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We asked three bartenders in the Lansing area to make a cocktail that they think best represents the City Pulse, and this is what they came up with.

Allan I. Ross Allan I. Ross, a former bartender at Midtown Brewing Co., Troppo, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Kruse & Muer (Rochester) and Green Street Tavern (New Baltimore), first started bartending in 1994, when he started college. “The business has served me well,” Ross said, “and I still return to it occasionally if I need a little extra scratch. I call it my End of Days profession: even if humanity gets bombed back to the Stonge Age, I’ll just set up shop next to a tree stump with some liquor bottles I recovered from the rubble. The world will always need a compassionate ear and someone who can mix a mean martini.”

Ross calls his City Pulse cocktail “The Johnny Jetpack” in honor of City Pulse’s unofficial mascot of the same name. The drink’s colors are based on the paper’s logo. “Of course, I had to use a native Lansing spirit and a native Detroit mixer — local first,” Ross said. “What’s black and white and red all over? City Pulse!”

The Johnny Jetpack 2.5 oz. American Fifth Hue vodka 1 Tbsp. fresh blackberries 1 can Faygo Vanilla Creme soda .5 oz Grenadine Whipped cream

Muddle the blackberries and the vodka in a mixer, then add ice and shake into highball glass. Fill rest of glass with soda, leaving just a little room at the top. Drizzle the grenadine into the glass. Garnish with whipped cream.

Melik Brown A bartender at Soup Spoon on E. Michigan Ave., Melik Brown, has a quite different approach to the City Pulse drink. “I thought about concocting a cocktail,” Brown said. “However, I kept falling into the trap of making something semi-frilly or pink.” He started to go in the direction of an Old Fashioned, but that also seemed too much.

“I would say that the City Pulse is a lot like a Manhattan,” Brown said. “A few ingredients mixed well give a person what they need to feel satisfied. The City Pulse offers a different viewpoint than what you would find in most publications that are driven by numbers whether it be readership or raising revenue. I feel that the City Pulse is driven by finding interesting and informative stories that would normally not be brought to light. It uses basic old school journalism to bring to the forefront things that matter most to people.” And these principles are what drives Brown thoughts with his unique take on the City Pulse drink.

The Manhattan 2 oz Rye / Canadian whisky ¾ oz Sweet red vermouth Dash Angostura bitters Maraschino cherry Mix together, shake vigorously and serve chilled.

This drink “offers just the right amount of substance to let the one partaking know that [it has] something of substance but it is easy on the palate, well after the first sip or two. And there’s an added bonus of the maraschino cherry.”

Brown wasn’t always a bartender though. For most of his time in the service industry, Brown could not land an official bartender position. “However, through that time I learned some basics so that I could be of assistance in those emergency times of need,” Brown said. “Not so altruistic though, sometimes I just wanted to do what needed to be done to make sure I could get my drinks.

After a brief absence from waiting tables, my employer called and asked if I would be willing to be behind the bar. And with that, I wholeheartedly agreed. I was more than ready to fine-tune a skill set that I thought would help allow me to be more of an asset in the service industry. And besides that, I believe my normal disposition screamed more toward bartender than it did waiter.”

James Hodge The third bartender is James Hodge from the bar EnVie on S. Washington St. Hodge has been in the bartending scene a little less than 11 years. His first job was at Clara’s when they were first open.

Then, he moved to East Lansing and worked at a Mediterranean bar, Woody’s Oasis on Grand River. After moving on to Soup Spoon when Woody’s closed, Hodge pursued “the craft side of things” with Nick Gaverlides’ new location, Gracie’s Place. “That’s when I started working on menu design and really just going full-tilt on everything, and I left there to come [to EnVie] in April and reopened in June of this year, and we’ve been going steady ever since.”

Hodge’s City Pulse cocktail is loosely based on a Vieux Carré. “This is a New Orleans cocktail that came around in the 1930s. I believe it was Walter Bergeron who made it.”

The City Pulse ¾ oz Pierre Ferrand Original 1840 cognac ¾ oz Journeyman Last Feather Rye ½ oz yellow chartreuse ½ lemon ½ oz honey syrup 4 dashes Reagan’s No. 6 orange bitters 2-4 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour it, stir it and serve on the rocks.

Each of these ingredients has either a rich cultural history — such as the use of chartreuse going back to 1640 French monks and King Arthur II — or rely on Michigan organic products — like the Journeyman Rye coming out of Three Oaks, Michigan, where they make and bottle their products by hand. “A big reason I wanted to put whisky in the drink,” Hodge said, “is because Lansing people love their whisky. 

First thing I was thinking was cognac, but I thought that might be off-putting by itself, so I wanted to put it next to Rye whisky to make it more accessible. The flavor profile for it is very fall-minded. It’s dark. It’s a little more full-flavored. It’s comforting. The spice notes on it definitely give it that fall kind of tone. The Angostura bitters has a really big chicory, almost cinnamon, note that really plays toward that end.”

All in all, we have three great City Pulse drinks to celebrate bar week. Check out some of these great bars — and their equally great bartenders — and have a sip of the City Pulse … with your favorite paper, of course.


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