161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951; valentinedistilling.com
When Michigan loosened restrictions on small-batch distilling, Rifino Valentine was one of the first ones there, distilling his own Valentine vodka in a hand-pounded copper still. He opened his own tasting room in Ferndale to showcase the brand before any locals thought to, and then followed on the heels of bleeding-edge distillers by producing a cask gin, dubbed Liberator Old Tom Gin. Valentine didn't just earn our readers' honors by getting there early, but by staying at the forefront of a fast-moving scene.
How does New Holland give its bourbon such a malty character? By aging it in beer barrels, of course. First, the whiskey is aged in fresh American oak barrels for a few years, then it gets three months in a barrels that previously contained New Holland's well-loved Dragon's Milk, which confers notes of toffee and caramel, and makes the bourbon a sure thing for fans of the stout it shares barrels with.
To be truly considered tequila, a spirit must be made from the blue agave plant and produced in the area surrounding Tequila, Mexico. Cabresto follows that tradition, but has Michigan ownership, giving this particular tequila dual citizenship. The brand makes an ultra silver as well as a reposado, and both have won San Francisco World Spirits Double Gold awards.
5019 NW Bay Shore Dr., Omena; 231-386-5201; leelanaucellars.com
Leelanau has survived for nearly four decades, and there's a reason for that: It produces over 30 wines that have a reach across the Great Lakes region. Meaning "delight of life," Leelanau is a byproduct of Northern Michigan — from the taste to the winery's locale to its environment.
2460 Market St., Detroit; 313-393-1711
3601 E. 12 Mile Rd., Warren; 586-576-0495; viviosdetroit.net
The bloody mary is at the very core of Vivio's. The mascot on the sign is a pepper holding a bloody. The words bloody mary are right in the URL, fachristsake. And it's a good one, peppery, with a little sidekick of beer. But Vivio's has also added new twists to its signature concoction, as it now comes in several versions, including "Loaded," "the Morning After," "BLT," "Insanity Habanero," and "Two Gun Louie Bloody Mary."
734 Beaubien St., Detroit; 313-961-4303; nikisdetroit.com
Time has certainly shown us by now that Greek cuisine and Italian can go together excellently. We're finally used to the Greektown establishment's extensive remodel, with its attractive booths and even a wood-fired pizza oven. Go in with a friend and get a small square pie, ensuring your pizza is hot out of the oven. And try the lamb topping — you won't find that at every pizza place.
32218 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-549-8000; buddyspizza.com
What if Buddy's didn't win? That would be like visiting downtown, and all the sculptures were missing. Or listening to your favorite John Lee Hooker song, and his voice was yanked out of it. Buddy's must win this category, because it's the best Detroit-style pizza in Detroit. Arguably, it has been since 1946. Gooey, delicious, burnt cheese — take your friends there when they visit from out of town. Get a large despite the fact that three people will never finish it, so that you can have that cold slice from the fridge tomorrow.
15505 15 Mile Rd., Clinton Twp.; 586-859-0500; more locations at greenlanternlounge.com
As in most older, area pizza palaces, this joint first made thin-crusted round pies, and only added the deep-dish variety within the last 10 years. Both come in four sizes from 10 inches to 16, with the 10-inch mini enough of a meal for two. Green Lantern is inexpensive, old-school and super tasty.
341 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-769-6700; maniosteria.com
As clearly befits A2, Mani Osteria is both kid-friendly and fancy, specializing in artisanal pizzas made in wood-burning ovens. We recommend the Tartufo, with black truffles and an egg at the center — after all, if you're going to be fancy, you might as well go all the way.
2457 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-7879; supinopizza.com
When it comes to New York-style coal oven pizza, it's almost impossible to get that stuff outside of Brooklyn, New York. Is it the water, the skill set, the ovens, the cheese? Who knows, but it's clear that the geniuses behind Eastern Market's Supino obviously know. They've made pies that are every bit as good as a classic, three-hour-wait Brooklyn pizza for years now.