2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners

Who better than the readers of The Growler to nominate and vote for the finest of the finest in Minnesota beer, spirits, food, arts, and culture? We had a tidal wave of votes to determine the winners of the 2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Awards, and we’re proud to share the results with you. These are … [ Read more]

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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]

Artist Profile: Designing the written word with Anne Ulku

Anne Ulku just wants you to feel something. As a designer and illustrator, she’s made a name for herself through her work with brands ranging from small local startups to national companies like Apple, HP, and Nickelodeon. Her deft use of bright color, eccentric design, and interpretive typography flows together in a way that lends … [ 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]

Minnesota’s Industry Icons: Badass bartenders leading innovation in the North

  The Minnesota cocktail landscape is seeing a shift change. This year, the local chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild appointed Kate Hoffman Mikkelson as their first female president. Christina Jenkins leads Hai Hai’s highly-awarded cocktail program. Family-run Dampfwerk Distillery Co. has put marketing powerhouse Bridgit Loeffelholz at the helm of their brand new cocktail … [ Read more]

The Ultimate Home Bar in 20 Bottles

Whether you’re an aspiring bartender or just a novice looking to get their home collection up to snuff, we’ve got your guide to the must-have building blocks for any bar worth its salt. We asked members of the Minneapolis–St. Paul chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild to curate a list encompassing the three tiers of … [ Read more]

Distiller Profile: Ralf Loeffelholz and the opening of Dampfwerk Distillery’s cocktail room

There’s a simple reason that Dampfwerk Distillery didn’t open a cocktail room when it started production in August 2016.  “I am not a mixologist,” head distiller Ralf Loeffelholz says. He is cheerfully unapologetic about this, and for good reason. His craft and calling is distilling, and his singular focus on creating true-to-tradition products has helped … [ 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]

Spirits Close-Up: The Next, Next Cool Spirit

People are always trying to find what’s “next” in spirits. Whiskey is locked into its heyday. Tequila has overcome the fake amber stuff we shot in college. Minnesotans have decided to be “nice” about the smoke of mezcal. Sherry may never fully bloom here. My money says the next big spirits boom will come when … [ Read more]

Jace Marti and Nate Gieseke opening Black Frost Distilling Company in New Ulm

Few people know more about fermentation than Jace Marti. The 35-year-old assistant brewmaster and sixth-generation brewer officially started working at his family’s brewery, August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, Minnesota, when he was 18 years old, but had been doing odd jobs around the brewery long before that. In 2017, he opened Starkeller Brewing Company, the Schell’s … [ Read more]

The Great Debate: Should A Craft Distillery Purchase Already-Made Spirits?

The term “craft” is ambiguous at best. This is especially true when it comes to the world of spirits. With the surge of smaller-scale distilleries taking root in Minnesota and beyond, more attention is being paid to not just the final bottled product but the ingredients used to make it. Several spirits companies purchase neutral … [ Read more]

Year in Review: Minnesota Wine & Spirits in 2018

A martini at Nye’s Bar is a fine drink to reflect on the year 2018 in local spirits. In January, this bar, Nye’s in name only, opened in the dust of the demolished Polonaise Room, a place whose divey charm earned it the Best Bar in America designation from Esquire in 2006—a lifetime ago, from the … [ Read more]

Heirloom Liqueurs: Oddball flavors, excellent mixers

No one has ever accused the Bittercube group of being too straight-laced, and their newest project is appropriately off-the-wall—a collection of intense liqueurs in surprising flavors, but ones that are easy to mix and a delight to drink. Heirloom, from Bittercube founders Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz, partnering with their research and development coordinator Brandon Reyes, is … [ Read more]

What We’re Drinking: September 2018

Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on recent remarkable beverages. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Brian Kaufenberg, Editor-in-Chief ■ Summit Oktoberfest It’s my favorite season of the year: Oktoberfest. As I search for a beer to fill (and refill) my stein with during the … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Wicker Chair Widow’s Kiss at Al’s Place

All month long, we’ve been traipsing through orchards in search of the botanical complexity that marks a well-crafted cider. For our cocktail, we wanted something just as floral and herbaceous made with an apple spirit.  We found it at Al’s Place, the Prohibition-era inspired top floor of Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, where drinks are named … [ Read more]