We’ve written here (and elsewhere) about the way the Upper Midwest is finding its voice as a food region, and a big part of that is the story of the North. That means getting wild: canoeing, camping, hiking, and heading out to the cabin to cool off and reconnect with the woods and the water.
In that spirit, few things could be more on point than Tattersall Distilling’s new Cabin Cocktail Recipes book, downloadable as a free PDF from the distillery’s website. The cocktails of Cabin Cocktail Recipes are all about portability, simplicity, and durability.
“A lot of these [drinks] are designed to be pre-diluted so you don’t have to bring a shaker with you,” says Tattersall’s head bartender, Bennett Johnson. “The idea is that you can pour it into a flask and then just pour it right over ice and serve it — you don’t even have to stir it. I like the idea of having minimal-to-no tools, like if you’re at the cabin. And there’s nothing in there that’ll go bad.”
Johnson gave us a potable tour of most of the book’s cocktails, and they ranged from good to absolutely killer.
The INDEFINITE OLD FASHIONED lacked some of the boozy and/or sugary punch of its classic supper club cousin, instead presenting an affable, mild incarnation of the cocktail, framed out by the fruit of Tattersall Sour Cherry and Orange Crema, diluted with ¾ ounce of water, and balanced with brown spirits (bourbon, rye, or brandy all work just fine). “You could put this in a flask and throw it in a tackle box, and it’ll never go bad,” says Johnson.
It’s hard to overstate how simple or how primal the LIMEADE GIMLET is. It’s based on frozen limeade concentrate, which gives the drink a wickedly sweet edge that swallows up much of the presence of the Tattersall gin. In the hot sun, on a boat, this would be potentially too drinkable, which is either a plus or a minus depending upon your lifestyle.
We thought the GRAPEFRUIT CREMA BOILERMAKER, a combination of a can of IPA and ¾ ounce of Tattersall’s Grapefruit Crema liqueur, was a real stunner. Made with an IPA that’s balanced but “nicely hoppy” (we tried a drink made with an IPA from Castle Danger), the Boilermaker is sessionable and approachable, with the Grapefruit Crema both echoing and mellowing out the sharper edges of the beer.
“We have a regular here [at the Tattersall cocktail room]; she’s a really good friend of mine’s mother,” says Johnson. “She came in once, and she brought me pickles for my birthday. So we’re sitting there, and we’re eating them and she’s like, ‘Can I just get some pickle brine and some aquavit, neat?’ And I said, ‘That’s a brilliant idea.’” Thus the JANE COCKTAIL, which wins the prize for the book’s most off-putting drink in terms of appearance: A pickle floating in brine and aquavit inspires only the boldest of drinkers to step up to the plate. But the result is far less harsh or sour than you might expect. Instead, the cocktail is a mellow, dill and caraway herbal wave that is both slightly puckering and surprisingly refreshing. As an added bonus, it’s easy to make on the fly. “Pickle brine is just one of those ingredients that’s just always kind of there,” says Johnson. “The fennel finish almost gives the drink a sweetness.”
The V-8 BLOODY brings together Tattersall aquavit or vodka, a can of V-8, a blast of sriracha to line the rim of the can, a lime wedge, and that’s it. It’s a dead simple cocktail with real depth of flavor. Sriracha is a powerhouse by itself, and when you layer in the tomato-forward flavor of V-8 plus lime juice and alcohol, a simple-seeming beverage explodes into a blast of deep flavor.
A WAIST WATCHER doesn’t sounds like the most inviting of beverages, but it’s freaking delicious and dangerously drinkable (see the LIMEADE GIMLET above). With a roughly 3:1 ratio of flavored La Croix sparkling water and one of the Tattersall citrus cremas combined over ice, the WAIST WATCHER is as light and refreshing as anything under the sun. Since our visit to Tattersall, we’ve been stacking up Lime Crema with Lime La Croix at home, occasionally with a wedge of lime to really hammer home the point. A fresh-from-the-garden mint leaf or three doesn’t hurt in the slightest.
And if you’re the kind of person who, like us, often vacations in Wisconsin cranberry country, you’ll dig the CRANFEST, a mash-up of Tattersall Cranberry liqueur, Tattersall gin, and ginger ale. A little astringent, a little sweet, and all light on its feet, this is a summer afternoon in a glass.
Overall, If you’re the kind of Minnesotan who relishes being in the great outdoors with a cocktail in your hand, Cabin Cocktail Recipes is going to be a boon companion. “Part of the reason this project was so much fun is that a lot of times in the cocktail room our focus is on being perfect, beautiful, and really clean,” says Johnson. “And these were just fun to do. This is how it’s going to be if you’re at the cabin.”
To download the PDF, visit the Tattersall website.