Andy McLain, co-founder of the new Minneapolis distillery Royal Foundry Craft Spirits, hails from Slough in Berkshire, England (home of David Brent and the Wernham Hogg paper company). McLain grew up mostly in Belgium and Minnesota, but he’s always held a candle for dear old Blighty—and it was his dad who ignited his love of British spirits.
The 15,000-square-foot Royal Foundry soft-opened in December 2018. The distillery produces London dry gin, a light rum, and vodka; a barrel-aged single malt whiskey is in the works. The menu is organized by spirit: Try the gin-forward Professor with rosemary and lemon peel, or the sweet-tart Black Knight, which matches whiskey with a lip-smacking blackberry shrub, mint, and brown sugar (pictured at top).
The hand-built bar is fashioned with the same kind of gleaming white subway tile you’d find in the London Tube. There’s a jumbo Union Jack on the wall, an iconic red telephone booth, and football (translation: ⚽️) on the telly. The Beatles, Blur, and David Bowie all make appearances, along with McLain’s great-grandfather, whose uniformed visage was done up Warhol-style. The sprawling event space has dart boards and a trio of Skittles lanes. The latter is a nine-pin bowling game that’s popular in the English countryside and tougher than it looks. (The pins are narrower and the balls smaller than in American bowling.)
Also coming this summer: Cycle Speedway, a first-of-its-kind racetrack for a U.S. distillery. The unique type of British racing involves cyclists hurtling around a 70- to 90-meter clay course on single-speed bikes with no brakes. Participants bring their own bicycles and helmets and must sign a waiver before hitting the track. (No drinking and riding, frens!)
Royal Foundry Craft Spirits
241 Fremont Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN; 612-208-1042.