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Local partnership brings popular modern-classic cocktail to new, convenient heights.

Long Road Distillers and Madcap Coffee Company, both headquartered in Grand Rapids, have again collaborated to develop a product that marries what they do best – spirits and coffee. The Long Road Nitro Espresso Martini, a ready-to-drink canned cocktail, is now popping up on retail store shelves and in bar coolers around the state of Michigan. The new release features Long Road Vodka, Madcap Coffee, and Amaro Pazzo.

Long Road Distillers and Madcap Coffee previously partnered to create Amaro Pazzo, a traditional Italian-style bittersweet liqueur that features Madcap’s Eureka coffee blend as a primary ingredient. It is available in bottled form throughout Michigan, including at Long Road tasting rooms in Grand Rapids and Grand Haven.

The owners of Long Road consider the Nitro Espresso Martini to be another step in the evolution of a modern-classic cocktail that dates back to the 1980’s and is experiencing a renaissance in popularity. Famed British bartender Dick Bradsell is credited with creating the first iteration of the vodka-espresso combo when he was asked by a patron to make them a cocktail to “wake me up and [get me buzzed].” The combination of vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur and sugar has been riffed on behind bars ever since.

“Who doesn’t love a well-made espresso martini as a pick-me-up while out on the town?” asked Jon O’Connor, co-owner and co-founder of Long Road Distillers “But it takes a lot of effort to enjoy one when away from the bar, without an espresso machine and all the ingredients on hand,” he continued. “We’ve done all the legwork for you – creating a perfectly balanced drink, adding a dose of nitrogen for an iconic frothy head and creamy finish, all in the convenience of a can.”

The Long Road Nitro Espresso Martini is an extension of a cocktail named At Last the distillery has been running on their menus since opening Less Traveled, a cocktail bar in the East Hills Neighborhood of Grand Rapids. It was an immediate hit and continues to be one of the best-selling cocktails on the menu at all locations month after month.

To make the ready-to-drink version of the cocktail as authentic as possible, it is canned at 13% alcohol by volume, nearly the maximum for a canned cocktail in Michigan. With the introduction of caffeine and higher alcohol content, the distillery decided to package the drink in 6.8oz cans rather than the traditional 12oz format.

The Long Road Nitro Espresso Martini, as well as Long Road’s entire portfolio of ready-to-drink cocktails and bottled spirits, is being distributed throughout Michigan by Imperial Beverage. Bars, restaurants, and retailers interested in carrying Long Road products should contact their Imperial Beverage account manager for more information. Want to find a 4-pack near you? Visit longroaddistillers.com/spirit-finder for a regularly updated list of outlets for Long Road spirits.

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About Long Road Distillers:

Long Road Distillers was born from the belief that making world-class spirits means never taking shortcuts along the way. After becoming the first craft distillery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Long Road Distillers formed relationships with local farmers to bring that mission to Grand Rapids’ West Side neighborhood. Each spirit produced at Long Road Distillers is milled from locally sourced ingredients, fermented, and distilled on-site. The result is an uncompromised lineup of spirits including Vodka, Gin, Whisky and more. Their spirits, along with a handcrafted collection of cocktails and a wide variety of food can be enjoyed at their Grand Rapids and Grand Haven Tasting Rooms, and visitors can now enjoy signature craft cocktails at Less Traveled, a cocktail bar by Long Road in East Hills. For more information, visit www.LongRoadDistillers.com or find Long Road Distillers on Facebook or Instagram @longroadgr.

About Madcap Coffee:

Founded in 2008, Madcap Coffee Company is headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. They operate their own roastery, as well as several cafes in Michigan. Their founder, Trevor Corlett, is an award-winning, nationally recognized barista and trainer. They have been spotlighted by national media and in competition for their coffees, roasting profiles, and innovative drink recipes. For more information, visit www.madcapcoffee.com or direct inquiries to info@madcapcoffee.com.

Click the links to jump to: Grand Rapids Pop-up Menu; Grand Haven Pop-up Menu; Less Traveled Holiday Features.

Grand Rapids, Michigan – Long Road Distillers, known for their internationally awarded distilled spirits and trendsetting cocktail program, will launch their third annual Happy Holidays Cocktail Pop-Up Menu on Tuesday, November 28. From now through New Year’s, visitors to a Long Road location can expect festive flavors, glistening décor and lots of sugar and spice.

“We’ve had so much fun turning this pop-up menu into a tradition that guests and staff alike get excited for every year”, said Owner Jon O’Connor, “We put together a fun and lighthearted menu that our staff have challenged themselves to create, ensuring they will delight and stun the crowd.”

This year’s festive and whimsical menu features 15 spirited holiday drinks, including several favorites from last year, and three seasonal shots, all to help get you into the holiday spirit. The pop-up menu will be available at the distillery’s West Grand Rapids location as well as their Grand Haven bar and restaurant. A handful of featured drinks will also be available at Less Traveled, the distillery’s Cherry Street cocktail bar. A few examples of cocktails visitors can expect to enjoy:

  • St. Nick’s Vacation ~ Original Rum, Red Amaro, falernum, spiced pineapple cordial, lime and aromatic bitters
  • Snow Machine ~ Nocino, Madcap Coffee cold brew, demerara, almond milk and grated nutmeg
  • The Final Snowdown ~ Grape Avani Vodka, bianco vermouth, lime, white cranberry and orange bitters (serves 4)
  • Figgy Stardust ~ Fig-aged Rum, Pear Brandy, Nocino, lemon, orange, grapefruit, spiced honey butter and a shimmering glitter

“You really can’t beat gathering the people you love and sharing a well-crafted cocktail,” said Jenney Grant, Long Road’s Director of Operations & Education. “We have curated both a menu and a space that will help you get into the spirit of the season.”

Long Road’s Happy Holidays Cocktail Pop-Up will be available beginning Tuesday, November 28 at Long Road Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Less Traveled. It will run through January 6 at all locations.

A Note from Long Road: Recently, we launched a Guest Blog series, “Behind the Bar with Long Road”, to take you on a journey behind the bar with our talented team and to give you a glimpse into the creative process behind innovative and enticing cocktails that feature our spirits. Be sure to check out our earlier posts by Jenney Grant, Joey Robles-Zepeda and Carley from Cocktails with Carley. This week’s post comes to us from Long Road Bartender Connor Everhart. You can find him behind the stick several nights a week at the distillery on Leonard Street. 

Gotta Light?: A Split-Base Pleaser from Connor
by Connor Everhart, Bartender, Long Road Distillers

I remember sitting next to my new coworkers with my cocktail notebook in hand, eager and excited to share my drink ideas. This was not just my first cocktail meeting while working at Long Road, but my first cocktail meeting ever! At thirty years of age, I moved to Grand Rapids only four months prior, and I had never been a bartender before in my life, only an at-home bartender and cocktail enthusiast. I left a five-year Personal Training career behind in order to pursue my passion for cocktails and hospitality. With no experience in the food and drink industry, Long Road decided to take a chance on me and see what I was capable of.

“So, I was thinking of combining our Apple Brandy, which I really love, and our Nocino together in a cocktail because I think it would be a perfect blend of flavors for the fall menu,” I said nervously to the seven other bartenders, all of whom possessed years of experience behind the bar and have no idea who I am.

“Oh yeah, I was thinking of possibly doing something like that too! That’s a great idea!” said one of my colleagues.

My nerves vanished as I was immediately encouraged and praised for my one (and only) idea I had prepared for the meeting. At that moment, I knew I needed to prove my idea was worth executing, so it was time to go to work!

After several attempts at trying different ratios, spirits, syrups, glassware, and listening to advice from coworkers, I created my very first cocktail that would be featured on the Long Road Fall menu of 2022!

I named the cocktail “Gotta Light?”, a reference to the notorious episode of the same name from my favorite TV show “Twin Peaks” (if you have seen the show, you know the episode).

The cocktail features a split base of Bourbon and Apple Brandy as the star of the show with Nocino and Cinnamon Brown Sugar simple syrup to round out the booziness. It’s then topped with a dehydrated apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Before the drink is given to a guest, the glass is smoked with apple wood chips and then covered to bring more complexity and depth to the flavors. Not only was it my first cocktail to ever be featured on a menu, it was one of the best-selling cocktails of the season! While still new to the world of cocktails and spirits, I’m filled with excitement to learn more and improve my skills as a bartender.

Gotta Light? Recipe

  • 1.5oz Apple Brandy
  • .5oz Bourbon
  • .5oz Nocino
  • .5oz Cinnamon Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and single strain into a smoked (preferably apple wood chips) snifter glass topped with a dehydrated apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Cheers!

A Note from Long Road: Recently, we launched a Guest Blog series, “Behind the Bar with Long Road”, to take you on a journey behind the bar with our talented team and to give you a glimpse into the creative process behind innovative and enticing cocktails that feature our spirits. Be sure to check out our earlier posts by Jenney Grant and Joey Robles-Zepeda. This week’s post comes to us from SE Michigan cocktail creator Carley Bologna. We’ve admired her creations from afar – and so should you – by following her on Instagram @cocktails.with.carley

All MI Love: A Sunny Day Cocktail with Carley
by Carley Bologna, Craft Cocktail Recipe Creator & Menu Consultant, Cocktails with Carley

All MI Love is a warm, sunny-day-inspired cocktail filled with herbaceous and floral notes, honey, and fresh citrus. It is meant to embody all of the best parts of Michigan summers. If you’re from here, you know what I mean. The parts of the year we all wish we could bottle up and save. The golden hour sunshine, the fresh lake air, the wild flowers in the woods. This drink tastes like that.

For spirits, I used Long Road Sovereign Gin and Aquavit, as well as Yellow Chartreuse, St. Germain, and Crème de Violette. Non spirit ingredients include: fresh lemon juice, plum bitters, a homemade cardamom honey syrup, and an orange for garnish.

ALL MI Love Cocktail Recipe:

This is a complex sour style cocktail, so we’re going to do a bit of a balancing act in the base of the drink:

  • The Base:
    • 1 oz Long Road Aquavit
    • 3/4 oz St. Germain
    • 3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
    • 2 dashes plum bitters
    • 1 oz cardamom infused honey simple syrup *
    • 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Shake all of the base ingredients with plenty of ice
  • Strain the base mixture into a Collins glass or a highball glass filled with ice
  • The Float:
    • 1 1/2 oz Long Road Sovereign Gin
    • 1/4 oz Crème de Violette
  • To complete the cocktail, pour the ‘float’ ingredients directly on top of you base cocktail
  • The reason the float works so well is because we’ve created a base cocktail that is more dense than the ingredients floating on top.  Playing with density allows us to create the gorgeous layering effect.
  • Garnish with a fresh orange slice

*Cardamom Infused Honey Syrup: 

To make the honey syrup recipe you will need honey, hot water, and green cardamom pods. Pick your favorite honey with the most flavor. I recommend a raw Michigan honey.

  • In a glass jar combine:
    • 1/4 cup raw Michigan honey
    • 8-10 green cardamom pods
    • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Stir ingredients until combined
  • Let cool until the syrup is room temperature, about 20-30 minutes
  • Remove cardamom pods and store syrup in a glass bottle for 5-7 days in the fridge

All of these ingredients play so nicely together.  The savory cardamom pairs so well with the savory components of the aquavit such as the dill, fennel, and caraway.  The honey compliments all of the floral notes in the Sovereign Gin, the St. Germain, and the Crème de Violette. The Yellow Chartreuse adds a vegetal and herbaceous note that helps to marry the savory, sweet, and floral. And of course, the acidity from the fresh citrus and the sweetness of the honey both help to brighten, elevate, and balance the entirety of the cocktail.

This cocktail pairs phenomenally with sharp white cheese and jams, charcuterie, and fresh summer fruit.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

The Aquavit Gimlet: My Deserted Island Cocktail
by Jenney Grant, Director of Operations and Education, Long Road Distillers

When leading tours or teaching a class, folks love to ask me about my favorite spirit that we make or my favorite cocktail. My answer is usually: “This is like asking me which of my three children is my favorite; I like all our spirits, different days call for different flavors.”

Although this is not an outright lie – I do have a taste for different Long Road spirits at different times – unlike forcing me to choose between my kids, if I could only take one drink to a deserted island there is always a spirit and cocktail that jump into my mind: the Aquavit Gimlet.

When I was trying to convince Jon and Kyle that they should hire me at Long Road, I remember Jon showing me around the distillery and sharing a sample of Aquavit with me. I had worked in the craft distilling and brewing industry for 5 or 6 years and was always inspired by the growth, product development and quality this young Michigan industry was putting out. Then I tasted Aquavit, with a slight sweetness of red winter wheat, savory spice of dill, caraway, fennel and anise and the bold confidence of a 90 proof spirit. It was beautiful, different than anything I’d tasted from a Midwest distillery. And so, so well done.

It solidified my mission to work at Long Road Distillers. Not only are we a company that chooses to make 100% of our spirits from start to finish with a commitment to using Michigan-grown agriculture, but Aquavit showed me we would also take risks, not settle for doing things half-cooked, and be inspired by the world around us to make world class spirits in Michigan. 

So after leaving my director level job and taking a part-time position at Long Road, I started training and trying cocktails. Long Road has built its award-winning bar program through making every alcohol-based and non alcohol- based ingredient in our bar kitchen. It allows us to pair the distinct flavors of our spirits with one of a kind mixers and flavors.

When it was suggested that I try the Aquavit Gimlet I wasn’t super excited. My grandma used to make pitchers of gimlets; she used the Collins brand powdered gimlet mix and vodka (think Tang, or Kool-aid for alcohol).  A gimlet is usually gin or vodka, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. It’s a 2:1:1 cocktail. I like a traditional gimlet, but with vodka or gin, it’s not the most exciting cocktail on a menu. But it’s always nice, balanced and refreshing. A gimlet with Aquavit on the other hand…

Balance. Simple. Enough. That is what the Aquavit Gimlet is to me. The depth of aquavit paired with bright bitterness of fresh lime and rounded with a subtle sweetness.

My preferred way to drink a gimlet is shaken and served up, in a chilled martini glass with a lime wheel. But in the summer, I enjoy batching it out on my grandma’s deck, and serving over crushed ice, still with a lime wheel. Most people would probably consider a gimlet a summer drink, and I think that is valid, but to me the simple balance of an aquavit gimlet represents an easy choice: uncomplicated, and enough any day of the year. 

Aquavit Gimlet Recipe

  • 2 oz Long Road Original Aquavit
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup

Add all ingredients to shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with lime wheel.

Alternatively, shake all ingredients with ice and single strain into collins glass. Top with crushed ice and garnish with lime wheel.

Cheers!

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