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Inside the Twin Cities' First Distillery Cocktail Room

Ed Kim, left, makes a Steady Eddie, right

Ed Kim, left, makes a Steady Eddie, right

Brewery taprooms are about to get a run for their money.

Last weekend, Du Nord Craft Spirits opened the Twin Cities' first distillery cocktail room -- the hard stuff's version of a taproom -- serving cocktails made exclusively with their own spirits.

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"We are thrilled to be the Twin Cities' first cocktail room," says co-owner Shanelle Montana. "We have had amazing support from the neighborhood. We look forward to being a place for people to gather and relax with a great cocktail, but also a place to learn about what a craft spirit is and why buying local is important."

Located in a small warehouse district off Lake Street and Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, the cocktail room opened to a lively, thirsty crowd, eager to sample an array of libations made from the distillery's two spirits -- L'etoile Du Nord Vodka and Fitzgerald Gin.

What kind of libations?

Du Nord vodka and gin, left, and the cocktail room menu, right

Du Nord vodka and gin, left, and the cocktail room menu, right

On opening night we sampled the Steady Eddie, made with gin, cranberry, and lime on the rocks; the sophisticated George Leigh Mallory made with vodka, honey, lemon, peppermint, and powdered sugar, served in a coupe glass; Holly & Ivy with gin, lime, mint, 7-up, and pomegranate seeds on the rocks; and finally the classic Salty Dog made with vodka, grapefruit juice, and Peychaud bitters served in a salt-rimmed glass on the rocks.

The cocktail menu, developed with the help of Mike Rasmussen, formerly of La Belle Vie/Bluestem/Marin, and bar manager Ed Kim, is composed of specialty cocktails like those listed above, but also includes embellished classics, like gin and tonics, vodka collins, and martinis.

In addition to making the the spirits on the distillery side, the cocktail room also makes its own bitters and infusions. "We can only use products (in our cocktail room) that we make, however, we are able to create new products using our vodka as a base," notes Montana. "Many of our cocktails include infusions that we create in-house."

Du Nord has been part of the recent boom of micro-distilleries, following the passage of the "Surly" bill, which significantly reduced the price of entry for distillers. The recent cocktail lounge law came about last year, bringing distilleries more in line with craft breweries. Owners Christopher and Shanelle Montana produce a truly local product, made with non-GMO corn grown especially by Shanelle's parents in Cold Spring, Minnesota. Future spirits may include bourbon, rye, and apple spirits.

We eagerly wait a proper Manhattan. Until then, we'll happily make do with our good friends Steady Eddie, George Leigh Mallory, and Holly & Ivy. Bottoms up.

Du Nord Craft Spirits 2610 E. 32nd St., Minneapolis Facebook Hours: Wed-Thu 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri 4 p.m.-midnight, Sat noon-midnight Happy Hour 4-6 p.m. when open, $2 off all cocktails.

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