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Archive for April, 2015

Reflections on the MSP Business Journal’s Craft Spirits forum

I had a fantastic opportunity this week to participate in MSP Business Journal’s Craft Spirits forum…a few thoughts.

As a supplier to the industry and a native Minnesotan, I am proud to be able to purchase alcohol made in my home state by folks who believe in the hard-working, can-do spirit that we all share.The craft spirits boom – already vibrant in many states – shows no signs of slowing down, especially as state laws, particularly in Minnesota, relax, making it easier to attain the proper permits to legally manufacture beverage alcohol.

Minnesota craft distilleries can now offer a cocktail room to specifically market their products.  A continuing issue the craft distilleries are having, however, is overcoming the state’s stringent blue laws – on-premise bottle sales being one of them. Without the ability to sell their product on-site, these craft distilleries are missing an opportunity to turn their crafted cocktails offered in their cocktail rooms into sales.

Minnesota is uniquely poised to become a leader in the craft world due to its abundant resources.  We have both the natural  resources and the creative, innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that is required.  The only thing left is for the lawmakers of the state to “catch up” with the industry.


The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will be held Saturday May 2nd 2015, the race only capping off the many other festivities related to the Derby.

To start off the celebration April 30th will be the sixth annual Taste of Derby presented by Stella Artois where you can enjoy cuisine prepared by award-winning chefs while sampling exceptional wines and mingling with Thoroughbred horse racing celebrities. The event will run from 7p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and feature live entertainment, City Heat, all while raising funds and awareness for hunger relief organizations such as Dare to Care food bank.

May 1st better known as Derby-Eve will be a night to remember with dinners, dancing, and charity events. The fourth annual Unbridled Eve Gala will be held at the Galt House Hotel at 7 p.m. you’ll start off the evening with mint juleps and other custom cocktails and spirits all while mingling with the expected thirty celebrity guests. During cocktail hour both silent and live auctions will be held, after enjoying these events a gourmet dinner will be served with live entertainment by celebrity musical guests. All of the proceeds ultimately go to a number of charities with the 2015 primary beneficiary being Blessing in a Backpack which helps fight childhood hunger.

Derby-Eve will also house the Barnstable Brown Gala a black-tie event known to be the “premier” derby party, this will be the 27th year of the gala, with a celebrity guest list ranging from Tom Brady to Salt-N-Pepa. Host Patricia Barnstable Brown says “It’ll be one for the history books.” Funds raised at this event will go towards the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Research Center at the University of Kentucky. The party starts at 8p.m.

The last official Derby event, the Hermitage Grand Gala hosted by Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson, and Junior and Doris Bridgeman at Hermitage Farm Friday May 1st at 7p.m. This event will feature musical guests Ne-Yo, DJ Cassidy, Darius Rucker, and Julie Atlas. The evening will begin with cocktail hour, dinner at 8p.m., with the musical performances and dancing beginning at 10p.m. and ending at 1a.m. All of the funds raised at this star studded event will go towards organizations such as the Kosair Children’s Hospital and the University Of Louisville Autism Center.

Don’t miss out on these spectacular events and certainly don’t miss out on “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”


There is a worldwide or national day for just about everything you can imagine these days, including whiskey! I don’t know about you, but that has us excited. Any day you can drink to good things with whiskey becomes a good day.

When is World Whisky Day in 2015?

This world celebration day is held on the third Saturday of every May. In 2015, that happens to be May 16th. Why a Saturday you ask? Well, if you are going to celebrate a day with drinking, it should be a day where you don’t have to get up and go to work.

How Did This Worldwide Event Get Started?

The first WWD was held in 2012 by the Scottish founder, Blair Bowman. He was so passionate about getting the word out, every continent held an event in 2013 with exception of Antarctica. It has been his goal to get people to join in the celebrations. We’ll raise a dram to that!

How Do I Celebrate WWD?

You can take a look at the official website for WWD and see who has registered their events. If you don’t see someone close to you that is hosting an event, you can still join in the fun. Have friends over to your home and invite them to celebrate with the whiskey of your choice.

If you are a distillery … you might consider participating in this world wide event to boost recognition of your brand to the public. You can register your World Whisky Day event here: Register your WWD event here

What if I Don’t Drink Whiskey?

We know that not everyone is a whiskey (or whisky) drinker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate. There are plenty of different types of whiskey that you can choose from. Pick out something you think you will like.

If you feel you can’t find a brew you like, then consider a whisky cocktail. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it when mixed with another drink you like.

However you chose to celebrate World Whisky Day, we hope that you enjoy a dram and drink a toast to something close to your heart.

You can read more about all the World Whisky Day fun and find an event near you here: World Whisky Day Information Site

Summer is coming … and it’s the perfect time to do road trips! One of our favorite road trips is of course through Kentucky Bourbon Country! There are so many ways to enjoy the Kentucky Countryside; by bike, motorcyle, tour service, horse back (we’ve heard it can be done!) and by your own automobile. A great place to start for your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Trip is here: Kentucky Bourbon Trail

In the meantime – here are 3 distilleries with interesting beginnings that you’ll see when planning your next Bourbon Country road trip through Kentucky!

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey
Around 1987, Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr., completed his lifelong dream of recreating an old family bourbon recipe and started the Bulleit Distilling Company. Influenced by his great-great-grandfather Augustus Bulleit, who created a high-rye whiskey around 1830-1860. Tom ceased his successful law practice and risked everything he had to experience life on the frontier.
A tavern owner in 1830s Louisville, Kentucky, Augustus Bulleit was dedicated to one goal: the making of a bourbon unique in taste. After experimenting with numerous varieties in small-batch trials, he at last came upon a bourbon with the flavor he had long sought after.
One eventful day, while transporting his containers of bourbon from Kentucky to New Orleans, Augustus Bulleit completely vanished. What happened is still not fully known, and his creation almost disappeared into history along with him.

Soon after the Prohibition era ended around 1933, Heaven Hill Brands, was founded in Bardstown, Kentucky by the Shapira family to create and sell Bourbon and high quality American whiskeys. At the time, it was a brand new business venture as the dot com start-ups of the 1990’s — a business created with no type of brands, no accessible stocks of whiskey, and at the height of the American Great Depression. Currently, the company is one of the biggest independent, family-owned and operated maker and seller of distilled spirits in the United States. According to expert analysts, Heaven Hill is currently the seventh biggest spirits producer in the United States and the second biggest holder of aging Bourbon whiskey in the world with an inventory in excess of around 1,000,000 barrels.
In stark contrast to the ever changing and ever-consolidating spirits industry, Heaven Hill is still fiercely independent, led by the steady hands of the Shapira family. The business is dedicated to creating long-term relationships with their customers in order to build even stronger brands and implement consistent, effective programming. Independence, premium quality and integrity; all perfectly describe Heaven Hill Brands, a business committed to creating and selling the highest quality spirits products across the world.

Four Roses Bourbon
Around 1884, Paul Jones Jr moved his successful business to Louisville, Kentucky, where he opened a new office in a part of the historic Main Street known as “Whiskey Row”. Four years later, he then trademarked the name Four Roses, claiming all production and sales back into the 1860s. In 1922, the Paul Jones Co. purchased the Frankfort Distilling Co. all according to Paul’s passionate direction and great business sense, sales of the Bourbon amplified and Four Roses grew to become a preeminent brand.
The workers at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky. and at the warehouse in Cox’s Creek, Ky. keep the on-going legacy of Paul Jones, Jr. Their love for quality and their delight in handcrafting an award winning Bourbon is indisputable in the smooth, mellow taste that is the signature of the Four Roses brand.

We’d love to hear how your trip through the Bourbon Trail was! Let us know on Twitter or Facebook! We love to see photos!

craft spirits

This month the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal will be getting a few of the twin cities local distilleries together in one room to discuss the past, present and future of the craft spirits business!

Our very own Cara Fields will be on the panel of experts discussing the past, present and future of the craft spirits business! Be sure to follow along with this conversation on Twitter using the hashtag: #mspbjspirits

Some of the other panelists will be Bob McManus from 11 wells, Chris Montana from Du Nord Craft Spirits, Michael Swanson from Far North Spirits and Joel Vikre from Vikre Distillery

Cara looks forward to sharing some industry insights and meeting everyone in attendance. To register for this event you can sign up here: The Business of Craft Spirits – Business Journal

Ready to make a Whiskey Sour? We think this is the perfect drink to make for a Friday!  We’re curious, do you have your own version of a Whiskey Sour that you make?  We’d love to see it!  Let us know on Twitter! @BrooksGrainLLC

Here’s how to make an Original Whiskey Sour:
making a whiskey sour

Egg White Whiskey Sour:
Another version suggests you can make and Egg White Whiskey Sour! To do this you simply use 1.5 oz. of your favorite whiskey, .75 oz of lemon juice, .5 of simple syrup, a splash of orange liquer and 1 egg white. Put those ingrediants into a cocktail shaker and shake away for a different version of this classic cocktail.

We also found a Double Standard Whiskey Sour Recipe below for you!

double standard whiskey sour

Drink responsibly and let us know which version you decided to try for your Friday!

Orange Manhattan

Christmas Burwell Manhattan

These are great…actually one of the house fav’s.

Here is what you will need

  • cocktail shaker
  • ice
  • dash of sweet vermouth
  • 1.5 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Cointreau
  • dash orange bitters
  • dash maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 maraschino cherry, to garnish – well, make it 2

Mitch Morgan


The Mitch Morgan

-One shot of bourbon;

-One-half slice of cooked bacon;

-Combine ingredients, enjoy.

Yep.  That’s it.  The smoky bacon pairs wonderfully with the wood in the bourbon and makes a delicious garnish, and its fat cuts the bite of the alcohol with ease.  Put them together and you’ve found the perfect way to stay warm this winter.

The drink originates from Telluride, Colorado, specifically a BBQ and Bourbon joint called “Oak…The New Fat Alley.”  Telluride makes sense for this cocktails’ birthplace: know for cold, snow and mountains, the one-time silver mining camp has emerged as a destination ski resort town.  The Mitch Morgan speaks to the town’s hardscrabble roots (it’s easy to see a drink like this counting as breakfast for a miner) and it’s foodie/ski resort present.

One thing, however, is certain: The Mitch Morgan will warm your belly and put a smile on your face at the same time.  Time to stock up on ingredients before the snow cuts you off from the store.

Mint Julep

Mint julep

4 cups bourbon
2 bunches fresh spearmint
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
Powdered sugar

To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice.

Serve immediately.

Manhattan Italiano

Manhattan Italiano

2 ounces bourbon reserve
1/2 once Tuaca
1/2 ounce triple sec
6 dashes of Orange bitters
1/2 ounce of white sweet vermouth


Dark and Bloody Bourbon Mary

Bloody Mary

Dark and Bloody Bourbon Mary

1 teaspoon salt / pepper / paprika mix
2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon
2 large lemon wedges
1 tablespoon Bourbon Barrel Aged Worcestershire Sauce
1 can (6 ounces) campbell’s tomato juice

Blackberry Soda


Blackberry Soda

1.5 oz Ole Smokey Blackberry Moonshine
top off with soda water on ice

Rye Rocks

Rye Rocks

Locate your favorite whiskey glass
add ice
pour Rye


Bourbon Iced Tea

Rye Iced Tea
  • 3 cups fresh blackberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish
  • 6 good-quality black tea bags

Good-quality bourbon

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Bourbon Burger

Rye Burger

Burger Patties and Cheese:
30 ounces ground chuck (20 percent fat)
2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon (recommended: Bulleit brand)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
30 grinds fresh black pepper
6 ounces Dubliner cheese (Kerrygold brand), thinly sliced and divided into 6 (1-ounce) servings

Sauteed Onions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (European style)
1 large Vidalia onion, halved (through the core) and thinly sliced (1/4-inch)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 grinds fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup bourbon (recommended: Bulleit brand)

Brioche hamburger-sized buns, halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (European style), at room temperature

Rye Sour

Bourbon Sour

2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
1 slice orange
1 maraschino cherry

Bourbon on the Rocks


The Plan

Find a good bourbon
Select your favorite glass from your bar
Drop in a couple of cubes
Pour over ice



Classic Manhattan


3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 dash  bitters
1 maraschino cherry
1 twist orange peel

Combine the vermouth, bourbon whiskey, and bitters with 2 – 3 ice cubes in a mixing glass. Stir or shake gently so you won’t cloud the drink. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.

Perfect Manhattan


2 oz blended whiskey
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 dash bitters

Shake with ice to chill, pour into a low ball cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.


Cara’s Feature


750 JB White
1 can Concentrated OJ (Do not add water)
1 can Concentrated Limeade or Lemonade (Do not add water)
1 jar Maraschino Cherries. (I use DK Michigan Cherry since I don’t care for the Cherries)
2 Ltr Lemon-Lime Soda

Blend all ingredients together-place in freezer minimum 24 hrs.

**Once you remove from freezer, stir mixture from the bottom. Slight separation may have occurred during the freezing**