In today’s cocktail and foodie culture it’s often not about the spirit or the food but the entire customer experience that got you there. Kind of like when you visit a great restaurant and you’re trying to decide what to order when suddenly you hear a steak sizzling as the waiter walks across the room and your attention immediately shifts to the steak section of the menu. When your waiter comes back to your table you have to ask, “What was that?” It had nothing to do with the name of the steak or that particular cut, it was about the customer experience, the sound, the sight and the smell. That’s the kind of experience the team of Two James Spirits and MGM Grand in Detroit, Michigan have created with their one of a kind milled steel and wood cart holding wooden barrels filled with 3rd Street Whiskey.
Two James Spirits Barrel Aged 3rd Street Rye Whiskey
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In a partnership often only seen with the big distilled spirits brands, one craft spirits distillery has not only got the attention of the restaurant owners but their aged cocktails have become the number one selling beverage at the restaurant. Two James Spirits, the first licensed distillery in Detroit since prohibition worked with MGM Grand to develop 3rd Street Whiskey, an original in-house, barrel-aged whiskey, offered exclusively at Wolfgang Puck Steak restaurant.
“Two James Spirits is excited to partner with our friends and neighbors at MGM Grand Detroit for this unique whiskey program using our rye distillate produced on-site in our copper pot still from the finest Michigan rye grain,” said David Landrum, founder at Two James Spirits. “We have been fortunate to create friendships with local farms throughout the state, such as Wing Farms, which has allowed us to select the perfect species of rye in order to create a spirit that truly is The Spirit of Detroit.”
The clear, or “white,” whiskey is made just over a mile away from the restaurant using locally grown grain and mash. The result is a spirit with a unique profile and fig finish that was developed after selecting specific aging barrels.
Custom Built Artisan Whiskey Cart
The custom built cart was designed to convey handmade artisan elegance by Taru Lahti, a Detroit-based designer. The cart took more than two years to develop and is built with locally milled steel and wood. The cart has to be especially strong to hold the weight of up to 45 gallons of whiskey.
The five wooden whiskey barrels include,
- Two 5 Gallon Barrels
- Two 10 Gallon Barrels
- One 15 Gallon Barrel
If you look close at the cart, you’ll see it’s actually two carts in one. The large cart holds the multiple barrels as well as bottled whiskey. The smaller cart pulls away for tableside service. You can see it on the right side of the cover photo. “The final design has exceeded the initial concept goal and defines a true partnership between local businesses,” said Lahti.
The Sizzle – Barrel Aged Craft Spirit Served Tableside
Now it’s time to pull it altogether to create the ultimate customer experience. The smaller cart is brought tableside to the customer. Once at the table, the 3rd Street Rye Whiskey is pulled right out of the barrel with a clear glass whiskey thief.
Two James Spirits recommends their whiskey neat or on the rocks but servers also offer to mix cocktails tableside. Guests have the option to choose from six types of bitters, four varieties or vermouth and various accoutrements. If the guest chooses rocks, the spirit is poured over specially crafted spherical ice cubes that take 30 hours to freeze.
Keeping the Experience Local
“Every aspect of this new experience has a tie to the city and our guests won’t find it anywhere else in the country,” said Steve Zanella, president and COO of MGM Grand Detroit. “Our team is dedicated to supporting our community, leading through sustainability and providing an exceptional guest experience in all that we do, which makes this partnership with Two James perfect.”