This was a great year for drinking in the Twin Cities, with several new distilleries and brewpubs popping up. Here are a few of my favorite drinks from 2021.
Manhattan at Farmer and the Fishmonger
If you’re going to mess with my favorite classic cocktail, it better be good. I shouldn’t have doubted beverage manager Ralena Young — this rye-based Manhattan is not just good, it’s amazing. The vermouth is infused with espresso, the bitters are made with cocoa and chipotle, and a thai chili tincture adds subtle kick. In fact, all the funky additions are subtle, and the flavors harmonious. If I wasn’t so excited to work my way through the cocktail menu at this suburban newcomer, I would have had two.
14883 Florence Trail, Apple Valley; 952-431-1497; farmerandthefishmonger.com
Non-alcoholic cocktails at Owamni
For those who are abstaining, whether permanently or just for the night, finding a place with thoughtfully crafted non-alcoholic beverages is a godsend. We tried a few at Owamni — infused with ingredients like earthy black currant, piney juniper and sweet, spiced birch — and were wowed by the flavors enough that we did not miss the booze at all.
425 West River Parkway, Minneapolis; 612-444-1846; owamni.com
Killarney at O’Shaughnessy Distilling
All the drinks at this fledgling distillery in Southeast Minneapolis are stellar, but this beauty, which gets its color and bitterness from juiced radicchio and is balanced with tart lemon and orange bitters, is refreshing and interesting from the first sip to the last.
600 Malcolm Ave. S.E., Minneapolis; 763-338-0914; osdistilling.com
Salted Key Lime Gimlet at Tattersall Distilling
Another classic cocktail, enhanced, this deceptively simple drink marries piney gin with tart, sweet key limes and slightly nutty coconut water. A hint of salt enhances all the flavors. It is a great drink — possibly better in the summer, but I’d have it anytime. It’s available in Minneapolis but also at the distillery’s new location in River Falls, Wis.
1620 Central Ave. N.E., Minneapolis or 1777 Paulson Road, River Falls, Wis.; tattersalldistilling.com
Highball at Brother Justus Whiskey Company
It would be a shame to cover up the flavor of this Northeast Minneapolis distillery’s show-stopping cold-peated whiskey, which is why I love this cocktail. The highball, which is simply whiskey and a high-quality seltzer with a lemon peel, actually enhances the flavor of this earthy, vegetal, arboreal whiskey. And that is a beautiful thing.
3300 5th St. N.E., Minneapolis; brotherjustus.com