People stream out of Comerica Park and into Cheli’s Chili Bar. Sports fans mill around Cheli’s outdoor patio clutching a cold can of Michelada made from McClure’s Bloody Mary mix and Atwater’s Helles Lager. Micheladas are traditionally made from Mexican beer, hot sauce, lime, and spices. The can’s Mexican wrestler logo and the drink’s creation has a story as tasty as the drink.

“We’ve got plans to launch it nationwide,” said Robert De La Rosa, National Sales Manager at Atwater. “We already have commitments to put this product in Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. We will do a launch event in New York City because of McClure’s ties with Brooklyn.”

The McClure and Atwater collaboration is poised to make it big. They produced their first batch of 2,000 cases found at Meijer, Busch’s, Whole Foods, gourmet shops and high-end liquor stores starting this week.

“People said, ‘I just bought this expensive jar of pickles and I don’t want to throw out the juice, so what do I do with it?,’ said Bob McClure. “We said to add some tomato juice, some black pepper, and you’ve got a great Bloody Mary mix. People loved it. Then we thought, people will also want to buy a premixed version. We started mixing our Bloody Mary mix with beer and we knew there was a popular drink called the Michelada. We began thinking: ‘what is a great partner we can work with in Detroit to create a great prepackaged product?’ The first in mind was Atwater.”

If we take the drink at face value, it is a great summer drink that goes with a classic turkey sandwich, but beyond its carbonated surface, the drink’s initial success is proof of Detroit’s progress from its blue collar Coney Dog image to fertile environment for craft businesses to grow.

“If you look at how Detroit has progressed and how Detroit has embraced the food movement, I don’t know that 9 years ago, [the Michelada] would have been received well,” said Bob McClure. “I think we’ve been building up to something like this. This product is at the edge of craft foods and I think we are poised to make a big jump with this, whereas before, we would have been paving the road.”

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