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Cheers! Michigan rum and Michigan beer combine to make a wonderful winter cocktail

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen with the Old Trousers cocktail featuring Founders Porter and New Holland's Freshwater Michigan Rum.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The sprinkle of ground cinnamon really adds to the cocktail.

“I was listening to your great piece from a couple of weeks ago about Brewed in Michigan,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings said about a recent interview with author William Rapai on Stateside. (You can hear the interview conducted at Arbor Brewing Company here.)

Coxen said it got her to thinking about beer cocktails and one of her favorite Michigan beers, Founders Porter.

The Founders website describes it as, “…silky black with a creamy tan head. The nose is sweet with strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives Founders’ robust porter the full flavor…” and is one of the brewery’s popular offerings.

“We’re pairing that up with a rum. But, it’s a rum that came to us, sort of, by virtue of beer,” Coxen said.

The New Holland brewery expanded in 2005 into spirits. One of the products is the Freshwater Michigan Rum. It’s described as a barrel aged rum which is a “…rich, smooth marriage of molasses and oak,” by the company.

Coxen said New Holland is only aging the rum for six months, but in a variety of barrels, including new oak, used whiskey barrels, and wine barrels, which gives it a complex and rich taste for a relatively “lightly aged” rum.

New Holland is one of several Michigan breweries and wineries which have added distilled spirits to their line of products.

The cocktail Coxen mixed is called the Old Trousers, which she calls a really easy to make drink.

“Clearly, I don’t like to work very much for my drinking in the winter,” she quipped.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The ingredients for the Old Trousers cocktail

Old Trousers

1 oz rum (We used Freshwater Michigan rum.)

½ oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum (don’t use a substitute)

½ oz honey syrup

1 dash Angostura bitters

Founders Porter

Ground cinnamon

Combine rums, honey syrup, and bitters in a snifter glass. Stir until honey syrup is blended well with rums. Top off with as much beer as you want. Six ounces is a good measure. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top.

The initial impression is the aroma of the cinnamon, then a sweet taste up front with a bitter chocolate finish. The honey syrup adds to a comforting winter drink.

About adding honey to a cocktail, Coxen noted, “If you were to just take your honey bear and squeeze it into a drink that’s usually served cold, it doesn’t dilute very well, it doesn’t mix very well."

The best bet is to take two or three parts honey and mix it with one part hot water just to loosen it up and make it blend more easily into drinks.

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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