Exploring Wine Country in Michigan: Part 2, we will continue to highlight some of the best Traverse City Restaurants, Wineries, and unique discoveries, so that you can plan your future trips up north accordingly.
A majority of the time, when we research on Google, Pinterest, and Instagram to discover the “best places to eat” or “best places to drink” we want to know exactly what we are going to expect when we walk into a new establishment. Everything from the ambiance, type of cuisine, prices, and menu is up for interpretation based on our own expectations. This is just one of the reasons why I am so thrilled that Brittany and I started this blog, so that we can give you inspirations for your next trip, because there is nothing worse than wasting precious exploring time when time is of the essence.
During “Exploring Wine Country in Michigan: Part 2“, we had invited you on one of our first trips to Traverse City. We explored MAWBY winery, haunted Traverse City Commons, Left Foot Charley, Poppycocks, Little Fleet, and Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Sounds like enough for three trips to Traverse City, am I right? Fear non the less, as this is a typical itinerary for my friends and I.
Next, I am going to tell you about this very unique find that is an absolute MUST when visiting Traverse City. When my friend and I were first told about this new speakeasy, we had no idea what to expect. We were told to casually walk down Front St. and find a certain symbol. So, there we were, walking down Front St., and we see this small building that is decorated as a tea and furniture store. As we walk by, we see two men, dressed in black, sitting in these antique rocking chairs. It’s 11pm mind you. I thought, maybe that this was like Las Vegas, and not to be shocked by anything because they do things a bit different there. We casually walked by thinking, “nothing to see here!”
As we walked past the odd building, we had to turn around and verify what we had seen. The two gentleman kindly gestured and invited us in. Okay, I guess not too weird for a antique store to be open at 11pm at night. One of the “men in black” stood by a podium, took our names and asked us if we knew the password. “Password?” I thought. He gave us a smirk and whispered us the password, and then gave a nod to his partner. What happened next had shocked us. His partner proceeded to pull a book out of a book case, once he did, the book case automatically opened, which exposed a dim lit hallway. This is straight out of Batman people. What’s next? Am I going to have to find Albert taking us to the bat cave?
We were stopped at a velvet curtain and were told to wait for further instructions. After our usher confirmed which table, he pulled back the curtain. We were transported into the Prohibition Era. My friend and I were in awe by the vintage 1920’s decor, seating lounges, liquor bottles, and finely dressed waiters and waitresses. A definite speakeasy. We were sat at a small table for two. The kind usher showed us where a button was located on our table, where we could call for service. This was the coolest place that I have ever been to. Little did I know, there are establishments all over the world that specialize in preserving the Speakeasy era.
The 123 Speakeasy offers a variety of crafted cocktails, and are created only using the freshest ingredients, as to why some of the cocktails are seasonal. They have their menu sorted by Savory, Sweet, Spicy, Herbal, etc. Drinks raged from $10 to $15 a cocktail. Don’t worry. One or two cocktails is enough for anyone based on how strong they make their drinks. They definitely do not hold back.
My favorite drink that I will always order is something that I have not been able to find anywhere else. The “Bathsheba” is mixed with homemade Captin Crunch cereal soaked liquor, cinnamon, and rum. Remember when you were a little kid, and would drink the leftover milk from your cereal? That is exactly how this drink tasted. Childhood nostalgia.
The next day, we ventured out to go wine tasting. We had several on our list to try that day:
- Northern Latitudes
- 2 Lads Winery
- Mari Vineyards
- Chateau Chantal
- Hop Lot Brewery
- Brys Estate Winery and Vineyard
Our first stop was 45 North Winery, which is nestled in a rustic barn on the Leelanau Peninsula. This winery is super fun to visit as you can enjoy wine on the 45th parallel! Of course, we had to take a picture to document this. We enjoyed 5 wine tastings for $7! Brittany I have similar tastes, so we both decided to try the 2016 Unwooded Chardonney, 2015 Pinot Gris, 2016 Rose of Cabernet Franc, 2016 Pinot Noir, and 2016 Red Barn Blend. We both loved the 2016 Red Barn Blend. This wine is a Merlot and Lemberger blend with spicy oak, ripe berries, cocoa and a hint leather on the nose. Sweet and dark fruits on the palette round out the tennis and allows the wine to finish strong, like a dry red would.
After exploring a few more wineries on Leelanau, we decided to check out an infamous brewery called, HopLot Brewery. Hop Lot is located in Suttons Bay, and is nestled between the scenic M22 route. Hop Lot focuses on traditional style ales including IPAs, Blondes, Browns, Ambers, Scotch Ales and Stouts while also offering Belgians and Seasonal ales. If beer isn’t your thing, Hop Lot also offer multiple wines, ciders and meads on tap. In 2016, they were voted 4th Best New Brewery in Michigan by MLive. During the winter months, they offer cute, heated igloos to sit in and enjoy the outdoors with a cold one.
After a long day of wine tasting, we had worked up an appetite. After hearing all of my co-workers rave about Boone’s Long Lake Inn, we decided that Boone’s should be our next destination.
Boone’s Long Lake Inn offers a warm and rustic atmosphere, perfect for escaping the cold. Boone’s offers a variety of hearty meals, but they specialize in steaks and prime rib. After reviewing the menu, I saw that their prime rib comes in 8oz, 12oz, and 22oz. My mind automatically cut to the steak eating competition in the Great Outdoors movie. John Candy had to scarf down a massive steak, in order to get a free meal and a free t-shirt. Deciding that I wasn’t THAT hungry, I opted for the steak, baked potatoe, and side salad. The steak was probably one of the best steaks that I have ever had. Perfectly cooked, seasoned, and tender.
So far, Brittany and I were thrilled with our trip and were looking forward to going sledding the next day at Mt. Holiday and Recreational Area. If you want to explore Traverse City during the winter months. You will have the luxury of snowshoeing on several trials, locates in the snow covered Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, or through massive winery vineyards. Many wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula and Suttons Bay area offer snowshoeing activities and tours that are paired with wine tastings. What better way to go snowshoeing?
Traverse City is absolutely beautiful in the summer. If you go during the summer months, I recommend doing a Kayak, Bike and Brew Tour. During the tour, you bike to two breweries, then you switch over to kayak down a river to visit two other craft breweries. Super fun way to explore Downtown Traverse City.
Either way, whichever season you decide to visit the great Up North, there will always be fun to be had. Until next time Traverse City!