Seasonal sips from new Detroit area cocktail bars
If you’ve stirred your own martinis at home in the past 12 months, you may be ready to pay a visit to a professional bartender.
Spring is often a time when revamped cocktail menus pop up in bars and lounges. With indoor food and drink only recently back on the table, this season is no different.
Kelly Elliott, owner of Bowlero Lanes and Lounge, says making seasonal cocktails is one way of offering customers something they can’t do at home.
“Because of the pandemic, we all seem to be more attuned to the little things worth celebrating and going to a favorite place to have a new cocktail seems to fit that bill,” she said and added because you can’t have live music at Bowlero yet. She’s looking for other ways to showcase her vintage-inspired hip bar in the renovated bowling alley, which it owned only a few months before the pandemic.
“But as the owner, I actually see this as an opportunity to really show off our lounge bar and demonstrate the wide range of things we offer our guests,” she said. “Sure, you can get a shot and a beer here, but you can also get a special well-made cocktail or a really nice glass of wine.”
Metro Detroit has some new craft bars and cocktail restaurants that opened either during or just before the pandemic that may have fallen off your radar. Some of them offer the following for either a spring sip in the bar or a take-away cocktail at home.
Sherry takes care of Kiesling
Kiesling, a neighborhood bar in a vintage building, offers customers take-away cocktails to enjoy at home, as well as a pop-up food service from a rotating array of local chefs. The bar will reopen on March 25th when you can get a kick on the mouth with the Sherry is Caring cocktail. It mixes smoky mezcal, manzanilla sherry, spiced raspberry oleo saccharum (a sugar-fruit mixture), grapefruit and lime juice and spicy bitter substances. You can also purchase this drink (and others) to take away in an 8-ounce 2.5-serving bottle for $ 20. 449 E. Milwaukee, Detroit. (313) 638-2169. kieslingdetroit.com.
Thanks for last night at Lexington
Located in Woodbridge on the same strip as the Japanese restaurant Bash Original Izakaya, Lexington made its debut as best it could in 2020. It’s a neighborhood-friendly pub with affordable beer and shot specials, but it also has an artisanal arm, including the Thanks for Last Night cocktail made from Bombay sapphire gin, Solerno blood orange liqueur, the Italian bitter aperitif Aperol, grapefruit juice, and a bit Prosecco. It has been a bright spot on the drinks menu all winter and will remain so when the bar moves on to its spring and summer cocktail menu. As with many small rooms, seating is limited, but you can send a message on Lexington’s Facebook or Instagram page to reserve a seat. Open Thursday-Saturday just. 5063 Trumbull, Detroit. thelexbar.com.
Clarified milk punch in the Shelby
The Shelby, a dimly lit speakeasy-style restaurant downstairs, is likely the newest new bar on this list. The concise cocktail menu offers a spring-friendly clarified milk punch with rum and cognac, flavored with cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. Head bartender Desmond Oliver says time is the main ingredient. While it is made in batches when ordered for quick service, all of the work goes into prep. “It takes about 72 hours … we start infusing alcohol with chopped fruits, spices, tea … all of the elements of your basic recipe are in it,” he said. “It’s light and refreshing, but it’s still silky and warm.” Do not drink? Oliver also made the Smuggler, a soft drink made with his version of a “zero proof” infused spirit that mimics the flavor profile of American whiskey. The menu here is equally focused, with hearty little plates to go with the drinks. There is no signage outside of the Shelby. Look for owner Tarun Kajeepeta’s other store, an Australian style coffee bar called Coffee Down Under, and from there you will find the entrance to the bar. Open Thursday through Sunday. just; Reservations recommended. 607 Shelby, Detroit. Shelbydetroit.com.
Stein Cocktails at Bagley Central
This spring, the Hubbard Richard neighborhood bar, Bagley Central, quenches thirst with its stone cocktails. Try the Gray Wizard made from absinthe, lemon cello, orange liqueur, citrus juices, cranberries and sage. The spacegrass is also served in a 12-ounce stein over ice and contains aquavit, aperol, lemonade, and ginger beer. The bar, which opened in Spring 2019, serves both indoor and take-away cocktails. Open from Thursday to Sunday. just. 2545 Bagley, Detroit. (313) 262-6763. bagleycentral.com.
Rosemary Blueberry Smash at Ivy Kitchen and Cocktails
Not all cocktails need alcohol. This mainstay on Ivy Kitchen’s “Mocktails” menu is perfect for a spring day when all you need to do is amaze the bees. In addition to the title ingredients, the Rosemary Blueberry Smash also contains honey, lemonade and mineral water for a bit of sparkling water. Get it for dinner, weekend brunch, to take away or enjoy it during Ivy’s new happy hour from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wed.-Fri. with $ 8 small plates. 9215 E. Jefferson, Detroit. (313) 332-0607. ivykc.com.
Deep Dark Oceana at Johnny’s Speakeasy
Johnny’s Speakeasy is a tucked away restaurant under the new Royal Oak Restaurant Alchemi in downtown (formerly Mr. B’s Gastropub). Rebecca Wurster – the restaurant’s new farm-to-table coordinator and formerly the beverage sorceress at Midtown’s Savant – developed the Deep Dark Oceana cocktail not only because it tastes good and looks bright, but because it contains mezcal, cucumber and jalepeno , contains. Lime and green and blue spirulina, a diet supplement made from algae that they believe has health benefits and is high in protein and antioxidants. For a dessert drink, head to Lost Weekend, their dark drum version of a Brandy Alexander, cognac, fernet, coffee, coconut, egg whites, and cinnamon, served with a chocolate drop and candy top. 215 S. Main, Royal Oak. (248) 794-1261. johnnysroyaloak.com.
The spring blossom in the Bowlero Lanes and Lounge
This nod to the classic gimlet makes its bar debut on Saturday, the first day of spring, in the super-cool vintage-style Bowlero Lanes and Lounge in Royal Oak, which originally opened in the 1950s. Bartender and creator Greg Woloszyk did it with a quick service in mind so bowlers don’t have to wait long for a craft drink. It’s a light, strong sipper of Valentine’s White Blossom Vodka, garnished with elderflower and grapefruit, plus simple syrup, lemon, and fresh mint and fig, and served in a coupe glass for $ 13. 4209 Coolidge, Royal Oak. (248) 549-7500.
Guava margarita at Aldana Mexican Bar and Grill
Aldana is a colorful new restaurant that opened in Troy in January that specializes in Mexican cuisine and cocktails. One of their latest is the guava margarita with exotic tequila reposado and contreau as well as lime juice, some agave nectar and a good 2 ounces guava concentrate. Enjoy it in the colorful dining room of the new restaurant or enjoy it and other margarita flavors to take away. 2896 W. Maple, Troy. (248) 792-2111. aldanamexicangrill.com.
Spring is also a time for refreshing, light beers, ciders, selters, and other drinks to hit the shelves. Bell’s seasonal American wheat beer Oberon will be released next week. This week, Atwater Brewery released its Mango-Wheat-Fruit Ale Whango for the first time in two years (last year’s release was affected by COVID-19).
Blakes Hard Cider is expanding its range of alcoholic beverages to include “Craft Hard Cider Lemonades”. This month, look for Blake’s Blueberry Lemonade and Strawberry Lemonade, made with natural cider-based lemon juice and real fruit. They contain 6.5% alcohol by volume and are sold in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. Blueberry is also sold individually in a 16-ounce can, perfect to slip into your beach bag this summer.