Drinks with Pat: Celebrity edition

    Pat Evans

    This week, a former NFL quarterback will be hosting a wine dinner downtown, so I caught up with him.

    Rick Mirer, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 1993, will be hanging out at The Chop House Wednesday night for a five-course wine dinner featuring his Mirror wine brand. The tickets are $225 per person, not including tax and gratuity.

    After a stellar college career at Notre Dame, Mirer spent 12 seasons in the NFL, including stops with the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions.

    Along with The Chop House event, Mirer said he’ll make stops at a few of the accounts where Mirror wine can be found, including Rishi’s International Beverage, Martha’s Vineyard and the Crushed Grape.

    Pat: How did you end up so involved in wine?

    Rick: I knew nothing about wine growing up or through college, but when I moved to San Diego after a few years in Seattle, I was introduced to some nice wines through friends and restaurant pals. I got into the whole cult wine thing in the mid-to-late ’90s. It was fun to collect these cool hard-to-get wines. Then it turns out a couple years later I end up with the Niners and Raiders back-to-back and for two years with the Raiders, we had camp in Napa, so I got to meet a lot of people.

    Just being in Oakland, my wife and I took a few trips pre-kids, met some characters and enjoyed the experience. Wine is about who you’re with and what the scene is and about making memories and celebrations sometimes. I’m a huge fan of it, it’s an endless education.

    I wound up playing in New York, closer to France, so I nerded out a little bit on understanding the lingo and the legacy of the famous places and new projects and I was always drawn to the family-owned, small production stuff. When I stopped playing, I wanted to see if I could find something I could do that fits into my life. I knew some buddies that offered me an opportunity to be the headliner of a winery, and that was Mirror. There were two vineyards that faced each other, it’s not Mirror because of Mirer; it’s the map, that was a sign.

    We started small in 2008, 14 year later we five wines, but we’re intentionally small. I wouldn’t call it a hobby; it is a passion project and I’ve learned a ton.

    Pat: What do you make of the athlete/celebrity wine and booze trend?

    Rick: It wasn’t that way when we got into this. Drew Bledsoe and I had talked about it, as well as Dan Marino and Damon Huard. As it worked out, we – Dan and Damon– are connected, Drew has things going, and I wanted to be California, but then there’s basketball guys, baseball, Charles Woodson was a teammate in Oakland and has his wine going.

    I feel like we were on the front end of that. Before us it was Greg Norman, maybe a few other golfers. I’m not in the Hall of Fame, my name is not selling the wine. I’m all in, we’re working on it every day and most events, I’m the one there doing it. I represent myself and take pride in it and it’s fun to share. A lot of it stays in California but it’s fun to go around and fall into great food and golf along the way. I had no idea it was as competitive as it is, and it makes sense that is, but I’ve been doing it longer than football somehow and it is every bit as hard but rewarding when things go great. 

    Pat: How did you end up at with this event at The Chop House? 

    Rick: The reason I’m hitting Michigan is I’m an Indiana guy, my oldest went to Notre Dame and played lacrosse for four years, so I was in and out more than the previous 15 years. Kid number two went to Michigan and he graduated a couple weeks ago and I was in and out of Ann Arbor a lot.

    My winemaker has connections in a lot of states and introduced me to a broker in Holland and she is working with our distributors to find the right places.

    Grand Rapids isn’t far from Ann Arbor and I don’t know it well, but friends and I, we use The Chop House in Ann Arbor a lot, so when my broker brought the Grand Rapids Chop House up, I said, “Let’s do it.”

    Cool cocktail to try
    While I am fully transitioning away from whiskey for the summer, I will be trying this cocktail soon that Glenlivet sent me last week.

    It’s called the Dealer’s Choice Old Fashioned.

    The Recipe:

    • 2 parts The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
    • 1/4 part coffee liqueur
    • 1/4 part cherry liqueur
    • 1/4 part water
    • 2 dashes smoked bitters
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

    Method: Combine over ice in rocks, stir. Garnish with lemon wheel.

    What’s Pat Drinking
    As mentioned, I’m transitioning away from whiskey for the warm summer months, concentrating more on gin, vodka and tequila drinks. I’ve also been experimenting more with Bitters and Soda, a nice low-to-no alcohol choice that still has the lock, feel and slight taste of a cocktail.



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