Tiki Central / Locating Tiki
Mutiny Bar, Detroit, MI (bar)
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I'm heading to Detroit for a meeting on Friday. Thinking about stopping and checking this place out Thursday night. Has anyone been yet?
[ Edited by: Snapper_RIW 2018-01-24 05:43 ]
We made it to the Mutiny Bar last Thursday in Detroit. For those of you not following its fortunes, Detroit is a city in the middle of an exciting turn-around. I live on the west side of the state a couple of hours away and I'm ashamed to say even I was a bit amazed by how much was going on down there. It is a testament to the city that once housed the famous Chin Tiki that a tiki offering should rise up during the food and drink renaissance the city is experiencing. There are already some articles out there describing Mutiny's origins (see below) so I will leave that part of the story out.
We found Mutiny on a non-descript corner on Vernor Highway (named for Detroit pharmacist and Ginger Ale pioneer James Vernor) marked only by a banner whose dagger-in-hand imagery is reminiscent of a pirate's flag ala Christopher Moody or Thomas Tew.
I had just come off a visit to Undertow in Phoenix and if you enter Mutiny expecting the exact same sort of environmental transformation, you won't find it. However, what you will find is a way station between Detroit and the forget-your-cares locales that the tiki ideal promises. By their own descriptions, the owners have taken a 'beer and shot' corner bar in the Motor City and lei'd (sorry) the trappings of tiki over it to create a 'dive-tiki' establishment. The transformation isn't yet complete I don't think, but I got the sense that it is much more than just a pop-up bar or a temporary take-over.
It was thursday around 6 pm and the bar was quiet. We saw three or four groups of two or three come in and out during our time there. Some seeking tiki delights and others drinking their whiskey. Hannah and I were seated at the end of the bar and the patron next to us was named Nick. Nick is an employee of Founders Brewing Detroit and lives just around the corner. He spent the evening drinking cold Pacifico beers creatively opened each time by Leonardo the bartender.
Their menu has 14 tiki offerings and I started with their Tiki Gin Fizz made with Bombay Gin, Brizard Blue Curacao, lemon juice, lime juice, cream, masala and eggwhite. Hannah is a Vegan so she went with the Nootka Sound made with Zaya Rum, Fernet Branca, Lemon and Raspberry. They do a cinnamon bark burn on the Gin Fizz as seen below.
Both drinks were pretty decent. We had a conversation with Leonardo about the bar's ingredients and his bartending experience. He is Puerto Rican by birth and started bartending on the Island before coming up here. He cited Martin and Rebecca Cate's book as big influence on his tiki interests. We asked him to be creative on my second drink and he offered me the Hurricane Maria which, far from being a joke about the storm, was a cocktail he had crafted in honor of several friends of his who are still bartending in Old San Juan in the aftermath of the storm. The drink has passion fruit syrup, cinnamon syrup, house made falernum, fresh lime juice, black strap rum, aged rum and two dashes of bitters. The drink also had a storm homage that I will leave to the observant to find.
The Hurricane Maria will be part of a new drink menu Mutiny is planning to launch in February. I also sampled an as yet unnamed drink made up of gin, pineapple juice, mango juice, Sailor Jerry rum, and fresh mint. For Hannah he prepared a vegan Coquito from non-dairy coconut cream, cinnamon syrup, Hennessy Cognac and Malibu rum. It was served in a coconut cup with a cinnamon bark burn.
We were happy with our drinks and also excited that bar was within relatively decent striking distance of where we are at in Grand Rapids. I hope to see it develop more. Despite my Detroit narrative above and its self-declaration as a 'dive-tiki' bar, the Mutiny could definitely develop its space more to achieve a greater transformation in your mind of where you may be as you enjoy your drink. I think there is a way of doing that without forsaking the dive desires of its creators. They are making several of their own ingredients, but it would be nice to see them take it further by developing their own house spiced rum as well as infusions that could achieve what Leonardo was going for with using the Malibu in his Coquito. I don't mean these as burns either, just hopes that the bar will continue to develop. Maybe it is already just where 'dive-tiki' should be. Perhaps the mix of ingredients is even meant to convey that fact to the patron. Hannah and I enjoyed the experience of being there. I recommend checking it out and also witnessing some of the other great things happening in Detroit. I made a side stop the next day to Third Man Records - Cass Corridor. Well worth the visit.
[ Edited by: Snapper_RIW 2018-01-29 05:53 ]
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