With farm-fresh brews and picturesque vineyards aplenty, Northern Michigan is full of unique craft drinks to satisfy locals and visitors alike. From delicious ciders to award-winning wineries, here are your 2022 Red Hot Best first place winners for the best brewery, winery, hard beverage and happy hour categories.
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Best of the Above the Bridge Region
Best Brewery | Great Turtle Brewery & Distillery, Mackinac Island
The first and only brewery and distillery on Mackinac Island, Great Turtle is a favorite spot for lunch in between biking and shopping. With much acclaim for its burgers (especially the vegan Roasted Beet Chickpea Burger) and its beers, it’s a must-try for any traveler to the island. Plus, if you’re traveling with a pet or service animal, Great Turtle has a convenient outdoor patio where you and your furry friend can be seated.
Best Winery | End of the Road Winery, Germfask
This family-owned winery is praised for its great service and comfortable environment. The new outdoor patio is the perfect spot to try its fan-favorite blueberry cider, and if you get hungry, End of the Road Winery also serves pizza.
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Widow Maker Pale Ale, Keweenaw Brewing Company
Located in Downtown Houghton, Keweenaw Brewing Company’s taproom is a favorite spot to grab a drink while hitting the town. For its reasonable prices and great beers, fans recommend ordering a flight to get a complete taste of the brewery. Don’t forget to try the famous Widow Maker Pale Ale.
Happy Hour | Pink Pony, Mackinac Island
Known for its vibrant atmosphere and funky cocktails, Pink Pony is a lively place to stop in for the best happy hour on Mackinac Island. The signature Rum Runner is a favorite among first-time visitors and locals alike, and its location in the Chippewa Hotel offers a gorgeous view of the water from its beachfront patio. At the Pony, expect good drinks, a good time and everything pink!
Photo by The Pink Pony
A view from the patio at the Pink Pony.
View the full list of Above the Bridge Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.
Best of the Benzie & Leelanau Region
Brewery | Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Camped in a forested area along West Bay, Hop Lot Brewing Co. is the definition of a Northern Michigan dining experience. The ambiance of the beer garden is exceptional, and with delicious beers and food, guests are sure to have a splendid time. Locals recommend stopping in after biking the TART trail or shopping in Downtown Suttons Bay or Traverse City.
Winery | Blustone Vineyards, Lake Leelanau
On the rolling hills of Leelanau Peninsula, this vineyard has gorgeous views and a wide selection of delicious wines to try. After spending an afternoon on the Sleeping Bear Dunes or touring the nearby towns, Bluestone Vineyards is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a million-dollar Michigan sunset.
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Smackintosh, Tandem Ciders
Praised for its cozy vibe and outdoor seating, Tandem Ciders in Suttons Bay is a great place to grab a drink with friends and family. Smackintosh is a fan favorite cider for its sweet flavor, derived from Northern Michigan-grown apples, that packs a punch. Visitors recommend ordering a flight to try all of Tandem Ciders’ unique flavors.
Happy Hour | Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern, Northport
Located between Leland and Northport, Fischer’s is a great stop for your Leelanau Peninsula adventure. The casual environment and outdoor seating are perfect for anyone fresh off a hiking trail. Don’t forget to try the “Famous Chicken Dinner,” you better believe it lives up to its name.
A drink at the Hop Lot Brewing Co.
View the full list of Benzie and Leelanau Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.
Best of the Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington Region
Brewery | North Channel Brewing Company, Manistee
With an extensive beer selection and live music in a cozy, rustic atmosphere, North Channel Brewing Company promises a fun dining experience in Manistee. The menu features traditional bar fare, including highly recommended burgers and onion rings, in addition to hearty entrees.
Winery | Northern Natural Cider House & Winery, Kaleva
If unique ciders—including blueberry waffle, cherry chocolate and more—draw you in, you’ll want to stay for the live music and fun outdoor seating. On-site food trucks cook up delicious tacos and specialty pizza, offering something for everyone.
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Northern Star Cider, Northern Natural Cider House & Winery
Earning the Gold Medal twice at the World Cider Championships, the Northern Star Cider at the Northern Natural Cider House and Winery lives up to its fame. Balanced and satisfying for both beer and cider drinkers, it’s a must-try in the Manistee area.
Happy Hour | TJ’s Pub, Manistee
TJ’s extensive drink menu makes it the perfect choice for Happy Hour in Manistee. Located in the historic Ramsdell Inn, the joint has a dive bar atmosphere with upscale food, including pasta and fresh flatbreads. The craft beer and Bloody Marys earn especially high remarks.
Photo by North Channel Brewing Co.
Draft beer from the North Channel Brewing Company.
View the full list of Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.
Best of the Charlevoix & The Chain of Lakes Region
Brewery | Short’s Brewing Co. Bellaire Pub, Bellaire
A local favorite for creative ciders, mouth-watering pretzels and good times all around! Reasonably priced flights allow you to sample from the extensive beer menu, and the highly-reviewed food will keep you coming back. It’s a can’t-miss stop for anyone in the Bellaire area.
Winery | Boyne Valley Vineyards, Petoskey
With rustic decor and great-tasting wines, Boyne Valley Vineyards represents the best of Northern Michigan’s wineries. Its location just outside of Walloon Lake provides fantastic views year-round, and fans praise its unique outdoor tasting rooms (including one in a treehouse!).
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Soft Parade, Short’s Brewing Company
Pink-tinted and full of berries, this ale is one of Short’s top sellers for a reason. Praised as a drink for both “beer enthusiasts and beer haters,” it’s fruity without being too sweet, and it has a dry finish. Make sure to try it at the Short’s Brewing Co. Pub in Bellaire where it’s served on tap or at Short’s Tap Room and Pull Barn in Elk Rapids.
Happy Hour | Red Mesa Grill, Boyne City
Red Mesa’s Happy Hour is unbeatable! Offering a variety of tequilas and specialty drinks for affordable prices, this Latin American restaurant is a great place to visit with friends and family. If you stop in, make sure to try the highly acclaimed House Margaritas.
Short’s Brewing Co. Pub in Bellaire.
View the full list of Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes region Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.
Best of the Kalkaska, Gaylord & Grayling Region
Brewery | Big Buck Brewery, Gaylord
Offering a wide menu of locally-brewed beers, ciders and sodas, Big Buck Brewery offers a beverage for everyone. Fans recommend ordering a flight to get a full taste of the menu, and if you love any of the flavors, you can also purchase Big Buck beer from most local grocery stores.
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Rolling Oak White, Rolling Oak Brewing Co.
This sweet yet dry chardonnay is popular among Grayling residents and visitors alike. With subtle peachy flavors, the white wine may be an unexpected choice from a place known for its beer, but there’s a reason it shares the brewery’s name!
Happy Hour | Rolling Oak Brewing Co., Grayling
Casual outdoor seating makes Rolling Oak Brewing Co. the perfect place to stop by during your adventures in Northern Michigan. Plus, its location in Downtown Grayling provides the opportunity to pick up great food to enjoy alongside your drink. Rolling Oak changes its selection regularly, so be sure to check the Rolling Oak website for what’s new.
View the full list of Kalkaska, Gaylord and Grayling Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.
Best of the Petoskey, Harbor Springs & The Straits Region
Brewery | Bière de Mac Brew Works, Mackinaw City
Great beers and a comfortable atmosphere make this brewery a must-stop for anyone in the Mackinaw City area. Since it recently partnered with Smelted Pizza Company, the menu has been updated with a new selection of artisan pizzas that can be perfectly paired with one of its brews.
Winery | Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs
Not only does Pond Hill Farm offer a superb selection of ciders, beers, wines and pizzas, but they also have activities and fun for the whole family. Go on a hunt for gnome homes or visit the goats and chickens in the livestock barn open year-round.
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Gypsy Vodka, High Five Spirits
Award-winning Gypsy Vodka from High Five Spirits is as perfectly crafted as it tastes. Gluten-free and locally made from Non-GMO corn and artesian spring water, this liquor is a local favorite in the Petoskey area. For more of High Five Spirits, make sure to check out their tasting rooms in Downtown Petoskey or on Mackinac Island.
Happy Hour | The Back Lot Petoskey, Petoskey
For fantastic food in a fun atmosphere, stop by The Back Lot in Petoskey, a food truck collective that offers fare ranging from street tacos to fresh Mediterranean gyros. The Back Lot also offers draft and canned beers, wines, seltzers, cocktails and more to pair with your meal.
Photo by Pond Hill Farm
Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs.
View the full list of Petoskey, Harbor Springs and The Straits Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.
Best of Traverse City | Red Hot Best 2022
,Brewery | The Filling Station Microbrewery
After biking on the TART trail or kayaking down the Boardman River, The Filling Station is a great place to satisfy your appetite with delicious pizza and refreshing beer. Praised for its inventive pizza topping combinations and kid-friendly atmosphere, this spot is perfect for the whole family.
Winery | Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery
With an expansive deck and patio space, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery offers wonderful views of the Grand Traverse Bay as you sip on their craft wines. Particularly, guests are drawn to the Secret Garden, where they can have a picnic among the fresh flowers, with fresh lavender lemonade and Moomers ice cream.
Locally Made Hard Beverage | Cinnamon Girl, Left Foot Charley
Harvested on Old Mission Peninsula, the apples used in this hard cider represent the best of the Northern Michigan brewing scene. Combining the apples with cinnamon, the drink is a perfected version of classic flavors. Try it at Left Foot Charley’s Tasting Room and Barrel Room at the Grand Traverse Commons.
Happy Hour | The Parlor
Offering “Half-Off Happy Hour,” The Parlor is a favorite spot for affordable drinks and delicious food. Craft cocktails, wines, beers and more are available from the bar (fans recommend the Strawberry Basil Lemonade!) and upscale pizza rounds off the menu. Live music and a cozy atmosphere make The Parlor a local favorite, so make sure to stop in after spending your day in Downtown TC.
Photo by Dan Oswalt
A wine slushie from the Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery.
View the full Traverse City Red Hot Best winners list to find the best breweries, events and more.