Raising the bar

Three new spots that add flavor to the Grand Rapids cocktail scene
An assortment of cocktails at Mammoth Distillery's Wealthy St. tasting room. Photo by Amanda Kamppinen.

The Grand Rapids cocktail scene has exploded in recent years and the addition of Mammoth Distillery on Wealthy Street last November is no slouch.

Mammoth Gin. Photo by Amanda Kamppinen.

The distillery started up in Central Lake in 2016 and has since expanded to several tasting rooms across the state. In November 2023, the cocktail lounge at 710 Wealthy St. SE opened and has helped add to the growing eclectic set of nightlife options on the stretch of the busy street.

The space is large and has room for more than 150 people during months the backyard patio is open.

But the interior is where the moody atmosphere strikes with its brick walls and dim lighting. The hardwood floors and a bar built on top of piles of wood only adds to the rustic feel that can make it feel like you’re north of Cadillac.

Andrew Evans, General Manager of Mammoth Distilling GR enjoy the bar’s patio on Nov. 7, 2023. Photo by Lisa Enos.

Like many distilleries, Mammoth has set its sights on creating a portfolio of unique whiskeys, and in particular has focused on a rye whiskey project where it growing Rosen rye on South Manitou Island for its Northern Rye Whiskey, a nod to Michigan’s Prohibition contributions.

Dive bar foolin’

Last year, the owners of Social Misfits decided to take the space vacated by Wahlburgers and turn it into a “fine dive bar.”

The oxymoronic concept has the hip crowd in Grand Rapids eating square pizzas and a variety of other swings at Midwestern classics, like smoked whitefish dip and pasties.

The Foolery hopes to evoke nostalgia from the clientele, littering the places with photos from 80s and 90s movies, while using wood panels that are seen across Midwest basements on the walls.

Scholarly drinks

One of the swankiest places to open in recent memory is Scholar, 11 Ionia Ave. SW.

Formerly the home to J. Gardella’s Tavern, the three-level building is now offering up a cozy place to grab drinks and dinner. While the dinner is an above average affair for Grand Rapids, it’s the ability to hole up in a variety of nifty settings to grab a drink that can appeal to almost everyone in Grand Rapids.

The main bar near the main entrance is a centerpiece in and of itself and a perfect place to saddle up for a beverage.

But it’s the basement nooks and crannies, with a warm fireplace at its core, that can make even the dullest date seem exciting.

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