Memorial Day Beverage Pairing Guide

Peach Bourbon Cocktail garnished with mint sits in a garden bed

Memorial Day is here, summer is beginning, and we’re embarking on a summer of pairing! Here at France 44, this is our favorite time of the year. We get to dust off our grills and pull some of our favorite summer bottles off the shelves.  

Our talented butchers prepare gorgeous cuts of meat & house-made brats to grill, and lovely charcuterie to serve. If you have not checked out the case in our cheese shop yet, you absolutely must this weekend. Of course, you can also order online here

Cookout style dining might feel casual, but you can and should still be intentional about the drinks you serve. Just as you may spend hours seasoning, marinating, smoking, and grilling meat, you should spend time finding just the right beverages that accompany and enhance your meal and take it to the next level. Luckily for you, Bennett, Tom, and Dustin of our beer, spirits, and wine teams, respectively, have put together a couple of beverage recommendations for you this week, to make your Memorial Day barbecue a night to remember.  


Perhaps the most common Memorial Day beverage is beer, so we’ll start there.  

When pairing beer with food there are a few main principles that you’ll want to consider. The first is to pair a beer and food that have matching intensities. Think about what contributes intensity to each. For beer: alcohol, hop bitterness, malt flavor (caramelized, bready, toasty, roasty) and residual sweetness can all add intensity. In food: fatty richness, sweetness, spices and cooking techniques (searing, roasting, broiling, etc) can add intensity. The browning process that occurs while cooking food, called the Maillard reaction, is also the process that changes flavors in modified malt.  

Let’s use that to segue into our second principle: identifying harmonizing flavors. Choosing a beer and food with similar Maillard flavor components will create a natural bridge between the two. Consider other components, like how a citrusy or herbal hop character might accentuate a dish containing fresh herbs.

The last principle is to identify potentially contrasting or balancing elements. For me, the main focal point here is hop bitterness. Hop bitterness is great for cutting through fat and richness in food, achieving balance. On the other hand, when a hoppy beer is paired with spicy food, it will amplify the perceived spiciness which could cause imbalance. Other components to consider are carbonation and alcohol (which cut through and balance richness), and malt sweetness (which balances spice and acid). 

Hefeweizen + Watermelon

May is the beginning of watermelon season, so why not have a big ‘ol slice at your Memorial Day cookout. I would suggest taking sips of a bright fruity and spicy hefeweizen as you enjoy your fruit. The tangy yeastiness, soft texture from high-protein wheat, and dancing notes of banana, citrus and clove match the refreshing qualities of watermelon. 

Cream Ale + Corn on the Cob

Ahhh, the wonderful simplicity of grilled corn on the cob with a little butter. It still counts as a vegetable, right? Pair this staple with a Cream Ale, a lighter ale style that mimics some of the characteristics of lager. Similarly smooth and light, but with subtly more malt and sweetness from the use of flaked maize – no wonder it works so well!   

Pale Ale + Cheeseburgers

IPAs get all the attention and glory these days, but let me remind you that Pale Ales were the foundation upon which that castle was built. A quality Pale Ale can be a sort of multi-tool for beer pairing, and it goes especially well with burgers and pizza. Softly-sweet crystal malt harmonizes wonderfully with a brioche bun while the citrus and pine-like hop bitterness cuts through the richness of beef and cheese. Perfect! 


Raspberry Gimlet + Grilled Chicken

Our Raspberry Gimlet is bright and refreshing on a hot summer day, like the ones we will hopefully be getting this weekend. The bright fruitiness will blend right in with the fresh fruits served at the beginning of a cookout and will cut right through the char and salinity of grilled chicken. If served as a long drink with ice and club soda this cocktail can be enjoyed all evening long.  

2.5oz New Harbour African Dry Gin 

0.5oz lime juice 

1oz Mathilde Framboise Liqueur 

Shake & Strain into a coupe glass 


top with club soda and ice for a longer lighter drink 

Garnish with raspberries 

Peach Bourbon Sour + Pork Chops

Peach and pork go together through the contrast of sweet and savory; this is also why peach glazes are so common. Both have milder flavors that blend together quite nicely, especially on a hot day. This drink also has the freshness of a mint garnish and the spice of bourbon to keep everything nice and balanced. if we didn’t need a reason for a peach cobbler for dessert, we definitely have one now! 

2oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon 

1oz lemon juice 

1oz Mathile Peche Liqueur 

Shake & Strain into a lowball glass 

Garnish with a mint sprig 


Lambrusco/Rosè + Brats

I am a huge fan of Lambrusco and pink wine for grilling. Lini Lambrusco Rosso is killer with any brat. The lambrusco lends a dry but fruitful accompaniment to the salty grilled flavors of the meat.  Rose helps in a similar capacity, leading with a beautiful fruitful body that welcomes salt and rendered fat. Peyrassol Rose from France or GD Vajra Rossabella Rosato would be great choices.  All of these wines are also great served chilled.
Two brats on a plate with kraut and potatoes
Bottle of Rosabella Rose

Cocktails for Spring!

The sun is shining and we’re all getting eager to start hosting dinner parties in our yards, take the boats out on the lake, and enjoy evenings on the patio, with a refreshing drink in hand of course. Our liquor team put together a couple new fruity, summery cocktails with spirits we’re obsessed with here in the shop. These spins on classic cocktails are sure to wow your guests and make your summer evenings a little more exciting.


The Margarita is probably one of the most beloved cocktails and for good reason. This riff brings in a tropical twist that makes this cocktail even more refreshing! Tres Agaves Blanco tequila is very citrus forward and helps to lift the other flavors while still providing some peppery bite to round out the cocktail! 

  • 2oz Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
  • 1oz Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 1oz Lime Juice
  • 0.5oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lime twist or lime wheel.


Our take on a classic daiquiri

The Daiquiri is an easy, classic cocktail, and the addition of the Chinola passion fruit liqueur takes it to the next level. The bright, slightly tart flavor of the Chinola pairs incredibly well with the rum and lime to create a new twist on a summer favorite! 

  • 2oz White Rum
  • 1oz Chinola Passion fruit Liqueur
  • 0.75oz Lime Juice
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lime wheel.


How do you take a cocktail that screams “summer” and make it even more summer-y? Add in some pineapple! Plantation Pineapple Rum is a fantastic addition that take this cocktail in a new direction! Served up on crushed ice, nothing beats this one on a hot day! 

  • 1.5oz Plantation Pineapple Rum
  • 0.75oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 0.75oz Lime Juice
  • 0.5oz Orgeat

 Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake briefly. Strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice and float an additional 0.5oz of pineapple rum on top. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Meet Melissa!

How did you find your way to France 44? What do you do here and how long have you worked here? 

I’ve been working at France 44 as our Human Resources Manager and Cider Expert for almost six years. Before working at France 44, I had worked for many years in non-profits, as the Executive director of several, and I ran my own Math and Reading Center. I was looking for a change and new challenge, and decided to look into working in a liquor store. The HR position opened up and I decided to go for it!


What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

I love to read. I escape reality in books, sitting on my porch swing. I read a lot of fiction, and my favorites are the books in the “Name of the Wind” series.

How did you get into cider? What do you love about cider? 

Today is the 9th anniversary of the day I found out I had celiac disease. I was a big beer drinker before, and was looking for an alternative with a similar alcohol content. The first cider I tried was the Milk and Honey Heirloom cider, and it changed my life. I fell down the rabbit hole and didn’t look back. I love the diversity of ciders, and the fact that two cider makers can take the same apples, and make such distinctive, unique products. But most of all, I love the community. I am a part of online groups, the Minnesota Cider Guild, and attend Cider Con every year. I’m also the cider expert for a local news station in Rhinelander, Wisconsin (WJFW), was named the 2023 Midwest Pemellier of the Year, and helped France 44 become a top Midwest off-premise cider sales location.

Ok tough question – what is your favorite cider?

Milk and Honey Heirloom reigns supreme!

What do you want people to know about cider?


But also, it’s not all sweet. Cider can taste like fresh apples, can be dry, can be sparkling or still; there’s something for everyone. I hope that more people will be open to trying it!




MISA Imports Wine Recommendations

We want to highlight MISA Imports this week. With a focus on quality and sustainability, MISA Wine Imports sources excellent wines from renowned small to medium wineries in Europe and beyond. They carry a wide selection of styles, from full body reds, crisp whites, and beautiful sparkling wines, and offer an excellent value. 

Of the dozens of excellent MISA wines that we carry, we’ve chosen a few of our favorites to share with you, all of which are available in our store! 




Manciat Cremant de Bourgogne NV, Burgundy, France – $19.99 

100% Chardonnay. Sourced from the neighboring villages of Pouilly-Fuisse. Nice yeast and baked bread notes on the nose. This is a deliciously fruity and rich Cremant, with fruit flavors of green apple and melon and chalky aspects on the crisp, clean finish. 



Ronan by Clinet Blanc 2020, Bordeaux, France – $17.99

Ronan By Clinet White offers a bright golden hue, as a pleasant introduction to a fine wine. Hints of yuzu, grapefruit, white flowers, passion fruit, a succession of aromas, all promising freshness, elegance and complexity.  




Berthaude Cuvee Laura Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2021, Rhone Valley, France – $17.99

85% Viognier, 15% Grenache Blanc/Marsanne blend. Vinified in stainless steel tanks. Exotic nose of melon, apricot and honeysuckle with a wonderful garrigue note. On the palate there is a focused mineral vein that runs through the wine, with ripe apricot, peach and honeydew. 




Alberto Conti Chianti Classico 2019, Tuscany, Italy – $17.99

Displays an intense crimson color. This 100% Sangiovese has a delicate bouquet brimming with fresh aromas of iris and violets that evolve into forest berries at the end. On the palate, it has a powerful blend of dry, mineral notes that provide an intense, persistent flavor. 




Domaine Bressy Masson Rasteau 2020, Bordeaux, France – $24.99

This complex wine has a beautiful black-purple color and offers a rich bouquet of blackberries, blackcurrants and violets. On the palate it is full-bodied, liquorice-like and ends with mineral and even salty notes. 




L’Espirit de Chevalier Pessac Leognan 2018, Bordeaux, France – $44.99

The second wine of Domaine de Chevalier, this shows all the richness of the vintage, with weighty tannins and a generous future. Blackberry fruits and a core that promises plenty of potential as the dryness softens contribute to what will be a richly structured, complex wine. 


The Bridge Between

Spring has…sort of Sprung?

written by Jake

This time of year in Minnesota is always interesting. The doldrums of winter still lurk around every corner; snow on the ground; below freezing temperatures; the ever looming threat of a late winter snowstorm. But, the signs of spring are starting to show their face. This weekend we’re seeing temperatures in the mid 40s…that’s nearly shorts weather! For those of you who are looking to make yourself a cocktail, this time of year can be even more confusing. Do you make something warm and wintery like an old fashioned or a hot toddy? Or do you go with something more summery like an aperol spritz or a daiquiri? With that dilemma in mind, we got to work coming up with something that could be a bridge between those two feelings, not quite all the way wintery or summery. This riff on a Paper Plane is sure to warm you up while still being refreshing! Here it is:


The Bridge Between

0.75oz Rye Whiskey Pick your favorite rye here, but we love Rittenhouse rye for cocktails. The higher proof holds up well in cocktails, and the warm notes of clove and cinnamon work wonders in this drink.

0.75oz Aperol This classic bitter orange aperitif has more sweetness than Campari, while still providing enough bitterness to balance this drink. Negroni Sixteen liqueur is another great option!

0.75oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram This liqueur brings waves of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. It pairs beautifully with the rye and gives this drink a lot of complexity.

0.75oz Lemon Juice The acidity from the lemon will help round out the sweetness of the other ingredients and provide much needed balance.

Add all your ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice until well chilled. Strain or fine strain into a chilled glass (a coupe or Nick & Nora work great) and garnish with an orange or lemon twist.

The rye and allspice dram provide the warm, wintery spice notes that make so many winter cocktails great. The Aperol and lemon juice help brighten the flavors and balance the drink. The result is a wonderfully complex cocktail that is as refreshing on a sunny day as it is warming on a cold one, perfect for a Minnesota spring!

Meet Our Beer Buyer!

How did you end up working at France 44?

After leaving my Job at a local wine distributor, I wanted to get back into the retail side of the industry. France44 was the only store on my list. That was over 16yr ago....

How many businesses have mysteriously burned down shortly after you were employed at them?

Two businesses that I absolutely loved working for burnt down after I left. I have solid alibis for both incidents.

Word on the street is that you drink other things than beer...? Is that allowed? And what's you current go-to non-beer drink?

I'm a sucker for a great Gin & Tonic, anything from Ridge Vineyards, South Africa Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Also, I'll fight anyone who doesn't think Griottine Cherries are the absolute most important item in a great Manhattan.

As the beer buyer, you have seen the rise (and sometimes fall) of many beer trends. What beer trend are you most excited about?

We take a lot of pride in curating a great selection of beer in the department. That means we say no a lot more than we say yes. Obviously, we can't ignore the big trends, but I don't go chasing the smaller ones. If those smaller trends are going to work, they'll happen organically and not because we force them. Plus, trends tend to produce products we really don't get that excited about. Just give us well made classic styles!

We've heard you live in a mysterious land call St. Paul. What's one of your favorite restaurants there?

Meritage is our splurge restaurant. El Burrito Mercado, Punch, Parlour and Pajarito are some of our neighborhood hang-outs.

We heard you love to cook. What's the best thing you have cooked recently?

Last week I made griddle grilled Nordic salmon with Cajun corn cakes and sauteed green beans. Pretty happy with the end result. Basically, a big plate of comfort. I just started reading The Food Lab and The Wok--both written by Kenji Lopez-Alt. I Love his style of writing and it helps get through his textbook-sized books. Also my love of beef and pork have led me to blindly follow anything that Bradley Robinson of Chuds BBQ does with the grill/smoker.

What's your desert island beer?

It would have to be a craft Pilsner. Or a Czech Pilsner.....or maybe a German Pilsner. And of course, Champagne. I try never to be too far away from a good bottle of bubbles.

Daiquiris For Days

written by Jake

Rum, lime juice, sugar. That’s all it takes to make one of the most classic cocktails of all time. Invented right around the start of the 20th century in a town of the same name in Cuba, the Daiquiri is the perfect drink for a hot, humid day. Legend has it that the drinks inventor, Stockton Cox, invented it when he ran out of gin but didn’t want to serve his guests straight rum. The addition of lime juice and sugar helped to smooth out the flavors of the rum and the rest is history. Now while the Daiquiri is ideal for hot weather, there’s certainly no reason that this delicious beverage can’t be enjoyed anytime of the year, even in a Minnesota winter. While the original recipe (which we’ll share below) is delicious on its own, a couple of simple tweaks can turn this drink into a complex, winter cocktail. Enjoy!


  • 2oz White Rum – Any white rum that you enjoy will do, but we like Plantation 3 Star for its complexity and price point.
  • 1oz Fresh Lime Juice –  Fresh citrus juices are always the first choice but the bottled stuff will still make a good drink.
  • 0.75oz Simple Syrup – Traditionally a Demerara syrup is used (Liber & Co. make a good one), but truthfully any simple syrup will work.

Add all your ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake hard until well chilled (frost will form on the outside of your shaker, that’s a good indication that it’s been shaken enough). Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lime wheel.


  • 2oz Plantation Dark Rum – Once again, any dark rum you enjoy will do, but Plantation Dark Rum is excellent and is a great price.
  • 0.75oz Fresh Lime Juice – See above.
  • 0.25oz Liber & Co Ginger Syrup – Ginger syrup will add both sweetness, as well as spice.
  • 0.5oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram – This liqueur is a favorite of F44 employees. With notes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper, this is what’s going to transform this drink into a winter classic. We recommend starting on the lower end of the measurement and increasing the amount from there if you want more of the Allspice flavor.
  • 4 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters 

As above, add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake hard. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lime wheel, or, if you’re feeling fancy, express the oils from a grapefruit peel over the top of the drink. 

We have a new POS System!

As those of you who have come into the store this week have seen, we have upgraded our POS. Thank you all for your patience as we have been making this transition. Best thing about it for you – no more signatures! 

  • You still earn 3% cash back!
  • Redemptions are now in increments of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $500
    • These amounts can be stacked together! 
  • Points are still earned for in-store purchases in the liquor store and cheese shop – and can be used in both.
  • Members will be getting emails with updates on their points and will eventually be able to set up an account online to track points. 
If you have any questions about the new way of Club 44, email Aaron at
    • We are in the process of getting our online sales platform all set up for this spring. We will send a notification when this is complete. 
  • No more pesky signatures at checkout!

Social, Local, Vocal: The (re-branded) Du Nord Story

written by Karina

If the mark of a good producer means that they make good products, Du Nord fills that qualification easily. If the mark of a great producer means that they use their platform to support and champion their local community and give a voice and opportunities to demographics that are usually not heard in the spirits and hospitality industry, then Du Nord is the GOAT.  

The first thing you’ll notice when you ask Tom where the Du Nord stuff is at France 44 is that, well, you probably notice them a lot more than you used to. They recently chose to undergo a major rebranding, casting aside the more classic and traditional labels in favor of bold colors, big block letters—essentially demanding you to notice them.  

And this is exactly it: Du Nord demands you to take notice. You’re first taken in by their boldness in packaging, but then you’re sucked in by their boldness in who they are and what they stand for. It’s not enough for Du Nord to talk about good ideas and social change—they live it out and challenge others to do the same. Their mission statement? “We want to change the rooms, open the doors and help people who have not traditionally held power see how we can make it in this business, this town, this life, this world.”  

Du Nord even chose to re-brand the full name they go by: they’re now Du Nord Social Spirits (changed from Du Nord Craft Spirits). If this doesn’t tell you how focused they are on building community and creating connections, then nothing else will. This is something we at France 44 connect with on a deep level—the idea that alcohol isn’t just alcohol, and that it has the power and potential to be a catalyst for bringing people, ideas, and passions together, just like food does.  

Here are some of our favorites that you should take notice of: 


Taking home more awards than we can count, this gin is the only one you need to have on your home bar—especially if you love the juniper-forward kind of gin. The bold juniper is framed by softer notes of angelica, licorice and ginger, giving it a beautiful depth that proves it’s as good on its own as it is in a G&T—or better yet, in Du Nord’s ‘The Wigington’:

The Wigington Cocktail
  • 2 oz Prominence Gin 

  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice  

  • 3/4 oz agave or honey syrup  

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters 2 drops rose water  

  • Garnish with an edible flower, such as orchid 

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a martini glass or coupe. Garnish. 


This special-release gin turns the Prominence Gin up to volume 11. Aged in Du Nord whiskey barrels, this gorgeous gin is softened around the edges with whisps of vanilla and caramel notes along with the ever-present botanicals. Use this is as your base in an insane, off-the-wall version of an Old Fashioned:

Gin Old Fashioned Cocktail
  • 2 oz Prominence Barreled Gin 

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters  

  • 2 sugar cubes  

  • Garnish with cherry and orange peel  

In a rocks glass, combine the orange peel or wheel, bitters, and sugar cubes. Muddle to combine. Add ice, gin and stir from the bottom to combine. Garnish. 


Frieda is a cornerstone of Du Nord’s lineup, made using cold brew from locally-roasted coffee beans. Nutty and with a deep roasted flavor, it toes the line between chocolatey and dessert-y, and orange-spice-laden. Put this in your Negroni and you’ll never drink it the same way again:

Frieda Coffee Negroni Cocktail
  • 1.5 oz Prominence Gin 

  • 0.5 oz Frieda Coffee Liqueur 

  • 0.25 oz Campari 

  • 1 oz sweet vermouth 

  • Orange peel garnish 

Build in a rocks glass and stir with a large ice cube or sphere. Garnish with an orange peel. 

Get inspired this month (and every month) and drink some “Real good booze that does real good.” Plus, try some of there awesome products on our tasting bar this Saturday!