Four of our favorite craft cocktails from a top Detroit bartender

aTrell Thomas has been slinging drinks behind Detroit bars for close to 20 years, so he knows a thing or two about what to serve up for the season. Since he’s a key player at the Detroit Optimist Society (the force behind Wright & Company, Honest John’s, The Sugar House and the newly opened Bad Luck bar, among others), we asked for his four favorite Valentine’s Day cocktails – perfect for the 14th or any other day, to be honest.

The Queen’s Park Swizzle

“It dates back to the early 1920s when the queen of England visited the Queen’s Park Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago. Around that time, a lot of the people were drinking daiquiris and mojitos, so this one was honoring the queen. It looks fruity, but it’s not – it’s very vacation-esque, so to speak. I like when drinks take you to a place and have a little bit of nostalgia.”

2 oz. rum
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
6 leaves mint
Dash of orange bitters
Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Dash of angostura bitters

Muddle lime and mint in Collins glass. Add crushed ice, rum and simple syrup. Swizzle with swizzle stick. Add dashes of orange, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters.


The Indecisive Lady

“A few years ago, a friend and I wanted a drink that was, so to speak, easier for women to drink. Sometimes women don’t know what they want at the bar, but always something ‘fruity and fun.’ Nothing spells more fun than champagne and fruit. One of my favorite quotes is from Marilyn Monroe: ‘When I’m not drinking, I’m drinking champagne.’”

1½ oz. gin
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. raspberry syrup
Dash of champagne
Dash of crème de cassis

Shake gin, lime juice and raspberry syrup with ice. Pour and top with a dash of champagne and add a dash of crème de cassis.


The Wright Negroni

“It’s our version of the Negroni. It’s not as aggressive as a typical Negroni but still has the taste.”​

1½ oz. gin
¾ oz. Carpano Bianco
¾ oz. Cappelletti Aperitivo
Dash of grapefruit bitters
2 drops rose flower water
Orange peel

Shake gin, Carapana Bianco, Cappelletti Aperitivo and serve over ice. Add bitters and rose flower water. Finish with orange peel.


Raspberry Surprise

“You know how your grandmother had those cookie tins, but you open them and it’s nothing but a sewing kit inside? But if you’re lucky, you can actually find some cookies. One of my favorites was the raspberry shortbread – this is sort of a recreation of that.”

1½ oz. Hennessy or other cognac
½ oz. raspberry syrup
1 oz. Coco Lopez cream of coconut
½ oz. orange juice
¼ oz. lime juice
Orange peel

Shake all ingredients except orange peel and serve over crushed ice. Add dashes of raspberry syrup for taste and finish with orange peel.


Can’t make ’em yourself? Catch Thomas in the act at Wright & Company, Bad Luck, The Sugar House or Honest John’s.

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