The wait is over for Wander North, a distillery that has been producing bottles since last August but hadn’t gotten a cocktail room yet. Now open to the public, the highly anticipated new space is located at 771 Harding St. NE, just a few doors down from NorthGate Brewing’s taproom. Enjoy a tour of local craft cocktails and beer all in one quick stroll down the sidewalk.
The new cocktail room has a strong Minnesota vibe with taxidermy, neutral colors, and reclaimed barn wood. It’s welcoming but not flashy, with wooden community tables setting the tone.
The drinks showcase the spirits’ natural flavors, which head distiller Brian Winter makes using corn form the Rosemount, Minn. area. The options will rotate with seasonal ingredients and house-grown botanicals. “With just gin and vodka I can probably have a book of 300 drinks,” Winter says, “But that’s not what I’m looking for. I want to limit it, and make cocktails that highlight the spirit.”
That menu features a few permanent staples such as the dirty martini, cosmopolitan, gimlets, and the Nordeast Nag (a variation of a Moscow Mule). Winter is also thinking about adding shrubs to the menu. Other items he’s working on include a soon-to-come corn whiskey and, eventually, an experimental whiskey made in collaboration with NorthGate. They will also co-host food trucks with the brewery most weekends.
Wander North is also making a point to feature a happy hour until 6 p.m. on select dates, which will knock a buck off each drink (regular prices are in the $6-$9 range). With board games and a mix of large and small tables, the cocktail room is intended to be a place of conversation, intentionally void of TVs and featuring artwork and decor that was either found or acquired cheaply. Neither the northern pike on the wall nor the buck are his handiwork, Winter notes, but they’re items that fit the experience and concept. Winter is a veteran of the Armory National Guard and a transplant to Minnesota, and to him Wander North is a reflection of his interest in adventure and his home in Minnesota. “Not getting lost,” he notes, “but going off the map” to find new places.
In the cocktail room, that same spirit is conveyed. Tucked slightly away from Broadway’s main drag, they may not get random foot traffic, but those who seek them out will be rewarded.
Find information about Wander North’s grand opening here.