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 Roe

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 Roe

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! 

June Spirit of the Month: Gin!

bottle of empress gin in front of purple flowers

written by Jake

Gin is said to have originated in the 16th century, initially crafted as a medicinal tincture. Juniper, renowned at the time for its healing qualities, played a vital role in the concoction of juniper-infused alcohol solutions administered to address various ailments. Fast forward to the present day, gin continues to be enjoyed, although its association with medicinal purposes may now be subject to debate. 

Most countries where gin is produced still require the presence of juniper for it to be labeled as gin. Apart from that, the choice of base spirits is quite diverse, although grain-based spirits tend to be the most prevalent option. 

Today, gin can be categorized into six main groups. The three most common are:  

  1. London Dry: London Dry gins are the most common and most traditional. They lean heavily into the juniper and must contain no added sweeteners or coloring. 
  2. New American: New American gin (also called Contemporary or New Western), while still containing juniper, start to break from convention a bit by using more unusual botanicals like kelp, lime zest, herbs, etc. This allows for wide-ranging differences among this style. 
  3. Old Tom: Old Tom gins are lightly sweetened and often have a warmer flavor profile. Old Tom is believed to predate London Dry, and as such, is called for in many early cocktail recipes. Try it in a Martinez! 
bottle of gray whale gin on sidewalk


Gray Whale is an American Gin made in California. It uses native Californian botanicals including juniper, kelp, lime zest, and almonds. The result is a complex, bright gin that is perfect for a citrusy Gin & Tonic! 

Gray Whale Gin + Tonic: 

  • 2oz Gray Whale Gin 
  • 1 Can Fever Tree Tonic 

Add ice to a Collins glass. Add a small amount of your tonic, add the gin, and mix lightly. Top with the rest of the tonic and garnish with a lime wheel or lemon twist. Enjoy. 

bottle of empress 1908 gin, pink cocktail, bouquet of flowers
bottle of empress gin in front of purple flowers

EMPRESS 1908 GIN - $39.99

Empress 1908 Gin is named after the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. It uses a blend of botanicals, some traditional like juniper and coriander, and some more contemporary, like grapefruit peel, cinnamon, and ginger. However, the show’s star is the Butterfly Pea flower that gives Empress 1908 its unique and striking color. The compounds from the Butterfly Pea, when in the presence of an acid (like lemon or lime juice), change from a deep indigo into a beautiful pink. Not only does this gin taste great, its sure to give any cocktail you use it in an unforgettable appearance. 

    Empress Gin Sour 

    • 2 oz Empress 1908 Gin
    • 1 oz Lemon Juice
    • ¾ oz Simple Syrup
    • Egg White (optional)

    If using egg white: Add all the ingredients to a shaker without ice and shake for approximately 30 seconds. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into a chilled glass and garnish with aromatic bitters or a lemon twist. 

    If not using egg white: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into a chilled glass and garnish. Enjoy. 

    Food Pairing: Juniper pairs incredibly well with beef, lamb, pork, duck, and game meats. With juniper being the most pungent component in gin, try your favorite gin or gin cocktail when you are grilling this summer!  

    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.