John Garland

About John Garland

John Garland is the Senior Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in real life at various bar patios in South Minneapolis.

Spirits Close-Up: Smoke

From midday brats to late-night s’mores, the flavors of summer are full of smoke. I say you should add a little to your cocktails as well. There are several ways to get a smoky flavor into drinks, but which ones are worth your time and effort? Don’t Bother With Liquid Smoke: Do you want your … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Campfire Rob Roy at Ngon Bistro

Most restaurants on University Avenue in St. Paul deliver excellent food at the expense of their ambiance. I’ll happily eat a banh mi from a grocery store or a bowl of pho in an unadorned plastic booth. But when it’s happy hour, I want to escape. I want to drink in summer as I drink … [ Read more]

Fooling Father Time: “Rapid-Aging” and the Future of Craft Whiskey

The standard formula for whiskey, the way it’s always been done, is this: you fill up an oak barrel with a clear spirit and then you wait. And wait. And wait. Inside that barrel, things slowly unfold. Alcohol seeps into the toasted oak, degrading the polymers that make up its structure. The lignin and hemicellulose in … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Swedezerac at Fika

It’s a splendid May afternoon and I’m gazing up at turrets and spires, relaxing in the courtyard of a castle. Inside, there’s a stark white cafe where I found a bitter and spicy cocktail that feels just right for the season. “I’ve been playing with infusions lately, and specifically, my newfound love of Skaalvenn Aquavit,” … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Aquavit

This month’s Craft Cocktail: Swedezerac at Fika uses anise-infused Skaalvenn Aquavit to complement to the fennel note that dominates the spirit, so for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we’re diving into locally-produced aquavits to learn more. Bourbon has Kentucky. Absinthe has New Orleans. But aquavit has no spiritual center in the United States. Minnesota could be on … [ Read more]

RockFilter Distillery opens in June poised to make Minnesota’s best whiskey

The floodgates open and water rushes in. The entire building starts to tremble—cobwebs shake, beams shudder, a haze of flour shoots into the air. Turbines and belts from the 1870s are whirring just like they have for over a century. This is Schech’s Mill, the oldest water-powered mill with its original equipment in the state. … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Branch Water at Norseman Distillery

On the first beautiful day of spring, I was admiring the Wüsthofs at Eversharp when I noticed the patio at Norseman Distillery. A single table was bathed in golden sunlight, as if the heavens had sent down a reservation placard for me and my girlfriend. We skipped across the parking lot to that table and, … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Water

This month’s Craft Cocktail is the Branch Water at Norseman Distillery, a remarkably uncomplicated whiskey and water. So, for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we decided to take a look at how water can enhance the whiskey-drinking experience.  Are you telling us to water down our cocktails? You’re doing it already. Water is an important ingredient … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Back to base camp with J.D. Fratzke

J.D. Fratzke tucks a brown paper bag under a small teepee of sticks. It’s been raining here, last night and early this morning. He searches for drier kindling, finding only a little. The chef will make do. We’re perched at a campsite above the St. Croix River, surrounded by scraggly trees and a cool wind … [ Read more]

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Craft Cocktail: Late Tea Time at Revival St. Paul

“I wanted to stick to things that pair well with the food,” says Nate McLemore Raczkowski. He’s mixing a cocktail behind the bar at Revival St. Paul, as plates of fried chicken, collard greens, and brisket go wafting by.  “I don’t drink coffee anymore. I drink a lot of Earl Grey tea in the morning. … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Infusions

This month’s Craft Cocktail, the Late Tea Time at Revival St. Paul, uses Earl Grey-infused gin to add flavor to the drink, so we decided to take a closer look at how and what to infuse with your favorite spirits. Infusing a spirit is an easy way to make show-stopping cocktails at home. It’s almost impossible … [ Read more]

MN Opera’s “Dinner At Eight”: Fiddling While Rome Burns

The world around them is in shambles, they’ll be damned if they don’t keep up appearances. Like the cartoon dog in the burning room, this is fine, they say. Last Saturday was the world premiere of Dinner At Eight, an opera based on the 1932 play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, at the … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Paloma at Pajarito

With all the unseasonably warm weather, I’ve been jumping the gun on spring. Maybe if I buy potting soil and sunscreen, just maybe I can will the season to change. That goes for drinks, too. I’ve been brooding with bourbon since Halloween. No more, I say. Give me something light and citrusy, and maybe the … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Honey

This month’s Craft Cocktail, the Paloma at Pajarito, uses honey to provide a little subtle sweetness, so for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we’re taking a closer look at honey and its many uses behind the bar. Why would I make a cocktail syrup out of honey? Isn’t it already a syrup? Kind of, but we … [ Read more]

Rent-A-Goat: Can we use ruminants to stop invasive plants and restore the natural landscape?

When Sue Wika bought her farm in Ashby, Minnesota, it was overrun with weeds. “You could barely move through the oak savanna,” she recalls. “So much prickly ash, and buckthorn too.” It’s all the same scene—from her prairie expanse in Grant County to the hardwood forests of the Driftless Area—invasive plants are taking the soil … [ Read more]