Bars and nightlife are an intricate part of Detroit’s culture. The mix of sports bars, dive bars, cigar bars, and wine bars capture the dynamics of Detroiters. Nightly downtown Detroit welcomes tens of thousands of guests seeking contrastingly different experiences to enjoy a drink. This Detroit is Different post welcomes that diversity by asking four bartenders … “what if Detroit had a drink?”
As a hip-hop artist / song writer names and titles have always intrigued me. The names of mixed drinks at bars have run my imagination for years. The bartenders who decided to title ‘Long Island Teas,’ ‘White Russians,’ and ‘Cadillac Margaritas’ I could talk to for hours. So I decided to question some of my favorite bartenders about what would the mixed drink ingredients be in a ‘Detroit Drink,’ and why?
Cheryl (aka Strawberry) is a native Detroiter who began bartending in Tampa FL in 2006 at Gameworks Sports bar & Arcade. Soon after Cheryl transferred to the now closed Gameworks in Aurburn Hills MI. Today she’s one of the featured bartender at Thomas Magee’s Whisky bar in Detroit’s Eastern Market every Sunday.
Cheryl and business partner Desiree have now opened ‘Advanced Mixology Bartending School.’ Their bartending school is the first owned by women of color in Michigan. Their school teaches bartending in 24hrs (24 hours of class in either three 8hr days, or four 6hr days). Advanced Mixology provides job placement and certification for all students 18 years and above. Cost for the class is $300. Currently Advanced Mixology is running a $275 special. The Advanced Mixology school is located upstairs above 612 Woodward Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub in the heart of downtown. Classes are 7 days a week 9am – 5pm. If you’re interested in taking the class, contact Cheryl at (313) 656-7502.
Cheryl’s drink is the ‘Detroit Girl’ was based on the diversity and differences of Detroit. The ingredients in ‘Cheryl’s Detroit’ were Peach Amsterdam (Vodka), Amaretto (Almond Liqueur), Limeade, and Strawberry Faygo. The mix between the vodka and liqueur capture the differences in Detroit (Detroit is Different!). Limeade is Cheryl’s the bridge to the world, likening the International crossing of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. Strawberry Faygo is Cheryl’s favorite flavor, and a Detroit classic.
Eric is one of my best friend’s in music, and is an only original bartender for Slow’s BBQ who still works there. Eric joined the team at Slow’s BBQ when it was originally planned to be a Bourbon and BBQ bar. This is why the selection of Bourbon and Whisky at Slow’s BBQ is superb.
Eric appreciates the feel of Slow’s BBQ because of the bar. The horse shoe shaped design allows more guests in smaller spaces to delve into conversations. This unique configuration has led to the diversity Slow’s BBQ has welcomed since 2006.
‘Eric’s Detroit,’ is his ‘Proprietary.’ The Proprietary is a drink featured at Slow’s BBQ by a mix of bartenders. Eric’s ingredients are Angel’s Envy Bourbon and Cocchi White Wine Americano. Angel’s Envy Bourbon makes an exclusive blend of bourbon for Slow’s (it’s like Heinz Ketchup for McDonald’s). The Slow’s mix of Angel’s Envy has the strong kick all good bourbon needs. This represents the grit of Detroit for Eric. The Cocchi captures the creativity of Detroit.
Rob is also a bartender at Slow’s BBQ. Jokingly Rob suggested the ‘Detroit Drink’ should be a can of Stroh’s Beer. After a long laugh, Rob introduced me to the ‘Negroni.’ The Negroni is a drink that’s becoming trendy by the day. The taste is experiential.
Rob’s ‘Detroit Drink’ is the ‘Negroni.’ The ingredients are Two James Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. Two James Vodka, is a Vodka made in Detroit’s first distillery blocks away from Slow’s BBQ in Southwest Detroit. Two James Gin is the history of Detroit. Campari liqueur’s bitter and sweet orange taste matches the duality of the beauty and blight of Detroit. Sweet Vermouth is the smooth taste that represents the water and changes in Detroit.
Phreddy is another one of my closest friends, and artistic supporters. Phreedy also is a featured bartender at the Bronx Bar every Sunday night. For a span of nine years Phreddy as a bartender has witnessed numerous memorable conversations and acts.
Phreddy’s ‘Detroit Drink’ is focused to give an encompassing premise of Detroit. ‘Phreddy’s Detroit’ ingredients are Old Grand Dad Whiskey, Grapefruit Juice, half fresh Lemon, and Sugar. Phreddy’s drink provides a context for the political entity for the original displaced natives of the area we now name ‘Detroit.’ This is represented by the grapefruit juice and lemon. The Old Grand Dad Whisky represents the history of the Black people from the American South (descendents of enslaved peoples) who came to Detroit during the Great Migration. The Sugar in the drink represents the resources Detroiters are striving for.