For cocktail lovers, 2022 was a landmark year. Three distillers made significant expansions, four mixologists upped their games, one bartender proved she was the best in the U.S., and nonalcoholic options got better — and more interesting — than ever.

Distilleries grow

Tattersall made a huge leap across state lines when it opened its River Falls, Wis., destination distillery late last year. The 75,000-square-foot facility comes with a Morrissey Hospitality-operated restaurant on site, event spaces and a welcome reprieve from Minnesota's maze of liquor laws that restricted Tattersall's growth at its home in northeast Minneapolis. With the distillery downsizing at its home base, that left room for Lee and Dawn Egbert's Dashfire to move in. Taking over Tattersall's former private event space, the bitters producer is expanding its spirits and canned cocktail production and is in the midst of opening its first cocktail room, Elusive Botanical Bar, helmed by acclaimed bartender Jeff Rogers. Just a few blocks away, Earl Giles has finally moved into its new campus, which includes signature cocktail mixers on tap, a killer pizza menu and booze wizard Nick Kosevich overseeing an "apothecary" of flavors for experimental new spirits.

Mixologists make big moves

Speaking of Nick Kosevich, the Bittercube co-founder also launched the beverage program at Mr. Paul's Supper Club, where his flamboyant presence is integral to the "bons temps rouler" atmosphere. As beverage director for the prolific DDP Restaurant Group, Megan Luedtke had a lot to do this year, designing one-of-a-kind drinks for the Rand Tower Hotel's three new Daniel del Prado-fronted bars, Bar Rufus, Miaou Miaou and Blondette. In addition to the imminent launch of her very own Bar + Cart Restaurant and Lounge in St. Paul, Ralena Young also added a triptych of bars in one building to her portfolio with the Misfits Hospitality Collective's takeover of Dangerfield's in Shakopee. There, find her refined classics and vacation-ready cocktails in the newly renovated Shakopee House supper club, the basement Rum Row Tiki Bar, and a hidden nook for deep-diving into mezcal. And Trish Gavin started the year as the ultra-creative beverage director for the just-opened Khâluna; since then, she's been putting her spin on cocktail menus for restaurants across the Twin Cities. And most recently, the bartender has gone into retail with the Liquor Exchange, the first of the establishments to open at the forthcoming Eat Street Crossing food hall in Minneapolis, where Gavin is also beverage director.

New in retail

In addition to the Liquor Exchange, which features Trish Gavin's favorite hard-to-find spirits, there were even more exciting new ventures in the retail world. After months of construction, the gourmet wine, cheese and liquor shop France 44 opened an upper-level space for private events and classes, along with a rooftop bar. Wine experts Erikka Curran and Fred Petters have stocked the new Violet Wine in northeast Minneapolis with wines from biodynamic producers, with a focus on vineyards run by women and people of color, while sommelier Leslee Miller opened Sip Better in the North Loop, a shop with shelves lined with wine from small women-run producers and plenty of affordable and quirky bottles.

Better and broader NA offerings

Another new kid on the block in the retail space doesn't have a drop of liquor inside. Erin Flavin's Marigold is a revolutionary nonalcoholic bottle shop, selling specialty beverages without the hangover. Marigold's opening is part of a larger theme. Drinking is increasingly turning away from ABV and toward exciting spirit-free concoctions. Cardamom, W.A. Frost and Co. and Owamni are just a few of the restaurants owning the creative NA drink trend. Many local menus have 3Leche to thank. Produced in the Food Building's new "Fermentation Lab," Marco Zappia and company are busy supplying bars and even the Mill City Farmers Market with their kombucha-like fermented beverages, which make great mixers but stand alone just as well.

New beverages are brewing

One of the biggest changes to hit local breweries has nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with THC. A state law that went into effect this summer allows Minnesotans 21 and older to buy certain beverages containing small amounts of THC, the ingredient in marijuana that produces the "high," and Minnesota breweries are diving in headfirst. Whether they're adding THC to standard seltzers or thinking outside the box with offerings that taste like cocktails, Arnold Palmers or hemp, breweries are navigating a brave new world. But with little regulation and lots of questions, 2023 could look a lot different.

Best bartender in the U.S.

This summer, the rest of the country learned something that Minneapolis already knew well: Jessi Pollak, the bar manager at Spoon and Stable, is a force to be reckoned with. Already a local star of a bartender, Pollak took on 15 others in Nashville for the U.S. Bartenders' Guild competition, and won the title handily for her impeccable speed and precision. (Pollak went on to Sydney in the fall to represent the U.S. in the world championship; a Norwegian bartender brought home the gold.)