5 Ways to Enjoy Cocktail Week Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids launched Cocktail Week GR last year – and the response was so great, the city is gearing up for a second go-round, November 9-20, 2016.

Sip local! Bebidas Estilo GR!

Logo for Grand Rapids Cocktail Week

Cocktail Week Grand Rapids was created to celebrate Michigan-made spirits and the art of the craft cocktail. New distilleries are popping up all over Grand Rapids and throughout the state, and Cocktail Week GR is a great opportunity to taste their handiwork in delicious drinks created by West Michigan’s best mixologists.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of this spirited event.

1. Pair and Share. Participating bars and restaurants are offering a special food-drink pairing deal – get two Michigan cocktails and a shared-plate appetizer for $25 or less. Chefs and mixologists have collaborated to create pairings that perfectly complement each other, adding balance and depth to your gustatory experience. Last year, a crowd pleaser was, The Drapple – made with Beer Barrel Bourbon from New Holland Brewing – which was paired with Duck Confit Leg at Reserve Wine & Food.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

2. Go the Extra Glass. Enjoy enticing extras to enhance Cocktail Week GR including local events. Check cocktailweekgr.com for this year’s schedule.

3. Get in the Mix. Learn how to create your own delicious drinks at a Downtown Market cooking class. “Thanksgiving Cocktails and Desserts: Beyond the Pie” takes over the Teaching Kitchen on Wednesday, November 16.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

4. Take a Tour. Long Road Distillers, established in 2015 and already the winner of multiple international awards, offers tours of its facility on November 11, 12, 18 and 19. You’ll learn how Long Road uses local grains and fruits to craft vodka, whisky, rum and more.

5. Think Global. Attend the International Wine, Beer & Food Festival (November 17-19) to sample spirits – plus wines, beers and ciders – from around the world. More than 1,500 beverages will be featured, along with gourmet foods, workshops, seminars and more. It’s billed as “Michigan’s premier tasting event,” so bring your appetite!

“Flowers in the Window” is a cocktail made especially for Cocktail Week GR by Zac Williams from Six.One.Six.

What is your favorite place to enjoy a cocktail in Grand Rapids? Let us know in the comments below!

Spirits of Pure Michigan

While Michigan is known for its beer and wine, Michigan spirits have remained one of our states best kept secrets. Today, Trisha Verma, co-founder of Drink Michigan, fills us in on her favorite Michigan spirits, where to find them and more.

Michigan is home to some of the highest-rated, most award winning beer and wine in the country, and we get a good amount of recognition for it. But what many people don’t know is that we also produce some pretty amazing spirits. From vodka and gin to whiskey and brandy, Michigan’s growing distilled spirits scene is one of our best kept secrets.

You can find Michigan spirits on the shelves of many grocery and liquor stores. If you don’t see them, don’t be afraid to ask for them. Most stores are happy to order what you’re looking for. Remember – every dollar you spend on locally-produced spirits vs. those made outside the state is another dollar that helps boost the Michigan economy.

Not sure what to ask for? Here are a few of my favorite, more unique, Michigan spirits:

Hopquila – New Holland Artisan Spirts

The name doesn’t lie – this spirit really does taste like tequila with hops. It’s smooth and delicious. Mix it up at your next summer party by substituting Hopquila for tequila in your favorite margarita recipe!

Pear and Its Spirit – Black Star Farms

During the colder months, many of Michigan’s wineries turn to spirits production. One of my absolute favorites is this pear-flavored brandy. This dry, rich brandy is not only great to sip on, but it’s fun to cook with. Try soaking fruit in it for dessert, or mixing it into a fresh fruit salsa. Aren’t you dying to know how they got that pear in the bottle?

Zeppelin Bend Whiskey – New Holland Artisan Spirits

Straightforward, and rich, this whiskey will impress even the most discerning of palates. It warms you from the inside out when sipped straight, or mixed to create a great cocktail.

Civilized Vodka – Civilized Spirits

This smooth, cool vodka is brought you by the same brilliant team that makes Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak beer, and Bonafide wine. Sip it cold and straight, or mix it up in your favorite cocktail. Flavored vodka more your thing? Check out their Sakura – a delicious cherry version of the same vodka!

Knickerbocker Gin – New Holland Artisan Spirits

Not only is this one fun to say, it’s great to drink. Mix it up in a martini, or combine it with Michigan cherry juice, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a little seltzer for a refreshing summer cocktail

Barrel-Aged Michigan Whiskey – Grand Traverse Distillery

This one makes a great gift for the whiskey-lover in your life. Custom-age your Michigan whiskey in your very own barrel! These reusable white-oak barrels are already charred on the inside, and come in 2, 3, and 5-liter sizes. You can choose the type of whiskey you like best (corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or peated malted barley), and age it to your liking!

These are just a few of the great spirits that Michigan has to offer. Hard Luck Candy Vodka, Two Birds Artisan Spirits, Artesian Distillers – they are all great, very unique, and produced locally.

Looking for some cocktail recipes using these Michigan spirits? Check out the entries from our 2011 Cocktail Contest – there are some great ideas here!

You can sample many of these spirits, along with the best Michigan beer and wine, at our big summer bash on July 13. Sip of Michigan will be at The Rattlesnake Club in Detroit. We’ll have great food, live entertainment, and you’ll be able to taste from over 25 Michigan wineries, distilleries, and breweries. It’s a great evening on the Detroit Riverfront, and all proceeds go to a great cause. We hope you can join us!

Trisha Verma is a proud and passionate Michigander, and the co-founder of Drink Michigan, an online community dedicated to promoting Michigan-made beer, wine, and spirits. Drink Michigan’s goal is to help support the local economy by educating and encouraging people to buy these locally-made products. They travel around the state to taste new and interesting offerings, hold events, and are always on the lookout for new, fun ways to incorporate Michigan wine, beer, and spirits into food and cocktail recipes.