This is the time of year we cry, "out with the old, and in with the new!" Yet it is also a time of reflection. We pause on the threshold of the new year, looking back at what has happened, how we've changed and what we've learned. Filled with the hopefulness of new beginnings, we also set intentions for the year to come. Now, we wanted to show that we can reflect and resolve with the best of them! But, one needs a focus for these things, donchaknow. Soooo, we decided to stick with what we know best, and we asked a few members of the Vikre team to share their best drinking experiences of 2015, and what they are looking forward to enjoying in 2016. One of the main takeaways: it pays to have access to Kevin's (our long-time friend, "coincidentally hot intern," and distiller's) whisky collection. Cheers to 2016, friends!
EMILY VIKRE (co-founder)
"Hmmmm. A year is actually kind of a long time to try to remember back through isn't it. Can I just say champagne? My favorite thing is always champagne. Or cocktails with sparkling wine. This summer I made a big batch of fresh rhubarb syrup and mixed it with some Boreal Juniper Gin and lime juice and topped it with sparkling wine. That was my summertime obsession. Along with plenty of Aperol Spritzes. I also got to have some pretty good Scotch at Kevin's house... :)
What I'm looking forward to next year...well, because we have a 2-year old we don't actually get out much. But, we have work trips scheduled to Chicago and San Francisco, and I'm hoping to get out and find some extremely excellent cocktails while I'm in those places. (That reminds me, I did have a wonderful Pink Lady cocktail at a bar we went to when we were in Austin for a a conference last spring. I think the bar was called Whisler's. Espen was with us, and I was mostly chasing him, but even so I remember it as being very enjoyable.)"
JOEL VIKRE (co-founder)
"I suppose it's inevitable, but after dedicating pretty much my entire existence to it for the last 4 years, our Sugarbush whiskey was my favorite drink of the year. To my more-biased-than-otherwise-possible palate it tasted of hope and dreams realized, blood and tears, and the salty tang of the sweat of my own brow. Also, a kiss of maple syrup.
In the coming year, I'm most looking forward to tasting some unique expressions of Ardbeg at the distillery in Scotland. Emily and I promised ourselves we'd make this trip once our business was established, so sometime this year we're hoping to make it over there and drink right from the mother's teat, so to speak. I couldn't be more excited."
TED BJORK (Director of Distillery Operations)
"When I think back on drinks this year, the first thing I think of is the “Brass Phoenix". I’ve tasted a lot of wonderful cocktails at Vikre Distillery, but that drink especially makes me pause and say, “Oh my god, this is good.” The different flavors, the nuances, the layers, and even the name. The name evokes a lot of memories for me. Back in the day, the “Brass Phoenix” night club was the hot place to go in Duluth. It was a wonderful time to be a young man.
To pay me back for fixing his chandelier, Kevin went online and bought an expensive single malt scotch whiskey called Einar by Highland Park. It just so happens that Einar is my middle name, and my Dad’s name too. I like to joke about how I kept my middle name a secret until 7th grade, then I had to learn how to fight. I’d tasted the spirit once before. I discovered it while traveling in France. We were staying at an old abbey that had been turned into a Bed & Breakfast. I saw it on the shelf and had to give it a try. That’s when I learned that the spirit was named after a guy named Einar, and he is somewhat of a norse hero. They even have his axe, a wicked war axe, on the bottle. Apparently, he was a conquerer who set up a settlement in Scottland. That would have been nice to know in Junior High. There was no way to know, and if my dad knew, he never told me.
The Einar is currently in my possession, but I’m waiting to drink it. My wife Sue and I are going to Arizona in a few months, and I am bringing it with. They say, “when the mountains are pink, it’s time to drink.” So when the mountains are pink, I’m going to pour myself a glass of the scotch and think about life, this place (Vikre)... and Kevin."
SCUZZI (NICHOLAS PASCUZZI) (Head bartender)
"I’ve had quite a few excellent drinks this past year, but the most memorable has got to be the Manhattan No. 2 from the cocktail wizards at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis. First sip was stunning. This take on a classic incorporated Sherry and Calvados (a delicious and uncommon apple brandy from France). I ordered it twice, as I do with any extraordinary drink, and the impression was the same. A cocktail that shines twice in a row is a treat.
I am most excited about Vikre’s Northern Courage Smokey Rye Whiskey. I’ve tried it at barrel strength before it matured, and even then it was delicious. But apart from that, I can’t wait to get down to Scena Tavern to try their Crudo menu with specific cocktail accompaniments. I’ve heard great things."
HALLY SHARROW (Bartender)
"My favorite cocktails of 2015 would have to be Vikre's own Hubba Abba and the Cold Fashioned. Both cocktails were featured on the Summer 2015 menu and I think of them often and fondly. My absolute FAVORITE spirit of 2015 was Vikre's Sugarbush Whiskey. Other beloved bourbons of the year include a taste of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20 year and Blaton's Orginal Single Barrel. All are strong, simple, smooth, and straightforward!
I am all about the BOLD and the BRIGHT in 2016. I am open to trying any spirits and cocktails that wander into my realm. Definitely hoping to try Amrut Whisky (India's first single malt) and travel back down to Kevin's basement for some Scotch. Also looking forward to more seasonal menus, more shrubs, and more SURPRISES! Cheers!"