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Cheers! Two Grand Rapids spirits in one cocktail

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
When you find this door, you're there.

You don’t have to have a password, or pull a secret lever, or push a button for entry, but the Sidebar in Grand Rapids definitely has that speakeasy feel. The address is available: 80 Ottawa Avenue NW, but finding it is a little tricky. Hint: go down the steps toward the pizza place.

That’s where Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings took me for a second time (see our other visit here) to sample a craft cocktail. This time Duncan McCargar is mixing up a Resolute Sour.

The cocktail uses two Michigan spirits, bourbon and gin from different Grand Rapids distillers.

McCargar said the Sidebar crew got to spend some time sampling with the Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids. “So, we sat down with them and we actually ended up picking up a whole barrel. So, we have our own sort of like Sidebar select single barrel of their bourbon, really great stuff,” he said.

The other Michigan spirit comes from Gray Skies Distillery in Grand Rapids. It’s a Barrel Finished Hopped Gin which highlights Citra hops among the botanicals.

“We wanted to showcase the sort of Grand Rapids feel,” Cargar explained.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Every bartender has his/her unique shaking style. McCarger's is something like a steam locomotive's wheels.

As McCargar shook the ingredients, Coxen noted each bartender’s style of shaking is a bit like their finger print, each one is unique and McCargar’s is unusual.

“I like to think about what’s going on inside of that tin. Our mixing ice is a little bit smaller, it’s pretty angular so I want to make sure that ice isn’t just banging up and down off the top of the tins. I’m trying to get more of a circular or like a figure 8 motion. It almost feels like a train wheel, you know, like the bar on a train that drives the wheels forward,” McCargar explained. He shakes the egg white in more of an up and down motion to aerate and make the egg white a really fine foam.

Watching the bartender work is part of the magic of ordering a craft cocktail, so it’s always better to get a seat at the bar rather than a table where you can’t see the action.

How does it taste?

“One of the things that are great about these cocktails that have split bases, two different spirits, is that they don’t taste like anything else,” Coxen said, noting that the gin and bourbon play off of each other really nicely.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
McCargar double strains the cocktail into a coupe glass.

Resolute Sour

1oz Gray Skies Barrel Finished Hopped Gin

1oz Long Road Distillers Bourbon Whisky

½ oz rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar/1part water)

½ oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz fresh lime juice

Egg white

Pour first five ingredients into a mixing tin with ice and shake. Strain and discard the ice. Add egg white to the ingredients and shake vigorously to emulsify the egg white. Double strain into a coupe glass and serve.


Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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