Local stakeholders and supporters Friday joined development partners to celebrate the launch of The Cantilever Hotel and Distillery – a 31-room boutique hotel, cocktail room and distillery.
Developer Marty Goulet kicked off the ceremony by talking about the positive momentum in Ranier and the motives for the development in the community.
“There is a reason we are having this event at Loony’s Brew Pub and Rainy Lake Grill is catering the event, they are both part of the positive story that is unfolding and the momentum that allowed our development team to make this investment in the community,” said Goulet. "The approximate 100-invited guests in attendance received an inside look into the project, an introduction to the first two Cantilever employees, the release of two new brands, followed by a non-traditional ground-breaking ceremonial christening of the site. If you are here today, it is because you have helped or supported and are a part of the Cantilever Hotel and Distillery project.”
The Cantilever Hotel and Distillery, anticipated to open summer 2019, is a new 26,000 square foot boutique hotel and distillery located at 2078 Spruce Street in Ranier. The facility amenities include 31 upscale boutique hotel rooms, state of the art spirits manufacturing plant, cocktail room (only serving Cantilever products), restaurant, private events spaces, rooftop bar with sauna and hot tub, distillery tours, yoga studio, treatment rooms, and electric car charging station.
"A physical location, complete with a tour and tasting, is the biggest marketing asset a distilling company will ever possess," said Goulet. "As such, our distillery will be an extension of the brand. This requires that every element the consumer contacts will reflect the thinking and philosophy of the brand.”
The Cantilever Distilling Co., will offer single malt whiskey, bourbon, and gin made with local peat, local grains, and local water that showcase the skill and expertise of the distiller. The Cantilever Bridge located only feet away from the distillery is symbolic of the bootlegging history and connection between Canada and the U.S.
Released publicly for the first time Friday, Woody’s Fairly Reliable Spirits Co., will produce honest, reliable spirits and premium canned cocktails that are focused on lake life and the outdoor lifestyle. These products will be known for premium quality with affordable pricing so that that they can over-deliver on taste and price while always considering lake lifestyle.
“We are excited to announce for the first time with the personality of Ranier's own Barry "Woody" Woods – Woody’s Fairly Reliable Spirits," said Goulet.
General Manager Ed Gackley announced a partnership with Wyndham Hotels’ Trademark Collection Brand.
“The Cantilever Bridge Hotel – a trademark collection allows us to leverage the benefits of being associated with a world class hotel franchise while keeping total independence," said Gackley. He also introduced distiller Charlie Fuller who expressed his excitement for the project.
Developer Duane Cridland revealed the first artwork for the distillery called “Busted 1932” by Cher Pruys. In 1932, a train crossing the Cantilever Bridge with 79 barrels of Canadian whiskey was seized and destroyed in a public ceremony before it could reach its destination in Chicago. The artwork depicts the event and the locals who showed up to get a taste but were prohibited to use any cups or containers and resorted to slurping it off the ice.
Participants later Friday went outside to the site of the new hotel and distillery. Mayor Dennis Wagner, Hall of Fame Fishing Guide Woody and the Director of the Koochiching County Economic Development Agency Paul Nevanen, each took a swing with the ceremonial golden ax and attempted to break a barrel of whiskey. After a few attempts with the ax, the liquid from the barrel was released and the site christened.
Back inside Loony’s, developer Pat Bracken walked the attendees through an inside look at Cantilever’s first bourbon, explaining the mash bill (recipe) and finishing with a toast.
Mark Twain once said, “too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is barely enough."
Learn more about the Cantilever Story!
While fishing, boating and other water activities are often the main attraction on Rainy Lake, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area by bike. A 12-mile paved trail runs adjacent to Highway 11 from International Falls to the Voyageurs National Park Visitors Center and offers diversions such as ice cream stops, wildlife viewing and even a dip in the lake!
The trail is located just east of the Convention and Visitors Bureau office (301 2nd Avenue), roughly where highway 53 meets highway 11/71 in downtown International Falls. You can park there to begin your eastward journey. This area of the trail features river views on your left, which overlook the community of Fort Frances, Ontario. Note the paper mill at the falls, as well as the wood chips and logs that are piled along the highway before being sent to the mill. Make a stop at the Voyageurs National Park Headquarters (360 Highway 11), where you can enjoy the river views.
Approximately 3 miles west of International Falls is the community of Ranier, marked by a 25-foot statue affectionately known as “Big Vic.” Plan to take time for a detour here. Ranier is a charming village with restaurants, a bar and brewery, as well as an ice cream shop. Chances are good you will see a train, as the Canadian National Railway border crossing in Ranier sees the most railroad cars of any crossing between the U.S. and Canada. This is also where the Rainy Lake flows into the Rainy River, which you can see from the Spruce Street dock. From here, you can either head back to the highway, or bike along County Road 20, which wends through a residential area and past City Beach, where you can cool off with a swim or enjoy a picnic.
Here the bike trail merges with highway 11 for a few miles, while the landscape begins to change. You’ll see some of the only farmland – watch for cranes, geese and deer – as well as an unobstructed view of Rainy Lake at the Jackfish Bay Wayside Park. The trail then turns left at County Road 103 to become enveloped in the wooded landscape.
This part of the trail crosses Tilson Bay, where you can see wild rice growing in the wetlands on the right and Rainy Lake to the left. Stop here to rest on the dock or get in some cross training with a trek on the hiking trail.
Here the trail is on the shoulder of Highway 11, which challenges bikers with a long, gradual uphill climb before again turning to the left and into the woods. Gradual hills make for a fun, not-too-hard ride, while grouse are known to peak out from the underbrush. At the end of the trail, cross Highway 11 to the Rainy Lake Recreation Trail, a wide, paved path that welcomes runners, walkers and bicyclists. Leading to the entrance of Rainy Lake Visitor Center the 1.75-miles include benches for taking a breather while taking in the views of Rainy Lake.