Norseman Distillery Production Manager Swaps Cocktails for Hand Sanitizer
Norseman Distillery

Norseman Distillery Production Manager Swaps Cocktails for Hand Sanitizer

With a team of just five, the Minneapolis-based spirits distillery and cocktail room is churning out cocktail kits and hand sanitizer.

When the Covid-19 pandemic caused Gov. Tim Walz to order bars and restaurants across the state to shut down beginning March 17, the leaders of Minneapolis-based spirits distillery and cocktail room Norseman Distillery knew they had to find a way to do two things: stay in business and help the community.

“Our focus changed from producing spirits for the cocktail room to producing our ‘Staycation’ take-home cocktail kits and hand sanitizer,” says production manager Lauren Murphy. Norseman has been donating its hand sanitizer, paid for through a GoFundMe campaign and some of its cocktail kit sales, to first responders, medical units, homeless shelters, and other local entities.

”The cocktail room that is usually buzzing with guests is now space that’s being used as an assembly line,” Murphy says. “We’ve had to adapt to totally different day-to-day tasks and roles.”

TCB: How many people are working at Norseman right now? What’s employee morale like?

Murphy | We have five people working full time at Norseman right now: myself, our assistant distiller/batching manager Greg Lancette, owners Scott Ervin and Jordan Webb, and our production assistant Jordan Jergenson. Everyone has been extremely optimistic and energized. We have received so much support from the community and that keeps us 100 percent motivated in our sanitizer and ‘Staycation’ kit efforts. We very quickly realized the need for sanitizer, and without question, our team knew this was our duty to keep our frontline workers safe.

Q. Do you have any tips for dealing with changing jobs during this time?

A | One thing this experience has taught me is that the skills we develop at work can feel specific and narrow, but what society needs and wants from us can change at any time, and we have to be able to apply our skills in new ways. I am so fortunate, in this case, to have had a role that could be seamlessly redirected to help address the crisis we’re in, but it’s a lesson that will stick with me for a long time after the pandemic ends. We can’t think of ourselves as a job description, we have to understand at a deeper level the value we can offer to the world through our unique knowledge and experience.

Q.: Do you anticipate work bouncing back to normal quickly after all this is over? 

A | I think that we will bounce back and that my daily role—overseeing the daily production at Norseman, which includes everything from mashing the grain and filling the fermenters to distilling the spirits—will return to normal. Once we’re able to reopen, I fully expect quite a few people will need a cocktail when coming out of quarantine.

Q. Any bright spots in the crisis?

A | We have received a lot of support from our partners. Northern Brewer and BSG CraftBrewing have graciously assisted us with supplies. We have also been astounded by the amount of people rallying behind us with everything from bottle donations to our GoFundMe page.

Q. Anything you’d like to add?

A | Stay home and stay healthy!