Made in Detroit

More Motown cocktails, old and new

The Last Word

According to legend, the Last Word was invented at the Detroit Athletic Club in the 1920s. You can still order it at classic cocktail joints, such as Detroit's Cliff Bell's. But their general manager, Tony Muzzi, warns, "Don't try this at home unless you have a delicate hand. It generally takes a trained professional, or you're going to have a very hard time getting a balance between Chartreuse and Maraschino. These are very distinct, very powerful flavors, very difficult to balance."

3/4 ounce Hendrick's gin

3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse 

3/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino 

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

Shake until cold; double strain into a chilled 2-1/2 ounce rocks glass.


The Bullshot

Born at Detroit's Caucus Club in 1952, the Bullshot is quite similar to a Bloody Mary, except that instead of tomato juice, it employs actual beef broth (canned will do), likely because it was sister restaurant to the London Chop House. Though many bartenders might scowl at a drink that would send them running out for an unusual ingredient, the Caucus Club will happily accommodate curious quaffers.

1-1/2 ounces vodka

2-1/2 ounces beef broth 

1 lemon wedge's worth of juice

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

Shake ingredients well with ice, strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Freshly grate a pinch of black pepper on top.


Holy Crappucino

Local mixologist Andrew Gyorke, who mans the bar at Detroit's Third Street Bar and Woodbridge Pub, and, sometimes, Hamtramck's Painted Lady Lounge, devised a special drink about four years ago that has become a classic in his repertoire. It's a sweet, coffee-like drink that will have you ordering another — until you start slipping off your barstool.

1-1/2 ounces rum ("I usually use Captain Morgan")

1 ounce Vanilla Stoli

1 ounce Kahlúa

1 ounce Frangelico

1 ounce white Crème de Cacao

1 ounce Bailey's (optional)

Fill a pint glass to the brime with ice, add ingredients, top off with coffee. Shake and pour back into pint glass.


On the Night You Were Born

Sandy Levine at Ferndale's Oakland Art Novelty Company says this drink is one of many based on old recipes from old cocktail books, and it has quickly become the joint's signature drink. Levine says, "It's our take on the oldest American cocktail, the Sazerac, which is traditional rye whiskey, absinthe, simple syrup and bitters. We take sugar out and put in a dessert sherry from Spain, gives it a much more complex character, really sweet and strong up front and the finish goes on and on — really long and complex."

After that, the recipe becomes much more difficult to replicate at home. Levine says, "We assemble that in a really large batch, basically three gallons' worth, then put it in a charred whiskey barrel for two month, where it takes on oak and vanilla character and the finish gets well integrated." That said, this short version should get the job done.

2 ounces Wild Turkey rye whiskey

0.4 ounces Pedro Ximénez sherry

10 drops (or 1/8 teaspoon) absinthe

1 dash angustorra bitters

Stir together over cold ice, and serve with a silver-dollar-sized disc of orange peel like so: Heat peel with lighter until essential oils surface, then hold lighter up and squeeze rind until it mists, becoming a ball of flame and adding an aroma of burnt orange to the top of glass.


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About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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