New distillery brings “British spirit” to Glenwood corridor

The cocktail room at Royal Foundry Craft Spirits has ample space for the new business’ growing crowd of customers.  Photos courtesy of Mike Krivit Photography

The cocktail room at Royal Foundry Craft Spirits has ample space for the new business’ growing crowd of customers. Photos courtesy of Mike Krivit Photography

Royal Foundry Craft Spirits will celebrate its grand opening March 7-9.

By Kenzie O'Keefe Editor

The Fremont and Glenwood intersection now boasts internationally inspired beer and spirits.

Royal Foundry Craft Spirits (RFCS), a British-themed “grain to glass distillery” has just opened behind La Doña Cervecería, the Latinx-inspired brewery Sergio Manancero launched last fall. 

The “Prince Harry” is made with rum, ginger, lime and classic bitters.

The “Prince Harry” is made with rum, ginger, lime and classic bitters.

RFCS is a British-American mashup much like its founders, married couple Nikki and Andy McLain. Nikki is the Chief Marketing Officer. Her husband Andy, the “dreamer,” is Chief Distiller. Andy is British; his parents are both from towns outside Windsor (“where the queen lives”), England. Though he was born in Minnesota, he was raised in Europe. Nikki is American. Their Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kelly Everhart, is also American.

Nikki says her husband’s interest in pub culture and distilling led them to a critical decision-making moment in late 2015: would he continue working for a custom home builder, or would they launch their own distillery? “We needed to draw a line in the sand: either we’re going to do it or not,” she said.

They decided to go for it, and three years later, they’re opening their business. It took them a full year of looking at real estate before they landed on their 15,000 square foot building at 241 Fremont Ave. N. According to Nikki, it was love at first sight. “We drove by our property and Andy was like ‘that’s it!” she said.

They appreciated the building’s size—they didn’t want to grow out of their space “in a year or two”—and its Northside location: “We truly believe that the neighborhood has so much potential, and we hope other business owners see that as well. It’s a really untapped part of Minneapolis that a lot of people don’t know about,” Nikki said. Royal Foundry has a ten-year lease and plan to stay “for the long term.” They plan to collaborate with, not colonize, the local community. Nikki says they’re committed to partnering with local businesses, particularly food vendors as the distillery doesn’t make food of its own.

The “Black Knight” is one of the distillery’s most popular cocktails.

The “Black Knight” is one of the distillery’s most popular cocktails.

Inside the building, the palatial space boasts a cockatil room, a private event space, and lanes for “skittles,” a popular British pub game that’s similar to bowling but with a smaller, heavier ball and nine pins. When the weather is better, they plan to build a “British Cycle Speedway,” a short cycling track, out back. Nikki believes it will be the first of its kind in the country. “We’re going to ask you to wear a helmet,” she said.

Right now, Andy is making gin from scratch “literally 24/7,” said Nikki. Gin is the first spirit they plan to bring to market. Soon, Andy will make rum and single malt whiskey, but both require significant aging—three years for the whiskey. While that’s happening, RFCS will serve rum and whiskey cocktails with spirits they blended from another distillery. RCFS also makes all of their own bitters, shrubs and mixers. 

RFCS will soon debut a new 16-cocktail menu; cockatil room visitors in February encountered just eight. They range from $8-$12 apiece. When asked about pricing of their cocktails, Nikki explained the craftmanship behind the making of spirits and the time and energy the team spends making the drinks. “We don’t strive to be the expensive cocktails in town. We definitely don’t want to be that,” she said.

For those interested in getting behind the scenes, RFCS plans to launch cocktail classes come March. “People can get in on the experience of making the drinks,” said Nikki.

RFCS shares an address with La Doña, and this summer, they may share a street fair. Nikki says she and Manancero have talked about possibly partnering on a Women’s World Cup celebration as soccer is a beloved pastime in both of the places their businesses are inspired by. 

RFCS’ grand opening celebration will take place March 7-9. Mention this story and receive $1 of your drinks for the rest of the year. 

Learn more here.

Kenzie O'Keefe