mechanic’s shop on a humid July afternoon—stuffy like hot … [ Read more]

Better Camp Eats & Drinks: Nalgene Cocktails

This article is a part of The Growler’s Outdoor Guide. Find more tips for outdoor adventure and dining here.  If you’re going camping, you can nip on a 1.75 of whatever whiskey you can find in a plastic handle and that’s a perfectly respectable way to get three sheets to the warming summer wind. But … [ Read more]

A Roadside Diversion That Makes Roadside Diversions: It’s a meta wonderland at the FAST moldyard

A lifeless mermaid sits on an anchor in a field just north of Sparta, Wisconsin. Behind her looms a menagerie of bears, cows, fish, pirates, and the 12-foot-tall hindquarters of a sitting dog. His giant head is some feet away, casting a blank stare toward a trunkless elephant. Travelers on a quiet stretch of highway south … [ Read more]

A taste of ‘Plague Water,’ and other spirits of centuries past

I’m drinking Plague Water. It’s made from a medieval-sounding roster of roots and herbs including zedoary, valerian, horehound, thistle, and rue. It tastes bitter and strange—but I have it on good authority that these ingredients are a “singular remedy against pestilence and poyson.” So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. The recipe is from … [ Read more]