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. 

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! 

Low-Alcohol Cocktail Recipe

With dry January coming to a close, we thought now might be an appropriate time to ease everyone back into the harder stuff with a low ABV cocktail: the spritz. Generally, cocktails sit anywhere around 20 to 30 percent alcohol, but spritz style cocktails are much lower in alcohol, with ABV being right around five percent. The most famous of these types of cocktails is the Aperol spritz, a refreshing libation that’s particularly good on a hot summer’s day here in the Twin Cities. So, if it’s a good summer drink, why are we discussing it now, in the dead of winter? Well, by simply swapping out the Aperol with one of our favorite aperitifs, Bonal, you transform the bright and citrusy summer cocktail into something with rich flavors of ginger, baking spice, and bittersweet notes. Add a splash of elderflower tonic and slice of grapefruit, and you have a delicious low ABV drink, perfect for the winter. With all that being said, here it is, the Bonal Spritz:

  • 3oz Bonal Aperitif: Bonal is an aperitif that uses gentian root, cinchona bark (where quinine is derived from), and a blend of herbs that gives it its distinct bittersweet flavor.
  • 1 Bottle of Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic: Fever Tree Elderflower tonic is floral and lightly sweet, while still having that distinct quinine flavor that tonic is known for. We think it’s an excellent pairing with Bonal.

Fill a large wine glass with ice, add your Bonal, top with the tonic, stir lightly, garnish with a half slice of grapefruit, and enjoy!

This drink, if mixed according to the above directions, will have an ABV of 4.9% (don’t worry, we did the math so you don’t have to), so feel free to have two! The depth of flavors in the Bonal are lifted and enhanced by the sweet, floral notes from the tonic, while the grapefruit garnish adds a pop of color and beautiful bittersweet aromas that only make this cocktail even better. The result is a fantastic winter variation of a classic summer drink that we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do!

Live Holiday Music at France 44



Vocalist Norah Long, with Erin Roe on keyboard / 3-4pm 

Chick Cheer Quartet: Nicole Fenstad, Kym Chambers, Nickie Kromminga & Seri Johnson / 4-5pm 

Guitarist & Vocalist Evan Twichell / 5-6pm



Holly & Spice: Santa’s Singing Elves featuring Nicole Fenstad & Seri Johnson / 3-4pm 

Pianist Erin Roe / 4-5pm 

Violinists Ellen Hacker & Stephanie Skor / 5-6pm 



Guitarist & Vocalist Alanna Snortland / 3-4pm 

Jolly Jazz: Vocalist Seri Johnson & Pianist Jay Albright / 4-5pm 

Vocalist Norah Long, with Erin Roe on keyboard / 3-4pm 

Treble Tones Choir / 6-7pm 



Pianist Erin Roe with Vocalist Olivia Snortland / 3-4pm 

Pianist Natalie McComas / 4-5pm 

The d’Lakes Trio / 5-7pm  

Gift Boxes!

We know you’ve been waiting all year for this. We’ve got a gift box for everyone on your list, from the beer buff to the cocktail curious–even a non-alcoholic sampler pack! Click any of the pictures below to purchase your gift boxes or click HERE to see all of our gift offerings. Cheers, and happy shopping!

Libation Gift Boxes

Food + Libation Gift Boxes

Our Maker’s Mark Private Select Barrel has arrived!

by Tom

The wait is finally over: we have received our Maker’s Mark Private Select Barrel! Maker’s Mark has one of the most interesting single barrel programs ever where you can customize a ring of staves that are dipped into the barrel for a finishing time period of nine weeks. A few years ago we landed on the perfect blend of staves for our palates. With the addition of ten staves with five different staves to choose from, there are a daunting 1,001 different possible combinations.

The Staves to Choose From

The five staves made specifically by the Independent Stave Company to choose from are the following:

  • Baked American Pure 2- the only American Oak in the bunch, giving it brown sugar, vanilla and spice.
  • Seared French Cuvee- This stave is ridge-cut and seared with infrared heat, this stave gives off toasty caramel.
  • Maker’s 46- the classic. This stave gives off dried fruit and caramelized spice.
  • Roasted French Mocha- toasted on high heat in a convection oven, giving off big maple, chocolate, and toasty char.
  • Toasted French Spice- toasted on both high heat and low heat giving off smoke and cinnamon spice.


The F44 Private Select Single Barrel

As you can tell, we had a long and arduous task ahead of us. Blending up different combinations of staves to see what we liked best, I mean twist our arms, right? We quickly realized Maker’s Cask Strength is nowhere as sweet as classic Maker’s Mark, so we went for a more creamy and fruity profile while also falling head over heels for the Roasted French Mocha staves. We ended up with the following:

  • 3 Baked American Pure 2 staves for Vanilla
  • 4 Roasted French Mocha for chocolate and maple
  • 1 Maker’s 46 for cherry
  • 1 Toasted French Spice
  • 1 Seared French Cuvee

Here’s the exciting wrinkle, unless you have used our beloved French Mocha Staves in a past recipe, you cannot use it use it. It was been retired and archived so you can only use it in past recipes, so this is the only place to grab this special bottle we have cooked up for you!

Bottled at 109.1 proof,  it smells like chocolate covered cherries and tastes like creamy caramel and vanilla, but why don’t you stop in and grab a bottle and see what you think?

Spooooooky Cocktails!


We’ve got some spoooooky cocktails for all your Halloween shenanigans!  Some might push you to try something a little more complicated, but don’t be scared!  They will be worth the work.  And some will be perfect to share with friends at your next séance or ghoul gathering.  Let those skeletons out of your closet, it’s time to party!

Violet Delights 

  • ½ oz Liber & Co grenadine
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz Empress gin (must use for the color)
  • Fever Tree Club soda

Fill a highball glass with ice, add grenadine, lemon juice, gin, top with soda water and a cocktail cherry.


Kitchen Witch Smash 

Mezcal is the star this week for a spooky smoky cocktail.  This one is a little extra work but will be worth it!  For an extra witchy vibe, repeat a mantra or set some good intentions while you muddle your ingredients.  Or hex someone, we won’t tell.

  • 8 fresh blackberries, plus more for topping
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, plus a sprig for serving
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • ½ oz Código Agave Nectar
  • 2 oz Lu Luna Cupreata Mezcal
  • a couple dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters
  • Fever Tree Club Soda

In a mixing glass, add blackberries, rosemary, lemon juice and agave nectar. Muddle the ingredients together, squishing everything to release the juices.  Add ice, along with the mezcal and orange bitters.  Stir for 20 seconds and strain over ice into a mason jar. Top with club soda and garnish with fresh rosemary and blackberries.



Phantom Vehicle

By now you probably have some apple cider sitting in the fridge ready for a new spin.  Here’s a fun fall take on the classic sidecar.  If you’re feeling adventurous, try this warm during your next chilly evening by the fire.   Or if you’re feeling lazy, simply warm up the apple cider, add cognac, and top with whipped cream for an easy treat.

  • 2 oz. fresh apple cider
  • 2 oz. Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon peel and Griottines brandied cherries, for garnish

Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker, top with ice, and shake until the shaker starts to frost and feels very cold to the touch (20 to 30 seconds).  Strain into a coupe glass and top with zest and brandied cherries.





Cachaça Zombie 

Trick or treat!  What’s this new creature at your door?  It’s cachaca, a Brazilian liquor made from distilled sugarcane juice.  This cousin of rum is a little funky and earthy and makes for a great cocktail.  But don’t worry, after a few of these you’ll be the fun kind of zombie not the brain eating kind.

  • 2 oz Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça
  • 1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 1.5 – 2 oz On the Fly Tropical Cocktail Mixer
  • 1 dash Angostura or Bittercube Trinity
  • Absinthe rinse (optional but recommended)
  • lime wedge and mint sprig, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Rinse an oversized whiskey tumbler with absinthe, add crushed ice, and pour in your strained cocktail.  Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig.



Spooky Sangria 

You probably still have some apple cider; we all make the same mistakes every fall, nobody is perfect.  So here’s a great recipe to share with your ghoul and goblin friends at your haunted gatherings.  Use up that cider and that dusty bottle of pinot grigio you never got to in the summer, and bring the shenanigans to the party!

  • 1 bottle pinot grigio
  • 2.5 cups apple cider
  • 1.5 cup Schweppes Club Soda
  • .75 cup Velvet Falernum liqueur
  • 3 honey crisp apples chopped
  • 3 pears chopped

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl, stir, and chill for one hour before serving.

WSET: Wine Certification Courses at France 44

Public education has long been an important facet of France 44, and we’ve come to really love and enjoy the classes we host with our community members. So much so, in fact, that we’ve been quietly working on another addition to our business in partnership with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET): The France 44 Wines & Spirits Education APP. In other words, we are officially approved to teach certification courses through WSET!  

The Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) is an internationally-recognized certification organization for folks looking to expand their knowledge of wine, spirits, and sake. There are WSET schools around the globe: from Napa to Mexico City to London to Beijing; ours will be the second approved WSET APP in Minnesota, and among only a small handful within the Midwest. While we have goals to offer certification for wine, spirit, and sake through WSET in due time, we’re starting with levels 1 – 3 of Wine. 

Classes through WSET go beyond our public classes; think of these classes as a larger picture look at wine around the world, as opposed to the more focused, deep-diving topics that we cover in our public classes. Certification through WSET not only helps to inform you as a beverage consumer in what you like and why, but it also leads to enjoyment of libations on a more thoughtful level.  

So, what exactly does each level entail, and how do you know which to sign up for? 

WSET Level 1 is like baby step into the world of wine: think of this level as the elementary school level of wine; it’s the least intimidating of the four levels, and a great way to get the basics if you have really minimal knowledge around wine. Our first ever WSET Level 1 course is scheduled for January 28, 2023, and entails just one 6-hour in-person course, with the exam being completed at the end of the day.  

You can treat WSET Level 2 like high school – there’s more content to learn here, but it’s still not too intense of a course. You’ll expand more on what wines from certain regions taste like and begin diving into grape growing methods. You’ll also begin to taste wines deductively at this level, meaning tasting wines for their core flavors, aromas, and mouthfeel. WSET Level 2 is scheduled as a 3-day course, with class held once per week beginning February 5, 2023.  

At Level 3, you begin to explore wine at a more “college” level. Why do wines taste a certain way, what wine growing and production methods are used where and why, and so forth. At this level, the exam consists of multiple choice, essay questions, as well as a blind of two wines; it’s geared more towards those with a comfortable background in wine or those who have completed level 2. Our Level 3 course will be held once a week, from March 13th through May 29th of 2023.  

Regardless of what level you choose, we’re eager to clink glasses and dive right in with you! For more information on our mission as a WSET School, in depth looks at the learning points for each level, and to get your name on our registration list, visit our France 44 Wine & Spirits Education site.  

The France 44 Uniform: A Cocktail

by Tom

Guys, our events team has fallen in love with a cocktail. Over the past few weeks our desks upstairs have been buzzing and we felt the need to share it with you guys. Somewhere in between a Last Word, Margarita, and a Negroni, lives what we’re calling The France 44 Uniform. It can go by a different name, but you’ll have to come in and ask to find out. We have changed up the ingredients a few times to find the exact right mixture of libations that also align with business ethos. It’s easy to make and comes in four equal parts so there is no math involved in this endeavor. Definitely our end of summer cocktail, balancing summer and fall flavors, keeping things herbaceous and refreshing. Here we go: 

The France 44 Uniform

In a cocktail shaker combine:

  • 1oz Banhez Mezcal, a beautiful agave spirit made by 36 families in a co-op in Mexico with the right amount to citrus and smoke perfect for any cocktail. 
  • 1oz Vikre Herbal Liqueur, much akin to Yellow Chartreuse but cheaper, locally made in Duluth, and readily available. It is bright and herbaceous, filled with notes of Chamomile, Thyme, honey, douglas fir, and mint. It gives off incredibly complex fall vibes. 
  • 1oz Negroni Aperitivo Sixteen, our new favorite Aperol replacement. Just a pinch more rich and bitter than Aperol and locally distributed. It also has some rhubarb which we love. It’s our new go-to for spritzes and lighter style negronis.  
  • 1oz freshly squeezed lime juice, which at this time of the season, is one whole lime. 

Since this drink has fresh citrus, shaking it over ice and straining it is the best way to wake up all the flavors. While this is easily batchable for a party, it should be made the same day of the party since it has all that fresh lime juice. Or batch it early and add the lime juice later. This drink will transition you from Summer to Fall effortlessly, let us know what you think!