Drinks with Pat

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    September seems to be a big month to celebrate various beverages. Along with Bourbon Month, a really fun week starts Sept. 12: Negroni Week.

    Rather than dive into a quick interview (we can return to that next week), I’m going to share some of the fun negroni nuggets that I’ve gotten in preparation for this great week. A negroni is truly a fantastic pre-dinner drink and, oh, so simple: one part gin, one part vermouth, one part bitter, normally Campari. It’s also a gorgeous and deceiving red.
    Also, if you’re not a negroni fan – such as my brother, who finds them a touch too bitter –

    Photo by Stacy Feyer-Salo         A Michigan Negroni, by Long Road Distillery.

    try a Boulevardier, which swaps gin with whiskey, generally a rye, or an Americano, which was the precursor to the negroni, made with Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda.
    There are various reports and years milling about in connection to the negroni’s creation, but regardless, it seems it was created when a bartender at Florence’s Caffé Casoni was asked to make an Americano stronger. The barkeep swapped in gin for club soda and one of the hottest beverages of the past few seasons was born. An orange garnish also replaced a lemon to help differentiate the drinks.

    Negroni Week has now been running since 2013, helping raise money for charity.

    For a sampling of the various ways a negroni can be made, next time you’re in Las Vegas, hit Eataly Las Vegas’ Toscana Ristorante & Bar that features a Negroni Toscana menu with a significant selection of gins, bitters and vermouths to choose from.

    The spirits brand Martini & Rossi, famous for its vermouths, sent several spins on the negroni. One I’ve already shared is the white negroni, made with Martini & Rossi Bianco, gin and they suggest Italicus, a rose petal liquor. A fun one from the brand is a GoldeNegroni, which is made with Martini & Rossi Bianco, gin, a dash of a bitter and topped with lemon juice. If mixing three equal ingredients is too tough, grab Tip Top Proper Cocktails’ negroni. The little cans are awesome, plus the cocktails inside are top notch.

    Curious move in town
    There are more breweries than ever in America — an astonishing fact when thinking about how the country went from more than 6,000 in the 1880s to an all-time low of fewer than 80 in the 1970s.

    Ten years ago, entrepreneurs were jumping into the beer world with aims to be the next Sierra Nevada – or even the still fledgling Founders – and looking to push beers into the distribution world to stock the shelves.

    It seems like those days are over and breweries are looking toward more limited distribution and opening additional taprooms – looking for the higher margins, person-to-person customer connection and avoiding the endless competition on the shelves. Just look at Kusterer Brauhaus from Cedar Springs Brewing, Broad Leaf from Brewery Vivant and the Mitten Brewing Co.’s multiple outlets.

    But Harmony is bucking that trend, announcing it will shut down its Harmony Hall location on the now burgeoning Bridge Street. When it first opened the brewpub, Bridge Street was a far cry from the entertainment district it is now. In that announcement, the company also announced it will pursue a production path, looking to hit the wider world with its beers.

    What’s Pat Drinking?
    Over Labor Day weekend, I enjoyed some Modelo and Bell’s Brewery Light Hearted — a great low ABV and calorie take on the Kalamazoo brewery’s iconic Two Hearted.
    This week, my wife and I ventured over to Pine Knob for Band of Horses and The Black Keys, and there I actually did gravitate toward a tall Two Hearted.

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