The funny thing about Mike St. Louis is that he got his start bartending at Applebee's. And he recommends that people who want to learn the business do the same thing he did: Learn the basics and then get out of that corporate shithole.
St. Louis left Applebee's for a gig at TGIFridays, where he started flair bartending and learned a little bit more about the liquor he was serving. From there he moved from bars in Saginaw and Bay City to St. Petersburg, Fla., and back to Detroit. Now, he manages and tends bar at Greektown's Firebird Tavern, where he came in second place in a Manhattan-making contest just a few weeks ago.
On a chilly fall day, we stopped in and chatted with St. Louis, who talked passionately about creating a simple, yet delicious cocktail. Of course, the Manhattan is a staple and it's been around for 200 years for a reason. St. Louis's twist is adding a house-infused all-spice vermouth, which warms the belly with a distinct fall flavor.
Drink Recipe: "MC Mike St. Louis, Firebird Tavern Manhattan"
Half ounce Luxardo
Half ounce house-infused all spice sweet vermouth
Two ounces Woodford Reserve
Mix with ice, strain, and serve in coupe glass with orange peel for garnish