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!

An Inside Look at Terror on Tillson: A Pure Michigan Halloween Experience

Year after year, visitors flock to a small neighborhood in Romeo, MI to experience Terror on Tillson, one of Michigan’s largest neighborhood funded Halloween attractions!  Today, guest blogger Vicki Lee, a 35-year resident of Tillson Street shares a behind the scenes look at what goes into creating this undeniably unique All Hallow’s Eve experience. 

It’s that time of the year again. A quaint street in the middle of the Historic Village of Romeo, Michigan, transforms from a street lined with majestic maple trees and Historic homes, dating back to the late 1800’s, into a haunted habitat. Once a typical Halloween, with a few scarecrows and some pumpkins and 350 trick-or-treaters, has now evolved into a Halloween Extravaganza!

Photo Courtesy of KDMac Photography

Photo Courtesy of KDMac Photography

Trick-or-treat numbers have risen to about 2,000. Tens of thousands of visitors wander down the street during the last two weeks of October just to get a sight of all the hard work these neighbors put in to make this a memorable experience. Terror on Tillson Street provides a safe, family oriented Halloween experience at zero cost to visitors. The elaborate displays will be mostly completed the weekend of October 24th, although everyone decorates right up until Halloween. Trick or treating is only on October 31st from 6-8pm, but visitors are welcome to stop by and take a gander at the devilish displays beforehand.

Tillson Street is a little more than two blocks long. Most people decorate in some form or another, but it is not a requirement when you move on the street (although many visitors think it is). Most of the time there are about 32 house that do some type of display. This is a neighborhood that plays together, works together and watches out for each other…that’s how it all works. Some of my favorite memories from Halloween on Tillson Street are the times that the neighbors spend time together like one big family. We wind down at the end of the evening and chat about the friendly visitors who strolled through and highlights from the night’s events.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Throughout each weekend in October, you will see many neighbors walking from house to house, as help is always needed for some props that are too hard to put up yourself. It is an ongoing preparation for the big finale on Halloween. The neighbors work at their own speed. As most Michiganders know, unpredictable weather always has a way of interfering with our set ups! Most of us have “real” jobs, so you hope you have good weather on the weekends to accomplish everything that needs to happen.  Some tweaking is always going on right up to the time Trick-or-treaters start to arrive.

We always include family and friends in the festivities, which they all look forward to each year. Their help is always much appreciated! At my house, we now have the 4th generation of helpers. My mom, who is 81, pretty much does the supervision role these days, but in a way she started this with me, I was born on Halloween and she always puts a little more effort in the decorations for my sake.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

I continued this with my own children and it has just grown from there. As younger families moved on the street, the bigger our Halloween has become. The creativity of this neighborhood is amazing with the majority of decorations being handmade. Many residents work on their decorations throughout the year, hoping to finish before the next Halloween.

Everything is done by the residents of the street, their timeless hours and their enjoyment to do something very special for a free night out for the families is how this event has become what it is. We all hope everyone enjoys their visit to this one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

As my sons grew older and still wanted to be involved with the festivities, they created what is known as the “Bulldog Security” after Romeo High School’s mascot. Bulldog Security is a group of athletes from the high school that patrols the streets on Halloween night keeping an eye for trouble makers (not many to speak of) and lost children (maybe I should say lost parents). At one point these were just young teens wanting to be involved, now we have a few generations of athletes that help us out. Some of these young people come home from college just to be involved! The Village of Romeo has allowed Tillson Street to be blocked off on Halloween night for safety purposes during the 2 hour trick-or-treating time.

This year, Tillson Street has 3 special events that are included in our Halloween. One is the “Buzz Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund.” This was a fund that was started by my late husband with a golf outing to provide a vocational scholarship. When Buzz passed away from a brain tumor, my family and I decided to honor him in this wonderful scholarship that now provides not only a vocational scholarship, but also a pay-to-play scholarship and donations to the Wounded Warrior Project (Buzz was a Vietnam Veteran). We sell a limited edition “TILLSON STREET” Halloween shirt, hot cocoa and cider, can koozies and our very own Tillson Street Cookbook, put together by all the neighbors and friends. ALL proceeds go directly to the Scholarship Fund.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

We also provide a special event for KKC, “Kids Kicking Cancer.” This will be our 5th year giving kids an afternoon of no worries and a huge amount of fun. We close the street for a couple of hours and the kids and their families come down the street to trick-or-treat. I’m really not sure who has more fun, my neighbors or the kids! This is an event that makes it all worth the hard we put in to the decorations! It has at times been a very emotional day for the neighborhood, but so, so rewarding!

Photo by Heather Monaghan

Photo Courtesy of Heather Monaghan

If you’re planning to visit Tillson Street on Halloween this year, use these tips and information to make the most of your experience: 

-It’s best to walk and see everything, there will be bumper to bumper traffic, so it is very hard to see the displays in your vehicle.

-You never  have to wait in any line, although a line does seem to form during the evening, but that is not planned by anyone!

-Expect the walk to take you at least an hour to get through. There is parking on the street, but this usually hard to find.

-There are parking lots all around Tillson Street for a small donation, but are by no means associated with Tillson Street.

-Tillson Street is free of charge. The only things you might want to purchase are in the tent at 171 Tillson Street with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund.

Have you ever been to Halloween on Tillson Street? What did you think? 

Here’s How to Eat Your Way Through Detroit in One Day

Detroit is a food mecca with an abundance of options. When you plan on visiting the city, it can be hard to choose a restaurant due to the wide variety. Read more below as guest blogger Dan Fuoco from Visit Detroit provides a few tried-and-true food spots known for delicious fare. 


It may be hard to get out of bed but eating breakfast at one of these Detroit locations will help anyone rise and shine!

Mercury Burger & Bar: Once you get passed the fact that it say “burger” in the name, you’ll actually find amazing breakfast entries. Mercury serves gastro pub style food which means that their dishes will tingle every taste bud!


Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

The Whitney: This mansion and the food in it are absolutely top notch. The best part of breakfast at The Whitney is the ambiance. From the decorated walls to the fine furniture to the marble and exquisite staircase, taking in the scenes are… breathtaking. Side Dish:This mansion located off of Woodward in Detroit’s Midtown was once the home to David Whitney, a lumber baron. There are reports of his wife’s spirit visiting the house.


After a morning of wandering about Detroit, you’ll need a spot that will fill your tank.

7 Greens Detroit Salad Co.

7 Greens Detroit Salad Co. prides itself as a fresh destination for “healthful, great tasting food” to enjoy in a “fun, fast, casual and gourmet way” which means that it is possible to eat healthy, fast food. It’s a custom-created-salad shop with a checklist of items to add to your bowl, proving that salad creation can be fun and different – every time!

Detroit Vegan Soul

“Soul food made from whole food” is how they describe themselves. They offer vegan sandwiches, soups, salads, smoothies and sweets and will show you that vegan food can be healthy while tasting good.

vegan soul

Green Dot Stables

This is slider haven! Green Dot Stables has an assortment of sliders – 20 to be exact! Beef, chicken, lamb and more. Go with a friend or a group and remember, it’s normal to order at least 3-5 sliders per visit.

Slows Bar BQ

This corner bar made international headlines when Travel Channel’s Adam Richman featured the Yardbird on his “Best Sandwich in America” list. Slows Bar BQ is mixes southern style BBQ with some Detroit flare. They’ve made their own style and it’s no mistake that Adam visited – when you do, you’ll see why that sandwich – and others – are worthy of these titles.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Jolly Pumpkin

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama visited Detroit for the North American International Auto Show and visited Jolly Pumpkin for a spontaneous lunch. Best known for its pizza and beer, Jolly Pumpkin on West Canfield has become quite a popular destination for lunch, so much that President Barack Obama even dined here this winter.


Relax and mingle with friends at these restaurants after hours hangouts.

Buddy’s Pizza

When in Detroit, you need to try Detroit-style pizza from the style’s creator: Buddy’s Pizza. Buddy’s has been in Detroit for 70 years and created Detroit style pizza shortly after. It’s a unique combination which includes a chewy dough. Deep dish and thin crust are good but if you’ve never tried Detroit-style, you’re missing out!

Roma Cafe

Detroit’s oldest Italian restaurant brings old-world flavor to the Motor City. The sauce is fresh and every dish tastes like it was air delivered that day from Italy! Make no mistake, this isn’t a “cafe” in the American diction – it’s an upscale, sit-down restaurant with speedy waiters who know you are there to eat, not network. So from the moment you sit down, it’s clear that they are there to serve.

Central Kitchen + Bar

Another gastro pub that sits in Detroit’s First National Building and serves upscale bar food – and liquid nitrogen ice cream – is Central Kitchen +Bar. The scene is trendy with Edison lighting and earthy toned decor. For lunch and dinner, it can be loud but the food is exceptional and the experience is memorable.

Bonus: Dessert

Astoria Pastry Shop

If you’re in Detroit’s Greektown, you have to stop in and grab a dessert from Astoria. This pastry shop has an assortment of traditional American sweets mixed with Greek favorites. The best part? It’s open until 11:00 P.M. which means you can indulge into the late hours of the night.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Detroit Water Ice Factory

Have you ever tried water ice? Think: lemon ice with multiple flavors. Each flavor is Motown-inspired and all proceeds are donated to S.A.Y. Detroit, a local charity.

Where do you love to grub in Detroit? Share in the comments!