Every month, Traverse Magazine’s Culinary Columnist Stacey Brugeman asks Northern Michigan beverage experts what they’re drinking. In “From Our Cellar” she shares the Michigan wines, beers and ciders that area sommeliers, beer buyers, beverage directors, cider geeks and other pros are especially excited about. In addition, each month Stacey writes “Last Call,” featuring a cocktail’s Northern story and the recipe, included below.
Explore our growing cellar and don’t miss last call.
December’s From Our Cellar Selections
December Featured Wine: 2017 Ciccone Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Franc
Becky Hemmingsen, who has managed the wine selection at Hansen’s in Suttons Bay for more than 20 years, is “fixed on Francs” this winter. Both Cabernet Franc and Blaufränkish are “cool climate reds that do exceptionally well up here in Northern Michigan,” she says. Hemmingsen is especially excited about wine-maker Paula Ciccone’s 2017 Ciccone Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Franc. Made with 100 percent estate-grown fruit, the bottling from one of Leelanau County’s first 10 wineries has notes of smoke, plum and cranberries. Pair it with any holiday menu this month, especially pork tenderloin.
Shop Ciccone Vineyard | $27 per bottle
Photo by Ciccone Vineyard & Winery
Related Read: Searching for more recommendations, recipes or food features? Visit our Northern Michigan Food & Drink page.
December’s Featured Beer: Workshop Ball Peen ESB
While some may shy away from an ESB (which stands for Extra Special Bitter) due to the intimidating name alone, beer geeks know that the ale that is celebrated for its interplay between malt and hops is often less bitter than many popular IPAs. Heather Addison, store manager at Maxbauer Specialty Meat Market, gets her hands on the small-batch Workshop Ball Peen ESB every chance she gets. It’s the perfect pour for bowl games and fantasy football this month, she tells Traverse. Don’t forget to grab some of Maxbauer’s beer salami or sriracha-lime wings to go with it.
Learn More About Workshop Ball Peen ESB | $11 per four cans
Photo by The Workshop Brewing Company
November’s From Our Cellar
November Featured Wine: 2017 Aurora Cellars Medium Sweet Riesling
While sweeter-style wines tend to get a bad rap, experts know that high-quality bottlings deserve a place at the table. Abigail Leedom, beverage whiz at the Detroit Foundation Hotel’s Apparatus Room, loves pouring guests the 2017 Aurora Cellars Medium Sweet Riesling. “It sits nicely on the palate,” Leedom says of the wine’s balanced acidity. She usually recommends it with dishes like scallops, but it also works at the Thanksgiving table, especially with dessert. Think: Michigan apple streusel, a pumpkin tart or even Aunt Ida’s pecan pie.
Shop Aurora Cellars Riesling & More | $19 per bottle
Photo by Aurora Cellars
November’s Featured Cider: Tandem Ciders Crabster
There’s nothing more fitting on a November table than fall apples, especially a tart, food-friendly cider such as the Tandem Ciders Crabster. For this bottling, the Suttons Bay cider house added in some crab apples. They imitate the bittersharp apples that are more often used across the pond and bring a welcome punch of acidity and tannins to this dry stunner. “Like a dry white wine, this is a good food-pairing cider,” says Dennis Boulanger of Anderson’s Market in Glen Arbor, who adds that a tart pairing works on Thanksgiving for the same reasons that tart cranberries do.
Shop Tandem Ciders | $12 per bottle
Photo by Tandem Ciders
October’s From Our Cellar
October Featured Wine: 2Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio
Industry pros know not to wait for a special occasion to pour bubbles.“It is always the season for sparkling wine,” says Eric Patterson, co-chef and co-owner of Traverse City‘s Cooks’ House. “A bottle of bubbles makes every gathering better.” One of his faves? The “crisp and refreshing” 2Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio. Best paired with creamy cheeses, shellfish and cured meats, “it even goes well with buttered popcorn,” Patterson insists. Popcorn and bubbles? That might just be a special occasion after all.
Shop 2Lads Wines | $35 per bottle
Photo by 2Lads Winery
Newsflash! A fall favorite—Blackrocks Brewery Oktoberfest—is being canned for the first time this year. We originally fell for a ceramic stein of this seasonal märzen at Marquette’s Steinhaus, where it is unbeatable with the restaurant’s house-made käsewurst. “It’s exactly what an Oktoberfest should be,” Steinhaus Bar Manager Alex McCracken says of the Marquette-made beer. “It’s lively and malty and delicious.” Those who are south of the bridge can also now grab it by the can while seasonal supplies last.
Shop Oktoberfest at Black Rocks | $11 for 6 cans
Photo by Blackrocks Brewery
October’s ‘Last Call’ cocktail, crafted by Stacey Brugeman, is the perfect bridge between Northern Michigan’s growing season and the region’s fireside months. Featuring Black Star Farms pear brandy from Suttons Bay and local, fresh pears you’re going to want to start a bonfire and sip on this delicious drink all night long!
View the full story and recipe here: October Last Call: The Perfect Mezcal-Pear Cocktail for Fall.
Photo by Dave Weidner
September’s From Our Cellar
September Featured Wine: Bel Lago 2018 Pinot Noir
While Zingerman’s Creamery may be known for its cheese and gelato, the 20-year-old outfit also sells Michigan wines, like Cedar’s Bel Lago 2018 Pinot Noir. Brad Hedeman, who travels the world researching which imported products the Ann Arbor institution carries, loves that this bottling “has the terroir of Northern Michigan. ”The freshwater lakes and bays make this a more delicate pinot,” he says. The globe-trotting “food finder” recommends grabbing a local baguette, a tub of Zingerman’s pimento spread and sipping this peppery pinot until it’s time to light the grill.
Shop Bel Lago Pinot Noir & More | $25 per bottle
Photo by Bel Lago
Every fall, the nation’s foremost beer experts gather to judge one of the highest honors in brewing—medals from the Great American Beer Festival. While we wait with bated breath to find out who the 2021 winners are, we’ll be sipping one of 2020’s silver medalists, the Stormcloud 228 Tripel. This time last year, the Frankfort-brewed sud beat out more than 100 other entrants in the Belgian- Style Abbey Ale category. This golden, light-bodied beer has layers of light spice and stone-fruit aromas—a classic tripel brewed right here at home.
Shop Stormcloud Brewing | $23 for a growler fill
September’s ‘Last Call’ cocktail recipe crafted by Stacey Brugeman is the Spicy Whiskey Cider Collins. Featuring fresh Northern Michigan cider and apples, this versitle coctail is perfect to sip on all fall long! Make it for your next fall dinner party or to enjoy during your next backyard bonfire.
View the full story and reciepe here: September’s Last Call Cocktail: The Spicy Whiskey Cider Collins.
Photo by Dave Weidner
August’s From Our Cellar
August Featured Wine: 2019 Left Foot Charley Kerner
Rachel Van Til, an Old Mission native who is now an advanced somm at The Clubs at Houston Oaks, loves drinking Michigan wine in the Lone Star State. She’s especially excited to have access to the lesser-known 2019 Left Foot Charley Kerner there. “This wine was made for Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, with generous aromas of lemongrass, ginger, lime candy and jasmine,” Van Til says of the bottling, which tolerates being served extra chilled during the hot summer months.
Shop Left Foot Charley Kerner & More | $25 per bottle
August’s Featured Beer: Cheboygan Brewing Company’s Blood Orange Honey
Walloon Lake’s Barrel Back restaurant has been committed to a dynamic beer list since they first opened their doors. This summer, the lakeside bar team loves pouring the Cheboygan Brewing Co. Blood Orange Honey. This ale is the perfect alternative to a summer shandy—with hints of fruit flavor but a stronger beer backbone. For a wheat beer, it leans more crisp and quaffable than it does yeast-y, but has the foamy head and mouthfeel of a good witbier.
Find Blood Orange Honey by Cheboygan Brewing Co. Near You | $9 for four 16-ounce cans
Photo by Cheboygan Brewing Co.
August’s ‘Last Call’ cocktail recipe is Barnyard Pisco Sour. This cocktail uses farm-fresh, Northern Michigan eggs and is perfect for any celebration. Learn more about this cocktail and view the full recipe crafted by Stacey Brugeman.
View the full story and recipe here: Don’t Miss August’s Last Call: The Barnyard Pisco Sour.
Photo by Dave Weidner
July’s From Our Cellar
Marcella Krupski at Marquette’s Everyday Wines, one of the most carefully curated wine shops in NoMi, raves about the 2018 45 North Vineyard & Winery Dry Riesling from Lake Leelanau.“With notes of Meyer lemon, under ripe peach and tart green apple, this wine has many of the hallmarks of a German Kabinett Trocken Riesling,” the certified somm says. Krupski pairs it with a citrusy kale salad, whitefish or even brats with sauerkraut.
Shop 45 North Vineyard & Winery Dry Riesling | $25 a bottle
Jason Kasdorf, general manager for Traverse City’s 7 Monks Taproom, recently turned us on to the Kratochvil Pilsner from The Filling Station on the north end of Boardman Lake.“This is a daily drinker,”the Certified Cicerone says of the crisp beer with floral and grassy notes. The straw-colored bohemian beer takes its name from Frank Kratochvil, a pre-prohibition era brewer who was known for his Grelickville-made pilsner.
View Kratochvil Pilsner from The Filling Station | $8 for four cans
July’s ‘Last Call’ cocktail recipe is a Black Raspberry Shrub. While this drink is alcohol-free, it doesn’t make it any less delicious for summer. Learn more about drinking vinegars and view the full mocktail recipe, crafted by Stacey Brugeman.
View the full story and recipe here: Celebrate Black Raspberry Season with July’s ‘Last Call’ Mocktail.
Photo by Dave Weidner
June’s From Our Cellar
Not flexing your mixology muscles tonight?
Here’s what area beverage professionals are drinking right now.
Todd Chinnock of Pour Kitchen and Tap 30 in Petoskey is a fan of Upper Hand’s Dry Kriek. Beers from this Escanaba-based division of Bell’s Brewery haven’t previously been available south of the Mighty Mac, but they recently partnered with lower Michigan distributors to get their suds on downstate shelves. This sour ale is finished in red-wine barrels, giving it “a delicious little Brettanomyces sort of funk,” says Chinnock, a certified sommelier.
View Upper Hand’s Dry Kriek | $9 per bottle
What better way to celebrate our longest days of the year than with a little sunset rosé. Master Sommelier Elizabeth Schweitzer, who runs the beverage program at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, recommends the 2017 Bowers Harbor 2896 Brut Rosé. With floral pink roses and a cherry blossom nose, this dry, pinot noir sparkler from Old Mission Peninsula is “elegant and classy,” Schweitzer says.
View the 2896 Brut Rosé | $45 per bottle
You can find this mule being served up at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge all summer long. Featuring Copper Queen Whiskey from Iron Fish Distillery, fresh lime and ginger beer, we’re convinced this cocktail will keep you cool on even the hottest summer days.
Farm Club Pilsner | $13 for 6 cans
As springtime temps warm, many will turn to quaffable beer styles such as blondes and pilsners. Kyle Hunt, the owner of Cøllect, a rooftop beer bar in Detroit’s Eastern Market, recommends the Farm Club Pilsner—brewed in Leelanau County with Hallertau Mit- telfrüh and Saphir hops. “Good pilsners are hard to come by and this one is great—very clean and crisp,” Hunt says.
The May Wine Feature:
Mari Vineyards Row 7 | $85 per bottle
For those many still-cool days, Alex Truck, sommelier at Aerie, the Acme restaurant known for its award-winning wine list, suggests the 2017 Mari Vineyards Row 7. While a planting gaffe makes the varietals in this Old Mission row unknown, the elegance of this bold Bordeaux-like blend is no mystery. At home, Truck recently paired it with Anthony Bourdain’s meatloaf.
May’s Featured Cocktail:
The Rhubarb Gimlet | Stacey Brugeman Original Recipe
This month’s featured cocktail is a delicious twist on the centuries-old gimlet. Featuring a homemade rhubarb cordial, this original cocktail was created just in time for spring. View our recent article for the full rhubarb gimlet recipe.
Wine: 2019 Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Reisling | $14 a Bottle
Serving something sweet for Easter brunch or Passover Seder? Pair it with the 2019 Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling, which Tom Renkes of Symons Wine Cellar in Petoskey recommends. “With layers of apricot, orange peel, vanilla and a hint of honey, this wine is a perfect example of late harvest grapes picked at peak ripeness,” Renkes says of the Old Mission bottling.
Photo by Chateu Grand Traverse
Cider: Two K Farms Old World Cider | $15 for 6 cans
More of a bone-dry drinker? Try the Two K Farms Old World Cider. Made with 20 different French and English heritage apple varieties, the complex brut cider from Suttons Bay has “less sugar than a hard seltzer,” Karl Tessin of The Beverage Company in Traverse City tells his customers.
Cocktail: Ramp Gibson
East of the Mississippi, ramps are the quintessential harbinger of spring. When this member of the onion family emerges from the forest floor, foragers know that Northern Michigan’s growing season is just around the corner. Playfully replacing onion, this twist on a Gibson brings together vodka, vermouth and pickled ramps for a seasonal favorite you’re sure to love. Grab your ingredients and learn how to make a delicious Ramp Gibson from the comfort of your own home.
Photo by Two K Farms
Image from Two K Farms Cidery & Winery
Image from Dave Weidner.
Beer: Barrel + Beam’s Pivot Point // $6 per 375ml bottle
Rick Jaissle, beer enthusiast at Blue Goat Wine & Provisions in Traverse City, is a fan of Barrel + Beam’s Pivot Point, a bière de garde that is lagered in Marquette. Jaissle suggests pairing the amber farmhouse ale with shellfish and salads. Give it a whirl with this month’s recipe for Spring Greens with Whitefish Toast in Traverse Magazine.
Wine: Shady Lane Cellars 2017 Blaufränkisch // $28 per bottle
Amanda Danielson, sommelier of Traverse City’s Trattoria Stella, recommends the 2017 Shady Lane Cellars Blaufränkisch, a bottling with notes of blackberry, cedar and “an alluring crack of black pepper,” says Danielson. Suttons Bay winemaker Kasey Wierzba “took the generosity of the 2017 vintage, rewarded it with balanced oak and created a complex, cool-climate red wine.”
Cocktail: The Hemingway Daiquiri
It is well known that Ernest Hemingway spent childhood summers at Windemere, on Walloon Lake. It’s also common knowledge that the famed 20th-century writer went on to become a heavy drinker in later years. But did you know there is a classic cocktail named for the notorious novelist? Here’s the story, plus a Hemingway Daiquiri recipe to enjoy at home.