Cheers: It's whiskey season

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Between the cold weather, the recent Fat Tuesday parties and St. Patrick's Day next month, it's definitely whiskey season.

Whiskey of all stripes will be feted Saturday at the Whiskey Business event at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. Brand ambassadors from Scotch whisky, bourbon, Canadian and Irish whiskey companies will be on hand to talk about their products and pass out samples.

Besides hooch, the event will have food for purchase, cigars, vendors and other distractions like giant Jenga.

Tickets are $50, or $70 for VIP, which gets you into the event an hour early at 6:30 p.m. The Royal Oak Farmers Market is at 316 E. 11 Mile. Visit for more info.

Maybe you prefer to drink your fermented grain mash in a dimly lit bar or while sitting down to dinner. In honor of our made-up "whiskey season," here are five Metro Detroit bars with our favorite selection of the brown stuff.

Butter Run Saloon: named this St. Clair Shores spot one of the best whiskey bars in America, and we have to agree. The food, beer and craft cocktails are all worth the trip if you're nearby, but we'd drive across town for the whiskey list, which is organized by bourbons, rye, Scotch whisky, Irish and other. The latter category houses some unique finds such as whiskey from France, Japan and Detroit. 27626 Harper, St. Clair Shores. (586) 675-2115.

One-Eyed Betty's: The food is on the hearty side (poutine, an award-winning burger, bacon with bacon), but if you're coming to this Ferndale hot spot, it's likely because of the amazing beer list. The whiskey list also stands out with favorites like Balvenie Portwood 21 year and Johnny Walker Double Black. 175 W. Troy, Ferndale. (248) 808-6633.

Onyx Modern Steakhouse: We're not sure what to make of this new-ish Royal Oak spot. The menu is huge and you certainly get a good deal of food for your money, but the staff's casual attire and attitude doesn't match the "steakhouse" vibe. We will say this, though: The whiskey selection is vast, with lots of 15-, 18- and even 21-year Scotch whiskies and labels you don't see every day such as Monkey Shoulder and Knob Creek Single Barrel. 208 W. Fifth, Royal Oak. (248) 543-6911.

The Sugar House: A selective selection, Sugar House's offerings range from Seagram's 7 to Sazerac 18 year. The lush vintage atmosphere is relaxing and if you aren't up for straight liquor, their list of 100 classic cocktails should fit whatever mood you're in. 2130 Michigan, Detroit. (313) 962-0123.

Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar: A small bar with a long name, Thomas Magee's wears its love for whiskey and sports on its sleeve. The establishment's got respectable labels such as Basil Hayden and its own signature blend of Angels Envy. It's not too serious here, though; you can also get a "car bomb." 1408 E. Fisher Fwy., Detroit. (313) 263-4342.

What bar or restaurant has your favorite whiskey selection? Talk to me on Twitter @melodybaetens.

Deliciously Brief

■After growing 40 percent last year, Rochester Mills Brewery will expand to include distribution in 23 counties in Northern Ohio this year. Known for its Rochester Red Ale, Milkshake Stout and Cornerstone IPA, Rochester Mills — which is available throughout Michigan — plans to grow further to offer beer deeper into the Ohio market and other states.

■Congratulations to Birmingham's Townsend Hotel and its Rugby Grille. The luxury hotel was given four stars from Forbes Travel Guide, and the restaurant earned a "recommended" rating.

Food and beverage events

Journey through Pilsners at World of Beer: A look at artisan takes on pilsners from around the world, this beer bar chain hosts a monthlong event highlighting brews from Pilsner Urquell to local craft beers. Unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell will be tapped March 12. Event runs through March 15. 1300 S. University, Ann Arbor. (734) 913-2430.

50 Tastes: A Night of Hidden Desires at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: Find your favorite new wine on one of five tables, each outfitted with samples of 10 wines, plus appetizers. Cocktail attire suggested. 6:30 p.m. Fri. $40. 323 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham. (248) 723-0134. 17400 Haggerty, Livonia. (734) 542-9463.

Cooking with Slow Ride at Mirepoix Cooking School: Cook with New Belgium's Slow Ride Session IPA and learn about beer pairing and using beer as an ingredient. 6-8 p.m. Feb. 26. $69.99. 1203 S. Main, Royal Oak.

Mac 'N' Brews and Comfort Food at Royal Oak Farmers Market: Enjoy gooey, savory macaroni and cheese from 20 area restaurants, plus desserts, craft beer and other beverages. Ticket includes food samples and 10 beer samples, VIP tickets get you 20 beer samples and early entry. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26. Early bird tickets are $35, $50 VIP. 316 E. 11 Mile, Royal Oak.

Michigan Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ball Park: One of the biggest beer events in the state, this 10th annual festival features 800 craft beers from 88 Michigan breweries. 3-7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 1-6 p.m. Feb. 28. $45 in advance. 4500 West River Drive Northeast, Grand Rapids.

Fire and Ice Dinner at Rattlesnake Club: Chefs Chris and Jeff created a menu of flaming sausages, icy oysters, chilled seafood carpaccio and grilled beef for their "fire and ice" themed meal. $80, includes wine pairings. 300 River Place Drive, Detroit. (313) 567-4400, ext. 6226

Melody Baetens