Spirits Close-Up: Holiday Rum

A season of gingerbread, Swiss rolls, and sugar plums demands a good rum. There’s just something about the molasses-tinged sweetness of a complex rum on a snowy night that feels so right this time of year. And when it comes party time, rum is the most fun to drink with a crowd—a spirit predestined for … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Herbal Liqueurs

A bottle of herbal liqueur will make your home bar more versatile and seasonally appropriate. These liqueurs are made with a wide assortment of ingredients—barks and roots, herbs and spices—that add up to something woodsy, warming, and bittersweet. Here are three made locally, their constituent flavors, and some ideas on how to use them. • … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: The Ultimate Hot Toddy Matrix

We can’t fight it any longer. Winter is coming, so let’s get our hot toddy game in order. It’s pretty hard to screw it up—all you need is a slug of booze and a spot of sugar. Pick one of each, juice a lemon, and consult this matrix for how to finish it off.

Spirits Close-Up: Minnesota Rye Whiskey

There is no shortage of fine whiskey on the planet. What can small distillers offer that the big guys haven’t already perfected? If craft whiskey is a viable enterprise, it has to focus on its one competitive advantage—a luxury brought about by hard work and a local mindset. They need to be choosy with their … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Pastis

In the waning days of summer, you don’t want to be stuck inside muddling, shaking, and fussing over drinks for your guests. Not while the sun is shining and three friends on the bocce court are calling for a fourth. This month calls for a jug of ice cold water and a bottle of pastis. … [ Read more]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

Spirits Closeup: Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

  This month’s Craft Cocktail: Aviation at Red Rabbit, uses Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur for a bit of sweetness. Here are some additional uses for the liqueur you can try at home. You want me to buy a $30 bottle of cherry liqueur? That’s what I pay for bourbon! I hear you. But that straw-wrapped bottle looks … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Licorice Root

This month’s Craft Cocktail, the Contemporary Gin Fizz at Esker Grove, uses a mushroom syrup made with licorice root, so for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we’re taking a closer look at this versatile plant. It’s the spice of winter, the additive du jour. It’s challenging and distinct, yet warming and comforting. But if you ask … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Minnesota Gin

This month’s Craft Cocktail, The Knives Out at Lawless Distilling, uses Lawless’ Greenway Gin in a more balanced version of a  Negroni. So, for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we’re taking a closer look at Minnesota gin. The status of Minnesota-distilled spirits in 2016: the whiskeys are promising (but too young) the vodkas are fine (but … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Allspice Dram

This month’s Craft Cocktail, The Everything Nice at Lyn 65, uses allspice dram to give the drink that unmistakable autumnal spice. Bottles of St. Elizabeth’s can be hard to find, so for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we’ve got an easy-to-make recipe for whipping up a batch at home. Why should I have allspice dram in … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Sweet Vermouth

This month’s Craft Cocktail, The Fender Bender at Hi-Lo Diner, uses the sweet vermouth Carpano Antica (above, far left) to bring the flavors of the drink together. In this month’s Spirits Close-Up, we focus on this fortified wine, and why is makes sense to pop for the good stuff when mixing drinks that call for it. … [ Read more]