Michigan may not be the obvious destination for food freaks and wine geeks but it is becoming a place to watch... especially for happy hour. It's got beer fans craving Founders Brewery pours, and the Leelanau Peninsula continues to be a hit with wine lovers. Now hold on to your martini glasses because the wolverine state is pouring up a glorious new batch of gin! Greyling Modern Dry Gin is the first-born spirit of Two Birds Artisan Spirits, a MI-based distillery. They utilize a pared down list of botanicals including juniper berries, coriander, dried orange peel, dried grapefruit peel, and a special variety of culinary grade lavender= YUM. Their grain is Michigan hard red winter wheat and it's distilled in a 90-gallon Christian Carl copper pot still with a short rectification column and a botanicals basket. They source their materials from Michigan, or regionally, whenever possible. The result a smooth, and sultry gin. I love that they chose gin as their first spirit "primarily because we like the creative license gins affords", said Nathan Jonjevic, Principal at Two Birds. We hear that Nathan! Gin gives us so much creative license when it comes to cocktails too. This one is silky and almost too easy to drink, with an abundance of aromatics making for the perfect dry martini. However, it's light- bodied and makes for a damn good Negroni as well. Since we've been talking vegetables all week here at The Kitchn I wanted a happy hour that welcomed them as well. What better way than with an inviting new handmade batch of gin. Everything from pickled veggies to a thick slice of cucumber works in this pour. If you like your martinis naked here's a favorite happy hour snack a la casa Petrosky, using the last of our cherry tomatoes, that let's you have your gin and eat it too.
Cherry Tomatoes, Gin and Sea Salt Bar SnackCherry or other small tomatoes Greyling Modern Dry Gin Kosher or sea salt Fill the olive tray with just enough gin to coat the bottom. Add cherry, or other small ripe tomatoes. Place a small bowl of Kosher or sea salt on the side. Using toothpicks roll your tomato in the gin, remove it from the tray with the toothpick and dab it in the salt. Enjoy with an ice cold martini.
→ Greyling Modern Dry Gin is now available for purchase, $29 SRP. To purchase online: Internet WinesMaureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices (and advice) with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on Twitter @maureenpetrosky. Related: Best Liquors: What Is Your Favorite Gin -- and Why? (Images: Maureen Petrosky)