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Cheers! Use Fox River bourbon in the Fox River cocktail? Hmmm... there's an idea!

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The ingredients for the Fox River with a little cacao nibs in the shape of a fox.

Here’s the background: 1) Ann Arbor Distilling Company’s brand name for its line of whiskeys is Fox River; 2) Fox River is a cocktail first published in 1927 in a famous and now rare book titled Barflies and Cocktails from Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings thinks A2 Distilling should offer that drink at its tasting room.

Here’s the catch: distillers can only serve patrons the liquors they make. One of the ingredients in the Fox River is crème de cacao and no one in Michigan is making a crème de cacao (yet). Tammy hopes A2 Distilling will if for no other reason to make a Fox River cocktail with Fox River bourbon.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
No shaking, it's just stirring in the glass.

Tammy decided to make her own crème de cacao.

“What gave me a nice Michigan connection is that I used cacao nibs from Mindo Chocolate Makers,” Tammy said.

Mindo is based in Dexter, but recently opened a branch store in Ann Arbor.

She says the Mindo folks go to Ecuador to work with farmers there. They bring back ingredients to Michigan and make “bean to bar” chocolate bars.

Tammy says her crème de cacao (recipe below) is not the same as the commercial stuff, but it is a chocolate liqueur and it’s pretty easy to make. I asked for a sample of it alone. It’s tasty!

The Fox River recipe is, “kind of a little bit of an oddball recipe,” Tammy says. She tweaked it a little, skipping the un-muddled sugar cube in the original recipe because she thought it would be a little grainy.

(The original recipe can be found here and also a little history about the drink here.)

“I envisioned this, as many modern bartenders have, as sort of an old fashioned variation,” Tammy said.

So, bourbon, crème de cacao, peach bitters and a lemon twist all built in the glass. It’s chocolate and bourbon with that peach and lemon balancing each other surprisingly well.

Maybe you can try one at Ann Arbor Distilling’s tasting room someday, but until then, here’s how you can make it at home.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Fox River, using Fox River bourbon.

Fox River

2 oz bourbon (A2 Distilling Company Fox River)
1/2 oz crème de cacao
2-5 dashes peach bitters
Garnish: lemon twist

Combine ingredients in a rocks glass. Add ice and stir well. Garnish.

Featuring DIY crème de cacao made using Mindo cacao nibs. Here’s the recipe Tammy used.

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

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.
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