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Distillery Spotlight: Cantilever Distillery

Cantilever Distillery Juniperus Gin Margarita with Jalapeno
Jalapeno Cantilever Distillery Juniperus Gin Margarita

Cantilever Distillery, nestled in the picturesque lakeside village of Ranier, Minnesota, is more than just a distillery; it’s a full, vibrant vacation destination that weaves history, craftsmanship, and modern comfort together into a single experience. Located close to the world-famous Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park, Cantilever is situated perfectly to provide a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. 

Let’s take a look at Cantilever Distillery and what makes it a popular vacation spot – or just a nice place to spend the night on your w

ay across the border.

Location & History

The distillery is a brainchild of a team deeply connected to the area, inspired by the rich history of the region. This connection is evident in the naming of the distillery after the Historic Cantilever Bridge, which played a pivotal role in the smuggling of spirits during the Prohibition era in the 1920s. 

This historical tie is creatively reflected in the brand and packaging design of Cantilever’s spirits. Each bottle, embossed with elements reminiscent of this era, such as railroad maps and the bridge itself, tells the story of Ranier’s intriguing past.

Philosophy & Sourcing

Cantilever Distillery Hotel Mix Drinks in Tasting Room
Fresh Ingredients in every craft cocktail from Cantilever Distillery

Cantilever Distillery takes pride in its ‘grain to glass’ philosophy. They hand-distill spirits using the finest Minnesota grains and water from the Canadian Shield, emphasizing local sourcing and community support. Their product range includes bourbon, gin, vodka, and single malt whiskey, each crafted with meticulous care and attention to detail.

Cantilever’s Most Popular Spirits

Three of their most popular spirits stand out for their unique flavors and versatility in cocktails:

Cantilever Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This bourbon, aged for a minimum of two years in charred, new American Oak casks, boasts an alcohol content of 48.5% ABV (97 proof). It’s made from a blend of 100% local corn, wheat, barley, and rye, offering a well-rounded and deep flavor profile. 

The nose opens with enticing notes of orange peel, vanilla, and dark chocolate. On the palate, it has a rich body with flavors of caramel, sweet corn, and plum, finishing with forward notes of green apple and cinnamon, complemented by a crisp “minerality.” 

This bourbon’s complex and balanced taste makes it perfect for enjoying neat, on the rocks, or as the base for a luxurious bourbon-based cocktail like a Mint Julep or a classic Bourbon Old Fashioned.

Juniperus Gin

This artisan gin from Cantilever Distillery is crafted with a 100% local corn base and features an intricate blend of 10 botanicals, offering a complex and nuanced flavor profile. At 45% ABV (90 proof), it presents a rich body with a harmonious balance of aromas and tastes. 

The nose is a captivating mix of mint, citrus, spice, and a subtle hint of smoke. On the palate, it delivers a robust flavor with prominent notes of citrus and juniper. The finish is cinnamon and black tea, gently fading into cardamom, anise, and rosemary. 

This gin is ideal for a sophisticated gin and tonic or a complex gin-based cocktail, where its rich array of flavors can be fully appreciated.

Straight Rye Whiskey

Cantilever Distillery’s Straight Rye Whiskey stands out with a distinctive depth. Aged for a minimum of two years in charred, new American oak casks, this whiskey is 47% ABV (95 proof) and made from 100% local rye, corn, wheat, and barley. 

On the nose, there is melon, cherry, and black pepper. During tasting, you’ll notice a rich body featuring flavors of clove, nutmeg, and vanilla. The finish is both smooth and intriguing, offering notes of honey, allspice, and spearmint. 

This rye whiskey is ideal for sipping neat or in a classic cocktail like a Manhattan or a Whiskey Sour, where its robust flavor profile can be fully appreciated and savored.

The Cantilever Distillery & Hotel Complex: A Unique Destination

The distillery is actually part of a larger complex that includes a boutique hotel and a cocktail room, offering a complete and immersive experience. Booking a stay here would be an incredibly unique way to spend a vacation, surrounded by the natural beauty of upstate Minnesota.

Cantilever Distillery Hotel Hot Tub
Hot Tub on the rooftop at Cantilever Distillery + Hotel overlooking Rainy Lake and Ranier, Minnesota near Voyageur’s National Park

Guests can start their day in one of the hotel’s 31 rooms, each featuring a claw-foot tub, before exploring the local area and nature preserves. At the end of a fun-filled day of vacation, guests can then finish off with dinner and drinks in the cocktail room, which serves craft cocktails made from their in-house distilled spirits.

Cantilever isn’t just a stopover; it’s a destination in and of itself, offering a variety of amenities to make guests feel at home. This includes a 12-person rooftop hot tub and sauna, an onsite yoga studio, various seating options throughout its three levels, and a gift shop and espresso bar. The design of the facility, resembling a repurposed industrial warehouse, adds to the charm and character of the place.

Tours, Activities, & Classes

Their commitment to providing a unique experience extends to organizing weekly tours of the distillery, where guests can learn about the fascinating history of Ranier and Prohibition. They also offer a range of activities like fishing guides, snowmobiles, boat tours, and more, ensuring that each visit is tailored to guests’ preferences.

Location & Hours

The distillery is located at 2078 Spruce Street, Ranier, MN 56668. 

Nestled on the border waterway between Minnesota and Canada, it’s not just a spot for spirit enthusiasts but also for tourists looking to experience the natural beauty of Northern Minnesota!

If you’re planning a visit, we recommend you check their official website or contact them at (218) 540-1932 for the most up-to-date information on their opening hours and any special events that might be taking place​​​!

Big Vic Statue in Ranier, Minnesota
Big Vic at the entrance to Ranier, Minnesota a waterfront village on Rainy Lake and the headwaters to Rainy River- Visit Voyageur’s National Park to learn more.

Visit Cantilever Distillery Today!

Cantilever Distillery’s impact extends beyond just being a tourist spot. It’s a testament to the revitalization and economic development of the region, symbolizing a beacon of growth and innovation in Koochiching County.

In summary, Cantilever Distillery really is a remarkable blend of history, local craftsmanship, and modern luxury. Plus, they offer a unique experience & stay that reflects the spirit and beauty of Northern Minnesota. 

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your distillery experience today or order one of Cantilever’s delicious spirits!

Year Established

Contact Information

2078 Spruce Street, Ranier, Minnesota 56668, United States


  • Distillery Tasting Room with restaurant
  • Distillery Tours
  • Outdoor seating
  • Hotel
  • Yoga Studio
  • Hot Tub and Sauna (Hotel Guests or Day Pass)
  • Gift Shop and Off Sale Spirits



Cantilever Distillery + Hotel 2 reviews

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2 reviews
  • Julia

    I love love love their sauna. It’s worth it to get a room for the night just for their sauna. I also when I go with my friends i always order their waffles and they put ice cream on top- ridiculously good, and only 8 bucks.

  • Jake P.

    No need to sacrifice modern comfort when seeking outdoor adventure. For those seeking a taste of house craft spirits, hospitality, and the areas history – I highly recommend visiting The Cantilever Distillery+Hotel.

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Contact Info

Distillery Nearby

Posted 2 years ago
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Business Hour
Closed Now

  • Monday
    04:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Tuesday
    04:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Wednesday
    04:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Thursday
    04:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Friday
    11:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Saturday
    09:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sunday
    09:00 am - 10:00 pm

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