Second only to the age-old question of who invented the Juicy Lucy, there’s a controversy that simmers among Minnesota country clubs as to which came up with the Bootleg. The cocktail, beloved by teen lifeguards of yore, is a blended mix of citrus — usually frozen lemonade from a tube — and fresh mint. Spiked with a spirit and diluted with soda, it’s an all-day kind of summer drink, best consumed near a golf course. (And with floss handy, for those pesky little bits of blended mint.)
But where did the Bootleg come from? Just about every country club in the metro area claims to be the first to have mixed it up, sometime around Prohibition.
“There’s a lot of lore behind it,” said Jon Kreidler, co-founder of Tattersall Distilling.
Now, Tattersall Distilling (1620 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-584-4152, tattersalldistilling.com) is making its mark on the cult cocktail. Starting next week, the distillery is releasing a bottled version that’s almost ready to drink. Just add sparkling water.
“It’s a great summertime patio/barbecue/boat drink,” Kreidler said.
To make the bottled version, Tattersall is distilling lime and lemon peels along with other botanicals. Kreidler pours it over ice, adds a squeeze of lime and a sprig of mint, and spritzes it up with seltzer. “It’s a Minnesota mojito.”
While every country club has its own somewhat proprietary version of the mix, “the reality is most of them are taking lime concentrate, frozen lemon concentrate and throwing it into a blender,” Kreidler said. Tattersall’s version is “cleaner,” quite literally. Sans the blending of the mint, there’s none of those “green floaters” to tarnish one’s smile.
Like other ready-to-drink cocktails and lighter alcoholic beverages that are on the rise, the beauty of Bootleg in a bottle is options. At 70 proof, it can be diluted to a sessionable spritz. Add pineapple juice for a tiki twist. Try flavored LaCroix instead of plain club soda.
“Play around, tweak it and play to the strength you want,” Kreidler said.
Bootlegger will be sold at summer fests, including Rock the Garden. Bottles for $29.99 will be available at France 44 (4351 France Av. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252, france44.com) by May 1.
Later, look for Tattersall to bottle other cocktails, starting with its signature gin and housemade tonic, brewed from foraged spruce tips.
But for its first outing into bottled cocktails, delving into the very specific world of country clubs was a no-brainer.
“The Bootleg is the quintessential Minnesota cocktail,” Kreidler said. “It’s the drink of the summer.”