Cheers: Michigan booze cleans up at spirit awards

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Michigan spirits had a good showing at the 2015 American Craft Spirits Association awards.

New Holland Artisan Spirits took home the best in class gin award for its barrel aged Knickerbocker. The botanical-infused spirit is aged in American oak barrels and in used New Holland whiskey barrels for at least six months.

Speaking of which, two of New Holland's whiskeys — Zepplin Bend and Pitchfork — won gold medals. New Holland Brewing and New Holland Artisan Spirits are based in Holland, Mich.

Metro Detroit boozes also did well at the ACSP awards. Two James Spirits in Detroit earned a bronze medal for Johnny Smoking Gun whiskey and a silver medal for 28 Island Vodka. Birmingham's Griffin Claw Brewing also did well in the vodka category, winning gold for its grain vodka and bronze for its potato vodka. Griffin Claw also won a bronze medal in the special spirits category for Griffin Claw Krupnik, a honey liqueur.

More than 200 American spirit-makers entered more than 300 products for consideration.

Pop-up and eat local in Howell

Mexican restaurant Mexicali Allies in Howell is hosting Root Restaurant sous chef Nicholas Rodgers March 15 for a night of locally sourced food.

The four-course meal starts with a pickled beet salad with smoked ricotta, arugula, currants and whey caramel. A twist on fish and chips is next with smelt and kale, then duck and potato pierogi. Take a break with some blood orange and fennel sorbet before the final course: pork shoulder with cranberry bean ragout. Dessert is apple pie.

Find Mexicali Allies at 117 N. Michigan in Howell. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and costs $40 cash. Bring your own beverages. Reservations are required by e-mailing

Deliciously brief

■Village Bar and Kitchen opened in Milford last week at 525 North Main. The 4,500-square-foot restaurant opens at 11 a.m. daily with classic American food like chicken pimiento, black truffle hanger steak and New England lobster. The menu was crafted by Chef Aaron Pegs, who trained under celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

■Chef Zack Sklar announced last week that he will open a second location of his Birmingham gem Social Kitchen & Bar in Grand Rapids. The new spot, located inside the Market Hall, is expected to open in August with brunch, lunch and dinner and a full bar.

■Crave Lounge in Ferndale now serves weekend brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Look for huevos rancheros, Kobe sliders, shrimp and grits and challah French toast.

Food and beverage events

Olga's Kitchen 45th Anniversary: Just mention that it's Olga's anniversary and receive a signature item for just 45 cents Thursday at all Olga's locations. This includes snackers, curly fries, Greek curly fries, Italian pasta salad, quinoa harvest salad or small Olga salad. If you'd like to meet Olga herself, head to the Compuware restaurant (1040 Woodward in Detroit) Thursday afternoon between noon and 3 p.m.

A Jeantini Mardi Gras at Grosse Pointe War Memorial: Cajun food, cocktails and live New Orleans-style jazz. It's called "Jeantini" because there will be martinis and it's okay to wear jeans. 7-10:30 p.m. Fri. $20 with food, $5 cover only. 32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms. (313) 332-4074.

St. Patrick's Day dinner at MGM Grand Detroit's Palette Dining Studio: Celebrate this Irish holiday with corned beef, a Reuben station, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, lamb stew and more. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. March 17. $23 until 4 p.m., then $28. 1777 Third, Detroit. (877) 888-2121.

Easter Dinner at MGM Grand Detroit's Palette Dining Studio: Easter dinner all day with carved ham, braised short ribs, Cobb salad, salmon and spinach risotto, eggs Benedict and more. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. April 5. $32. 1777 Third, Detroit. (877) 888-2121.

Melody Baetens