Drinks with Pat: The ol’ oat soda

Pat Evans

Today is International Beer Day — yes, yet another made-up holiday that encourages us to drink or eat more.

But, with Grand Rapids so in love with beer, this one seems worth celebrating. We also are nearing the 10-year anniversary of Grand Rapids first being named “Beer City, USA,” which I’ve long thought was disputable, but still love the fact the city prides itself on the ol’ oat sodas.

So first, go ahead and grab my book, Grand Rapids Beer. Sure, it’s a little out of date being published in 2015, but it’s a history book anyway — lots of great pre-Prohibition stuff in there.

Second, get out this weekend, and try out the great array of breweries we have in town. Check out the Beer City Ale Trail maps that can guide you through the 46 breweries in the area. Heck, you can even fill out the Beer City Brewsader Passport for a T-shirt after eight stops (Drink responsibly! You don’t have to do it in one weekend.)

There are fun ways to get around as well, like the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, which you pedal yourself around town to different bars. The Grand Rapids Beer Tours is a great way to take part in educational tastings, while the Grand Rapids Beer Trolley keeps the party going between stops.

Moral of the story: Enjoy one of the many places Grand Rapids truly prides itself on. Cheers!

Cool travel opportunities coming up in Michigan

First up is a really awesome culinary festival debuting at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Cork & Fork is a three-day — Sept. 30-Oct. 2 — festival featuring female food and beverage talent from across the U.S.

There are interactive cooking events, wine tastings, a six-course dinner and a panel discussion, among other activities across the three days.

Hosted in partnership with the James Beard Foundation, the following women will be featured:

  • Elizabeth Schweitzer, Grand Hotel master sommelier
  • Chef Jamie Malone from Minneapolis
  • Chef Sarah Welch from Detroit
  • Chef Carrie Nahabedian from Chicago
  • Chef Jennifer Hill Booker from Atlanta
  • Chef Joy Crump from Fredericksburg, Virginia
  • Chef Ariana Quant from Austin, Texas

Festival packages for the Grand Hotel start at $1,269.

The second highlighted attraction is a little posh and a little more garage beer.

The Grand Traverse Motel is hosting a bookable PBR motel experience up in Traverse City. There are three Pabst Blue Ribbon-themed rooms: the Arcade Room, the Dive Bar Room and the Rec Room. They all look like they have some incredible retro charm.

Check them out here.

What Pat’s drinking

I recently tried another great N/A option, Parch. The Blue Weber Agave-based drink mimics tequila beverages, specifically Prickly Paloma and Spice Pinarita. They’re incredibly flavorful and refreshing.

On the boozier side of things, I’ve been sipping on Negronis quite a bit this summer, and recently tried a great Italian gin, Portofino Dry Gin.

Basic Negroni:

1 ounce gin

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce sweet vermouth

Method: Stir all ingredients with ice, strain into glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Negroni Bianco (from Portofino):

1 ounce dry gin

1 ounce dry vermouth

1 ounce bitter bianco

Directions: Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the three liquids and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into glass over a large ice cube, garnish with lemon peel.

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