Simon Barrios of Journeyman Distillery shows off the Michigan company's variety. (Melody Baetens / The Detroit News)
Ever wonder what bartenders do on their night off? On Monday, several of the booze wizards in Detroit’s craft cocktail scene gathered at the Scarab Club in Detroit for a one-year anniversary mixer for the United States Bartenders’ Guild Greater Detroit chapter.
The event was a chance for mixologists to try new products. Some of the brands on hand included international labels like Campari and Bacardi, but also independent distillers William Grant & Sons and Journeyman Distillery. The latter, out of Three Oaks, Mich., makes a variety of whiskey, gin, vodka and rum, in addition to specialty liquor like barrel-aged gin, jalapeno spirit and a coffee liqueur.
One of the stars of the event was Monkey Shoulder Scotch. Available in Michigan on April 1, this very smooth spirit is the world’s first triple malt Scotch whiskey.
Whiskey specialist Freddy May was on hand to talk about the new-to-Michigan product, which debuted in the U.S. a few years ago.
“Monkey Shoulder goes where Scotch whiskey fears to tread,” May says. “Because it’s the world’s first ever triple malt whiskey, it’s born to be mixable.”
“Nobody really uses Scotch whiskey to mix because if it’s a single malt, it’s cost prohibitive, and if it’s blended whiskey, it’s a bit light in flavor,” he says. “With Monkey Shoulder, it’s born from Scotland but it mixes like an American whiskey. It’s richer than a blend but more approachable than a single malt.”
Another talked-about spirit at the USBG event was a banana-flavored Tullamore Dew. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.
Bartenders interested in becoming part of the USBG’s Greater Detroit chapter can visit usbg.org.
Butter Run's whiskey selection earns praise
A fairly new St. Clair Shores corner pub, the Butter Run Saloon, has been named one of the best whiskey bars in the United States by men’s lifestyle website Thrillist.
Butter Run, located at 27626 Harper at 11 Mile, carries more than 300 kinds of whiskey. If it’s available in Michigan, you’ll probably be able to find it behind the bar at the Butter Run.
The cozy pub also offers a full menu and plenty of beer.
Thursday at 7 p.m., check out the Oskar Blues tap takeover, with 10 labels from the Colorado brewery on draft.
Beer and spirit events calendar
Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival at Jackson County Fairgrounds: Products from breweries big and small will be available for sampling, with hearty, beer-friendly food, live music and a corn-hole competition. Noon-5 p.m. March 8. $25 in advance, $30 at the door (includes 10 tasting tickets), $5 designated drivers. 200 W. Ganson, Jackson. www.jacksoncountyfair.net/beerfest.
Brew-Ski Festival at Boyne Highlands: Dozens of craft breweries from around the region will be on hand at this fifth annual event, which blends snow and suds. The tented party includes live music, brats and more than 220 beers. Noon-5 p.m. March 8, slopes open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Free admission. 600 Boyne Highlands Drive, Harbor Springs. (800) 462-6963.
Red Cap Vineyards Wine Dinner at Prime29: Red Cap Vineyards owner Tim Altemus and Executive Chef Hai Young present a three-course menu paired with these California wines. 7 p.m. March 20. $100. 6545 Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield Township. (248) 737-7463.
Hightail to Ale 5K at Atwater Brewery: It sounds like a running event, but really it’s a keg party. The evening 5K run is followed by a party with beer and a live band. 6:30 p.m. May 2. 237 Jos. Campau, Detroit. www.hightailtoale.com.
Motor City Brew Tours Brewery Walking Tour in Royal Oak: Get a guided tour of four Royal Oak restaurants, including Royal Oak Brewery, Bastone Brewery, Lily’s Seafood and Lockhart’s BBQ. Tickets include tour, beer samples and a barbecue lunch. 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. May 10. $40. 215 E. Fourth, Royal Oak. (248) 850-2563.
Frankenmuth’s World Expo of Beer at Heritage Park: Sample from nearly 300 beers from around the world. Organized by the Frankenmuth Jaycees. 5-10 p.m. May 16 and 2-10 p.m. May 17. $10. www.worldexpoofbeer.com.