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Cheers! It’s National Cocktail Day

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The (Old Fashioned) cocktail.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen about to add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters.

Since it’s National Cocktail Day, Cheers! is mixing up a cocktail.

“I don’t know who comes up with these days, but I’m kind of glad to have an occasion to celebrate,” Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings said.

The Cheers! staff is up for a celebratory cocktail just about any day, but it would seem to be necessary today since it's a national holiday.

“These days we call any mixed drink a cocktail, but historically different kinds of drinks had different names. We’ve heard of flips, slings, and sours,” Coxen said, adding that a cocktail was a specific kind of mixed drink. “It was a drink that had spirits, sugar, bitters, and water from ice,” she explained.

Coxen says it was the bitters that separated cocktails from other mixed drinks. She couldn’t find Michigan bitters, but she did find a Kickstarter for a Michigan company called Black Ink Bitters. If the company is successful it’s possible next time National Cocktail Day comes around, there will be Michigan bitters available.

Today, we call that original cocktail an Old Fashioned. As different variations on the cocktail were offered by enterprising bartenders, people had to specify that they wanted “a cocktail in the old fashioned style.”

Cocktail (in the old fashioned style)

2 oz Two James Spirits’ Grass Widow Bourbon (you can also use rye)

¼ oz demerara simple syrup (recipe here)

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients with ice in a stirring vessel. Stir about 50 revolutions (30 to 45 seconds). Strain into a rocks glass with large ice cube(s). Garnish with orange peel and bourbon soaked cherries (here’s one recipe).


There are many variations on bourbon soaked cherries. You can experiment with your own recipe. Several alcohols including brandy, vermouth, rum, amaretto, Grand Marnier, or Maraschino liqueurs.

Coxen was also excited about finding martini/cocktail picks made in Ann Arbor made by a company called Zitatini.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.