Sometimes it’s a simple conversation that leads to a big idea. At least that was the case for Eric Darling, who, after a talk with a friend about the shape of Minnesota and an off-the-cuff remark about it being an ideal shape for a mug, had his light bulb go off: “We should make mugs shaped like the state of Minnesota!” And boom—Sotapitcher was born.
Well, not exactly “boom.” First Darling got permission from his friend to pursue the idea, and then got to work engaging other locals to help him figure out what exactly it would look like and what it would be made out of. He landed on ceramic, partnering with iconic Red Wing Stoneware and Pottery for production—each Sotapitcher is made using the art of slip casting, in which the slip (liquefied clay) is poured into a mold, formed, hand trimmed, glazed, decorated by skilled artisans, cleaned, inspected, and then fired in one of Red Wing’s natural gas kilns. It’s an intricate process, but one that results in an item that’s one-of-a-kind and of the highest quality.
Customized 16 oz. sotapitcher
Another bonus of the mugs being handmade is that they’re customizable, so you can personalize one to commemorate any occasion or celebration. The standard designs are pretty great too, though. Choose the 16 oz. model with or without a handle or the 1 oz. shot size, or, starting Dec. 15, the 10 oz. coffee mug, decorated with the Sotapitcher logo, a heart over the Twin Cities, or, to showcase our well-known personalities, the word “nice” printed on it. (Red Wing also sells additional designs.) Plus, for the holidays they’ve rolled out a line of Nice Pint special edition beer steins that feature the logos of eight local breweries: 612 Brew, Excelsior Brewing Company, Finnegans, Jack Pine Brewery, Kinney Creek Brewery, Red Wing Brewery, Summit Brewing Co., and Third Street Brewhouse. I definitely wouldn’t mind finding a six-pack and a Nice Pint wrapped up for me this Christmas.
Perhaps the best part, though, is that this is a gift that will work for just about anyone who is living in or originally from Minnesota, so you could check off a lot of names on your list with just one item. And don’t be fooled by the word “pitcher” in the title; it can be used for everything from drinking your morning coffee or favorite local brew to being used as a utensil holder, flower vase, or simply a decorative piece.
It really is the nicest drinkware around. And maybe this year, the nicest thing under your tree.
Limited edition Nice Pints
[All photos courtesy of Sotapitcher]