Tucked away at 2000 Merritt Road, between Park Lake Road and Haslett Road, is the largest beverage distillery in Michigan. It produces apple brandy, buckwheat bourbon, corn whiskey, gin, and rice vodka for its own label as well as producing distillations for private labels. In addition to the distillery, this location includes a tasting room, Red Cedar Spirits, featuring handcrafted cocktails.
Housed in a former public works facility, the tasting room is casual, and when weather permits, an overhead garage door opens to a patio allowing guests to enjoy the colors and feel of the season. The only alcohol used in the cocktails is that made at the distillery, including grenadine, coffee liqueur, and a variety of homemade bitters. Attention to detail is evident in the custom-made cocktails.
Along with classic cocktails such as martinis, old fashioneds, and screwdrivers, unique cocktails are mixed with fresh ingredients. Grapefruit, lemon, and lime juice are squeezed fresh for cocktails such as the Ginger Gimlet and the Greyhound. Fresh thyme and cucumber is muddled for the Thyme Collins and the Cucumber Cooler. The end results are innovative cocktails. They also make seasonal cocktails such as a pumpkin cocktail made with pie from Grand Traverse Pie Co. And of course, a green and white gimlet for game day.
When this reporter was at Red Cedar Spirits, Rachel, a co-manager, had apple cider heating in a beaker on a hotplate that uses a magnet to stir the brew. The steam flowing from the top gave the effect of being in a laboratory. The cider, along with some apple brandy, homemade bitters, honey, and lemon, was used to make their hot apple cider.
Red Cedar Spirits also offers White Pine Winery wines and Uncle John's flavored ciders. Although meals are not served, artisan cheese from the MSU Dairy along with mediterranean and meat plates are available for snacks.
The owner, Dr. Kris Burglund, said that, “The main advantage of our location in East Lansing is that in refurbishing the former East Lansing Public Works site, we are able to offer ample free parking to all of our customers.”
Mix all this together with a contemporary atmosphere and many people find the result is worth the drive. However, you may have to convince people that yes, in fact, there is a tasting room out on Merritt Road in East Lansing.
Normal hours of operation for Red Cedar Spirits are Tuesday through Sunday, 4 pm to 10 pm. Call 517-908-9950 for details and to check on tour availability.
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