Minneapolis Behind the Booze — The Passport Program

I’ve been wanting to check out Tattersall’s new Clover Club for a while so I’m really excited about this event! Don’t have a Winter Passport? They’re now half-off and still valid through April 15th so you have no excuse. (The discount will be applied when the passport is in your cart, the site still shows $25.)

 

Source: Minneapolis Behind the Booze — The Passport Program

Booze for History Buffs

A couple of years ago, Summit Brewing and the Minneapolis Institute of Art teamed up and made a Tudor Ale for a special event at the museum. I was lucky enough to make it to the Summit taproom while they still had some and it was delicious and fascinating! I remember thinking it was a great way to make history come alive.

Well, Mia is at it again, this time teaming up with Tattersall Distilling to recreate alcohol and cocktails from 1769 to tie in with a talk by Bertie Mandelblatt, author of “Intoxicated Empire: Alcohol, Consumption & Slavery in the 18th-c. Atlantic World.”

Bertie will be at Mia on Sunday, March 3rd to talk about her new book and then will also attend the tasting at Tattersall on Monday, March 4th. The info from Tattersall says “you’ll sample historic concoctions like pear ratafia, milk punch, and saffron-infused bitters.” Chef Steven Brown will also be on hand with “foods inspired by recipes from the past.”

It all sounds like a delicious way to learn!

Tickets for the Sunday talk are available here for $10, or $5 for museum members.

Tickets for the tasting are available here for $50.

New Orleans & a Taste of Tales

New Orleans – July 2018


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St. Louis Cathedral through Jackson Square

A few months ago, my husband’s company announced that they would be having a work meeting in New Orleans in July. “New Orleans in July?” I said, “that’s going to be awful!” Turns out, I was right – at least in terms of the weather. July in New Orleans is objectively awful to a Northern Gal like me but because of that, it’s also cheap. That makes it appealing to people hosting large meetings and conferences.

One of the conferences held in New Orleans in July happens to be Tales of the Cocktail. This year, it happened to be held the week before Chris’ work trip and happened to be at the same hotel as his company meeting. We happened to put two and two together and fly down late Friday night, to catch the tail of Tales.

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I’m not usually a fan of slushies, but when the heat index is 112F, it’s hard to say no.

Despite the fact that I’ve been doing the social media for the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of the USBG for most of two years, most of that as the elected “Social Media Coordinator” and despite the fact that most of the local bartenders consider me “industry,” I still have a strong case of imposter syndrome when navigating this world. My husband, Chris, is the actual cocktail nerd of the family – I can barely make myself an Old Fashioned and am often that dreaded customer who freezes like a deer in the headlights when asked if I want my Manhattan up or on the rocks. My passion for this world comes from a love of the hospitality of a good bar. In other words, I’m in it for the people.

Any fears that I didn’t belong at Tales started to dissipate when, just minutes after dropping our bags in our room at the Hotel Monteleone after our very late arrival, we walked into The Carousel Bar and within ten feet, I was being hugged by Jonathan Schulze, an MSP rep for A. Hardy Spirits who sponsored our last guild meeting. The chance meeting gave me some confidence that I was in the right place, doing the right thing.

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I made myself a spreadsheet of the Tasting Rooms schedule but forgot it at home. I literally squealed with delight when I stepped out of an elevator and saw this on the wall – causing the person who created it to squeal in delight at my delight.

With only one day of Tales overlapping with our trip, our tail of Tales was mostly limited to the Tasting Rooms on Saturday and Pig & Punch on Sunday. I went into the Tasting Rooms hoping to a)taste a lot of cool things and b)feel worthy of both my attendance as an enthusiast and the media credentials I was able to get. Despite starting the trip feeling like a total fraud, I finished Saturday feeling like I’d made some contacts of actual value – several of the spirits we tasted are launching in our area soon and they were thrilled to make contact with the local guild.

Oh, and we also learned that if you wander through Tasting Rooms as a couple with him in a seersucker suit and you in a cocktail print dress, you will get a zillion compliments. That didn’t hurt at all.

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Said cocktail print

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My only shot of Chris in seersucker. And also of random Malort shots on the street.

Our taste of Tales taught us that we want to get back and experience more of the events next year. We learned that we’ll need to pace ourselves, eat well, drink lots of water, and share samples (at sampling events, I’d rather drink half as much of twice as many). For me, personally, I learned that I can bring value to this industry that I love so much. I need to stop doubting my place in this world, stop thinking about myself as an outsider, and start actually putting more words on paper. (Words on screen just sounds so much less dramatic!)

I’ve been discovering that while I want to write about eating, drinking, travelling, and the hospitality industry in general – I don’t want to be a reviewer. Maybe I could get more followers if I gave scathing reviews of bad places or things – but I’d rather be positive and grow organically, if slowly. If I don’t like something or somewhere, I’m just not going to post about it. Maybe that’s too “laissez faire” but I’m okay with it, because it’s me.

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Night time on Bourbon Street

New Orleans is a strange city and hard to categorize. Sometimes the city felt like Paris, other times I imagined I was in Cuba. Rarely did it feel like I was in the US. I went into this trip dreading the weather, the strangeness, the insanity of places like Bourbon Street – but I left with a strong desire to go back and find more oddities and hidden gems. Because of the heat and humidity, I didn’t discover as much of the city as I would have liked but I believe the unique personality of New Orleans helped me discover myself, far more than ever expected. So, as they say on the other end of the Mississippi from my home in St. Paul, “laissez les bons temps rouler.”

Boozy Advent Calendars! – Master of Malt

Need a great gift or just a way to make the Holiday season more fun? Check out Masters of Malt’s boozy Advent Calendars!

I used Master of Malt last summer to create a 40th birthday gift set of only spirits older than the birthday boy – that was only five drams but still SO MUCH FUN to assemble!

Launched in 2010, Drinks by the Dram was a way of offering spirits enthusiasts and connoisseurs the opportunity to sample releases at a fraction of

Source: Drinks By The Dram – Master of Malt

Epic Weekend: Drinking Edition, Part One

The original plan for the weekend was just the Adria talk and tasting at Mia, then we added a tour of 45th Parallel on Sunday because my coupon was close to expiring, then we added a class at 11 Wells because it was free and we wanted to check out all their new stuff, then we added on two breweries because they were close to the distilleries, and finally we added a stop at Marvel Bar because, well, Marvel Bar. And because they would be open to the public just as a fancy dinner got out upstairs – I’m a sucker for good people watching.

Friday Night – Notes on Creativity Talk & Tasting  – Minneapolis Institute of Art

beer2The highlight of this event was definitely the food, but it also promised cocktails from Bradstreet Crafthouse and wines chosen by Bill Summerville. Beer, however, was a surprise. As we entered the event, we were greeted and handed a glass of the beer Ferran Adria helped create. It was a very light and refreshing beer with just a hint of spice. Enjoyable, but as a beer that was developed to pair with food, I think we missed it’s best features because it’s hard to stand, drink, and eat tiny plates of food. I’d like to try it again with a meal.

Bill Summerville was in charge of the wine program at La Belle Vie (*sigh*) for many years before heading to Spoon and DSC00339Stable and then moved to a local wine distributor, New France Wine Co. For the tasting event, he had two tables of wines set up, one each for reds and whites. I never got much of an explanation of the wine choices because there were two tables, hundreds of thirsty people, and only one Bill. I did, however, grab a glass of a 2003 Burgundy that was light, fruity and just generally enjoyable. We never made it over to the table of white wine so I’m not sure what was on offer there.

Bradstreet Crafthouse brought a punch, which is a perfect idea for a large event. With so many people in so small a space, the last thing you want is lines forming while you try to finish something fussy. I wasn’t able to learn much about the punch from the person serving when we got there, except that it had Rebel Yell and St. Elder. The punch was good but forgettable, I know it’s a challenge to make a bulk cocktail but I feel like some sort of surprising flavor or texture could have been incorporated to celebrate the creative genius of the guest of honor.

Saturday – 11 Wells, Flat Earth Brewing, Marvel Bar

Our last visit to 11 Wells was for an open house in July of 2014, I’m not sure they had released anything but their white whiskey at that point. Fifteen months later they have a product lineup that includes the first Minnesota Vermouth, a beautiful Allspice Liqueur, and an Orange Curacao that I want to drink all day long (maybe with a drop of the Allspice??). While we waited for our “Know Your Spirits” class to get started, we were able to sample just about everything and chat with Christine, who helped blend the vermouth and also happens to make great drinks at Spoon and Stable.

11WellsClassThe class was taught by head distiller Lee Egbert, who is also behind Dashfire Bitters (the first Minnesota-made bitters). Because he started with bitters, Lee seems to approach distilling from the cocktail down instead of from the spirit up. When I asked him if it’s unique to have distilleries popping up from the cocktail world (like his, and Tattersall), he said that in his travels he found maybe 10% of the distilleries out there are coming at it from the cocktail angle. If you make a spirits with bartenders in mind, you end up making something that is palatable both straight and mixed. Control is especially important with liqueurs and the like – too many products are made with lots of added sugar. Bartenders would rather work with a pure flavor and sweeten to their liking, it allows for more flexibility in drink creations.

So if only 10% of distilleries are being started by someone with a cocktail background, how lucky are we to have two of them? Well, Lee joked that there’s a friendly race between him and Dan Oskey of Tattersall to get new products out. Oskey won on fernet, Egbert won on vermouth. The local drinking public just wins, period. (P.S. 11 Wells is now releasing their gin which has a lovely and warm botanical base. Keep an eye out for a custom tonic syrup perfectly paired for the gin. It’s been only a matter of time before someone made a custom gin and tonic pairing, I’m excited that it might be close!)

While we were waiting for the class and chatting with people at the distillery, someone mentioned that Flat Earth Brewing was just around the corner. We knew DSC00362they had moved into the area but had no idea it was so close – of course we had to go check it out! Flat Earth has taken over a wing of the old Hamm’s Brewing complex and managed to make a taproom that retains some historic character while also feeling welcoming, warm, and airy. When you walk in, you’ll find a small bar in the first room that sells merch and bottles. Keep going around to the left and suddenly you find yourself walking up to a long wooden bar. When we got there, the head brewer was pouring the pints he’d made. I love it! Flat Earth has gone through a lot of changes lately, both in their space and their staff.

DSC00363My partner ordered the Cygnus X-1 Porter, a long time favorite, to see how it had fared through the shakeup. The answer is, quite well. Still smooth and roasty, the porter has a rich coffee flavor that gets more pronounced as it warms. Having just tasted EVERYTHING at 11 Wells, I opted for the housemade ginger beer at Flat Earth. The brewer wouldn’t tell me his secret ingredients, but the ginger beer had a mild and pleasant ginger flavor (not enough burn for my tastes, but he said when it was spicier too many kids complained, I realize I’m a ginger freak) with a sort of “green” herbal note and aroma. It was tasty at first but as it warmed up, the green overpowered the ginger and I ended up leaving half of it behind. Given the natural pairing of ginger and things like lemongrass, I think I know what he was trying to do – but it didn’t work for me. That said, I’ve always like Flat Earth best for their dark beers so ordering the polar opposite was probably a mistake on my part.

After our Flat Earth expedition, we did a bit of wandering around the brewery complex (You can check out MSP365 for photos of the historic structure.) before heading back towards Minneapolis and Marvel Bar. You see, I had gotten word of a private event at The Bachelor Farmer and in doing a bit more research, realized it was kind of the Friday night tasting, but on steroids – great local chefs preparing Adria inspired food on a grander scale (and for 15 times the price) as a fundraiser for Mia. But I had also gotten word that Marvel would be open for business as usual, despite the special event, and so we decided to “crash” the party in hopes of some great people watching. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much to convince us to go to Marvel.

MarvelThe party was just winding down when we got into the bar, but we did see a lot of well dressed patrons and a brief appearance of Chef Adria. Peder, the bar manager, had already popped outside and given us a head’s up to several seats at the bar (our favorite place to perch) and as soon as we sat down, Keith dropped off a flight of the four cocktails made for the event. First in line was a calvados eggnog that was spicy and sweet, with all the richness of eggnog but also a bit of lightness from the apple spirit. Next was a gin and tonic made with the Letherbee Autumnal gin, a barreled gin with notes of maple and spice. Then we had a blend of celery and aquavit, a cocktail which I still can’t decide if I liked or not – but I want to drink more of. In his talk, Adria said he didn’t make food so people would like it, he made food so people would think about it. This cocktail was everything I wanted a cocktail to be for this event, I can’t decide how I feel about it but I can’t stop thinking about it. Finally there was a beautiful Manhattan. We’re arguing a bit over the details because I hear “barrel aged” and he heard “bottle conditioned.” I think the story was that the Manhattan used one of their private barrels of whiskey, and then aged the cocktail in said barrel. I could be wrong, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it was beautiful.

There were other cocktails as well, I had a Remember the Maine because Lee had talked it up in class. My date had a martini which was apparently perfect in it’s simplicity – he’s had a lot of martinis at Marvel, home, and elsewhere but for some reason this was his favorite. No fancy ingredients or special tricks, just a damn good martini. Props to bartender Stephen for being the first person to get Chris to say a bar made martini was better than the ones he makes at home. I don’t have a trophy, but I probably should. I asked for something refreshing, gingery, and low alcohol to finish the evening and Matthew made me a concoction of ginger, kombucha, soda water, and just a splash of gin. Even when it’s busier than our usual outings to Marvel, they will tailor make you something if you just know what you want, I love it.

 

Bryn Mawr Brewing: Buzz and Buzziness

Want to drink free beer while learning about a brewery that isn’t even open yet? Bryn Mawr Brewing will be offering tours of their facility, still under construction, and talking about how they got to this stage and where they are headed. Oh, and there will be beer.

Bryn Mawr Brewing: Buzz and Buzziness – Thursday, October 15th, 5-7pm

Spots are still available for “Know Your Spirits” at 11 Wells – Free!!

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We last stopped by the distillery in July of 2014, I can’t wait to see what has changed!

Check out what’s new at 11 Wells, learn about their history and their future, and discover some fun cocktails at Know Your Spirits, multiple classes available this weekend, all FREE!

Drink for a Cause: $10 Tie Sale @DuNordCS

When local bars/tap rooms/cocktail rooms team up with good causes, everyone wins. The establishment gets business, an organization makes some needed funds, and you get to tell your boss you were at a fundraiser (which sounds way better than “I was at the bar all night!).

TiesThis particular event has the added benefit of adding a bit of flair to your wardrobe! The $10 Tie Sale is an event to raise money for the GLBT Host Home Program. Over one hundred ties have been donated, vintage and new, and all the money goes directly to the Host Home program. While you’re shopping, you can enjoy one of the many DuNord cocktails, including a special drink just for this event.

Tuesday, October 13th | 7pm-9pm | DuNord Craft Spirits, 2610 E 32nd St, Minneapolis

Iron Bartender Finals

041152523641Last night, La Belle Vie reigned supreme in the Iron Bartender finals. And given the secret ingredient was a horrifyingly artificial “Green Apple Flavored Drink,” that is an impressive feat. I mean, there were some challenging things on that table but even fish sauce has an appealing umami quality. You had Hola Arepa and La Belle Vie, known for high quality and house made ingredients, trying to make something palatable from a bottle of artificial everything. I don’t envy either team and hopefully the eliminated teams (Marvel and Tattersall) at least took solace in not having to deal with this monstrosity.

We had a lot of fun attending three of the four events (we missed week two) and cheering on some of our favorite bartenders in town! In the three nights we attended, we got to taste 20 different consumer choice cocktails – some that made us anxious to try someplace new, and some that made us question old favorites. There were good surprises, like the salted Everyonepistachio concoction from Il Foro in week one. There were bad surprises, like the Froot Loop Cosmopolitan. But mostly, there were a lot of delicious and interesting things that we might not have ordered from a menu but really enjoyed trying (the habenero bitters in Hola Arepa’s Pineapple Old Fashioned would have scared me away, but somehow they brought a lot of flavor with a manageable level of heat).

Ultimately, this felt like a celebration of everything that is going on in the local cocktail scene. One of the things that draws me towards the local food and drink scene (other than the amazing food and drink) is the camaraderie that seems to exist amongst people who are technically competitors. The people make the experience, and our towns have some GREAT people!