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As brewery openings slow, Twin Cities distilleries look to take over

by Audrey Kennedy

Axios Twin Cities - Sept 25, 2023

As the brewery boom slows, spirit-forward cocktail spots are swooping into the limelight.

What's happening: King Coil Spirits, a new distillery opening Friday from the group behind Lake Monster Brewing, is the latest in a wave of distillery-run cocktail rooms to open in the Twin Cities in less than a year.

  • Earl Giles debuted its enormous facility in November, which also includes a restaurant and apothecary, while bitters company Dashfire opened Elusive Botanical Bar in December.

Why it matters: The spaces have become the latest way for distilleries to play around with products and hone in on what people enjoy, owners told Axios.

By the numbers: The local openings coincide with a growing nationwide interest in craft spirits — more than 250 distilleries are expected to open in 2025, according to a 2021 study by London-based IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

What they're saying: Elusive doesn't provide a large part of Dashfire's revenue, but the ability to test products with engaged consumers is invaluable, co-owner Lee Egbert told Axios.

  • "We're now able to launch a product on a small scale and get a sense of what people like before we make widespread decisions. The guests can be the guinea pigs," he said.

The intrigue: The Lake Monster Brewing team's move into distilling comes as demand for craft breweries has flattened, although co-owner Matt Lange said their taproom continues to do well.

  • Lange expects more distilleries to pop up, but the team isn't anticipating a sharp increase like the craft-beer boom, he said.

Zoom in: King Coil's mid-century modern space includes a large patio, two bars, each with its own cocktail selection, and a full kitchen primarily serving Roman-style pizzas.

  • The main drink menu features the distillery's 24 spirits, which focus on botanicals.

My thought bubble: I went to a soft opening recently and tried the Bitter Orange. It's a citrus fan's dream cocktail that features orange boba and orange foam on top.

Yes, but: The distillery isn't planning to distribute any of its spirits until they have a better sense of what people want, Lange said.

Details: King Coil Spirits opens Friday at 550 Vandalia Street, Suite 140, St. Paul.

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