This spring, the Last Word’s Casey Miller had just returned from being named one of three Midwest Finalists in the 2017 United States Bartending Guild, Incorporated’s World Class competition. (His colleague at The Last Word in Ann Arbor, Giancarlo Aversa, has also been among the finalists in years past.)
“This cocktail I call the Kibby Cobb. It’s named after a little region of Jackson, Michigan where we would always go back in the summer,” Miller said. While his family was from Michigan, Miller grew up in Tokyo.
He says the cocktail includes ingredients that make him think of summers and springs in Michigan.
As Miller was mixing the drink for the Cheers! team, Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings and Lester Graham, he explained that family friends in Jackson who lived near the Kibby Cobb Liquor and Deli had a garden full of fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Miller said it gave him a very romanticized idea of Midwestern American living and he wanted to tell that story through his cocktail.
He chose Ann Arbor Distilling’s Arbor Spring Gin. Miller said besides juniper, other botanicals giving the gin its flavor include bee pollen, chocolate mint, and Chaga mushroom.
Kibby Cobb recipe
1-1/4 oz Arbor Spring Gin
¼ oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
2 dashes celery shrub bitters
¼ oz lemon juice
¼ oz lime juice
½ oz rhubarb syrup (see recipe below)
1bsp pickled plum (you can substitute salted plums from an Asian market)
1 sprig of mint
Vernors ginger ale
Muddle the strawberry, raspberries, and pickled plum in the bottom of a mixing tin. Add liquid ingredients and a sprig of mint. Add ice. Shake. Double strain into high ball glass with ice. Top off with 1 or 2 oz Vernors ginger ale. Give it a quick stir.
“I think, Casey, you have won an award for the most ingredients used in any Cheers! cocktail so far,” Tammy Coxen quipped.
Rhubab syrup recipe
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar (or Michigan honey)
1 cup water
Simmer in a saucepan for 20 minutes until rhubarb starts to break up. Strain. Keep refrigerated.
A sip of the Kibby Cobb is not only an immediate treat for your taste buds, but the complexity of the cocktail makes it delightfully interesting. A hallmark of Miller’s cocktails is layering of flavors that fascinate.
Tammy Coxen noted for something a little simpler, “I would put that (rhubarb syrup) with some club soda and gin and that would be a really refreshing drink that doesn’t have quite as many ingredients in it.”
Miller added you could use the rhubarb syrup on ice cream or make a non-alcoholic with the syrup and Vernors ginger ale.