Why You Hate Vermouth

Bartenders everywhere know that people hate vermouth. Guests are constantly requesting their martini not be sullied with that same swill collecting dust in their home liquor cabinet. They employ an ever-expanding array of vocal burbles and diminutive hand motions to demonstrate how minuscule a measure of vermouth might be permitted.  But there’s no chance the … [ Read more]

How to Make a Better Bathtub Gin

With a little time, ingenuity, and high quality vodka, you can make your own “bathtub gin” from the comfort of your kitchen.

Spirits Close-Up: Which expensive bottles live up to their price tag?

Liquor prices can seem arbitrary. The factors affecting the price of a spirit are seemingly unending and often well hidden. What we pay at the liquor store has to do with the spirit’s cost of production and distribution, sure, but also the brand’s marketing budget, celebrity endorsements, custom bottle design, and high-def B-roll footage of … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Morelos Sour at Popol Vuh

Bourbon sours are my fiancée’s favorite drink, so I’ve had plenty of practice making all their possible variations. The challenge with sours is they get too sweet in a hurry. Bourbon is a comparatively sweet whiskey, pre-made “sour” mix isn’t sour in the least, and a rich syrup can leave the drink feeling heavy. It … [ Read more]

Clear Ice: The American Way

Clear ice isn’t just for looks. Clarity means quality, and clear ice makes your drink colder, more delicious, more consistent, more historically accurate, and more truly American. (What?! Yes. Don’t worry, I’ll feed you, baby birds.) Clear ice is a staple at Twin Cities cocktail spots, an integral part of global cocktail culture, and easier … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Of The Northern Fashioned at The Hasty Tasty

As we gaze into our crystal snifter and divine the future of cocktails, one trend we’re seeing with greater frequency is the decreasing importance of brand names on cocktail lists. There’s hardly prestige in a top-shelf call when you lose that flavor under a barrage of other ingredients.  We’d rather have a bar program that’s … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Bitters, The Liquid Spice Rack

The long fence of tiny bottles between you and the bartender at your favorite cocktail spot can be intimidating. Most imbibers know the basics of bitters—the potent infusions of herbal elements and flavor extracts—but for those who aren’t regularly making cocktails for themselves, there’s still a lot of confusion about them. Thankfully, using bitters doesn’t … [ Read more]

The Perfect Holiday Party Nightcap Recipe: The Hearthsider

The fire is dying, the kids are asleep. Time to reward yourself for a party well-thrown. Let’s stop in to Bardo where our cocktail columnist, Zachary Sapato, stirs up the perfect nightcap. “Hechicera Rum has a ton of banana-coconut-tropical notes to it, but also the vanilla and caramel flavors you want from a barrel,” he … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: Orange & Plum at Hyacinth

I’ve always thought St. Paul looks good in the rain. This old railroad town can proudly wear a coat of misty grey. And walking down Grand Avenue with the autumn chill in my bones, how pleasant it is to step into the new Hyacinth restaurant for a mighty glass of bourbon.  It’s not exactly citrus … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Drinking Vinegar

If you’ve been to a bar or grocery store in the last five years, you’ve seen terms like “shrub,” “drinking vinegar,” and “switchel.” What sound like landscaping, a punishment for swearing, and a Southern-style spanking are actually all pieces of a prominent category of vinegar-based concoctions roaring back into popular drinking culture.  Imbibers are wary … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktail: God Save The Queen at Nightingale

When you’ve met as many bartenders as I have (on purely journalistic endeavors, mind you, or at least that’s the story I’m going with), you start to notice where they hang out after their shifts. One prime locale for the late-night industry crowd is Nightingale, the sleek and cozy Lyndale Avenue hangout where you might … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Barrel Gin

The walls are crumbling. The boundless creativity of the craft movement has ensured that spirits are becoming less and less boxed into the stylistic traditions that once defined them. On our shelves now, we’re treated to products like “aged vodka,” and beer-barrel-aged whiskey, and gins with every botanical under the sun. Spirits are being blended … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Fruit Brandy

I can’t claim this as objective fact, but my prejudice is this: a great deal of the unaged brandy in the world is disgusting. From Italian grappa, to French marc, and eau de vie of all stripes—so many are little more than a nerve-shattering mouthful of fiery ethanol. That’s why I’ve become fixated on four fruit … [ 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]

Spirits Close-Up: The Summer Spritz

The wine spritzer went through some dark years during the time coolers and alcopops had their heyday and Bartles & Jaymes was a picnic staple. But now, with the wealth of liqueurs the craft cocktail movement has brought to our shelves, making delicious and unique wine spritzers has never been easier. Here’s the general idea: … [ Read more]