Northeast Minneapolis has been one big beer bust for years, but what’s been slowly brewing — no, distilling — is the next boom: cocktail rooms. Spirits are coming to life in Nordeast, which is set to see a number of distillery openings this year. From Norseman, the city’s pioneer micro-distillery that’s reinventing itself, to Tattersall Distilling, with its entrepreneurial spirit making its way to a bar near you, these distilleries are finding their places in the Minneapolis’ craft spirits scene. And each one brings something different, from Wander North’s creative infusions to Twin Spirits planning its own smoked meats.
We’ve rounded up all the information you need to for a visit or crawl to Northeast Minneapolis’ new craft cocktail rooms. Take note, making liquor takes time, so not every distillery will have everything you’d find at a bar — like straight bourbon — but there’s plenty to try. Here’s a toast to the next trend to launch in Northeast.
1620 Central Ave. NE
What’s ready: Vodka, gin, aquavit, whiskey and more
Food: Food trucks
Why should you visit: The extensive bar program
If you ask Tattersall Distilling co-founder Dan Oskey what he’s cooking up, then take a seat and prepare to sip a drink for a while. The former bartender and entrepreneur has created the distillery and cocktail room in Northeast Minneapolis’ Thorp Building with plenty on the table just two months after opening. In addition to the basics, aquavit and white whiskey, Oskey has Italian liqueurs (amaro, fernet), orange and grapefruit cremas, choke cherry gin, crème de fleur, applejack and other liqueurs in the works, each set to be released any day now. On top of that, boozehounds can also look for vermouth and even nocino (Italian-style walnut liqueur) in the future. It’s no wonder restaurateur Ryan Burnet is bringing Oskey into lead the bar program at Eastside, his American concept slated to open in Downtown East’s Latitude 45 on Washington & 3rd on Sept. 29. Tattersall is a hidden gem in the back of the Thorp Building — just look for the food trucks or a loading dock with loungey leather furniture inside.
451 Taft St. NE
What’s ready: Vodka, gin, rum, rye whiskey
Food: Birchwood Café pies, Rustica Bakery cookies
Why should you visit: Tours of the new location
Architect-turned-distiller Scott Ervin opened the state’s first craft micro-distillery, quitting his job to capitalize on lower licensing fees thanks to the Surly Bill, and thus Norseman was born. He relocated the distillery over the winter to a huge new space — one, if not the largest distillery spaces in the state — in Northeast Minneapolis where he’s been hosting vastly popular tours on Fridays and Saturdays thanks to national travel websites. Ervin makes three gins (organic vapor-infused gin and seasonal varieties strawberry rhubarb and Norseman strength), vodka, two rum-style spirits (organic bourbon barrel-aged and a white) and rye whiskey. A bourbon is also aging in a colossal space in the back where Ervin can house his barrels and could be done by the end of the year. When a new — and also sizable — cocktail room is expected to open in October, Ervin will be serving pies from Birchwood Café and cookies from Rustica Bakery. The new home also has a huge outdoor space that Ervin says could fit even more Norseman fans. This place could be extremely popular next summer, as any pooch-friendly, locally minded craft cocktail spot would be.
771 Harding St. NE
What’s ready: Vodka, gin
Food: Food trucks
Why should you visit: Cheap drinks, infusions
Brian Winter’s cocktail room isn’t going to wow patrons, at least not at first. But after a few drinks in the lounge, Wander North begins to reveal its place in Minneapolis’ distillery scene. Located in a nondescript building adjacent to Northgate Brewing, Wander North feels humble with a small rustic wood bar and decor reclaimed and repurposed from his father’s granary. A couple bartenders and Winter, a former army man and sole proprietor of Wander North, sling stiff drinks — some of the cheapest you’ll find in any cocktail room — made with his own Outpost Vodka and Waypoint Gin. The cocktail lounge is ideal for those unfamiliar with the craft cocktail scene, with its bar-like, familiar atmosphere where you can actually hear yourself think. Wander North will soon have its Frontier Apple Jack, a collaboration with Social Cider Werks, this fall, along with a corn whiskey and bourbon on the way.
2931 Central Ave. NE
What’s ready: Nothing yet
Food: Smoked meats and small plates
Why should you visit: It’s a wild card
Michelle Winchester doesn’t have years of distilling experience, but she’s learning the craft as she plans her own distillery, Twin Spirits. Winchester, the concept’s founder and head distiller, has travelled across the globe to take classes and taste liquor to hone her palette and ready herself for the new business, the Twin Cities’ first one-woman-owned distillery and cocktail room. Twin Spirits will serve vodka and a variety of gins, with seasonal liquors and whiskey also planned. It will also have a small kitchen and grilling operation for smoked meats and food pairings. The project is a second-act for Winchester, who first got attached to the idea after making her family’s own mixes and cocktails over the years. Twin Spirits will open later this fall followed by the cocktail room with construction starting around the end of September. Bottles should hit shelves soon after the opening.
Photos by Eric Best, Donner Humenberger and Michelle Winchester.