From distilleries and drinks, metro Detroit grows even more sophisticated

From distilleries and drinks, metro Detroit grows even more sophisticated
click to enlarge Stroh's Bohemian-style Pilsner - Marc Nader
Marc Nader
Stroh's Bohemian-style Pilsner

Read the full list of Best of Detroit 2017 Best Drinks winners here.

A whole professional press is out there to cover the national drinking scene, and a simple web search can explain why, say, Bacardi beat out Captain Morgan this year, why Corona beat out Labatt, or why a blended Jalisco tequila like Maestro Dobel or a gluten-free Texas vodka like Tito's find favor. (Or why Johnnie Walker wins every year.) But what most excites us is our local drinking scene, which wouldn't be half as interesting without the creative local brewers and, lately, distillers who keep surprising us. Of course, some of our most stubborn winners are cut from the same cloth, and just have been at it longer, such as craft pioneers Bell's, small-batch distillery Valentine, and informal home of the Bloody Mary, Vivio's.

Really, five years ago we had only a few microdistilleries. Now we have strong votes for B. Nektar Meadery, farm-to-bottle whiskey from Detroit City Distillery, even bourbon from Motor City Gas and New Holland. (Bourbon can come from Oakland and Ottawa counties? When it's this good, it can!) Even Batch Brewing Company, which we called "under the radar" last year, is now well-known thanks to bus tours and its neighborhood location in Detroit. And all the attention the city is getting even played a role in bringing back Stroh's Bohemian-Style Pilsner, which profits from the glitter factor of having an old brand resurrected. Other standouts included Griffin Claw's Dan Rogers, and Leelanau Wine Cellars, which markets a variety of wines all over the state. Who knows what's next for our state? Will we one day oust even Jack Daniel's and Tanqueray from their top spots?

When it comes to shopping for all of this alcoholic goodness, we have a tale of two traders. First, the stalwart Red Wagon emporium. With two locations, more than a thousand liquors, and even glassware for sale, some things just get better with time. And then comes the relatively new arrival, 8 Degrees Plato. While the Ferndale shop is given over to tastings most Fridays, the drinking goes beyond special occasions at the Detroit location, where 16 taps dispense crafts and imports, and usually a good mix of styles, from sours and IPAs to malty brews. Add a few tables and a bring-your-own food policy, and this joint explodes, as it's within crawling distance of Slows to Go and the Peterboro.

Best Beer Selection in a Store
8 Degrees Plato
611 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-808-6477
3409 Cass Ave, Detroit; 313-888-9972;

Best Bloody Mary
2460 Market St., Detroit; 313-393-1711;
3601 E. Twelve Mile Rd., Warren; 586-576-0495;

Best Bourbon
Motor City Gas
325 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-599-1427;

Best Craft Beer
Bell’s Brewery
355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo; 269-382-2332;

Best Meadery
B. Nektar
1511 Jarvis St., Ferndale; 313-744-6323;

Best Michigan Beer
Stroh’s Bohemian-Style Pilsner

Best Michigan Bourbon
New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon
66 E. 8th St., Holland; 616-355-6422;

Best Michigan Brewer
Dan Rogers, Griffin Claw
575 S. Eton St., Birmingham; 248-712-4050;

Best Michigan Gin
Valentine Liberator Gin
161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951;

Best Michigan Liquor
Valentine Vodka
161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951;

Best Michigan Tequila

Best Michigan Vodka
Valentine Vodka
161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951;

Best Michigan Whiskey
Detroit City Distillery
2462 Riopelle St., Detroit; 313-338-3760;

Best Michigan Winery
Leelanau Wine Cellars

Best Microbrewery or Brewpub
Batch Brewing Company
1400 Porter St., Detroit; 313-338-8008;

Best Gin

Best Imported Beer

Best Rum

Best Scotch
Johnnie Walker

Best Tequila
Maestro Dobel

Best Vodka
Tito’s Vodka

Best Whiskey
Jack Daniel’s

Best Wine Selection in a Store
Red Wagon Wine Shoppe
1613 Livernois Rd., Troy; 248-404-9999;

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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