Now that Tattersall’s not-so-quiet launch into the Twin Cities’ craft alcohol scene is behind it, we thought it was time to check it out. This new addition to the Northeast Minneapolis Brew District, located in the Thorp building off Central Avenue, did not disappoint.
Edison lightbulbs: check. Food truck: check. Glass garage door to open on nice days: check. Majestic train rumbling by: check. Tall glass windows enclosing distilling equipment: check.
Despite these makings of a typical Minnesota craft beer or spirits tap room, Tattersall Distilling‘s Cocktail Room succeeds in being charming but not twee, overwhelming yet simple, and familiar yet fresh.
Finding the cocktail room might be a challenge for some, especially those arriving by car, but one with a delightful ending — like discovering your own secret garden. Over the first few weeks, most of the patrons were locals and friends, but on the day we visited, there were two bachelor / bachelorette parties and a party bus, so clearly the word is out.
There is an air of quiet confidence in the room, where talented bartenders have come from a variety of establishments, including some of the cities’ best restaurants and cocktail lounges. In a land of lightly spanked herbs, the robust but not gaudy bar setup has staples like jalapeños as well as intriguing additions like liquid salt and cold press coffee that are intended for one particular drink.
The eclectic seating areas — ranging from a large round table with leather chairs to dark wood high-tops — are far apart, making the already vast space feel even more open. But the day we visited, almost every seat was taken, including those around the bar. The medium murmur of conversation was underlined by quietly thumping background music.
Made with the distillery’s “white whiskey,” the slightly caffeinated Red Dog has a strong, almost astringent nose and an initial corn whiskey flavor, but the predominant flavor slowly transitions to a smooth, fruity cold press with citrus notes throughout. A solid late-night drink, the martini-style cocktail gives you enough oomph to remember it — but not so much that you regret it.
SOUR CHERRY LIQUEUR SPECIAL
While most of the “firsts” of Minnesota’s craft distillery scene have already been chalked up, Tattersall takes home one of the remaining few — Minnesota’s first craft liqueur — with its newly released sour cherry liqueur. Made using cherries from the brewmaster’s family farm in Bayfield, Wisconsin, the liqueur is showcased in the bartenders’ newest concoction, a fragrant basil gin and tonic.
Of a light-mint color, and poured from a tap line where the beverage is premixed with CO2, the Bootleg cocktail is dangerously easy drinking. A good cocktail for a craft distillery tasting-room newbie, it tastes a little like an all-natural Sprite — soft and light in a familiar way. The house vodka has gentle vanilla notes that pair well with the drink’s floral, jasmine undertones.
With balsamic bitterness, the Booty Topic’s whiskey burn lessens, and almost sweetens, as you drink it. The cocktail, with its salty finish, is more like a margarita on the rocks, despite the Long Island iced tea color.
While aquavit can be a challenging spirit to work with in a cocktail, the Psycle is round and refreshing, like a watermelon that was accidentally cut with a knife used for jalapeños and then juiced. The spice is so light you wouldn’t believe it was intentional unless you read the menu again after ordering, but we appreciate the depth of flavor it adds.
With just the right dose of sophistication, Tattersall proves to be accessible and adventurous. The fifteen cocktails made using the distillery’s four spirits aren’t wildly different from each other, but their beauty is in the nuance — much like the space, which is intentionally eclectic, comfortable, and edgy.
Tattersall Distilling, 1620 Central Ave NE Suite 150, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 612.584.4152.