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Posted on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 8:36 a.m.

Branch out from beer and try a craft cocktail - or learn to make your own

By Patti Smith

Today's mug is in the shape of a cocktail glass, amigos. On occasion, I indulge in craft cocktails, which are becoming quite the thang 'round these parts. At the forefront of this cocktail revolution is my friend, Tammy Coxen, who offers monthly cocktail tasting classes at the Ravens Club.

The last class saw us making pink drinks, in honor of Valentine's Day. My personal favorites were the Sazerac and the Jack Rose. If you have not had a cocktail made with rye, you are missing out! I had never thought much about rye until I started taking the cocktail classes; now I seek it out all the time.

The Sazerac has 3 ounces of rye, 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup, 5 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters (which is what gives the drink its pink color) and an absinthe rinse. The result is a refreshing drink that is also rather complex, given the absinthe rinse.

I know that absinthe simultaneously delights and terrifies people. Delights because people think, "Oh heck, yeah! Wormwood visions!” and terrifies because, "Oh my God, seriously, wormwood visions?"

Well, fortunately (or not), most absinthe doesn't produce the results that you think it will. In fact, I have read (on the Internet, so it must be true) that it wasn’t the wormwood that gave people the visions but rather the copious amounts of absinthe that people consumed that did the trick. Whatever the case may be, the anise flavor mixes well with the rye and bitters.

The Jack Rose is made with 2 ounces of apple brandy, 1/2 an ounce lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce grenadine and 1 dash of orange bitters. This is very different from the Sazerac, obviously, but just as delicious. We used a homemade grenadine (with was Pom Wonderful cooked down into a thick syrup), which made all the difference when compared to store bought grenadine, which was packed with corn syrup and the like.

Craft cocktails are getting easier and easier to find. From the Sugar House in Detroit to our own Ravens Club, 327 Braun Court and the newly opened The Last Word, you can find creative bartenders making some excellent beverages. Or, if you are a hands-on person like me, sign up for a cocktail making class.

Beer people should branch out, in my opinion. It is great to taste new drinks made with the same love and care as craft beer. Now, if Tammy would just have a beer and cocktails class….!

Okay and so it wasn't all craft cocktails these past few weeks… I got to enjoy after batch of Fat Elvis beer made by my friend, George Hotelling. In my opinion, this is one of those genius recipes you will only find in the minds of talented craft brewers.

Fat Elvis was made at Liberty Street Brewing Co. in Plymouth and went on tap last Monday. Can you guess what it’s made of? Yes! Peanut butter and bananas go into the mash, which lend a lovely peanutty banana-y taste to the porter. All you need to do is shoot out a few televisions, rap on the phone with the Colonel and fart around Graceland, and you are all set to live like the King.

Patti Smith is a teacher and beer brewer/blogger.


sun runner

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

I hit up the Ravens Club with D. last night for dinner and we each enjoyed two of their signature cocktails. I had my favorite, the Ravens Club #2, to start, followed by a Little Joe. Anything that comes with flecks of chocolate floating on top is ALL RIGHT by me!

John Tuttle

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

"craft" cocktails? How about "cocktails", since they're all technically crafted...