September Spirit of the Month: Bourbon!

bourbon barrel

by Jake Rollin

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, so we thought it’d be a great time to make bourbon our France 44 Spirit of the Month! 

The history of bourbon can be traced back to when European colonists first settled in America. They brought with them a love of distilled spirits, but lacked the ingredients to make what they had been distilling in Europe.

Corn, however, was abundant in America and gradually began to be used for distillation. Early American whiskey consisted of mainly rye with corn as a secondary ingredient. By 1770, the bourbon we have come to know began to take shape and corn became the main ingredient.

Today, “bourbon” is defined as a spirit made in the United States (not just Kentucky) with a mash bill of at least 51% corn. The whiskey must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, though there isn’t a requirement for how long it must be aged. For a label to read “straight bourbon,” the whiskey must be aged for a minimum of two years. Terms like “bottled-in-bond” are simply stricter requirements beyond the base requirements.

The bourbon “mash bill,” which is essentially the grain recipe for whiskey, varies from brand to brand, but is generally made of corn, rye, and malted barley. Wheated bourbons contain wheat rather than rye and generally have a softer, sweeter palate. 

Bourbon was named the national spirit of the US in 1964. There are a huge number of brands and producers, all with varying mash bills and styles, and countless cocktails are centered around bourbon, including classics like the Old Fashioned and the Mint Julep. Below are some of our favorite bourbons, both for sipping straight or mixing into a cocktail! 

Four Roses is based in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and was officially founded in 1888, with its current distillery being built in 1910. Four Roses has ten distinct recipes they use for their bourbons with various four-letter combinations (OESK, OESV, etc.) The Small Batch offering combines four of these ten recipes and is aged between six and seven years. The result is a smooth bourbon with rich caramel and soft notes of ripe red fruits. This is one of our favorites for cocktails but it’s excellent to sip on as well. 

New Riff is a relatively new distillery in the bourbon world, established in 2014. However, don’t let that fool you; this bourbon is just as nuanced as any of the big brands. Following the guidelines laid out by the Bottled-in-Bond act of 1897, New Riff bourbon is aged a minimum of four years and bottled at 100 proof. Their high rye mash bill creates a wonderfully complex palate with rich notes of caramel and vanilla followed by a lasting finish of clove and white pepper. Try it in your favorite cocktail or on its own, we think you’ll love it. 

    Calumet Farm was a dominant name in the horse racing world long before they stepped into the bourbon arena. In 2013, Calumet launched their line of bourbons, specializing in whiskies with age statements of eight years or more. Their 16 year offering is the oldest one they’ve offered yet, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Rich smoke leads on the nose, followed by lighter aromas of toasted almonds, with cherries and citrus revealing themselves as the bourbon breathes. Light rye spice followed by deep fruit flavors dominate the palate. The finish is soft, with light smoke and toasted wood notes. This is a true masterclass in bourbon that any afficionado should treat themselves to at least once. 

    The Peachy Keen Bourbon Sour

    Bourbon and peach are one of those flavors combinations that always seems to be a crowd pleaser, and this is no exception! Four Roses Small Batch brings a wonderful base of caramel and vanilla that, when combined with the peach, creates almost a peach cobbler flavor. The lemon juice lifts everything with bright acidity, and the simple syrup makes all the flavors pop and adds some body to the cocktail. Perfect for the last few weeks of beautiful Minnesota weather! 


    2oz Four Roses Small Batch 

    1oz Lemon Juice 

    0.75oz Mathilde Peach 

    0.5oz Simple Syrup 


    Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into a rocks glass with ice or straight up into a coupe. Garnish with a lemon wheel. 

    Summer’s Not Over Just Yet!

    Birdeye view of picnic with baguette, cheese, drink

    It’s hard to believe that it’s already the last week of August. Time to fit in all the last minute summer bucket list items, the kayaks and bike rides and hikes. But also time to relax, hammock, go to the beach, picnic in the park. So between your outdoor adventures, trips to the state fair, and trips to target to pick up all of the school supplies, we encourage you make time for a relaxing picnic this next week. And luckily, we’re here with the perfect beverage recommendations for just that.

    Bell’s Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer. 5.8% ABV.

    Brewed with premium 2-row barley, the finest American hops, a touch of flaked corn, and Mexican Lager yeast. A true Mexican Lager with a hint of lime. 4.8% ABV.

    The Zenn Clusterfruit is a THC Tonic flavored with mango, passion fruit, pineapple and pink guava. The fruitiness screams summer and 10mg of THC per can guarantees a relaxing, summer afternoon.

    This Sauvignon Blanc is super fresh and zingy with bright lemon citrus, chalk and wet stones. It’s a medium-bodied, transparent sauvignon with a taut palate. Dry and delicious!

    This is the perfect summertime red. Delivering bright red currant fruit, rose petal aromas and chalky minerals, this is made of the indigenous grape Cianoros, which tastes like Nebbiolo without the tannins or a richer version of Schiava. This is delicious served with a slight chill.

    This bagged cocktail screams boat day. One pouch serves 12 fruity, light cocktails at 12% ABV. The bright, citrusy grapefruit and zingy ginger will leave you coming back for seconds and thirds. Just chill the pouch, shake, and serve out of the convenient pour spout!

    Hayman’s Vibrant Citrus Gin has a rich juniper backbone complemented by the vivid aromas and flavors of distilled citrus: mandarin, pomelo, kumquat, and Persian lime. The depth and brightness of this gin is the result of distilling the sun-dried fruit peels together with the classic ten Hayman’s botanicals, as part of a unique two-day process. Bring a bottle of Hayman’s Vibrant Citrus and some Light Tonic on the go for an easy, refreshing cocktail that screams summer.

    Strawberry Basil Smash!

    We’re excited to be carrying Tattersall’s new Rosso Gin in the shop! Tattersall released this limited edition gin last month, and they only produced about 2000 bottles of it, so you better pick one up while you have the chance!

    For the base gin, Tattersall partnered with Indeed Brewing to use some of their Mexican Honey (you all know the iconic Mexican Honey Light!). Then, they added rose petal and violet as well as strawberry and raspberry to this batch. The honey brings out the floral fruitiness, producing a gin with a touch of sweetness and a lovely aroma. It screams summer, both in appearance and in flavor. 

    This gin is the perfect compliment to fresh fruits and herbs. If you follow us on Instagram or shop in our store, then you must know by now about our new rooftop garden. We love to talk about it – we’re growing all sorts of herbs, fruits, and veggies up on the roof, including sweet little strawberries & more basil than we could ever use! Those two inspired this cocktail. The strawberry Basil Smash is perfect for anyone who loves fruity drinks. Here’s the recipe: 

    2 oz Tattersall Rosso Gin

    1 oz Lemon Juice

    ½ oz Simple Syrup

    2 Strawberries

    2 Large Basil Leaves

    1. Muddle the strawberries and basil with simple syrup in your shaker.
    2. Add lemon juice, gin, and lots of ice. Shake very well. 
    3. Serve over ice, and garnish with a sprig of basil! 
    Pink cocktail, garnished with basil, sits in front of a bottle of Tattersall Rosso Gin.

    August Spirit of the Month: Rum!

    by Tom Schneider

    With National Rum Day nestled in the middle of August, we thought now would be a fantastic time to highlight one of the oldest spirits on Earth!  

    Rum has been produced all over the world, wherever sugarcane has been cultivated, with fermentation dating back to New Guinea around 350 B.C. or earlier. The original concept was simple: ferment and distill excess sugarcane that had not been utilized for agricultural consumption. 

    After people acquired a taste for rum, it became a thriving industry in the 17th century, with its roots dating back to the 15th century in Brazil in the form of Cachaca. 

    Many forms of sugar can be distilled. Molasses produces a sweeter style of spirit, while raw sugarcane produces a dryer, earthier spirit that became popular in Martinique thanks to the French. During the boom of colonial trade patterns, the sugarcane industry shifted towards selling bulk supplies to Europe and the United States, where they were aged and bottled. 

    Rum is a truly global spirit, with regulations varying between countries, villages, and even companies. This ambiguity has led to confusion regarding the terminology used and what can and cannot be added to rum in its pure bottled form, including sugar, coloring, and other additives. In this article, we have highlighted some of our favorite rums that are free of additive sugars, as well as a brand new ready-to-drink daiquiri that we found to be exceptional. We would love to hear your thoughts! 

    Plantation is a rum company based in France made by Pierre Ferrand, a famed cognac house that blends and bottled rums from around the globe. Xaymaca is a blend of 100% pot still rums that show Jamaica’s famed style of “funk”. This funky flavor is called “Hogo coming from the term “Haut Gout” meaning high taste which comes across as caramelized fermented pineapples and over ripe bananas. Since this rum has zero added sugars, they have dubbed this “special dry,” you really get the true tropical fruit notes without the added levels of sweetness. This rum is best suited for classic Mai Tais and Daiquiris. 

    Faraday is named after a famous cable ship that ran the first transatlantic telegraph cable from the U.S. to Europe in 1874. The ship later laid cable all over the world and spent much of her 50-year life working in the Caribbean, connecting the world via telegraph. This beautiful gold rum is a blend of three West Indian rums from a mix of family-owned and environmentally conscious distilleries: 

    • 5 year from Barbados giving off caramel and oak spice 
    • 5 year from the Dominican Republic adding butterscotch and vanilla 
    • Unaged Rum Agricole from Martinique adding citrus zest and a grassy finish 
    Faraday’s result is a unique blend of styles that creates its own signature flavor, neither overly sweet nor heavy. This makes it a perfect choice for both whiskey and rum drinkers alike, and it is well-suited for classic rum cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. It is best enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed with lime and ginger beer. 

    Canned cocktails have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many high-quality options now available. In the past, we were skeptical of ready-to-drink classic cocktails and only carried products that truly impressed us. Tip Top’s Daiquiri knocked our socks off. Despite its small size, this can is packed with all the flavor of a classic daiquiri, made with Jamaican rum, packed with pineapple and blended with lime citrus and a touch of sweetness. Bring these cans to the lake, the movies, or the park! 

    France 44 Signature Rum Cocktail Recipes

    1.5 oz Plantation Pineapple Rum

    0.75 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

    0.75 oz Lime Juice

    0.5 oz Orgeat 

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

    Our take on a classic daiquiri…

    2 oz White Rum

    1 oz Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur

    0.75 oz 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.

    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!

    Summer is fleeting in Minnesota so let’s make the most of August with some rum drinks on the patio at your next get-together or barbeque! 

    Demystifying Wine Icons

    bunches of white grapes

    written by Karina

    icon (ī-kän): a thing widely admired especially for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere 

    Over the years, it’s been my personal mission to take wine down off the pedestal and make it more approachable to more people. After all, wine at its most basic level is just alcoholic juice made from crushed-up grapes that were grown by a farmer. There is no literal magic involved with winemaking—we’re the ones who assign magic to wine. 

    With that notion in mind, it’s curious to entertain why some wines are “better” than others—why they cost more, why there’s more demand, why they’re higher quality, why you’re supposed to enjoy drinking them more. Why does the world know about Sancerre but not about Frontenac Gris? Why did you pay (thousands) more for your DRC than I did for mybox wine? Some of those questions have obvious answers, but some of them don’t.  

    The wine world has built up its own canon of wine “icons” over many hundreds of years. Some of these icons have historical or geographical significance. Others have become icons because their consumption and popularity were influenced by an important ruler, center of commerce, or fashion trend. Sweet wines, for example, have had a particularly strong presence in the “icons” category, simply because the taste of sweetness many hundreds of years ago was rare and very prized (especially to northern Europeans).  

    There’s much to be said about making wine more accessible and less stuffy and exclusive, and part of that accessibility comes by way of education. Learning the history and process behind these iconic wines (as well as the conflated stories and myths)provides insight and connection as to why they’re iconic. It also gives you the agency to make your own decisions about these wines and the structures they exist within.  

    We’re featuring a fascinating lineup of these “icons” in our upcoming “Decadent White Wine Icons” class on August 16th, where we’ll learn how to deconstruct the mystical aura around these wines before building them back up and returning the magic to them. We say in every one of our classes that there’s no such thing as a dumb question (only the one left unasked), but that’s even more prevalent in this particular class. This unique class is all about asking “why” these wines are the way they are, so come prepared to have some fantastic, in-depth conversations while tasting some of the most heralded white wines from around the world—and learn to assign your own magic to them. 

    The World of Pét-Nats


    written by Karina

    This ancient method for making sparkling wine has become extremely popular over the past several years and has become a go-to for those looking for exciting new flavors and textures in their wine. From having a handful of bottles on our shelves to now dedicating an entire section (and wine class!) to this category, it’s clear that Pét-Nats are more than just a passing fad. Although “Pét-Nat” is a loosely defined term, wines labeled as such often (though not always) follow these general rules: 

    • Made using the Ancestral Method (part way through the first fermentation the wine is bottled and then the 1st fermentation finishes in the bottle resulting in carbonation) 
    • Bottled unfiltered/without disgorgement. Yes, there may be sediment or even chunks in your wine! It is harmless and will settle to the bottom of the bottle if undisturbed. (Or, do a gentle shake before opening to get it fully integrated!) 
    • Topped with a metal crown cap instead of the traditional sparkling wine cork. 
    • Often slightly lower in alcohol 
    • Less carbonation than traditional method sparkling wines like Champagne 

    But just like any wine category, Pét-Nats vary widely in color, aroma, texture, and flavor: They can taste sour and funky like your favorite kombucha, or they can be reminiscent of a traditional sparkling wine. They can be bone-dry or semi-sweet. But as long as you like a little bubble to your wine, you’re sure to find a Pét-Nat that fits your palate.  

    And if you’re not sure where to start, our Pét-Nat Party happening on August 8th is the perfect way to dive into this exciting collection of wines! You’ll get to learn the art behind Pét-Nat production and the unconventional techniques involved as you taste through some of our favorite producers. After a short guided tasting, you’ll enjoy a casual tasting environment at your own pace while you nibble on cheese and snacks. Seats are filling up fast, so don’t wait to register! Below are a couple class features that you can look forward to: 

    Statera Cellars is owned and operated by two good friends in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The base Chardonnay for this bottle was fermented in half neutral French oak and half tank until nearly dry, then put into one large tank to go through the rest of fermentation to achieve a well-balanced, salty, delicious, and quaffable bubbly. 

    This is part Pét-Nat, part “chillable red” and is made entirely from a light, high-acid red grape called Grignolino. Poderi Cellario hails from Italy’s Piedmont region—also home to heavy-hitters like Barolo and Barbaresco—but the younger generation presents “La Grinozza” as an alternative to introduce a wider wine audience to all the styles Piedmont is truly capable of. 

    July Spirit of the Month: Agave!

    Green & red drawing of an agave plant

    written by Jake

    When you think agave, you probably instantly think of Tequila. The history of Tequila goes back thousands of years. Before it became the distilled spirit we know and love today though, it started out as something called Pulque. Pulque is a milky white fermented beverage made from the fermented sap of the Agave plant. It’s believed to have been consumed as early as 1000 B.C. by the Olmec people. When the Spainards arrived in Mexico, they began distilling the Pulque and the first iteration of Tequila (or more likely Mezcal) was born. 


    There are several strict rules surrounding Tequila. Tequila must be made using only Blue Weber Agave. Tequila can also only legally be made in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Agave based spirits can be made in other places, they just can’t be called Tequila.  

    The other big thing to watch out for in the Tequila industry is whether or not Tequila has additives. The main additives that are used in the industry are various sweeteners, vanilla, citrus, or oak flavorings, and caramel coloring. If a producer keeps the amount of additives below 1%, they don’t have to tell you they’re using them. Additives don’t necessarily make Tequila bad, but the lack of transparency in the production of the product can be frustrating. Luckily, there are many brands that are certified additive free (ask one of our staff members about our “Additive Free Tequila section”). Here are a couple recommendations for our favorite additive free tequilas: 

    Tres Agaves is an excellent, certified additive free producer. Their Blanco Tequila is bright and citrusy, with some white pepper notes on the finish. It makes an excellent Margarita and is even good enough to sip on straight! Try it in a France 44 Passion Fruit Margarita! 

    Mijenta is an additive free, sustainably made Tequila. Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero, has worked incredibly hard to create a Tequila that is both sustainable, and representative of the unique terroir of the Jalisco highlands. She has succeeded in creating an intensely aromatic and flavorful tequila that brings waves of citrus, honey, and melon flavors. This one is truly a spirits team favorite. 


    While tequila can only be made using a single type of Agave, Mezcal can be made using 30 different types. This allows for a wide range of flavors in Mezcal, ranging from briny and smokey to bright and fruity. The Mexican state that produces the most Mezcal by far is Oaxaca, but there are 12 total states that can make it. Mezcal can also be made with multiple types of Agaves in one bottle, allowing for Mezcaleros to play with flavors as they see fit. 

    An ensamble between Espadin and Barril Agaves, Banhez is fantastic for sipping or mixing. The different agaves create a beautiful flavor profile that has notes of tropical fruits with a hearty, smokey backbone. This is a great Mezcal for newbies and Mezcal veterans alike. Try it in our France 44 Uniform cocktail! 

    Classic Margarita Recipe

    • 1 oz lime juice
    • 0.5 oz simple syrup or agave syrup
    • 0.5 oz orange liqueur
    • 2 oz Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila

    Add all ingredients to shaker filled with ice. Shake about 15 seconds until well chilled. Pour with ice into class and garnish with a lime wheel.

    2023 Cabin Crushin’ Beverages

    Margarita in a glass with lime wheel and pink umbrella, in front of a bottle of Margarita mix and a can of Indeed Mexican Honey Light

    This holiday weekend, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite refreshing beverages, to inspire your festivities. Here’s what we’ll be drinking this weekend!

    It’s everything a great craft pilsner should be. Crisp and snappy with a solid backbone of hoppiness. It’s been our #1 selling pilsner in the store for many years now, and I just never get bored with it.

    11.5% ABV, lightly effervescent, and $11. Need I say more? Raza is an infinitely crushable wine from Portugal that has some lovely tropical notes backed up by great acidity. It’s a year round favorite for me personally, but it’s truly meant for summer!

    It’s crisp, refreshing and my go to when I’m on my dad’s boat fishing and hanging out.

    Goes down so easy, my go-to summer beer. V crushable.

    The idea of a watermelon beer puts a lot of people off right away—and rightfully so—but hear me out! This light-bodied wheat beer has just a hint of natural watermelon flavor—no Jolly Rancher notes to be found. Ice cold, it’s sooo refreshing and honestly too easy to drink. It’s been in their lineup for over a decade at this point and remains a nostalgic favorite for me. Giesenbrau Bier Co “Hildy’s Helles” – This New Prague brewery has been around for years, but their recent rebrand captured my attention as an unabashed can nerd. Fortunately, in this case, the gorgeous cans happen to contain some delicious brews! This Helles lager is the standout hit of my summer, but you can’t go wrong with any of their beers in my opinion.

    Un vino frizzante! This liter bottle is all you need to please your entire crew — from the geeky cool-kid wine nerds to the no-nonsense folks who “just want wine.” Spritzy, light, and fresh, this Grignolino from Piedmont is perfect by itself or with any summer fare. Did I mention it’s in a liter bottle?

    Pour over rocks, garnish with an orange slice, put your feet up and imagine you are soaking in the Catalan sun.

    This low ABV bottled spritz is perfect for enjoying in the summer heat. Citrusy orange flavors dominate with a lively effervescence and a touch of bitterness, it tastes like summertime in a glass. Grab your sunnies, a floatie, and enjoy this delicious libation on the lake!

    I’m in a pet-nat phase this summer, and Ercole’s is a perfect easy-drinking, somewhat sweet pet-nat. It’s full of red fruit flavor with just that hint of funk associated with pet-nats that keeps you on your toes. Perfect to sip on the porch while enjoying a nice piece of cheese. 

    Affordable, low alcohol, smooth, and refreshing.

    This beauty is the Hazy IPA of wine. It is a lightly unfiltered skin contact white blend that tastes like a rose smoothie. Lush and dense peach, apricot, and tangerine flavors dance across your tongue and don’t stop until the bottle is gone.

    A true cabin crusher! If it’s hot out I want nothing more than something simple, clean and refreshing. I love craft lagers and IPAs but after a long day in the sun, Banquet hits the spot. Plus it’s brewed with Rocky Mountain water!

    Rob, the self-proclaimed connoisseur of peculiar tastes, insists on Hamm’s Beer as the ultimate summer beverage, with a conviction that can rival a penguin’s commitment to sliding on ice. His reasoning? Picture this: as the sun kisses your skin with its fiery rays, a can of Hamm’s materializes in your hand, emanating a cooling aura like a mythical frosty orb. One sip transports you to a tropical oasis where pineapples harmonize with hops, and palm trees sway in syncopation with the carbonation bubbles tickling your tongue. Rob’s whimsical recommendation defies logic, but who are we to deny the summertime enchantment of a whimsical Hamm’s adventure?

    Tom & Dustin go to Kentucky!

    Man poses in front of white barn with Jim Beam logo

    by Tom Schneider & Dustin Harkins

    Here at France 44, we love to bring our customers ‘barrel picks’—bottled spirits from exclusive barrels that we handpick ourselves. These barrels are most often bourbon or rye, but we have dabbled in tequila and scotch exclusives as well when the right opportunity arises. The process differs from distillery to distillery: some will send us samples, some bottled straight at cask strength, and some cut down to normal proof.   

    Occasionally, we are offered a special barrel that can only be picked out in-person at the source. We go down to Kentucky to pick out straight from the source. We were lucky enough this year to be invited down to Four Roses to pick out a cask strength barrel from one of their 10 unique recipes. The catch is we must get to Cox’s Creek outside of Bardstown, Kentucky to select our special barrel. Tom & Dustin did just that at the end of May to secure our customers a barrel that will be showing up right in time for the fall and bourbon season.  

    Six barrels of Four Roses Bourbon sit against a wall with a Four Roses sign

    Getting the chance to pick out a Cask Strength Private Barrel of Four Roses is certainly a treat but to get one you must get invited down to their bottling facility in Cox’s Creek a half hour south of Louisville. This is where Mandy Vance, the Manager of the Private Barrel Selection Program, rules her roost. Mandy hosts Four Roses best customers from all over the country giving them an opportunity to pick out a unique barrel from one of their ten recipes. If you are lucky enough, they will have a barrel of each for you to sample and choose from.

    Four Roses has two mash bills:

    1. High rye: 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Barley (known as their “OB” mash bill, their flagship)
    2. Low Rye: 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Barley (known as their “OE” mash bill, much rarer)

    To get up to 10 recipes, they also have five unique yeast strains (SV, SK, SO, SQ, SF) that control most of the fermentation process and much of the final flavors of the bourbon:

    1. OBSV: Delicate fruit and rye  
    2. OBSK: Rye and baking spice  
    3. OBSO: Rich fruit  
    4. OBSQ: Rye and light floral character  
    5. OBSF: Delicate rye and mint  
    6. OESV: Delicate fruit and caramel  
    7. OESK: Baking spice  
    8. OESO: Rich fruit and vanilla  
    9. OESQ: Delicate grains and light floral character  
    10. OESF: Herbs and mint  

    Mandy sits you down with plenty of water and salty snacks to help guide you through ten single barrels. Some people ask about the recipes beforehand, but we chose to taste them blind and let the chips fall where they may. Only after we narrowed down the field from ten to closer to three, then we find out the recipe, ages, and the rough estimate of how much bourbon is left in the barrel.

    We landed on a ten-year barrel of OESK. This recipe is known for its sweet cinnamon and clove properties, the barrel we chose has a good dose of rich dark cherry fruit to complement its complex spices. Hopefully this barrel will be arriving the beginning of September!

    The bourbon trail is an amazing experience when done correctly. It is an experience unlike no other, but it does take some patience and planning. Most distilleries are in either Frankfort or Bardstown, about an hour away from Louisville in different directions, east and south respectively. While you may not be drinking that much on these tours (they are not open bars by any means), it is important to eat and drink beforehand, plan out a designated driver, and try not to visit more than two distilleries a day. The heat, travel, and any alcohol consumption will tire you out faster than you may anticipate. Both Frankfort and Bardstown should take at least two days each if you want to savor the experience and experience it to the best of your ability.


    We made it a point to check out Jim Beam for some amazing food before we ventured to Four Roses to pick our single barrel. Jim Beam comes highly recommended if you want some great food and ambiance before you hit the road. We also made it out to the Bernheim National Forest, highly recommend going, and saw some forest giants! 

    In the meantime, while we wait for these barrels, we do have a small amount left of our Barrel Proof Ezra Brooks High Rye Bourbon brimming with raspberry fruit and spice and our caramel forward Stellum Single Barrel Bourbon available right now. In the coming months we will also have a brand new 8-year barrel proof Elijah Craig Bourbon Barrel brimming with light fruit and creamy vanilla as well as our second ever Rittenhouse 100 proof rye single barrel boasting bright spice and complexity, perfect for cocktails and sipping alike. We are always looking for more unique single barrels to bring our loyal patrons and we’ll keep you updated on future offerings when we have more news! 

    Ready to Drink Cocktails for the Summer!

    Cazadores Spicy Margarita, Tattersall Key Lime Gin and Tonic, Almare Spritz, St. Agrestis Non-Alcoholic Phony Negroni & Amaro Falso

    Headshot of smiling man.

    written by Tom

    Summer is upon us, which means more time outside in the sun congregating with friends and family while the weather is nice. We want you to enjoy this fleeting time as much as possible and have many options for easy, ready-to-go cocktails perfect for throwing in the cooler to take on the go. Here at France 44 we have been hesitant in the past to bring our customers suboptimal pre-made cocktails, but the category has come leaps and bounds in the past few years and were here to share some of our favorites with you! 

    Can of Cazadores Spicy Margarita

    Cazadores has three awesome offerings in thin sleek cans: Paloma, Margarita, and Spicy Margarita. While spicy is our favorite, all three tequila cocktails are fantastic in their own right. Made up of 100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila, orange liqueur, and jalapeno juice. It carries the same kick as some of the spicier ginger beers where it hits up front and lingers faintly, a perfect middle ground for both the spice lover and the Minnesota spice timid. All three of their ready-to-drink cocktails are perfect for drinking by the lake. 

    Can of Tattersall Gin & Tonic

    Yes, gin and tonics are easy to make, but we are not always able to have all the ingredients ready at a picnic or cookout. Enter Tattersall’s Key Lime Gin and Tonic, a bright and zesty G&T ready to go with a hint of fun key lime on the finish. Tattersall’s G&T is a full-bodied cocktail showing both the quinine from the tonic water and the juniper from the gin with enough citrus that you don’t necessarily need the citrus garnish, but it wouldn’t hurt! The runner-up in the Tattersall can lineup is their Blueberry Collins, blasting forth with flavors of basil, blueberry, and lemon. It’s a fun and unique cocktail to bring to any gettogether! 

    Bottle of Almare Spritz

    Breaking from the can trend, our brand new Almare Spritz is a perfect aperitif spritz in a bottle. Bitter orange and bubbly, and made from an Aperol-esque liqueur and true Italian Prosecco, Almare Spritz is perfect to bring to a party as a host gift or to serve when you don’t want to whip up a bunch of effervescent cocktails while hosting on your own. While it is a pinch more bitter than some Aperol Spritzes, this cocktail is closer to a true Aperol Spritz as it would be served in Italy. We even have it chilled and ready to rock out of the cooler on your way to your next get-together. 

    Bottle of Phony Negroni

    St. Agrestis is a small craft distillery based in Brooklyn, New York specializing in Italian-style Amari and premade classic cocktails. Yes, they have Negronis and Black Manhattans in various small bottles and big boxes, but they also have two delicious non-alcoholic options in sleek 200mL sized bottles. Their Phony Negroni comes across bright with bitter orange citrus and a pinch of bubbly to top it off, making it almost a Sbagliato, where you would use sparkling wine instead of gin as a base. A fantastic non-alcoholic aperitif. St. Agrestis Amaro Falso made its Minnesota Debut this week, emulating their flagship Amaro. Much richer and darker than its bright negroni counterpart, it uses the same mix of citrus, botanical, and herbal ingredients, including Gentian. The Amaro Falso also has the same signature zip of effervescence, made to emulate an alcohol bite. Amaro Falso is perfect for digesting after a meal, sans alcohol. It tastes like a combination of a digestif and the most adult cola youve ever encountered. 

    Our ready-to-drink- and non-alcoholic sections are growing rapidly with new additions monthly. We’re always looking for the next new exciting cocktail to bring in and show off so make sure you come in and ask us what we’ve been imbibing on lately!