Loon Liquors will officially open their Northfield distillery for cocktail service today, September 10, at 4pm. They are the fifth* distillery in the state to open a cocktail room and the first one south of the Metro.
Simeon Rossi and Mark Schiller have built a 49-seat drinking space that consumes most of their production floor. The vibe is unceremoniously industrial. There’s no cohesive interior design, no swanky lounge feel. They cobbled together the bar, chairs, and tables themselves. It’s spare and simple with a disarming lack of pretense.
“We want this to be a community gathering space, not too formal,” says Rossi. “Drinks will be in the $6–$8 range, we want to be really inviting. Hopefully people will take a bottle home and share it with friends and family.” They’ve received their off-sale permit, so 375ml bottles will be available for purchase.
The makers of Loonshine White Whiskey will capitalize on the grand opening to introduce their second spirit, Metropoligin (below). The gin is distilled from the same base of certified-organic wheat and barley as Loonshine, all of which is grown within 10 miles of the distillery.
Metropoligin is less juniper-forward in the style of many new American gins. It has a pleasant floral aroma and earthy spice, but also a distinct sweetness in the mid-palate, much like a Plymouth gin. Bottles should be distributed to retailers in the next week or two.
“It’s not heavy-handed, but the juniper definitely exists,” says Rossi. “I think it’s just well-balanced, more floral, softer. It has coriander, cardamom, juniper, rose petals, lemon and grapefruit peel, angelica root, orris root, and rosemary, so, a fairly traditional botanical blend.”
It’s terrific with their house tonic, a drier version with a pronounced cinchona flavor to compensate for the less-dry gin. We also dig their strawberry-pineapple gin fizz (above), it’s not sweet at all, as the name and color might suggest.
For Loonshine cocktails, try the Duck Duck Grey Duck. It’s a riff on the Rusty Nail in which the smokiness of Loonshine combines with a black tea–clover honey syrup to mimic the flavors of scotch and Drambuie. Their whiskey-ginger drink, This & That, delivers a wallop of ginger spice in a dangerously smooth sip. A community punch bowl is also in the works, which will feature locally farmed ingredients and benefit local non-profits.
Future plans at Loon Liquors call for barreling their rye whiskey immediately, then beginning work on a bourbon. They also may release a coffee liqueur—a nod to the batch of homemade Kahlua that first got them dreaming of opening a distillery.
Also upcoming is a distillery-exclusive vodka called the Volstead Sweeper, in honor of the St. Olaf graduate, and proudly mustachioed, Andrew Volstead. “It’s almost like a white rum,” Rossi explains. “It has lots of vanilla notes, and we’ll use it to make Hemingway daiquiris, and also for infusions.”
The cocktail room’s debut this weekend coincides with Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield. We can’t think of a better excuse to down some Loonshine than cheering a bank robbery reenactment.
1325 Armstrong Rd #165, Northfield, Minnesota
Cocktail room hours:
[shareprints gallery_id=”31920″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”5″ theme=”light” image_hover=”popout” lightbox_type=”slide” comments=”false” sharing=”true”]
*Correction: Loon Liquors is the fifth distillery in Minnesota to open a cocktail room behind Vikre, Wander North, Tattersall, and Du Nord.