Surly alums bringing new brewery to St. Paul’s Lowertown | Growler Magazine

Lowertown just keeps getting better and better!!

A team of brewing industry veterans announced plans to open their own brewery in St. Paul’s Lowertown. Barrel Theory Beer Company is expected to open in ea

Source: Surly alums bringing new brewery to St. Paul’s Lowertown | Growler Magazine

These Zero-Waste Cocktails Are Made with Old Pineapple and Used Coffee Grounds | MUNCHIES

An average cocktail bar throws away eight bags of organic waste a night. Bartenders Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage want to change this by reusing ingredients.

Source: These Zero-Waste Cocktails Are Made with Old Pineapple and Used Coffee Grounds | MUNCHIES


Some interesting ideas in here.
I was recently in a cocktail class that talked about planning events and one rule of thumb was a pound of ice per cocktail. When you think about the stirring and diluting and serving, it adds up to a massive amount of water.
There are so many ways to use things that will otherwise go bad – this is part of why we so often have a half-dozen different syrups and shrubs at a home bar that serves two. (You should come over, please.) I also always have a bag of veggie waste in the freezer to go in a stockpot when I have a chicken carcass, stock making is basically magically turning trash into food and I love it!

High-end, hand-cut ice is a must for Minnesota’s cocktail culture –

The growing fascination with craft cocktails — which feature high-end ingredients and cost $10 to $20 — has created an equally high-end business for properly chilling them.

Source: High-end, hand-cut ice is a must for Minnesota’s cocktail culture –

Drinking the Bounty: White Onions

IMG_9778Onions. You guys, he made a cocktail with onions. AND IT WAS GOOD.

The only thought process to share on this one is that Chris knew he didn’t want to add sugar so he muddled a thin slice of onion straight into the lime juice. Aquavit brought some complementary flavors like caraway to the party and the whole thing ended up tasting a bit like biting into a tart green apple. After the first few sips, we actually decided it needed MORE onion so he smashed another slice with the side of the knife and added it as a garnish. The extra aroma added a nice sharpness to the sip.

This drink is magic. It’s alchemy. It’s alive! It’s delicious!

Awful pic because I was busy going “Wait, whaaaaaaaaaaa?”

The Gobsmacker (named for my reaction to how well this worked)

  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 oz Aquavit
  • Two thin slices of a fresh white onion (these were smallish CSA, not grocery store bohemeths)

Add ingredients to Collins glass, gently middle the onions into the line juice. Add Aquavit, top with ice and side. Garnish with reserved onion for added aroma.

Peach Tea Brandy Spritzer

FullSizeRender (8)I think most of us who drink have a few regretful drinks in our history. Somewhere along the lines, as a younger drinker, I got the idea of mixing Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea with Malibu. It was horrifying. And secretly delicious. Shut up, it was a lot time ago.

Because I secretly love that old horrifying beverage, I’ve been looking for a way to recreate it in a less terrifying way. Last year I bought peach schnapps and steeped a bunch of black tea bags in the schnapps to create a base that could be watered down or added to other things. It was surprisingly tasty but the shcnapps was syrupy sweet.

I wanted to come at it from a slightly different angle this year and Chris convinced me to try steeping the tea in peach brandy instead. The result is a bit drier and less “juicy,” but also way less cloying.

We just finished a morning of errands and yard work so I kept things simple. About two ounces of the peach tea brandy with ice, soda water, and a sprig of mint. It’s actually quite tea and tannin forward so next time I may try it with a bit of lemon or simple syrup. Maybe Malibu. HA! TOTALLY KIDDING!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! (Sneaks off to the hidden corner of the bar where the embarassing things are kept.)

Drinking the Bounty: Snap Peas

My bartender is out of town this week. OH NO! I love cocktails, I love thinking about and drinking cocktails. But I leave the making of cocktails up to Chris most of the time. I’ve certainly never tried to come up with a mostly original idea myself. I was hoping there would be a softball this week – a cucumber or maybe some early raspberries. But nope – it was all greens.

IMG_9335As I stared at my vegetables and they stared back at me, I decided the sugar snap peas were going to work best for me because of their crisp sweetness. Suddenly it occured to me that peas are often paired with mint – I could go in a mojito direction! I spent a few minutes marveling at my own creativity before googling “snap pea mojito” and realizing I’m not that original. Oh well, still sounds good.

I started by muddling four or five pods worth of shelled peas into a shaker with just a pinch or two of sugar. I wanted the sugar there more for abrasion than sweetness. Once I had something of a paste, I added two ounces of Skalvenn Rum (a local rum that is a nice mixing spirit) and ice. I gave it all a quick shake IMG_9341and then strained (I should have double strained) into a highball glass and topped it all with a bit of soda water and a sprig of mint.

You might think the delicate flavor of the peas would be overpowered by the mint, and you would be almost right. But there’s a sweet “green” flavor, for lack of a better term, that shines through and adds a

beautiful spring-like crispness. This is definitely the sort of drink to enjoy on the patio during a summer heatwave. I may not have been as creative as I hoped, but I still managed to make something tasty!



Snap Pea Comeback

  • 15-20 peas (4-5 pods worth)
  • 3-4 mint leaves
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 oz white rum
  • Soda water

Muddle the peas, mint leaves, and sugar to form a rough paste (you want the flavors blended but the leaves still mostly green) then add rum and ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass, top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.

Drinking the Bounty: Baby Beet Stems

We expected this to be a tough challenge. We knew there would come a week when we would look at our amazing array of produce from Featherstone Farm and thing “there is no way any of this will make a tasty cocktail.” We’d be tempted to cheat – maybe by using something from the farmer’s market, maybe by repeating an ingredient, maybe by using Romaine lettuce as a giant garnish. But we didn’t expect it to happen on week two.

I don’t know why I was optimistic – I live in Minnesota where the seasons come and go as fast as Taylor Swift’s boyfriends. It can be 90 in April and 50 in June. Heck, it can be 90 and 50 in the same week. What I’m saying is that late Spring/early Summer is tough for farmers around here. That we have any local produce is a miracle some years.

DSC01268This week’s box contained spinach, red and romaine lettuce, garlic chives, asparagus, kale, rhubarb, and beet greens (with a few tiny roots). While we may eventually repeat an ingredient (but only if we can use it in a dramatically different way), we didn’t want to use rhubarb two weeks in a row. I mean we already admitted that rhubarb is practically cheating by being a veggie we treat as a fruit. I’m not ready to dive into salad green cocktails yet so we turned to the other vibrant option – the beet greens.

Let me be clear – I do not like beets. At. All. I’ve had one or two that were roasted and caramelized until they were almost palatable. Almost. But I knew that beets were going to show up and I knew Chris would want to try them in a cocktail.

Right after adding vodka
FullSizeRender (5)
24 hours later

These beets came to us as beet greens but we decided to use the tender stalks. There was one dime sized root but most of these were (for lack of a better term) embryonic beets. I was hoping this would mean a more delicate flavor (i.e. not dirt) and was mostly right. Chris opted to chop the stems and roots and then soak them in vodka for 24 hours in order to get all the beety goodness (Kate says “HA!”) extracted. The vodka turned a light pink within minutes and a deep magenta by the next day. I hoped that Chris would bury the beet flavor under sugar and booze – but he stubbornly insisted on trying to accentuate different parts of the flavor with two different cocktails.



For both cocktails, he was inspired by a beet salad he once had with beets, oranges, and raisins. This led to him building a foundation of a nice raisiny Cognac and the locally made Tattersall Orange Crema (similar to a curacao). For cocktail number one he merely added some orange bitters for structure along with a flamed orange peel. Cocktail number two went in a Sidecar direction by bringing in lemon juice and 11 Wells Allspice Liqueur to brighten the overall beet flavor.

Amazingly enough, I enjoyed both drinks though the “Sidecar” won me over with the Allspice. The warmth of the liqueur evoked the caramelization of a well roasted beet and the lemon juice cut through the dreaded earthiness without hiding it. Cocktail number one was beautiful in its simplicity but was a bit too heavy for my tastes. In both cases I believe the delicate young stalks conveyed much of the distinctive beet flavor without the bitterness that comes with age. Wait, am I still talking about vegetables or did I veer into self-analysis? Beets me.

Cocktail #1 – Bonnes Beets

3/4 oz Beet Vodka
1 oz Orange Crema (or Orange liqueur)
2 oz Cognac
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with an orange peel, ideally flamed






Cocktail #2 – (All Things) Bright and Beetiful

3/4 oz Beet Vodka
1 oz Tattersall Orange Crema (or Orange liqueur)
2 oz Cognac
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz 11 Wells Allspice Liqueur (or Allspice Dram)

Shake with ice, strain, serve with a lemon twist.

Home Bar Inventory

IMG_7392My home bar has kind of exploded recently so I took advantage of my home bartender/boyfriend being out of town and decided to inventory and organize my spirits. I still haven’t found an app that does quite what I want, though I feel like it MUST exist. In a perfect world, I would scan the barcode on a bottle and then tell it how much is remaining in the bottle – that’s all I really need. Having recipes that use what’s in my bar would be a nice bonus.

Anyway, it’s not like I’m trying to do inventory management very IMG_7394precisely at home. But when the spirit collection starts to overflow the bar, it’s nice to see which bottles are nearly empty and need to be used up. It’s also nice to have a clear idea of what bar staples are low or out – for instance, last night I killed our bottle of Cabin Still for the sake of space management. Yeah, let’s call it that. Knowing what we have also means remembering that lovely Glenrothes from last Christmas that doesn’t get sipped nearly as often as it should.

IMG_7396Not every home bar enthusiast needs to be this particular. Hell, I’d go so far as to say *I* don’t need to be this particular – but once in a while I enjoy it. Plus, we have a cocktail party coming up soon and will need a clear shopping list for that. Since I couldn’t find an app that did what I wanted, I settled on my other favorite tool – Google Docs. I’ve set up a very basic spreadsheet with spirit type, name, notes, inventory date, percentage left in bottle (rough estimate), bottle size, and approximate volume. The next stage in this insane process will be cataloging the things like mixers, bitters and vermouth.

IMG_7399If you sort the sheet by approximate volume, you can see that when my
bartender…I mean boyfriend…gets home, he needs to find a way to use up the wee bits of Svedka (left over from a brunch party), cognac, navy strength rum, and pear liqueur. I was tempted to just pour all four in a glass and drink it, but a)three of the four ingredients deserve better and b)I had to come to work today.

I learned a few things from all this.

  • One, I really like organizing stuff and making spreadsheets. (Well, I knew that already. My friends verbed my name to reference organizing by spreadsheet.)
  • Two, bottle shapes and sizes are annoying.
  • Three, we have a bizarre collection of liqueurs.
  • Four, I’m pleased with the number of local spirits we’ve got.
  • Five, for a cocktail novice, I have an enviable bar. Thanks honey!
  • Six, we need a bigger bar.
  • Seven, you totally want to come to our cocktail parties.
The finished bar



Now I need to catalog the beer cellar. See you in a few months!

Boozing and Learning

As I continue to grow this blog, I’m realizing how little I actually know about spirits and cocktails. I love cocktails, I love tasting how someone crafts a balanced but exciting flavor combination in a glass, but when I try to order without a menu, I freeze. If someone asks if I want something up or on the rocks, I freeze. I know a few favorite cocktails and I know what up or on the rocks means, but I don’t know what it changes about my drink or my spirits.

With this in mind, I have asked my drinking buddy to help me “train” by doing some tasting flights. We tried our first one tonight, with four wildly different whiskies. I sniffed, I swirled, I sipped, I distilled. And I was amazed at the flavors.

The best way to learn is to do, and so I will drink my way to being a more educated drinker. Life. Is. So. Rough.