Sugarbush Whiskey TMI: Day 2 of 20

You Can’t Say You Didn’t See It Coming: Day 1 of 20

In which our Co-Founder & Arbiter of Taste, introduces herself… and the idea behind our experimental whiskey series.

“We are playing with the grains, and the aging process, and the type of woods that we apply to the whiskey to create something new and different;                            in a whiskey that is intentionally younger."     

- Emily Vikre

Snag your Sugarbush Whiskey at @Vikre Distillery on November 20th. 

Sugarbush Whiskey TMI: Day 1 of 20


You Can’t Say You Didn’t See It Coming: Day 1 of 20

In which we announce the release of our first small batch, limited edition, speciality whiskey: Sugarbush!  Coming November 20th, 2015.

Stay tuned!  Over the next 20 days, we will be revealing recipes, processes, thought processes, a release party, and more.  Welcome to whiskey! (and #20daysofTMI from @vikredistillery)

An Open Letter to Governor Dayton from the Downstream Business Coalition

The Economy of the North Depends on Clean Water

Governor Dayton - Invest in sustainable local business development instead of spending state resources permitting and regulating Polymet

An open letter from the Downstream Business Coalition


Contact: Greg Benson,

For immediate release


We are the Downstream Business Coalition

We are a group of 37 small businesses, representing a cross-section of industries, including technology, manufacturing, service, entertainment and the trades. We employ over 800 people in the North and we are continuing to succeed and invest, adding jobs and dollars to our economy. Our businesses depend on the health of our watershed.


We are pro responsible mining and pro jobs

We support and benefit from ferrous mining, which has built the economy and culture of the North.  We rely on mined products in our businesses.  As primarily owner-operators, we are pro worker and pro quality of life, and we have and will continue to rely on union labor as we expand. We are vitally connected to the entire regional economy, and its success is our success.


Copper-nickel mining poses a significant new threat to our watershed

But we are also part of a regional ecology, which is why we are concerned about copper-nickel mining. The proposed PolyMet NorthMet copper-nickel mine, and others like it, are vastly different from ferrous mining, and have the potential to spread toxic metals throughout our watershed. In copper-nickel mining, water that passes through the site leaches toxic metals, including mercury, from the metallic sulfide ore. According to the NorthMet Environmental Impact Study (EIS), this pollution will continue for a “minimum of 200 years at the Mine Site and a minimum of 500 years at the Plant Site,” requiring treatment “indefinitely”.[1],[2] Flow path maps in the EIS show that the plume of contamination will reach the Partridge and Embarrass Rivers, which flow to the St. Louis River and ultimately Lake Superior.[3]

This mine does not just threaten a water source; it threatens one of the world’s greatest freshwater resources. Lake Superior contains 10% of the world’s freshwater.


Risk to the watershed is risk to the entire regional economy

In different ways for each of us, our businesses depend on our watershed. For several of our businesses, water is our raw material and our brand. Those of us in the beverage manufacturing industry have located our businesses in the watershed specifically for access to the pristine water of Lake Superior. For those of us in the over 17,000 job, $800 million annual tourist and outdoor industries of Northeast Minnesota,[4] the water draws our customers. The St. Louis River, Boundary Waters and Lake Superior have become great attractions of our region, and we have built them into the foundation for an entire tourist economy.  For us, and many other regional businesses, healthy water and vibrant outdoor access have enabled us to recruit and retain skilled employees. Indeed, the economy of the North overall depends in large degree on the unparalleled quality of life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.


We’re still cleaning up from the unsustainable practices of the past

The St. Louis River, after decades and more than $100 million dollars spent on cleanup from the unsustainable practices of the past, is finally becoming a safe place to live, work and play again. Up to an estimated $240 million will likely be spent over the next 5 years to continue the cleanup and restoration. We owe it to future generations to finish the cleanup, not to put our water at risk again.


The risk to our regional economy outweighs the benefit

The value of jobs now is real, in any number. We all rely on mined products. And yes, copper mining has to happen somewhere. However, we believe this type of mine, in one of the world’s great freshwater resources, is too great a risk. We know some people will take issue with us getting involved in what is perceived to be a political issue. Indeed, a recent article in the newspaper - without a clear explanation of our position - was enough to cause some of our customers to boycott our products. This is an economic issue resulting from an environmental issue. We believe the risk to the environment poses a long-term threat to the regional economy that far outweighs the short-term benefits.


Our request: Invest the money the state would spend on Polymet
in sustainable local business development instead

There is an alternative to the boom and bust extraction economy that benefits foreign corporations and leaves local communities worse off in the end. Our locally owned small businesses are proof positive that a more sustainable model is possible. We, and other locally owned businesses, will continue to reinvest the wealth we create into new jobs over the next 20 years. And there’s another important resource on the table – the money the state will spend on environmental review, permitting and regulation of Polymet. We call on Governor Dayton to reject the Polymet proposal, and instead invest that state money in sustainable local small business development on the Range. This investment has the potential to make a larger and longer-term impact than the proposed copper-nickel mining project.


We will contribute to job growth and lessen our demand for minerals

We will do our part to contribute to job growth in the North, and we will reach out to existing Range businesses to partner with them wherever possible. We will also continue our efforts to lessen our demand for minerals by using resources more efficiently.


We welcome continued conversation

We know our voice is only one of many, but we feel it is necessary to say that this is more complicated than jobs vs. the environment. Both are important, and they are linked, and we hope to engage in an amicable debate about responsible mining and building a more sustainable economy in the North for generations to come. We invite other businesses across the region to reach out to us and become part of the Coalition. Sign up at And we thank the customers & suppliers that stick by us.


[1] PFEIS (Preliminary Final Impact Statement, NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service, June 2015, pp. ES-26 and 5-8.

[2] Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange, Appendix C, November 2013, p. 12

[3] PFEIS, Figures 5.2.2-7 and 5.2.2-9 

[4] Tourism and Minnesota’s Economy, 2015, Explore Minnesota


Founding Members of the Downstream Business Coalition

Amity Coffee

Anahata Herbals


At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Café

Bella Terra Landscaping

Bent Paddle Brewing Co.


Day Tripper of Duluth

Deer Tail Press

Dirt Candy Designs

Duluth Coffee Company

Duluth Grill

Duluth Running Company

Duluth Technology Co.


Gilbert Law Office

Heck of the North Productions


Just Take Action – Fitger’s Brewhouse Restaurant Group

Lake Avenue Café

Lake Superior Art Glass

Loll Designs

Luke Chiropractic and Wellness

Med Search Network

Nordic Firewood

Northern Waters Smokehaus

Old Saw Media

Red Herring Lounge

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters

Sawtooth Outfitters

Sled Dogs to St. Paul

Superior Paddle

Taiga Design Built

The Thirsty Pagan

Up North Fungi

Vikre Distillery

Yker Acres


A witch's brew cocktail for halloween

Depending on how much you have in common with Martha Stewart, this may be the time of year when pumpkins, scarecrows, and hay bales are appearing on your front stoop and you’re musing over such questions as, “How can I make hors d’oeuvres that look like bugs and severed fingers?” and “How can I make a Halloween cocktail that’s spooky but not cheesy?” 

Ever since I stopped feeling totally fine after eating a pillowcase-full of Milky Ways and Three Musketeers in a single sitting, I haven’t gotten that jazzed about Halloween. However, when someone asks me how they can make a Halloween cocktail that isn’t totally cheesy, well then I perk up, ready to start participating again.

I floated the question by a couple of our bartenders at our distillery andwe brainstormed how one could make a black cocktail (squid ink cocktail? maybe?) and tossed around ideas for a blood red Campari punch with ice hands floating in it (sounds like a good idea) or a Bloody Mary punch bowl with calamari pieces floating in it like entrails (sounds awful).  

Then our bar manager said, “What about something gooey like tapioca or chia that would be like frog eggs?" and I knew we were onto something.  I thought instantly of the large, wobbly tapioca balls in boba tea. I know many will disagree with me, but I find them utterly disgusting. They remind me all too much of eyeballs and frog eggs. And since they’re apparently fit for drinking, being a tea ingredient and all that, a boba bubble cocktail had to be workable.

I also knew I wanted the cocktail to be slimy, lime green so that the whole thing would look like a devilish witch’s brew. Chartreuse felt like an obvious choice, it being so shockingly green that the color chartreuse is actually named after the liqueur (also, I absolutely love it and am always looking for an excuse to use it).

I added a bit of gin for depth, mint to build on the strong herbal flavors in Chartreuse, lime for impish tartness, and simple syrup to balance the citrus. This, with black boba tapioca balls swirled through looked wicked enough, but then I decided I wanted to drizzle a couple spoonfuls of Aperol over the top. I hoped it would look a bit like a layer of blood, but it mostly sank into the cocktail in clay-colored streaks (ugly enough to make my stomach turn slightly), all while adding lovely complementary citrus and floral notes.

Serve with a big straw for slurping, plus a couple hors d’oeuvres that look like bugs and body parts, and you can feel classy and ghoulish all at the same time. What more could you really want from Halloween (other than a pillowcase of candy)?

Witch’s Brew Cocktail

Makes 4

1/2 cup boba tea tapioca pearls (I used black ones I found on Amazon)
1/4 cup sugar
20 fresh mint leaves
4 ounces green chartreuse
4 ounces Vikre Boreal Juniper Gin
4 ounces fresh lime juice
4 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce Aperol (or Campari)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

-Emily Vikre

Originally published on

Our new Fall-Winter cocktail menu!


Your choice of four of our spirits, accompaniments

_____ & TONIC

Your choice of 3 gins, or vodka,
seasonal tonic, citrus


Lake Superior Vodka, Concord grape
grenadine, rosemary, lemon, fizz


Øvrevann Aquavit, beet shrub,
pistachio falernum, lime, fizz


Cedar Gin, grenadine,
spiced pear liqueur, lemon


Juniper Gin, raspberry-rose syrup,
lemon, vermoose, egg white


Juniper Gin, herb liqueur #4, Lillet-ish, lime


Juniper Gin, Øvrevann Aquavit,
orange liqueur, amaro #3,
lemon verbena tincture, lemon


Spruce Gin, Juniper Gin, pickled apple brine,

sherry reduction, pickled apple 


Voyageur cognac-barrel-aged Aquavit,
Bent Paddle Black syrup, cherry syrup,
cacao-cardamom bitters, cherry




NWSmokehaus salmon, salami, beet pickles, sweet spiced nuts, blue cheese ball with caraway brittle, dill butter, goat cheese, rye lavash


** are you a designated driver for your group?  Let us know and we'll hook you up with a free non-alcoholic cocktail.**

Aquavit and Rye Old Fashioned

This article, written by Emily Vikre, originally appeared in the "Norwegian American Weekly" newspaper

aquavit rye old fashioned 1.jpg

The feeling in the air is special at this time of year.  It feels particularly empty and expansive, more, well, airy than summer air.  There’s still gentle warmth from the sun but the cold nips playfully at your heels the moment you’re in the shade.  Here in northern Minnesota the expanses of maple, oak, birch, and aspen put on a stunning show of colors completely worthy of the parades of leaf peepers that come to visit (sorry Vermont and New Hampshire, you guys don’t by any means have the corner on the autumn leaf market) and the sky seems to grow more electric blue every day until it all flames out in a blaze of glory come grey and frigid November.


I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on why, but everyone I know (myself included) starts to feel more than usually nostalgic in autumn.  Perhaps it’s watching kids go back to school that brings back so many memories.  Maybe it’s just the awareness that the freshness and brilliance of fall inevitably fades into the darkness (though also peacefulness) of winter.  Fall is acutely ephemeral. 


I relish taking out my sweaters, flannels, and wooly socks.   As much as that, I get excited about trading out the fruity, fizzy drinks of summer for moodier, boozier cocktails.  Fitting with this fall mood, it’s hard to get more nostalgic than an Old Fashioned because as far as cocktail historians can make out, the Old Fashioned is, in fact, the original cocktail.  An Old Fashioned is just three ingredients, spirits, sugar, and bitters, plus ice.  From this open template you can build all sorts of variations, and an aquavit Old Fashioned is one of my favorites.  Even better, I think, is an Old Fashioned that splits its base between aquavit and rye whiskey.  Visit any Jewish deli, or have a piece of Swedish lympa, and you’ll know I’m not the only one who has noticed the affinity that caraway has for rye (or maybe it’s vice versa).  The two combine to give the cocktail a rich, almost chewy flavor.  Instead of sugar, I like to stay with the northern-inspired flavor palette and use a spoonful of maple syrup (get even more wild and northern with a spoonful of birch syrup!).  A dash of orange bitters and Angostura bitters harmonize all the flavors.  They also give the cocktail extra spice and aroma that are as autumnal as mulled cider, but will pull your tastebuds in a Christmas direction, making this Old Fashioned perfect for sipping all winter long.


aquavit rye old fashioned 2.jpg

Aquavit and Rye Old Fashioned

Makes 1

1 ½ oz Vikre Voyageur Aquavit (in this cocktail I particularly like our cognac barrel aged aquavit that has a little richness from being aged, but our unaged aquavit would work as well)

1 oz Rye Whiskey

1 tsp. maple syrup

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice until chilled (about 20 seconds), then strain into a low glass with a large ice cube in it.  If desired, garnish with an orange twist.    

A ratio to remember - 2: 3/4: 3/4

Put your elementary school math knowledge to good use—with alcohol.

 photo by James Ransom, from Food52

photo by James Ransom, from Food52

Cocktails are built on ratios. So much so that bartenders often begin to think and certainly speak in ratios. You’ll hear bartenders rattle off numbers—"Oh, it’s 1 1/2, 1, 3/4, 1/4, and a dash"—as though they mean something. And they do—that is, if you know what each number applies to.  

Some ratios are particularly useful—priceless, even—because you can keep them in the back of your mind to guide you through making a variety of seemingly different cocktails all based on the same ratio. 

My very favorite ratio is 2 : 3/4 : 3/4—that is 2 parts of base spirit to 3/4 part sweet and 3/4 sour. (I usually make the math easy and use 2 ounces + 3/4 ounce + 3/4 ounce; in this case, 1 ounce = 1 part. But, one part could also be a different measurement. If it's 50 milliliters, for example, that would make the 3/4 part 37 1/2 milliliters, and so on.)

This opens up a whole family of cocktails that are cousins of the sour (though a real sour usually also includes egg white to soften all the flavors). 2 : 3/4 : 3/4 is a bit boozier than the traditional sour ratio, which is 2 : 1 : 1, but unless you’re using a poor-quality base spirit that you’re trying to cover up with sweet and sour, you’ll find that 2 : 3/4 : 3/4 yields a more nicely balanced cocktail that's less overpoweringly sweet-tart and more sophisticated tasting.

At our bar, I’d say that at least half (if not more) of the cocktails we serve wind up being based on this ratio. One of my favorite classic cocktails that we serve, called the Bee’s Knees, features gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup in this ratio.

I also like to make variations on a gimlet/daiquiri, mixing up the base spirit—sometimes gin, sometimes aquavit, sometimes vodka, sometimes rum—and augmenting them with 3/4 ounces each of lime juice and simple syrup.

You can also split your sweet and your sour into multiple components. You can use lemon or lime, but you can also combine the two, or even use a mix of unsweetened cranberry juice with lemon or lime and grapefruit juice. Instead of plain simple syrup you can use flavored syrups or liqueurs. Subtle tweaks in flavors can lead to an almost infinite menu of drinks.  

For example...

  • Instead of 3/4 ounces of simple syrup, you can use 1/2 ounce of Cointreau and 1/4 ounce of jalapeño-infused simple syrup. Shake this up with 2 ounces of nice tequila and 3/4 ounces of lime juice and you have a sweet-spicy (and not overly sour!) variation on a margarita.
  • Two ounces of vodka shaken with 3/4 ounces of thyme-infused simple syrup and 3/4 ounces of lemon juice is herbal and almost enough to make vodka interesting. 
  • Two ounces of bourbon with 3/4 ounces each of simple syrup and lemon juice will give you a wonderful whiskey sour.  
  • But then, you might consider replacing the simple syrup with crème de cassis and you’ll find yourself with a completely different cocktail—jammy blackcurrant mingling richly with the oak of the bourbon. (Add a dash of Angostura bitters and you’ll have a cocktail quite similar toJeffrey Morgenthaler’s immensely popular Bourbon Renewal cocktail at Clyde Common.)  

Perhaps you remember learning about proportions in fourth grade. Now, finally, you have a decent use for them!   

-Emily Vikre

Originally published on


What we're sipping this week - a Scanhattan

We had a super fun little party to celebrate the launch of our first aged product - our Voyageur Cognac-cask finished Aquavit - last weekend out my family friend's bar in Esko, MN. It was such a gorgeous time, with the most wonderful company, fantastic food, and of course lots of aquavit drinks.  One of the drinks I made for the evening was a simple aquavit-based take on a Manhattan, which I have called at various times the Kaupang (a large viking settlement that was in southern Norway.  Get it, it's like a viking Mahattan, heehee.) or a Scanhattan, which I think has, well, more of a ring to it.

Anyway, it's a, slinky, sophisticated little number that I'm really falling in love with.  I find it a particularly nice cooking companion :).  

Look, it's a cocktail served up, yet on the rocks.  Cocktail joke! Ha!

Now, I never really liked Manhattans until I tried one made with a ration of 2 1/2 oz whiskey to just 3/4 oz of vermouth.  Then, suddenly it clicked.  The vermouth was there to augment the base spirit, not overpower it.  The drink is boozy, for sure, but in a nice, balanced, highly drinkable way.  So, that's the ratio I used for this aquavit Manhattan, or Scanhattan, or whatever, too.

the Kaupang - a Scanhattan

  • 2 1/2 oz Vikre Voyageur cognac-caske finished Aquavit   
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth - my personal fave with our aquavit is Cocchi  Vermouth di Torrino
  • 2 dashes of aromatic bitters - we use our house made cherry-hazelnut bitters, but you could use angostura, or whatever is your favorite aromatic bitter
  • a boozy cherry for garnish (we use aquavit soaked febree cherries. you could also use brandied cherries, or even a good maraschino cherry)
  1. Stir all ingredients with ice until well chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a boozy cherry.

The Old Fashioned - a little history and a lot of inspiration

The history of booze is, perhaps unsurprisingly, frequently hazy, confused, and debated. While the origins of certain iconic drinks can be attributed to a specific clever bartender at a single glorious place and time, many others are nearly impossible to trace.

Even the origin of the word cocktail has several explanatory stories from which a person could choose. I would, however, advise you to lean toward the well-researched explanation of cocktail historian David Wondrich: He argues that cock-tail was a (somewhat vulgar) slang term for something that would course through, give you a surge of energy, lift your spirits, and basically cock your tail up (in the sense of lifting it or making it jaunty) like a prancing horse’s. In England this was typically a spicy ginger libation, but in America it evolved into something considerably stronger.

We don’t know precisely how or when Americans began taking their medicinal shot of bitters (which originated as medicine) tempered with alcohol, sugar, and a bit of water, or when they began terming it a cocktail. But we do know that one of the earliest written references we can find comes from an 1806 edition of The Balance, and Columbian Repository, a conservative newspaper in upstate New York. In response to a reader questioning the off-handed mention of “cock tail” in a column from the week before, the editor explains, "Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters. It is vulgarly called a bittered sling…”

A cocktail, then, was just four key ingredients—the combination of which work together in wondrous alchemy—that should sound like a pretty familiar list: booze, bitters, sugar, water. This is exactly the cocktail a purist would now call an Old Fashioned, unsullied by muddled oranges or cherries or splashes of Sprite.

And we likely owe the name "Old Fashioned" to purists (or at least the change-averse). Four ingredients is a great jumping off point for creative additions, and the 1870s and 1880s saw bartenders adding dashes of this and splashes of that to the cocktail, delighting some but absolutely appalling others. Those who were put-off by the modern flourishes took to ordering an “old-fashioned whiskey (or other spirit) cocktail” to be sure they received a cocktail made to the original four-ingredient specifications.

But, purists aren’t really that fun are they? And, while I might not dare to call any of my Old Fashioned-inspired creations an "Old Fashioned,” lest I incite rage, I do see the Old Fashioned as a perfect starting place for trying an infinite variety of customizations.

Want to get creative from the Old Fashioned template? Here are some ideas:

1. Try changing your base spirit.  
An old fashioned cocktail originally could use any spirit, so you most certainly can, too! Don’t like whiskey? Try gin, rum, brandy, apple brandy, tequila, you name it. You might discover something interesting.

Death & Co. in New York brought this old idea back with their, now oft-copied, Oaxacan Old Fashioned, which not only uses an unexpected base spirit, but actually combines two different base spirits; it’s mostly tequila with a little extra boost from smoky mezcal (their recipe calls for 1 1/2 ounces tequila, 1/2 ounce mezcal, 1 teaspoon agave nectar, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters, stirred with ice and garnished with a twist of orange peel. Yum.) And at Bar Agricole in San Francisco, you can sometimes find a velvety gin Old Fashioned made with St. George’s Rye Gin and a twist of citrus. 

You can be even bolder and create your own new base spirit by infusing it with something else. No need to infuse a whole bottle of booze: Just take a cup of your base spirit, combine it with what you want to infuse it with (use 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or nuts or around 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, spices, or tea) and let it infuse for 2 to 24 hours, giving it a little shake and tasting a tiny nip every couple hours to check its progress. Then strain it. This can add a nice flavor to your end drink without requiring as much extra sweetener as you might need to use if you were using an infused syrup. 

  • I like to infuse bourbon with figs, peaches, cherries, pecans, coffee beans, or cacao nibs. 
  • Rye is nice with apples, pears, chamomile tea, or hazelnuts. 
  • I’ve enjoyed gin infused with cucumber, strawberries, rhubarb, or grapefruit peel. 
  • And rum, as you might expect, can be delightful infused with tropical fruit like pineapple. 

2. Or change up your sweetener. 
A lump of sugar is the original (an old Old Fashioned usually came with a little spoon to allow the drinker to keep stirring the drink until the sugar was fully dissolved), but a teaspoon or two of simple syrup dissolves more easily.

And once you’ve veered into syrup territory, it’s an easy step to try maple syrup (excellent with bourbon), honey (nice with blended Scotch or rye), or agave syrup (a good choice for agave spirits like tequila). 

Or you could make a flavored syrup, which can be a less risky and more subtle than directly infusing your base spirit. 

  • I like herbal, floral, and citrus peel syrups with gin: lavender-lemon, grapefruit-rosemary, or rhubarb-rose, for example. 
  • Try brandy with chai tea-pear syrup or tequila with jalapeño-mango syrup. 
  • Get really exotic and try aquavit with cherry syrup, orange peel-black pepper syrup, or celery syrup for a sweet-savory spin. 

The purists will be crying for you to stop the insanity, but I suspect you’ll be having fun.

3. Then you can also change up your bitters. 
One of the remarkable things with cocktails is that subtle changes in ingredients can make a big difference in the final drink, and so it is with changing your bitters. Angostura bitters have a way of harmonizing and augmenting the flavor in nearly anything, but there are so many exciting flavors of bitters, from orange to grapefruit-hops, to cherry-vanilla, to chocolate-mole, on the market, I think it’s totally worth exploring. 

Or do all three! The more changes you make, the more you have to think about how the flavors will harmonize together in the final cocktail, but use your culinary common sense and don’t be afraid to tweak something until you like it.

At the cocktail room at our distillery, we’ve had a number of drinks that were inspired by the Old Fashioned, including one we called the “Old Cedar”—cedar wood aged gin with grapefruit-rosemary syrup and grapefruit bitters—as well as the "Cold Fashioned," a cocktail of cognac barrel aged aquavit with maple syrup and cherry-hazelnut bitters. 

And here, while it’s still summer, is a very tropical rum-based variation on an Old Fashioned!

Bikini Atol

Makes 1

For the drink:

2 1/2 ounces dark Rum
1 to 2 teaspoons roasted pineapple syrup (see below)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

For the roasted pineapple syrup:

1 whole ripe pineapple
2 1/2 cups sugar

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here

-Emily Vikre

Originally published on



What we're sipping this week - the Aged to Perfection

aged to perfection 1.jpg

Hi!  We've been back from Norway for a couple weeks - where we were visiting my (Emily's) family - and we're  finally getting settled back into the swing of things related to the "oh I have to go to work instead of hanging out on the beach eating ice cream and fishing for crabs" realization.  The first full day we were in Norway was my birthday, and also my godfather's, who I call uncle Erik, 60th birthday.  He had organized himself a '70s themed birthday party and rented out the whole nightclub in Sandefjord that he, my mom, and all their best friends had gone to during their teen years.  Yup, the same old nightclub is still going strong, and it seemed like a pretty classy place all things considered.  (High fives mom and uncle Erik!)  It was all '70s music and everyone danced until 2 am.  Except for Joel and me because we were severely jet lagged so we ducked out at 10 to go to sleep (Espen, cleverly, had gone to bed around 6.  Being a toddler must be awesome.).

To make up for our party lame-ness (which in our opinions wasn't so very lame because we pretty much always go to bed at 10, so we felt like we had stayed up late even if we hadn't been jet-lagged), we invited everyone for a little cocktail party later in the week for which I made a special cocktail we named "aged to perfection."

The basic cocktail was sort-of inspired by a Clover Club, which is a classic gin cocktail with raspberries.  Raspberries and Campari make a surprisingly gorgeous match - in color and flavor - so I threw in a bit of Campari to cut the sweetness and add a little rich complexity.  It's a stunner of a cocktail, if I do say so myself, and one worth making whenever you have a handful of raspberries you want to put to use.

Just as an FYI, cocktails with things muddled in them (or with egg-whites) generally call for double straining, which means you strain them through your regular cocktail strainer and also a fine mesh cone strainer. If you don't have one of the cone strainers specifically designed for cocktail straining, never fear, you can use any medium-fine mesh strainer or a tea strainer, as long as it's small enough that it will strain into your glass and not all over the counter.  


Aged to Perfection

  • 5 raspberries
  • 1 1/2 oz Vikre Boreal Juniper Gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz Campari
  1. Muddle the raspberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.  Add the remaining ingredients and fill the shaker halfway full with ice.  Shake until well chilled, then double strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a raspberry or a sprig of mint, if you wish.

What we're sipping this week - aquavit-y grapefruit-y things

 Voyageur Greyhound

Voyageur Greyhound

Hey friends!  Hope you all had a gorgeous and festive 4th of July weekend!  We were able to sneak away (still don't quite know how we managed) to some friends' cabin up on Devil's Track lake and it was fantastic.  Also, we made a happy drink discovery!  We brought with us a bottle of our new Voyageur Cognac-Cask aged Aquavit to share.  We like sipping it on the rocks, like a whiskey, but it is actually quite good at playing nice in cocktails as well.  Our friends had a pitcher of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and one thing led to another and soon we were sipping aquavit greyhounds.  And it was delicious.  And we were happy.  

I'm always slightly surprised by how well grapefruit goes with virtually any spirit.  Grapefruit is not a subtle flavor, yet it seems to go with everything (unless you don't like grapefruit, I suppose) and I find it particularly lovely with the caraway and fennel notes in aquavit.  Making an aquavit greyhound couldn't be easier, just mix your preferred amounts of aquavit and grapefruit juice in a glass, add ice, and you're good to go.

 Voyageur Brown Derby

Voyageur Brown Derby

The combination of Voyageur with grapefruit juice made me think of the Brown Derby, a classic cocktail that's usually made with bourbon, grapefruit, and honey.  Swapping in some Voyageur Aquavit was the work of a minute.  Almost as easy as the greyhound, but extra classy because you get to drink it from a cocktail coupe.

Voyageur Brown Derby

  • 1 1/2 oz Voyageur Cognac-Cask Aquavit
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 tsp. honey syrup (to make honey syrup just stir equal parts honey and warm water together until the honey dissolves)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Shake all the ingredients with ice until well chilled (around 15 seconds) then strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

What we're sipping this week - the Lucien Gaudin

We get asked all the time what we drink at home, so we thought we'd start sharing!  Most of the time it's coffee, quite frankly.  And - speaking for myself only on this one - I (Emily) am a weirdo and I like to carry around a big glass of fizzy water with apple cider vinegar in it to sip.  But, we do make ourselves cocktails, you know, now and then.

I've been trying out a number of recipes from the Death & Co cocktail book in the last couple of weeks.  Death & Co is a rather famous bar in NYC that makes extraordinary cocktails with extraordinary care and interesting ingredients, and even in our embarrassingly well-stocked home bar I often don't have what I need to try out one of their recipes.  This one, however, is made with relatively easy to get ingredients (and versatile ones that it's great to have on hand anyway because they go into all sorts of great cocktails).  The Lucien Gaudin is apparently a vintage cocktail recipe that they dusted off and put into rotation.  I'm glad they found it!  It's a boozy but balanced cocktail that is a little sweet, a little bitter, a little fruity, and nicely herbal.

The Lucien Gaudin

  • 1 1/2 oz Boreal Juniper Gin
  • 1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Campari
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau

Stir all the ingredients with ice until well chilled (it will probably take around 30 seconds), then strain into a cocktail coupe (or martini glass).  Garnish with a twist of lemon peel. 


Summer Cocktail Menu

We have a new menu for summer with lots of fruits and herbs and happy flavors, perfect for the season!



Your choice of four of our spirits, accompaniments 

_____ & TONIC

Your choice of 3 gins, or vodka,
seasonal tonic, citrus


Boreal Spruce Gin,
cantaloupe-basil soda 


Lake Superior Vodka, celery soda, lime, cucumber


Boreal Juniper Gin,
lilac cordial, lemon, egg white 


Strawberry-infused Boreal Cedar Gin, rhubarb aperitif, lemon


Øvrevann Aquavit, lime juice, grapefruit juice, simple syrup,

cherry-hazelnut bitters 


Boreal Cedar Gin, ginger-cardamom shrub, muddled limes


Boreal Juniper Gin, Lake Superior Vodka, house Amaro #4 


Voyageur cognac-barrel-aged Aquavit, bourbon barrel maple syrup,
fig-saffron bitters

we make every ingredient in-house, from scratch, except, say, limes, which are made by trees


Cocktails of the Moment

Our cocktail menu changes every few months, but here's what you can sip on if you join us this week:


Your choice of gin,
seasonal tonic, citrus


Øvrevann Aquavit, lemon,

bitter orange-black pepper soda


Boreal Spruce Gin,

Lake Superior Honey Company honey, lemon, chamomile bitters 


Boreal Juniper Gin,
Emily’s lime cordial


Øvrevann Aquavit, orange liqueur,

 lingonberry juice, lemon  


Boreal Juniper Gin, apricot juice, lime, Bent Hop IPA syrup,

cayenne salt 


Boreal Cedar Gin, rosemary grapefruit syrup, grapefruit bitters


Boreal Spruce Gin, grapefruit liqueur, Bent Hop IPA syrup, grapefruit bitters 


Boreal Cedar Gin, butternut & spice liqueur, cream, vanilla bitters  


Tastes of all four of our spirits, accompaniments

A virtual distillery tour

We LOVE when you guys come to visit us to check out our distilling process and spirits in person.  But, we know not everyone can make it here, so we thought we'd take a bunch of pictures of the distillery so you could come on a little virtual tour of the space.  And since a picture is worth a thousand words, and we have lots of pictures here, we won't say another word.  Welcome to Vikre Distillery!  Come on in... 20141006_7160










































Thanks for visiting!!!!!

Fall Cocktail Ideas! an illustrated primer

Summer is over, and with it go the light, airy evenings of sitting on the porch swatting at mosquitos and sipping on gin and tonics.  But that absolutely does NOT mean that it is time to put away your bottle of gin in favor of only whiskey and red wine.  No no no no no.  Don’t be so silly! Yeees, we make gin so maybe we’re coming at this with a little self-interest.  A lot of self-interest.  BUT, we’re also here in your self-interest because your fall cocktails are going to be so much more, well, interesting if you keep the complex herbal, floral, piney notes of gin in your cold weather drink line up (also pine = very fall-y and wintery, don’t you think?).  Plus, contrary to popular belief that aquavit is only for the winter holidays, we think aquavit is great in a lot of drinks all year round.  AND for the winter holidays (who’s looking forward to the 12 days of aquavit?!  We are!).

We have (well, Emily has) been playing around with all the seasonal ingredients fall has to offer -the fruits and spices and squashes that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside like you just put a cozy sweater on your tummy  - plus richly flavored liqueurs and aperitifs, and have come up with a bunch of autumnal gin and aquavit cocktails for you to try.   And Emily has taken pictures of them and used her photo shop skillz to put words on them, like the hip food blogga lady she is. Behold:

cedar + cider w words

Cedar + Cider has become our new go-to fall drink.  Boreal Cedar Gin stirred (to taste) into sweet-tangy fresh pressed cider (hot or cold) basically tastes the way you’d feel jumping into a pile of crunchy golden leaves on a glorious fall day and then getting handed a mulled cider and a cider donut.  Dreamy.

oslo mule_1

When it comes to drinks with ginger beer, we’re not letting Moscow have all the fun.  So, meet the Oslo Mule (sometimes also known as the Swedish Mule, but we were bothered by the lack of parallel structure in the naming (ie Moscow is a city, Swedish is a nationality) because that’s the fantastic kind of people we are).  Or The Dark and Snowy and Stormy.  Or maybe we should just call it Winter is Coming.  Whatever you call it, the combination of Øvrevann Aquavit with ginger beer and lime is nice and spicy and so simple to put together.

balsamic fig g&t_1

If you’re not quite ready to let go of your g&t’s (we know we’re not!) and you also happen to love the tangy-sweet flavor of drinks like kombucha and shrubs (fruit infused drinking vinegar), try adding a spoonful of fig or cherry-infused balsamic vinegar (you can get infused balsamic vinegars from snazzy grocery stores or olive oil places) to a gin and tonic.  Bitter, sweet, tangy, poignant, complex.  This might be what nostalgia tastes like.

Or, you can try a whole line up of cocktails that highlight yummy fall flavors like cranberries, apples, maple, and pumpkin.  Ta-da:

Vikre Fall Cocktails

If you’re looking to try some drinks that are just a little more complex to make (muddling! vermouth! interesting bitters!), these ones are 150% worth the effort.

schmancy fall cocktails_1

And lastly, but not leastly, and no matter how you feel about the ridiculous profusion of pumpkin spice lattes on every corner at this time of year, you should obviously give the Pumpkin Spice Cocktail a try.  Obviously.  (This cocktail is surprisingly good.  Like, I made it with apprehension, and then we were surprised by how much we liked it and then we drank a bunch more of them.)

pumpkin spice cocktail

SKÅL friends!

Pig racing - epic adorability

The other day we teased you - with an image of our epic tasting tent at the Northland Arboretum Country Picnic in scenic Brainerd, Minnesota. tent

But you could say we poked you - in the 'pigs in a poke' sense, whatever that means - because the tasting was mostly an excuse to attend a pig race.

We had never attended a pig race. We did not know what a pig race was. But we found it was happening, so we went.

But, since we like to do things whole hog, we also decided to sponsor a pig. We're socially responsible that way.

Anyway, here it is:

Pig Race

PigLETS! Yeah - wow.

Here it is with more epic:

Slow pig race

That's pretty much all we have to say. Stay tuned later this week for barreling our aged aquavit...

So many things

Hello! There's a lot happening. Behold:

First, we're open now from 12-6, Wednesday through Sunday.  There are two lovely folks here now chatting with Chelsy:


You can take a tour any of those days at 2 and 5, or you can do some self guided learning with our helpful infographics:


You can taste all three of our Boreal gins, plus smell all the different botanicals we use to make them so delicious:

photo 5

Not to mention our aquavit!:

photo 4

And in case aquavit's a little unfamiliar, or you just want more ideas for what to do with gin, you can pick up some post cards with cocktail ideas.  (Surprising fact: aquavit makes kind of astonishing cocktails, especially in the place of whiskey):

photo 3

All this, and you can learn a little bit about the history of distilling in Duluth. We have artifacts from Duluth distillers and bottlers of yore:

photo 1

And we have what we believe to be the control panel from the old Lake Superior brewery:

photo 1-1 Of course you can always just curl up with a book about whiskey:

photo 2

Or rest your elbows at our valhalla-esque table, at which I'm currently writing (see: mess at front corner):

photo 2-1

Sounds fun, right? This is not even to mention the fact that once the city grants us a license we'll be able to serve cocktails made with our products. Cocktails typically have several ingredients, and often several types of alcohol, but we can only use alcohol we make, which is a sort of funny limitation that we've decided to embrace. So we're only going to use things made in house - juices, vinegars, bitters, fortified wines, etc. Everything will be from scratch. It's like a haiku - the constraints of the form encourage creativity. This is our theory at least.

Also, of this writing our products are available in 195 places in Minnesota, from Rochester to International Falls, and Duluth to Park Rapids. You can search the map here: Also our aquavit is available at one bar in Denmark. I am not making this up.


You can also buy it online at South Lyndale or at Merwin's.

Also, we're all over the news thanks to the amazing Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, who says: "I adore their cedar gin, which just has that great wet North Woods smell, because of the toasted cedar wood. It just smells like the wind over the Temperance River in the fall." You can listen to one of the stories here.

There has been one factual inaccuracy in these stories. Our gin is not made with rye from Far North Spirits, though we're flattered by the connection. We're actually partners with Bent Paddle Brewing Company here in Duluth, which brews up an all malted barley distiller's beer for us. Lately they've been infusing casks of blonde ale with some of our botanicals, making perhaps the hottest beer in the Northland. You can spot me at the far right (so jaunty) at their 1-year anniversary, better known as the "festiversary," which was epic in every way.


For example, it was attended by someone named "Mrs. Delicious":


This post is becoming epic itself, at least in length, so I'll just leave you with just one more fun tidbit - our ribbon cutting a few weeks back (look how huge Espen is getting!): ribboncutting

And let the mayor, Karen, Bryon, Colin and Laura take us out:



Joel (and Emily, Kevin, Ted, Chelsy and Squid)