Capitalizing on a growing trend in the beverage industry, Long Road Distillers released a line-up of three canned craft cocktails in August of last year. At the time, co-owner and co-founder of Long Road Distillers, Kyle VanStrien, remarked, “We’re excited to bring some of our favorites to market, and we look forward to expanding offerings and distribution footprint in the future.” That future may soon be upon us. Governor Whitmer recently traveled to the popular Grand Rapids distillery to sign a package of mixed spirit bills designed to make the production and sale of said products easier and more profitable for the state’s distillers.
“This is a great example of bipartisan legislation that will create jobs and help our small businesses grow, and shows what we can do when we work together,” said Governor Whitmer. “Distillers are a growing industry in Michigan, and these bill make it easier for distillers to distribute their products. These bills will make canned mixed spirits more affordable and accessible, creating jobs and helping Michigan small businesses.”
Senate Bill 141 sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R – Traverse City, allows small distillers to deliver mixed drinks directly to consumers.
Senate Bill 142 sponsored by Sen. Winnie Brinks, D – Grand Rapids, opens the door for distillers to deliver packaged mixed drinks to retailers.
Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D – Southfield, eases restrictions on the sale of distillers’ logo merchandise.
Senate Bill 144 sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall, R – Ludington, amends the definition of a “mixed spirit drink,” allowing for higher alcohol by volume and for mixed cocktails to be manufactured and sold in cans of up to 24 ounces.
“Ready-to-drink cocktails have experienced massive growth in the marketplace over the last few years and this legislation is a critical piece in ensuring that these products are able to compete on a level playing field,” Sen. VanderWall said. “These bills help our local distillers by removing tax barriers and giving them the ability to get their products in front of consumers easily and quickly.”
There are several tantalizing cocktails currently available through Michigan distillers. For example, at Detroit City Distillery you can find five different bottled options including Yo Sassy Ways, which is comprised of Gilded Age Vodka, saskatoon berries, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla. They also make a line of a half dozen barrel-aged cocktails, one of the most intriguing of which is the Remy McSwain. It combines Homegrown Rye, Bloodline Whiskey, sweet vermouth, herbal liqueur, and cherry-vanilla bitters.
Ann Arbor Distilling currently offers a Gin Greyhound, a Whiskey Sour, and Creative Spirit, which is a unique mix of Hawthorne Vodka, Water Hill Absinthe Violette, Water Hill Raspberry Liqueur, blueberry ginger syrup, and fresh lemon juice. As an added bonus, $5 from each 4-pack of the appropriately named Creative Spirit goes directly to the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Back at Long Road, the company has added several more canned options in addition to the original trio (Polish Falcon, GnT, and Teta’s Lemonade) it launched last summer. One of the most interesting and nostalgic options is the Sarsaparilla Sipper, featuring Long Road Straight American Whisky, sarsaparilla, birch, vanilla, molasses and brown sugar.
With the new bills signed into law, it will be exciting to see what other creative pre-packaged cocktails will begin to pop up at a distillery or store near you.