The Third Bird & Far North Spirits (2015 program, 2016 calendar)

Kim Bartmann, the ambitious restaurateur behind Bryant-Lake Bowl, Barbette and others, introduced The Third Bird to her restaurant collection in 2014. Known for her unwavering support of local farmers, the driving force behind the James Beard-nominated restaurateur is a passion for sustainability.

Her executive chef at the time explained, “We want to assist in creating a local food system sustainable for the community. We look at the big picture. We know where our fish and beef are from and don’t use rare, non-renewable products. Our overall plan revolves more around giving back than anything else.”

He continued, “Minneapolis is evolving into one of the greatest food cities in the U.S. Minnesota has great agriculture and an educated population that shops at farmers’ markets and cares about what they put in their bodies. People support our mission.”

Cheri Reese and Michael Swanson of Far North Spirits had lived in St. Paul for twenty-two years when they packed up and headed north to their hometown of Hallock, swapping a life of power points and speeches for farming and distilling craft spirits. “Originally we wanted a simpler life,” Cheri explains. “Yet what we’re doing now isn’t simple at all! So our goal changed; it’s about creating an exceptional, lovingly produced tangible product. And to feel we’ve done our very best each day.”

Far North is currently the only field-to-glass distillery in Minnesota, meaning Michael and Cheri actually farm the rye they distill into their vodka, gin and whiskey. Cheri says, “’Heritage’ is a common word in the wine and European spirits industries and a word we can claim here. We’re growing all our own grain on the fourth generation family farm, honoring the people who came before us. The grain, family, place – ‘heritage spirits’ encompasses what we’re really about.”