Monday, July 11, 2016

A Spirited Trip: Tattersall Distilling

In my ever expanding quest to visit and document new (and old) craft breweries, I occasionally get a chance to visit a distillery. With craft beer booming, one of big new rising trends is in craft distilling.  I usually look at distilled products as being fairly homogeneous these days: an example is Ireland, where nearly all their major Irish whiskeys are distilled at one place.  Much like the sad state beer was in in the 1980's to 1990's, there's now plenty of room for small, local, craft places to find a foothold.

One new-ish Twin Cities distillery is Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis (Nordeast to his friends) located in the historic Thorp Building.  The building used to be the production facility for large fire doors, and had a period of use in WWII as a secret military equipment manufactory.  Now the aged building hosts a distillery, several artist studios, and soon Strike Theater!

The distillery is located around the back of the building, somewhat hidden unless you're looking for it.  There is some parking in a dirt lot behind the place, but it may get crowded on a Saturday afternoon.  The place is pretty massive, with a large old-looking wooden bar taking up a good portion of the indoor tasting room.  Large glass panes separate the distilling area and barrel storage from the tasting room, but everything is easily visible from within.  There's plenty of seating inside, but also a large patio area with some umbrella'd tables for shade in the hot sun.  Food trucks are often present to take the edge off!

Arty shot of the view from the patio

The first time we stopped at Tattersall was during Art-A-Whirl, a crazy neighborhood wide "block" party, art show, and festival that is simply amazing to take part in.  At that time Tattersall was teaming with people and was SRO.  Normally Sj and I would have probably just taken off, but very quickly a waitress found us in the crowd and took an order, not forcing me to wade into the press of humanity at the bar.  Bonus points for having an active and large enough staff to properly handle such an event!
More recently we took a couple of cocktail loving friends from Colorado (Heather and Lorelei) to visit on a Saturday afternoon.  Again, the place was very busy, but not as extreme as during the festival.  The back half of the taproom seemed to be set up for a party, but it was winding down by the time we got there.  We did wait a while at the bar for our drinks, but it was worth the wait!

Our server this time was Dan Oskey, co-founder and Twin Cities celebrity bartender.  A little known fact of distillery tasting rooms in Minnesota is the fact that they can't serve any liquor not distilled on site.  Sounds fair right?  Sure, until you realize that a huge proportion of mixed drinks involve accessory mixers like vermouth, flavored liqueurs, etc.  This pretty much limits bartenders to fruit juices, simple syrups, and bitters.  J. Carver Distillery in Waconia (my town) makes up for this a bit by making their own infused simple syrups, but are still unable to make a classic Manhattan!  Tattersall has really taken this to the next level by making their own versions of Creme de Cacao, Triple Sec, and more for mixing.  They also make digestive bitters like Amaro and Fernet that can be sipped on their own or mixed into drinks for an added herbal kick.

I had a bourbon-based cocktail which was quite good and surprisingly refreshing on this warm but overcast day.  We each got something different and shared a bit to get to try them all.  I've only recently begun to experiment with cocktails, so I'm no expert on this field!  I do know that all of these drinks were well balanced, smooth, and complex.  Not rocket-fuel like a few places we've been to!

Overall, we were all very impressed with the service, the vibe, and especially the drinks.  I will highly recommend it as a stop in Nordeast...on your way to the Indeed taproom perhaps?  I also look forward to having a cocktail here before a show at Strike Theater once that gets going.

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