First there were local micro-brews, then the Twin Cities craft cocktail boom, and now the latest on the scene is a Minneapolis-made vodka. Du Nord, Minneapolis's first "micro-distillery" rolled out its first firewater Friday. L'étoile Vodka ($24), made from Minnesota sugar beets and corn, hit metro shelves following bottle signings and samplings at several locations led by owners Shanelle and Chris Montana.
Milling, mashing, distilling, and bottling at their South Minneapolis still with ingredients from Cold Spring to Red Wing, the Montanas pride themselves on all-local everything including their business and product names. The craft-spirit company pays homage to the French voyageurs who started small-batch brewing before Minnesota even entered statehood. Du Nord means the North, and L'étoile, French for "star," is a nod to our North Star State.
The vodka is crisp and sweet, pairing well with the spicy flavors of a bloody mary, or the subtle mellow notes of an Arnold Palmer with mint. "It's smooth enough that we've been challenging folks at the samplings to drink it neat," says co-owner Shanelle. "They're pleasantly surprised that it doesn't burn at all and rolls over the palate."
The plans for this tiny "grain-to-glass" business are big. Slated for a July release is their "Fitzgerald Gin," just in time for mid-summer G&Ts, followed by a Minnesota apple whiskey, and eventually a bourbon. The husband-and-wife team are counting on pending legislation to open a sample room adjoining the distillery at some point in the near future.