The next time we went, my husband decided to start with his usual martini, but asked Andy Sienkiewicz, that evening's barkeep, to pick the gin. At 57 percent alcohol--navy strength, or flammable--Hayman's Royal Dock has "more bottom end," as Andy put it, and we agreed it made a wonderful martini. I also enjoyed a well-crafted version of another cocktail originating from early in the last century, the Corpse Reviver #2, which shook together gin, Cointreau, Lillet, lemon juice, and a dash of absinthe. The artisanal brandied cherry resting at the bottom of the glass--made, we were told, by a "friend of the bar"--was a notable garnish.
It was a Tuesday night, so the bar was offering "a beer and a bump" for five bucks: any Michigan beer paired with a shot of a limited selection from the extensive whiskey list. (They'd lose a bundle if they offered any whiskey--the twenty-five-year-old Macallan is $130 for a 2-ounce "sip.") Partial to beer, my husband opted for the offer after he finished his martini. When I complained I'd never been able to develop a taste for whiskeys, Sienkiewicz gave me a sample of Bastille 1789, a French whiskey he claimed many wine drinkers enjoy. (One of the perks of sitting at this bar is the potential for education.) Indeed, I found it smoother, sweeter, and mellower than other whiskeys I've tried. But since I was hungry, I decided to continue with wine, the beverage I find best with food.