A Sweet Cocktail Classic

By: Karen Dybis | September 20, 2019
Hummer Cocktail

Photo Courtesy of Mercury Burger Bar

It may sound strange to consider a drink that mixes rum, Kahlua and, traditionally, vanilla ice cream a refreshing adult beverage – with those ingredients, it sounds more like a boozy shake that anyone over age 21 would enjoy on an end-of-summer night. 

But the Hummer cocktail, that legendary mix of alcohol and frozen dairy – has become Metro Detroit’s favorite blend of fun and responsible drinking. To be honest, it has had worldwide impact, but it definitely is beloved a bit more here where it is said to have been invented. 

According to lore, the Hummer originated in Detroit at the Bayview Yacht Club, where longtime bartender and drink expert Jerome Adams came up with the idea for the Hummer. He is said to have blended a dairy product – half and half or cream – with rum and Kahlua. Some say another bartender, this time at the London Chop House, came up with the idea to use ice cream instead.

Whoever came up with it or made today’s more accepted version with ice-cold dessert, it was an instant hit.  When done well, the Hummer is a thick, rich concoction of sweets served in a cocktail glass, typically the one that you might use to serve brandy. It is easy to drink and easy to endorse.

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And if that isn’t recommendation enough, consider this from Detroit writer Imani Mixon via Twitter: “My grandmother swears by the one at Sinbads.” Seriously, grandmas know. 

Here are some bars and restaurants that Metro Detroit locals say are musts for their classic as well as non-traditional takes on the Hummer cocktail.

Bayview Yacht Club 

Sometimes, you have to pay tribute to those who came before you and those who crafted a great cocktail. Try the Hummer where it is said to have started – plus, you’ll have an amazing time and view of the Detroit River. History demands that you make sure to raise your glass to Jerome Adams while you’re there. 

Sweetwater Tavern

Come for the wings, stay for the Hummer. If you want historic charm, a long legacy as well as good eats all under one roof, then head over to 400 E. Congress. Sweetwater is housed in one of Detroit’s oldest buildings and has roots that date back to the mid-1800s. Wings are the joint’s signature dish – they are marinated for 24 hours in a secret spice blend and then prepped with Southern charm. The Hummer is the perfect accompaniment. 

Mercury Burger Bar

Don’t look under the cocktail menu for this Detroit favorite’s version of the Hummer. It sits nicely on the “Shakes & Stuff” portion of the menu alongside other treats such as the Boston Cooler and the Faygo Orange creamsicle. Its Hummer uses Kahlua, dark rum and vanilla ice cream. 

London Chop House

This Detroit mainstay is back and better than ever, patrons say. It serves all of Detroit’s favorite cocktails, new and classic, including the Sidecar, Gimlet and Negroni. The Hummer is a special order, but it is worth trying under the auspices of having one of the region’s most unique drinks inside one of the area’s most beloved bar fronts. 

Sinbads Restaurant

Once again, you cannot go wrong with this venerable dining spot and bar. You can enjoy a juicy steak or other dish with a Hummer alongside. Sinbads has been a part of Detroit’s eating legacy for nearly 70 years, and there is good reason for that. Everything they do is crafted with old-fashioned care and attention.

Remember to drink responsibly and plan ahead with a designated driver or take advantage of one of these local designated driving services.