Drinks with Pat

Pat Evans

Last week, a local wine and jazz bar released its first wine label.

GRNoir Wine & Jazz, 35 S. Division St., released GRNoir Collection Riesling, the first label in a string of three the bar plans to release. The wine was created with Traverse City’s Chateau Chantal Winery.

“Creating this Select Harvest Riesling for the GRNoir Collection is going to be a wonderful opportunity for both of us,” Chateau Chantel Director of Hospitality and Distribution Brian Lillie said. “Chateau Chantal will be able to reach a demographic that’s trying to find a path toward drinking and appreciating wine, that isn’t the usual wine customer.

“For GRNoir, it means being able to serve a wine under its own label created to its specifications without having the capital expense of a winery.”

Co-owners Shatawn and Nadia Brigham plan to release another two wines in early 2022. A red wine is expected in January, while the spring will bring a rosé. Both are in partnership with other Michigan wineries.

The wines are available for shipment in Michigan.

The Brighams opened the wine bar in December 2020, aiming to bring Grand Rapidians a new look at wine and jazz. Shatawn Brigham is one of just a few Black sommeliers in Michigan.

“Our business model is about people exploring something they may not have come in contact with, whether that’s jazz or wine. And I feel like we’ve been successful in doing that,” Nadia Brigham said. “You see the generational divide being bridged. You see elders and college-aged students here to watch the young jazz players, people pulling up in everything from scooters to limousines. This is community.”

Espresso Martini Craze

The November/December issue of Grand Rapids Magazine highlighted the returning trend of espresso martinis. While plenty of bars are rolling them out in their menus, they’re a fun cocktail to try at home.

Try out one of these recipes, then experiment:

  • 1 1/3 parts vodka, like Absolut
  • 2/3 part Kahlua or other coffee liqueur, like Long Road Distillers’ Amaro Pazzo.
  • 2/3 part espresso

Method: Fill shaker with ice cubes, add ingredients. Shake and strain into glass. Garnish with chocolate espresso beans, whipped cream or shaved chocolate.

Zyr vodka released an interesting maple espresso martini recipe:

  • 5 oz vodka
  • 1 oz espresso
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur
  • .05 oz orange-infused maple syrup (but one must think regular maple syrup would work just fine.)

What I’m sipping on recently

When Thanksgiving and the December holiday season roll around, there’s one beer I can guarantee I’ll buy or order every time I see it: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. The fresh hop ale from the venerable craft beer pioneer is so perfectly delicious it ranks among my favorite beers of all time and can delight even non-hoppy beer fans.

Recently I acquired a fantastic new bourbon: Duke Spirit’s Bourbon. The whiskey was inspired by rare bottles in John Wayne’s collection — which he apparently accumulated over 50 years. The nutty, peppery and sweet bourbon apparently hits the preferred notes of the famous western actor.

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