Recently, your crack Daily Detroit crew gathered together to unwind for a little house party. As the night wore on and the drinks flowed, the talk turned, as it does, from blogging strategy to cocktail recipes with a Michigan or Detroit theme.

I instantly thought of the “Nuge,” a perfectly trashy drank named after — and fully befitting the legacy of — Detroit’s own Ted Nugent. A friend of mine named Marc McFinn, the former singer of Ann Arbor punk band Mazinga, served it to me in a plastic cup at a mutual friend’s backyard gathering last year.

“I was unemployed around the same time weird ass flavored vodkas started hitting the market,” he explained. “A new world of possibilities opened up before me. Cheap cocktails that didn’t taste like rubbing alcohol.”

We’ll get to that one in due time. In the meantime, here are a bunch of Michigan- and Detroit-themed cocktails, lovingly curated by your Daily Detroit staff, just in time for hot weather and garden parties.

1. Michigan Mojito


While admittedly a bit labor-intensive, Mojitos are about as refreshing as summer cocktails get. Give them a jolt of color and tartness with the addition of fresh Michigan cherries.

3-4 fresh cherries
Mint leaves
2-3 lime wedges
1 ounce simple syrup (recipe), or more to taste
1-½ ounce rum
Club soda

Muddle the first three ingredients in the bottom of a highball glass or cocktail shaker, if you want to strain some of the mashed-up flotsam. In a highball, add rum, ice and top with soda and stir well. In a shaker, add rum, shake well, strain over ice, add soda and stir. Add simple syrup to taste, since it can be tricky to get the mix right.

2. The Hoover

Google Street View of Honest John’s
I’m borrowing this one straight from the bar menu of Honest?John’s as a tip of the hat to former owner John Thompson and his colorful life story. He renovated the old Cass Corridor bar where his mother once picked up Johns and moved his business there in 2002(?).

1 Miller High Life
1 shot of Kessler American blended whiskey

3. The Hummer

Any list of Michigan-themed cocktails must include The Hummer, the adult milkshake-cocktail that was invented at Bayview Yacht Club in 1968.

I’ve made more of these as a bartender than I care to recall, frankly. Nothing puts you as deep in the weeds as an order of 20 of them. So there have definitely been times where I wanted to travel back in time and, uh, persuade its inventor, Mr. Jerome Adams, to go in a different direction.

Objectively speaking, it’s a fine enough drink to cap a nice dinner — just don’t order it if your bartender is really busy. Also, I use Myers dark rum to add richness, and because as a rum drinker, Bacardi is the most boring of rums.

1 1/2 ounce Myers’s dark rum
2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Blend until the blender hums.

4. The Nuge

Uncle Ted never drank this, I'm quite certain.
Uncle Ted never drank this, I’m quite certain.
From my friend, who invented it:

“When Pinnacle introduced its whipped cream flavor the rubber really hit the road. It was begging to be combined with Vernors. … The only moniker befitting this explosion of flavor was ‘The Nuge.’ In tribute to an era when Uncle Ted was famous for being a bitchin’ guitarist and the spokesman for Vernors. Sadly even people old enough to remember the 80s forgot about the Nuge/Vernors partnership.”

1-½ ounce whipped cream vodka

Pour over ice, preferably in a plastic cup or a Thermos.

Of course, Ted Nugent himself would probably not drink this. 

5. The Gnome Will Get You Home

This is simple, and was thought of at a local sports game watching the sportsing and the whiskey was rank. Just, terrible. It’s just dump Vernors in whatever horrible, cheap, bad-decision “bourbon” or whiskey to taste. It’s amazing at masking the flavor as it’s stronger than most other “ginger ales.”

1 Shot of terrible whiskey, add Vernors to taste

6. The Ambassador Bridge

Ambassador Bridge. Photo by Mark Goebel, Creative Commons license.
The idea behind this one is simple. Bridging countries through booze and pop.

Drink a bit out of a 20 oz bottle of Faygo Rock and Rye, then refill with Canadian Club. Carefully mix, enjoy.

7. Two James Sun

The most recent addition to the list, with the relaunch of Arctic Sun. Having gotten our hands on a bottle, we found it to be a flavor reminiscent of a sweet grapefruit. Vodka didn’t work great, but the Two James Gin cut the sweet down a bit and worked wonders.

1.5 ounces Two James Gin, 3 parts Arctic Sun

8. Tijuana Taxi


This one admittedly didn’t originate from any particular Michigan theme, except for the fact that I mixed many Tijuana Taxis when I worked as a bartender on Mackinac Island.

To make it properly Detroit-y, sub in Cabresto tequila (whose business operations are based in Detroit) and you’ve got all the justification you need.

This shot is essentially a Mexican coffee on speed. It hits you from a couple different angles and will definitely give you The Power. You’ll need an espresso machine or maybe some of those Starbucks espresso shot minicans to make it — if you go the latter route, I’d probably ease up on the coffee liqueur, since that stuff is already pretty sweet. Mix it all over ice in a shaker and strain into a tumbler.

1 shot espresso, chilled
¾ ounce tequila
¾ ounce coffee liqueur

Creative Commons photos via Kyle Adams and Max Sparber. Daily Detroit takes no responsibility for the outcomes of drinking said drinks and this post is for entertainment purposes only. Drink with conviction, but responsibly. 

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