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Cheers! A Pure Michigan Hummer

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Only Michigan products went into this version of Detroit's hummer. We're calling it a Pure Michigan Hummer.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen blending the Pure Michigan Hummer.

It is the most famous drink to ever come out of Detroit. It is known worldwide as the hummer.

“This was created by a bartender at the Bayview Yacht Club named Jerome Adams in 1968,” explained Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings.

Adams had recently gotten a job as a bartender at the Detroit yacht club. He wanted to come up with a drink that would impress his colleagues and impress his customers, Coxen said.

On a cold winter day he had three customers at the bar. He mixed up a drink with rum, coffee liqueur, and ice cream. They tried it and they loved it.

They ordered a second round and asked Adams him what it was called. He told them it didn’t have a name yet.  

One of the three customers is reported to have said, “Well, you know, after you have a couple, it kind of makes you want to hum.” That’s where the drink got its name.

Cheers co-host, Lester Graham, actually had a hummer at the Bayview Yacht Club. He was there for a conference. Fellow public radio colleague Sandra Svoboda of WDET was a member of the yacht club and bought the drink for him to sample.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Bayview Yacht Club member Sandra Svoboda (on the right) with journalism colleagues attending a conference at the club.

That hummer had a thicker consistency than the hummer Tammy Coxen mixed up.

“They probably just used bigger scoops of ice cream there. That’s the problem with a recipe where one of the ingredients is two scoops of ice cream. How big is a scoop,” Coxen asked.

The Bayview Yacht Club members were well-traveled, attending yacht races all over the country.  They would request a hummer from the bar wherever they were visiting. No one knew how to make it. So, during the 1960s and 70s there were a lot of long-distance phone calls place to the Bayview Yacht Club bar to get the recipe. It spread all over the globe.

The Cheers team of Coxen and Graham generally prefer craft cocktails. Both were surprised about how good an ice cream drink could be. It’s delicious.

In April of this year, Jerome Adams died. He worked at the Bayview Yacht Club for more than 50 years.

The original liquors were probably Bacardi white rum and Kahlua. Coxen’s version uses only Michigan products.

Pure Michigan Hummer

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The Pure Michigan Hummer.

1 1/2 oz rum (New Holland Barrel Rum)

1 1/2 oz coffee liqueur (Spauldings Coffee Liqueur)

2 big scoops ice cream (Guernsey)

2 ice cubes

Combine in a blender and blend until slushy. Pour into an old fashioned glass and add a straw.

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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