Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine's Spring 2019 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor's centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.
Springtime fills our hibernating souls with a burst of energy, and it’s the perfect time for distilleries, coffee houses and tea shops to offer an array of libations with fruit, herbal and floral notes to melt away the winter blues.
Elderflower, juniper, lavender, cherries, mead and kombucha are mixed with cold brew coffee, gin, tea and more.
“I have a drink called the Secret Garden, which is gin, elderflower liquor and a basil bitters. It’s really bursting with flavor, a spring and fluffy cocktail,” said Badaweyah Zeigler, general manager of Grand Traverse Distillery in downtown Traverse City.
Zeigler and team make their own elderflower liquor and bitters. They also create special simple syrups and juices to mix with their spirits.
“For spring it’s going to be a lot of tea-blended cocktails and more pairing of different oils and vinegars in cocktails,” Zeigler said.
Another popular drink at the distillery is the Mead Blossom, made with Grand Traverse Distillery Cherry Vodka, apple pie mead, cilantro and orange shrub syrup and a little bit of white wine from Shady Lane Cellars.
Coffee houses also are excited for a change in season, which means updating beverages and switching from warm drinks to cold.
Espresso Bay on Front Street expands its kombucha offerings, adding more selection for customers. On tap baristas serve Cultured Kombucha Co. tea, a Traverse City-based kombucha company.
“Right now we have two taps that are dedicated to kombucha, so we always have two different flavors to offer. This spring we’re going to expand our taps and we’re going to have three at a time. People have really been liking it, it goes really well with spring,” said Dan Guy, owner of the coffee house.
Kombucha smoothies with pineapple, strawberries and mango are extremely popular in the spring and summer, he added.
“When the sun comes out people just get in that spring mindset and they feel like having something colder,” Guy said.
He’s also bringing back protein shakes — the most popular is the one made with peanut butter, bananas, protein powder and cold brew coffee — and Lavender Latte, made with lavender simple syrup.
“It does taste slightly floral, but it has a sweetness to it too,” Guy said, noting it can be prepared hot or cold.
Cultured Kombucha Co. has a lavender kombucha called Lavender Bliss with lavender, rose and hibiscus. It’s a favorite springtime drink, said Courtney Lorenz, owner of the company, which also offers kombucha-making classes.
“Spring-wise, people are focusing on their health again and their wellness. We’re a low sugar, healthier alternative to sodas and Gatorades,” she said. “In the spring, everything comes to life. The fungi of kombucha is alive … you’re getting probiotics, digestive enzymes and amino acids. All of those things your body needs to survive, and it tastes good.”
She also loves to use kombucha as a cocktail mixer, noting that it’s lower in calories than juices and other mixers.
Last December, Lorenz moved her business to a new location and opened a kombucha taproom that now has eight kombuchas on tap. She’ll add four more taps by summer.
“They’re fun flavors that are exclusively on tap,” she said.
Mundos Roasting & Co. is sponsoring a contest between its baristas to decide its spring drink lineup. Last year the Traverse City shop offered ice tea lemonade, with homemade lemonade and Hugo tea. They also mixed their cold brew coffee with lemonade.
“Everything that’s possible we try to make in-house,” said Adam Clark, son of co-owner Dan Clark.
The same goes for Mammoth Distillery, which is rolling out several new offerings for spring, including Build Your Own Mule and other drinks.
“So instead of a traditional Moscow Mule, you’ll be able to do one with rum, you’ll be able to do one with whiskey,” said Stuart Hickman, hospitality director for the distillery, which has tasting rooms in Traverse City, Central Lake and Bellaire. “They’ll have the bartenders help them design something.”
Other custom drinks perfect for spring are a gin and tonic made with dehydrated oranges, juniper berries and lemon and served in a goblet, and a spicy drink served on the rocks called La Picante, made with vodka, lime juice, muddled jalapeño and fresh cilantro.
“It’s very refreshing with a touch of spice, but not too much,” Hickman said. ■
Light of Day Organics ‘Right as Rain’ Spring Cleaning Smoothie
1 T. Light of Day Organics “Right as Rain” loose-leaf tea*
1/2 c. wild blueberries
2 large carrots, cut up
1 apple, cored and cut
1 c. pineapple or apricot juice
1 sprig fresh cilantro
1/2 T. dulse (dried seaweed)
1 T. Light of Day “Matcha Memoirs” powder
Add the loose-leaf tea to infuser and steep in 8 ounces freshly boiled water for 20 minutes. Let cool. In a blender combine the liquid tea, as well as the steeped and softened ingredients still in your tea infuser. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into quart-sized jar and enjoy unrushed through large straw. Repeat daily for two weeks every spring, or whenever desired.
* “Right as Rain” tea ingredients: 100% Certified Organic: Raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, peppermint, dandelion, alfalfa, oat leaf, fenugreek, anise, red top clover, yarrow, valerian, oak bark, milk thistle, flax seed.