Explore Detroit's Cocktail Scene Through the Five Senses

5 Motown spots to experience through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell


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Give yourself a round of applause. You survived a tumultuous year with a roller coaster of an election, the deaths of far too many great individuals, and even the theft of 13,000 liters of maple syrup from a Canadian shipping yard (didn’t see that coming, did you?). 

It’s time to get 2017 off to the right start. I can’t think of a better way than by exploring some of Detroit’s best cocktail programs.

Our region has become one of the nation’s must-visit cocktail destinations. More bars and restaurants have outstanding beverage programs than any period in my lifetime. This month I’m challenging you to visit five places to engage your five senses.

Your sense of sight provides an overwhelming amount of information about the world. What better place in Detroit to experience vivid colors than a restaurant named after one? Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails pays tribute to an ancient liqueur made by the Carthusian monks. This spot offers the typical yellow and green varieties, plus many no longer in production. Order one and carefully study its intense green (or yellow) hue. Sip it once, and savor the mouthful. You’ll be hooked. 

It’s freezing outside, so your sense of touch is on overdrive. Call me crazy during Michigan winter, but there’s a way to channel that element into something good. Standby is one of a few local spots using liquid nitro. The cyrogenic marvel is negative 321 degrees Fahrenheit when used to make their signature Snake in the Grass cocktail. When muddled, flash-frozen mustard greens retain their intense color and flavor. It’s colder than ice but the gin will warm your belly. 

The assault to your sense of sound known as Katoi is putting out some of the most creative food and beverages in the city. The “shake, shake, shake” of a mixing tin is doubled when you order a cocktail with egg whites. Boozy recipes with egg whites create a rich and airy texture. Pair this with Katoi’s always-spirited music selection. 

While it might be hard to convince your nose to temporarily ignore all the amazing entrees at Grey Ghost, tempt your sense of smell with its drinks, too. Powerful fragrances of sesame oil, walnut, chamomile, and orange blossom perfume the drinks. Try something with an Amaro and dive deep into its rich bitterness. These Italian pre- and post-dinner liquors are equally at home blended with other stars of the cocktail world. Be ahead of the trend and learn about Amaros. 

We save the most important sense of taste for enjoying culinary intoxicants. Wright & Co. boasts some of the best sommeliers in the state. Take their advice and dive into the world of fortified wines. These are not the long-forgotten bottles on your Aunt Myrtle’s shelf. Sherry, port, Madeira, vermouth, and many others can be found in well-stocked bars. Wright & Co. handles them with exceptional skill, both neat and mixed. 

Five challenges and five locations to awaken your senses and expand your boozy education. Cheers!


Find Nick Britsky on Instagram (@nbritsky)

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