The Cheers! team, Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings and Lester Graham, found a distiller serving up a cocktail with a spirit made with all Michigan ingredients.
At Long Road Distillers’ upstairs bar, Adam Rodriguez is setting out the tools of the trade and the ingredients he using for today’s cocktail. Rodgriguez is Assistant Manager/Lead Bartender at the Grand Rapids distillery.The cocktail features a Long Road gin, MICHIGIN.
The distiller released its second batch of the award-winning gin this month (November 2017).
“Our MICHIGIN is all Michigan-based botanicals,” Rodriguez explained.
“I’m used to gins that have things like lemon peel and those (lemons) don’t grow in Michigan. What did you guys use instead,” Coxen asked.
“To emulate the lemon, we ended up working with local farms for lemon balm and lemon verbena. They’re both herbs that have a nice citrus body, they kind of emulate those flavors,” Rodriguez replied.
Long Road sourced blueberries from a nearby farm, wild foraged for sumac around Grand Rapids, and then took a staff trip to Beaver Island, the largest island in Lake Michigan, to forage for wild juniper.
The first time they went for wild juniper, Long Road Distillers took the entire production team and half of the front of the house team for a rainy two-day forage for juniper.
Rodriguez says it was work, but it was a labor of love. “It makes for an exceptional product, to have fresh juniper,” he said.
Rodriguez explained, “We wanted to showcase some of the history of Beaver Island, so we named this cocktail ‘Strang’s Crown’ after the Mormon king of Beaver Island.” (Listen to Michigan Radio explore the history of the Mormon kingdom here.)
There’s a lot of lemon and fresh herbal aroma to the drink. “What’s really cool about this is fenugreek isn’t a very well known seed, but it has a lot of flavors like an earthy maple syrup. So you get this rich, tart, herbal- it’s delicious,” Rodriguez said.
Coxen said she expected a sort of summer sipper, but noted, “There’s this depth there which must be coming from the fenugreek and it’s really interesting.”
1-1/2 oz Long Road Distillers’ MICHIGIN
¾ oz fenugreek simple syrup (equal parts sugar and fenugreek tea)
1 oz dry vermouth
¾ oz lemon juice
Put ingredients in a tin shaker with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Strain into a collins glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.