Craft cocktails are all the rage, whether you live in Michigan or Miami. And in Metro Detroit, there are a number of artisan craft cocktail masters.
If you’re at all familiar with the craft cocktail scene in southeast Michigan, you know that there is always an event on the horizon. Next up is the Detroit Cocktail Classic, taking place at the Garden Theater, 3929 Woodward Ave., Detroit, on Friday, Oct. 24 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The event features nearly a dozen local establishments, each of which will be paired with a top shelf spirit from which they must whip up a signature drink. Each participating establishment will serve cocktails from a “Libation Station,” and attendees will have the opportunity to move from station to station and taste test.
Travis Fourmont of Bailout Productions (a duo made up of himself and fellow cocktail connoisseur Joe Robinson), who will be participating at the event, said that he and several other cocktail masters were inspired to create the Detroit Cocktail Classic after taking note of other cities with a thriving cocktail scene that host a cocktail week with events and seminars.
“We all got together and thought, ‘why not Detroit?’ We don’t necessarily think we need a cocktail week, and frankly, that takes time to cultivate. However, we do think Detroit proper is in need of a weekend designed to celebrate our thriving cocktail culture. Next year, we’ll add to this experience and create a packed weekend,” Fourmont said.
In order to put on a successful event, the participating establishments teamed up with Liquid Events and Pulp Detroit. Fourmont said the partnership was absolutely essential in pulling the Detroit Cocktail Classic off.
“They are true professionals that share our passion for the craft,” he said.
Participating establishments include: The Oakland, Two James Spirits, Michael Symon’s Roast, USBG Greater Detroit, Craft Work, Firebird Tavern, Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, Rock City Eatery, Republic and Joe Muer Seafood.
“Selecting the participating bars is always the toughest part,” Fourmont said. “We choose establishments that we feel contribute to our growing cocktail scene. As our market gets bigger, there are more and more bars and we only have so much space. Hopefully next year as the event expands, everyone will be able to partake.”
He added that some places are simply too busy and can’t spare any time on a weekend to participate, which is a great problem to have!
Fourmont said that throughout the years of hosting and participating in cocktail events, he has learned that the most important thing to remember is quality over quantity.
“Though this event will be the largest we’ve participated in, it is important to us that we are focused on the big picture: celebrating our growing cocktail community while hopefully creating new interest. Moreover, we are trying to ride the preconceived pretentiousness of cocktails done right. We try to create parties we’d want to go to,” Fourmont said, adding how wonderful it is that the Metro Detroit area has seen an increased number of cocktail events over the past few years.
The biggest challenge in terms of putting together the Detroit Cocktail Classic, according to Fourmont, was simply time management. Everyone who participates has full time day jobs, and putting together the event is done in their spare time, simply for the love of Detroit and craft cocktails.
As if the Detroit Cocktail Classic doesn’t sound great enough already, the fun will continue the following morning, too. The Hangover Brunch will be held at Public House, 241 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale, during normal brunch service hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25. Fourmont and Robinson will be serving Bloody Marys and Bathtub Gin, and the event serves as a gathering of service industry people nursing their hangover while continuing the party.
As for the Bailout duo’s contribution to the Detroit Cocktail Classic, the guys will be serving an award winning cocktail courtesy of Robinson, who just won the regional Woodford Reserve cocktail competition.
“Now he (Robinson) is headed to Kentucky to compete against 30 other markets for a chance to represent Detroit in New York City for the national title,” Fourmont said. “It only makes sense to feature his award-winning cocktails at the Bailout bar.”
Attendees can also enjoy light appetizers such as charcuterie and cheese as they make their way around to each tasting station, and music will be provided by local eight-piece band Will Sessions. Tickets to Detroit Cocktail Culture cost $40 in advance, $50 at the door, and each attendee will receive 15 beverage sample tickets. Admission to the Hangover Brunch the following morning is free.
“For those who haven’t been sold on the craft cocktail craze, I challenge you to attend this event,” Fourmont said. “There will be many different cocktails, and you are bound to be inspired by one. Make sure you bring a crew and definitely plan (on) calling a cab.
Speaking of the many different cocktails that will be available at the Detroit Cocktail Classic, you lucky “In the D” readers get a special sneak preview! Here are a few recipes that will be available at the event on Friday night:
Pour all ingredients over ice and stir. Then, strain into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
The Oakland (Autumn Sidecar)
Combine, shake and strain into a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.
Public House (Clive)
Joe Muer (Indian Summer)
Build in shaker, add ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass over a 2-inch ice cube. Garnish with basil.