Set the Mood at These Twin Cities Distilleries and Cocktail Rooms

Dampfwerk

[ St. Louis Park ]

This cocktail room isn’t just in a suburb: It’s in an industrial park on the way to nowhere in particular. Dampfwerk began distilling its line of Germanic liqueurs and fruit brandies in 2016, but it only launched the cocktail room in 2019. It’s a Loeffelholz family affair, with brother Christian as distiller, sister Bridgit directing the bar program and managing the marketing side, mother Mary running design and construction, and father Ralf handling the business and distribution.

Off a street dotted with nondescript warehouses, you dip into a dark and elegant space with silver-gray walls and modern furniture. The front room is cozy with low seating and a fireplace. In the main room, easy leather barstools file against the zinc bar, which stretches the length of the room, abutting the barrel wall. The small patio out back has  string lights and tables, but even in nice weather, the cool and quiet bar calls to those of us who like to stay secret and gossip among coconspirators in a stylish windowless room.

Cocktails can run from the elaborate My, What Big Teeth You Have, a “creamsicle” sipper with coffee-infused Helgolander and burnt honey, to the easy-drinking Juniper Tree gin julep. But drinks here tend to have a more complexly flavored construction because of the ample supply of additions like pear brandy, Pfefferminz3 peppermint liqueur, and caraway aquavit. 6309 Cambridge St

Brother Justus

[ Northeast ]

When leaving your original basement distillery, the top item on your new distillery list is probably windows. Brother Justus, which started in a 1,500-square-foot warehouse basement room in 2017, just moved to a new and more spacious warehouse this year, and there are windows galore. Soaring plate glass panes cover the wall that faces the Columbia Golf Course, yet this space still manages to feel cozy. Warm wood tones and an elegant Nordic minimalist scheme keep the space simple and sophisticated. It’s probably intentional that the tones match the warmth of the whiskey drinks, like the Coolmore, which takes the whiskey and boosts it with caraway and rosemary. Or the Shaah Palmer, a riff on the Arnie Palmer that brings milk-washed Sencha Kenya Black tea with ginger, honey, and lemon to the cold-peated whiskey. 3300 NE 5th St.

Lawless Distilling

[ Seward ] 

Who knows when we realized that we needed a Christmas bar, but we do. Each year, Lawless Distilling transforms itself into the Miracle bar, decked out with Christmas lights, sparkly bunting, baubles, and bows on every possible inch in this cinder block box of a bar. The festive glowing lights give you permission to just relax into the holidays and give yourself the gift of crocktails (hot drinks made in a Crock-Pot) or some manner of boosted nog. When it’s not the frosty season (or a pandemic), the distillery bar has done other immersive themes, such as Camp Lawless in summer, Dark Arts for Halloween, even a tropical Hemingway theme for winter. Here’s hoping those creative juices flow again. 2619 28th Ave. S.

More to try

Twin Spirits in Northeast: There is a strong family vibe at this distillery with a huge patio. Dogs and kids are welcome, the food trucks are great, and there is top-notch entertainment, from drag shows to Dessa. The Spicy Turmeric Gimlet is the move.

Royal Foundry in Harrison: There’s no hiding the distinctly Brit decor in this huge room. David Bowie watches over you while you nosh on Brixton’s British Pub Grub on weekends and sip The Comprehensive, made with gin, cardamom, and curry.

Norseman Distillery in Northeast: This place has a lot going on. Sign up for cocktail classes, take part in Ping Pong Fight Club, or just grab some fried chicken tacos from the Kinfolk food truck to meet your pineapple daiquiri order in style.

Flying Dutchman in Eden Prairie: The office park is balanced by friendly bartenders and a scorching Chupacabra drink made with its habanero-infused blue agave spirit.   


Two for the Road

Local distilling industry is in growth mode. There’s so much more to look forward to: Tattersall Distilling is opening its huge production facility and event center across the water in River Falls, Wisconsin. More than just creating a new spot for more drinks, the company is investing in the future with water reclamation systems, solar arrays, and an upcycling process for spent grains. In the city, Earl Giles is getting closer to launching its distillery on Quincy Street in Northeast. Jesse Held, Jeff Erkkila, and Nick Kosevich will be checking all the boxes by distilling spirits, making nonalcoholic mixers and tonics, canning their wildly popular ginger beer, and serving you food (this one will have a full restaurant too).

Stephanie March

Stephanie March

Food and Dining editor Stephanie March writes and edits Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s Eat + Drink section. She can also be heard Saturdays on her myTalk107.1 radio show, Weekly Dish, where she talks about the Twin Cities food scene.

Read more by Stephanie March

November 28, 2021

5:59 PM

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