Erin go Bragh!

Kieran Folliard. Photo by Tracy Walsh
Kieran Folliard. Photo by Tracy Walsh

I had never been a big whiskey drinker. Give me vodka or gin before the brown and boozy spirits of Scotch, rye and bourbon.

So who would’ve thought I’d discover a brand new favorite drink (made with Irish whiskey of all things), not in Kentucky, Scotland or Japan, but right here in Minnesota!

And who do I (and so many others) have to thank for it?

Longtime Minnesota entrepreneur and native Irishman Kieran Folliard — this month’s Cover Star and the man who came up with the idea of transforming whiskey “from a male-oriented, wintertime beverage into a year-round, gender-neutral one.”

Named for Folliard’s redheaded mother and aunt, Mary and Delia, 2 Gingers whiskey — distilled in Ireland and distributed in the U.S. — is described as smooth, malty and slightly sweet to start, with notes of honey and citrus.

If you think whiskey isn’t your thing, you might want to mix up the Big Ginger cocktail featured in this issue — ginger ale (regular or diet) and 2 Gingers whiskey (garnished with lemon and lime). Just about any bar in the Twin Cities can prepare one for you, too.

In this issue, you’ll also find the story of Folliard’s early life and his 30 years in Minnesota. I was fascinated by his tale and hope you will be, too.

In person, Folliard — whose latest venture is The Food Building in Northeast Minneapolis — is a delight with his playful but sharp wit and lilting Irish accent. Indeed, his comments in the article show off his self-deprecating sense of humor and humility, too.

But I was perhaps most struck by a quote from his longtime friend, Jacquie Berglund, CEO of Finnegans Brew Co. of Minneapolis.

She pointed out Folliard’s fun and friendly side, of course. But she added: “He’s the guy who always comes to the funeral. If your world is falling apart, he’s the one who calls to see how you’re doing. He’s one of my best friends, and he’s never not been there for me.”

As I move into middle age — no, not yet the Good Age — I’m attending more funerals than my friends in their 20s and 30s. And I realized I’d sure like someone to say that (all of it) about me when I’m 62.

I’d also like to say that I masterfully branded my very own Irish whiskey with its own trademarked drink.

But I’ll leave that to Folliard.

And instead I’ll raise a glass to him — and Ireland — this St. Patrick’s Day.