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Cheers! A whiskey drink for people who think they don't like whiskey

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Long Arm of the Law is Tammy Coxen's interpretation of a drink made by the Detroit City Distillery.

When I walked in, I could see a bottle of rye on the counter. “I can't think that this is going to go badly,” I said to Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings.

“We do both like rye,” she laughed. The name of the cocktail she was getting ready to mix is The Long Arm of the Law.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen shaking up a drink.

“This is a recipe that I found a bunch of years ago when I was researching recipes for one of my Made in Michigan classes. I found the description of this on the Detroit City Distillery website. I didn't have any proportions, so I just kind of winged it. I've no idea if this tastes like what it tasted like when they made it, but I like it and it's become a go-to drink for me,” Tammy said.

Fittingly, she used Detroit City Distillery Homegrown Rye.

The drink is a sour, so in addition to the rye there is lemon juice. To sweeten it, there’s some cinnamon syrup (see recipe below), but there’s one more ingredient.

“The thing that makes it really different is it has a spoonful, bar spoon or a teaspoon, of fig preserves,” Tammy explained.

It felt to me like the drink was a little too sweet, but I wasn’t sure why. We finally concluded that the cinnamon syrup and the cinnamon stick that served as garnish was making me think it was sweeter than it actually was. I associate cinnamon with sweet.

“I don't think it's sweet at all. I think it's really nicely balanced. Using preserves and jams and cocktails can definitely change the mouth feel of them and add some body to it, which might be a little bit of what you're picking up,” Tammy added.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Double straining to remove tiny fig seeds from the fig jam.

“Because I did use that jam in there and because figs have little seeds in them. I did double strain the drink. That means that after I shook it, I strained it with my regular Hawthorn strainer and then I used like a tea strainer or a fine mesh strainer so that we didn't get those little floaty bits. Just a nice presentation. But if you like floaty bits in your drink, you obviously don't have to do that,” Tammy said.

Tammy says she uses this drink at a lot of her private events. It helps some people get past preconceived notions.

“There are a lot of people who don't like whiskey or at least think they don't like whiskey. And this is one of those cocktails that even somebody who comes in thinking they don't like whiskey actually tends to like this drink,” she said.

Long Arm of the Law

1 1/2 oz rye
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz cinnamon infused simple syrup
1 bsp fig preserves
Garnish: cinnamon stick if you're feeling fancy
Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake and strain into
ice-filled rocks glass.

Cinnamon-Infused Syrup

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c water

2 cinnamon sticks
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Crush cinnamon coarsely. Add to
liquid, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn off,
cover and let stand for 4-12 hours. Strain and store refrigerated.

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

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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