The Secret of Success

What can turn an ordinary dish into something Extraordinary? We asked some local experts to share what makes their creations unique


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Have you ever wondered what makes your favorite dishes or drinks on menus across metro Detroit taste so good? Maybe you tried to figure it out on your own and replicate it at home, but without success.

We chatted with some of the area’s top chefs, restaurants, and distilleries to get the secret weapons in their arsenal. Here are some of their go-to picks to help you take your dish to the next level.

Railroad Gin (Summer Blend)

Secret Ingredient: Michigan White Pine and Blue Spruce

From: Detroit City Distillery

Picture sipping a gin and tonic on a summer day. Now imagine a gin sourced from Michigan farms with botanicals from Eastern Market. That’s Detroit City Distillery’s Railroad Gin. It and their other small-batch liquors start with local grains, says John “J.P.” Jerome, one of the distillery’s founders. He previously worked for Bell’s Brewery, then got a Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from Michigan State University. While making gin isn’t as complicated as, say, genome sequencing, it’s “a mix of science and art,” he says, adding that botanicals in gin (juniper, coriander, star anise, etc.) aren’t secret. “It’s in the blending.” Detroit City released six small batches on “World Gin Day” June 13. There are barrel-aged gins, a South African tea-infused gin (to honor a bartender’s grandmother), and one with Michigan apples. Jerome is excited about a Michigan white pine and blue spruce version. Those who don’t like gin because it tastes like pine will “really hate this,” he says with a not quite mad-scientist-like laugh. “Summer of Gin” culminates with a $1,000 “Ginsmith Championship” on Aug. 31. — Steve Wilke

​2462 Riopelle St., Detroit; detroitcitydistillery.com; 313-338-3760

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