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!

ArtPrize Made Easy: 5 Steps to Enhance Your Visit

Whether you’re an ArtPrize regular or this will be your first trip to the world’s most radical art competition, you can follow these simple steps to make your experience more efficient, pleasant and fun.

The Art Newspaper has officially recognized ArtPrize as the most-attended public art event on the planet – about 400,000 people stream into downtown Grand Rapids during the 19-day festivities. That number is likely to swell this year, as the New York Times highlighted ArtPrize in naming Grand Rapids #20 on its list of 52 Places to Go Worldwide in 2016.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

A little advance planning will help you manage the crowds and get the most out of your ArtPrize visit. Here are a few tips:

1. Ride the ArtPrize Shuttle

With nearly 1,500 works of art spread across three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, it’s flat-out impossible to see everything in a day. Extend your stay with a special ArtPrize Hotel Package that offers such perks as a free shuttle to downtown. Guests at 30 suburban hotels can make their way to the Park & Ride location within 10 minutes of their hotel and board the shuttle to avoid traffic and parking hassles. That gives you more time to focus on art!

2. Visit the Neighborhood HUBs

For the first time, you’ll find eight Neighborhood HUBs throughout the ArtPrize district. Located at major venues, each HUB serves as a great entry point to the event – providing you with the opportunity to register to vote, pick up an event guide and map, get information about neighborhood-specific events, browse ArtPrize merchandise and purchase a Metro Pass.

3. Pick up a Passport (or Two)

You can also pick up an ArtPrize Passport at any of the HUBs. Collect stamps from any five of the eight HUBs and you’ll be entered to win prizes from ArtPrize and Founders Brewing Co. Collect stamps from all eight HUBs plus the exclusive ArtPrize Medallion sticker available only at the Founders Brewing Co. tent at the October 7 ArtPrize Awards public viewing party at Rosa Parks Circle – and you’ll be entered to win a grand prize package. (While you’re here, you can also pick up a Beer City Passport and collect stamps at participating breweries to earn a collectible Brewsader t-shirt.)

4. Whet Your Appetite

You’re going to work up a hunger during your ArtPrize adventure – and you’ll save time by evaluating your dining options in advance. Visit ExperienceGR.com to search for restaurants by region and/or cuisine.

5. Explore All Your Options

Every day of ArtPrize is packed with fun, fascinating, art-focused events – but ArtPrize isn’t the only excitement on the Grand Rapids agenda during these 19 days. From a touring Broadway production of Cinderella, to concerts by Kanye West and Aretha Franklin, to a family-friendly Oktoberfest celebration, you’ll find plenty of ArtPrize “add-ons” to enhance your stay. Search the Events Calendar at ExperienceGR.com to find events that coincide with your stay dates.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

What other tips do you have for attending this fun event? Let us know in the comments!

Experience Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids may be known as Beer City, USA, but the city is also a mecca for fine dining and local fare! Every year, Grand Rapids hosts Restaurant Week downtown to highlight the many diverse food options and eateries across the city. If you’re a looking for a delicious meal at a fair price, this is the event for you!

Read more on what you can expect at this year’s Restaurant Week courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.

From August 10th through the 21st, “Taste the City” of Grand Rapids during the city’s annual Restaurant Week 2016.

Delectable dishes are available all throughout Grand Rapids during Restaurant Week

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

What is it?  Every August, at the peak of Michigan harvest season, Grand Rapids recognizes the creativity of local chefs and the bounty of local farmers.  Restaurant Week 2016 has over sixty participating locations, which means locals and visitors could eat out three meals a day for the full eleven days and STILL not exhaust their culinary options around town.  Chefs are asked to create a three course menu that showcases both creativity and Michigan farm-fresh food.  These offerings are not on the general menu, so even if it is a restaurant you’ve tried before, you can taste something new.

How much?  Restaurants around town take two approaches to the three course menu.  Some cost $28 per person for the three course offering, and others offer $28 per couple for three courses.  Many chefs offer options for each course to accommodate dietary restrictions or preference.  Ask your server to suggest a beer, wine, or cocktail pairing that might compliment your exclusive meal.

Restaurant Week allows you to explore the many fantastic eateries in GR

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids


Enjoy a Michigan wine pairing with your steak

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Why offer Restaurant Week?  There are many reasons that Restaurant Week GR is beneficial to the food economy of Grand Rapids, but one awesome benefit is that $1 of every three-course meal sold is given in scholarship to the Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.  Experience Grand Rapids has raised over $100,000 for the endowed scholarship and is excited to add to that at the end of RWGR 2016.  This support in the culinary arts educational community is raising the next generation of talented Grand Rapids chefs who will exercise their own creativity during future Restaurant Weeks!

When is it, again?  Try Restaurant Week is happening now through August 21st. A list of all participating restaurants and their three-course offerings is available here: peruse and choose, but be sure the restaurant you pick is open when you’re ready to feast!  Will you choose the coffee crusted pork chop with sour cream whipped potatoes, fried kale, cherry & cabernet from Cork Wine and Grille? Or perhaps you’d prefer to start off with summer corn soup, barbecued shrimp, charred spring onion and corn salad from Olives Restaurant and Bar in Gaslight Village?    Document your edible experience on social media using #RWGR, and happy eating!

Where is your favorite place to grab a bite in Grand Rapids? Share with us by commenting below!