Minnesota is already home to many delicious places to eat and drink but there’s always room for more when they’re as exciting as O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co. O’Shaughnessy Distilling opened in 2021 and was a seemingly overnight success. The moment you try it, you’ll understand why.
One thing of note for this article, this is not a sponsored piece of content. This isn’t one of those deceptive pieces of marketing disguised as a blog and at the end it has a promo code for 10% off using promo code 10K. If someone from O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co. sees this and decides they’d like to pay me for this, though… sup! But seriously, this is just an honest review.
Located right next to Surly, it’s easy to find
By right next to Surly, I mean it literally shares a parking lot. Walk down the steps from Sury’s outdoor area, using the handrail depending on how many beers you first had at Surly, and you’ll immediately find yourself at O’Shaughnessey’s.
But just in case you need exact directions, the address is: 600 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
During the summer months, there are fire pits, seating, and a giant boxcar bar. It’s a pretty sweet setup.
They even did a small batch of Keeper’s Heart Darkness which I’m sure was elite.
Irish Whiskey meets American Whiskey
O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company is the brainchild of cousins Patrick and Michael O’Shaughnessy. But no person may be more important to its success than its master distiller, Brian Nation (pictured above). Nation’s resume is downright impressive; having been the master distiller for some of the most famous whiskeys in the world. Nation’s impact on Irish whiskey is profound and his leaving the likes of Mideton Distrilley and Jameson Distillery to join the brand new O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company was a shocker to many.
I mean, honestly, it’s like Tom Brady deciding that he wanted to leave the NFL to join the USFL. Then that USFL team immediately being good enough to play in the NFL. Or maybe it’s not. All I know is that Nation is a big deal in Ireland and having him in Minnesota is a big deal too.
I’m not an expert but Irish whiskey and American whiskey differ in a few key ways. The primary ingredient of Irish whiskey is barley whereas American whiskey can be corn, rye, or wheat.
Irish whiskey can also be a blend of barley and malt. So sometimes you can have a drink of malt and unmalted Irish whiskey. On the other hand, there are four kinds of American whiskey which include: Rye, Tennessee, American blend, and bourbon.
What Nation has done is marry them perfectly in Keeper’s Heart.
The drinks are fancy, fun, and approachable.
Pictured above is their whiskey sour. I mean this truthfully, it’s the best whiskey sour I’ve ever had. I know the idea of a distillery can be a bit intimidating for some. Not everyone likes whiskey, the drinks can be confusing, and you’re sometimes left to wonder “do I need to drink with my pinky out?” The bartenders and staff are all very helpful in guiding you to a drink that you’ll enjoy. (they’ll also make the drink with a different spirit if you’re really really not into it).
Even though their drinks obviously feature their Keeper’s Heart Irish American Whiskey, they do offer more than just whiskey drinks.
My love for their whiskey sour is noted above but their other drinks are also fantastic.
Their old-fashioned is everything you want from an old-fashioned and yet so many places get it wrong. It’s strong but manageable, sweet but not overwhelming. It doesn’t taste like you’re drinking syrup which can be a big problem at many places. You can drink one of them and know there’s alcohol in your system or drink three of them and order a Lyft home. A remarkable drink.
The Payaleno has a hint of heat to it.
A mule is a mule but a Keeper’s Heart mule is more like life fuel.
The Fujinobu might be the best thing I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.
It’s another variety of their whiskey sours but this one is topped with this homemade coconut whipped cream. This means it doubles as both a drink and a dessert. My favorite thing to follow up dessert with is more dessert so I’ll take two fujinobus, please! My wife gets these with vodka and also very much enjoys them.
PS, that’s a pretty sweet Three Seven Bar hat!
And there’s so much more to drink than that. But their drinks are only the start.
I’m still working my way through all the fun drinks on their menu. Maybe you’re able to plow through them all in one trip. I hope you have a safe ride home if you do. I also hope you’re inviting me. But let’s not ignore their food.
Their drink menu is large enough to make you stay awhile; their food menu gives you the base to do so. It includes bar snacks, small plates, and desserts but it is more geared towards grazing than an actual dinner so keep that in mind when you go.
However, much like their drinks, their food is worth ordering a few different things. The hand-cut french fries are awesome, the honey & whiskey glazed steak tips are tender and packed full of flavor, and the entire table was a fan of the chicken skewers.
The star of the show is probably the Juicy Lucy Meatballs, though.
An order comes with six and they’re the perfect thing to share (or not, I’m not your boss). Of all the things we have tried on their menu, my favorite is the meatballs. Others raved about their scotch egg but everything I’ve ordered really has been good.
The vibe is unique and hard to replicate anywhere else in Minnesota.
It’s sophisticated but not in a way that makes you feel out of place or unwelcome. I don’t suspect you’ll want every night out to be spent here. Sometimes nothing is better than a meat raffle and some pull tabs while enjoying a cheap beer. But it’s also okay to want more than that. O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co. feels like a speakeasy that was never hidden. Classy, yet unpretentious, it’s accessible but still feels very intimate and the level of service is fantastic.
Alcohol is good whenever, so there isn’t a wrong time to visit, but O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company specifically shines at night. I feel like I could be drinking next to James Bond yet I’m still casually rocking my UNRL crossover hoodie.
The leather couches and seating arrangements throughout are very inviting to having conversations with your friends and not just being in a space with them. It feels like a special place that you shouldn’t be able to afford yet it’s every bit as affordable as any other bar in the area.
There isn’t a TV for you to become distracted by or overly loud music to take your attention away from the moment. It’s a spot that embraces the here and now and maybe that’s easy to find in Ireland but I absolutely do not find it to be very common here.
O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company makes keeping the phone in your pocket just a little bit easier–and it’s by design.
I am as guilty as most when I find myself buried in my phone’s screen instead of the environment around me. But at O’Shaughnessy, it’s like I’m back in the world before smartphones.
It was the end of a long and joyous day at an O’Shaughnessy family reunion, where hundreds of relatives traveled from around the world to spend time together. They were reflecting on the importance of family; on how to make sure future generations stayed connected; and on the legacy they wanted to leave.
As conversation went deeper into the night and more whiskey was poured, they had a realization: the answer was in the glass. It was at that point they set out to create a whiskey that celebrated their Irish-American heritage, that built a way for friends and family to connect today and left a legacy for future generations.
The next time you’re heading out for a couple of drinks with friends, try out a place that is made for you to actually enjoy their presence. Take in the sightlines of their massive copper stills, share a few small plates, enjoy a unique set of hand-crafted cocktails, and remember what it’s like to be present.
In other words, do it for the fam, not for the ‘gram.
Related articles by Nick Lewis
You could check out 37 Must Eat Foods in Minnesota
Maybe you’ll like 37 Best Chips Ranked
And finally, 37 Must Eat Minnesota State Fair Foods
PS don’t forget to tell your bartender you’re using promo code 10K when you order. It won’t do anything, and the bartender will likely be very confused, but it will be a funny anecdote. And if enough people do it, they might make it a thing anyway. You never know!
I was in at least 3 people’s Myspace Top 8. I have as many NBA Championships as Tom Brady. I’m probably too old to be here. @NickLewis37