Drinks with Pat

    Pat Evans

    Distilleries are a fun addition to the Grand Rapids beverage world.

    Two really great, locally-owned distilleries really helped push the cocktail culture to new levels: Eastern Kille and Long Road Distillers.

    A really awesome one from Detroit, Two James, actually has a spot in Grand Rapids that a lot of people might have missed. It’s connected to 7 Monks, the incredible beer bar on Michigan Street.

    Recently, cocktail whiz Rob Hanks found himself at the helm of the location. Like the distilleries, Hanks has helped elevate Grand Rapids cocktails, first at Reserve and then at Buffalo Traders Lounge and Post-off.

    I caught up with Hanks to see what he’s liking about his new gig.

    Pat: What’s it like sharing a location with 7 Monks, that in a way, a lot of people might miss Two James?

    Rob: The way I see it, we’re complementary concepts together. They are obviously so beer centric and do such a good job of curating the beer list and keeping it fresh, constant and rotating. It’s not run of the mill stuff like you see around town.

    I like that Two James conveys the same thought process of how we write a menu. We have a broad list of spirits, some esoteric stuff and classic as well. We can make anybody happy with what we’ve got. I do make bunch of house-made cordials to flesh out what a back bar would be missing from my Buffalo Traders, Post-Off and Reserve days. It’s figuring out how to make the things I used to use all the times.

    Pat: How did you end up at Two James?

    Rob: My time with Buffalo and Post Off had come to an end, I’d achieved all that I could with those guys. I love and support them as a second family. I was trying to take my time so it was calculated rather than making a move for the sake of making a move.

    I got a call by my friend Ben, he’s been with Two James a long time. I was briefly on the opening team in Grand Rapids. But he let me know his manager had put in notice and that he was going to come barking up my tree to see if I’d be willing to manage the spot and it was the first time our timing lined up. It’s a new challenge, I’ve never done a distillery. Every other time, I’ve been able to buy what I want and now I’m limiting myself. So it’s a fun, creative exploration and I have figure things out that I haven’t had to before and it’s teaching me so much more about the world of spirits.

    Pat: What else should people know about the Grand Rapids Two James location?

    Rob: The biggest thing is we do happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5-7 p.m. with $8 classic cocktails. I can attest they are very well made. We could also be a dinner spot if you’re looking to do food from 7 Monks, they drop off the food just like you’re eating and drinking a beer in their restaurant.

    Celebrate good times, come on!
    New Holland Brewing turned 25 years old this year and this weekend is their big celebration. The company will host four separate parties Saturday, across their West Michigan locations.

    The New Holland and Grand Rapids taprooms will host parties from 2-6 p.m. and will feature speciality beers, including a 25 th anniversary beer and Paleooza, a nod to one of their first beers. There is also a 25 th anniversary whiskey and special birthday cocktails. Bottles of the anniversary beer and whiskey will be on sale as well.

    New Holland’s spirits tasting rooms in Saugatuck and South Haven will also host parties with the anniversary whiskey and birthday cocktails and shots available. “This is as much a celebration for our fans and customers as it is for us, because without everyone who has supported New Holland along the way we wouldn’t have made it to 25 years,” New Holland Brand Manager Devin O’Rourke said. “We’re truly proud to be where we are and we recognize that it took a community to get us here. We hope everyone will join us on Saturday to celebrate this milestone and raise a glass to commemorate the occasion.”

    What’s Pat Drinking?
    This week I ventured over to Detroit to see the Gorillaz at Little Caesars Arena. One of the best live shows I’ve seen in a while!

    Prior to the show, we grabbed some grub at Detroit Shipping Co., a cool little food vendor spot with a bar. There I grabbed the City Built Brewing and Odd Sides Brewery collaboration Odd City. The IPA tasted almost like fruit punch because of the way it was hopped — simply incredible.

    At the show, I kept it light with a can of New Hollands Lightpoint, their low-ABV offering.

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