Detroiter Cocktail Recipe

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Detroiter Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:~15

Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Detroiter is a cocktail that pays homage to the industrious spirit of Detroit. It's a relatively modern creation, designed to capture the essence of the city with its robust, no-nonsense flavors and a touch of Midwestern charm.

  • Inspiration: The cocktail is inspired by Detroit's history of manufacturing and its recent revival as a hub of innovation and culture.
  • Popularity: It's favored by those who appreciate a cocktail with depth and complexity, as well as a love for craft beers, which are a nod to the city's burgeoning microbrewery scene.
  • Occasions: Perfect for a casual get-together or as a celebratory drink to toast to the city's resilience.

How Detroiter Tastes?

The Detroiter offers a harmonious blend of bitter, sweet, and tart flavors. The Cynar provides a herbal bitterness that is balanced by the warmth of the apple brandy. The fresh lemon juice adds a zesty tartness, while the honey syrup lends a velvety sweetness. The IPA introduces a hoppy kick that ties the drink together, creating a complex and satisfying taste profile.

Interesting facts about Detroiter

  • Inventive Combination: The Detroiter is a testament to the creative use of ingredients, combining the Italian amaro Cynar with American apple brandy and IPA.
  • Versatile Drink: This cocktail can be enjoyed year-round, offering a refreshing taste in summer and a comforting warmth in winter.
  • Cultural Reflection: The Detroiter reflects the city's cultural diversity, blending international ingredients to create a drink that's uniquely American.



The Cynar introduces a bitter and herbal complexity which is the backbone of the cocktail. Its richness is perfectly counterbalanced by the sweet and tart components. Without it, the drink would lose its depth. An alternative might be other amari, like Campari, which would make the drink a bit more punchy and less vegetal.

Mary Mitkina

Apple Brandy

The apple brandy adds a warm, fruity undertone and a little kick of booze. Too much could overpower the cocktail, too little and you might miss the apple notes. Substituting it with a good quality applejack would be the closest switch.

Alex Green

Lemon Juice (fresh)

The lemon juice is there for the zesty zing and brightness it provides. Without enough lemon juice, the cocktail could become too sweet or dull. Too much and it could turn the drink into a lemon bomb. If needed, a fresh lime juice could be used for a slightly more tropical vibe.

Emma Rose

Honey Syrup (2:1)

Honey syrup brings in sweetness to balance out the tartness and bitterness. The 2:1 ratio ensures the drink doesn't become cloying while still offering a robust honey flavor. Without it, expect a sharper, more austere cocktail. Maple syrup could be used for an autumnal twist, though.

Mary Mitkina


IPA adds a malty, hoppy boost and creates a frothy head when the cocktail is shaken. Without the IPA, the cocktail would miss an effervescent dimension. A non-alcoholic ginger beer could be used as an alternative for a Detroiter sans alcohol that still offers a kick.

Alex Green

Grapefruit Peel

Garnish isn't just for looks! The grapefruit peel adds a bright and slightly bitter aroma which is picked up with every sip, enhancing the drink’s overall citrus profile. No grapefruit? Orange peel could be a suitable substitute, bestowing a sweeter aroma.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Detroiter Drink

  1. Combine 1 oz Cynar, 0.75 oz apple brandy, 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice, and 0.75 oz honey syrup in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake the mixture without ice to integrate the ingredients.
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until chilled.
  4. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
  5. Top with 1 oz of IPA and gently stir.
  6. Top off with the remaining 1 oz of IPA.
  7. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

Pro Tips

  • Chill the Glass: Before serving, chill the rocks glass to keep the cocktail colder for longer.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Always use fresh lemon juice and make your honey syrup fresh for the best flavor.
  • Garnish: Express the oils of the grapefruit peel over the glass before dropping it in to enhance the aroma.

Perfect Pairings


  • Sharp Cheeses: The bitterness from the IPA and the botanical bitterness from the Cynar would contrast nicely with aged cheddar or gouda.
  • BBQ Pork: The sweetness of the honey syrup and apple brandy could complement the savory flavors of barbecued pork.
  • Citrus-Based Desserts: Lemon tarts or grapefruit sorbet would echo the citrus notes in the cocktail.


  • Coffee: A strong espresso could be a good non-alcoholic pairing to offer a contrast to the complex flavors of the Detroiter cocktail.
  • Sparkling Water: For a palate cleanser between sips, a neutral sparkling water would help cleanse the palate.

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What you could change in Detroiter

  • Cynar Substitute: If Cynar is unavailable, you can use another amaro such as Averna or Campari for a different but still delightful bitter note.
  • Apple Brandy Substitute: Calvados or another apple brandy of your choice can be used in place of the specified brandy.
  • IPA Substitute: Feel free to experiment with different IPAs to find the one that best suits your taste; each will bring a unique flavor profile to the cocktail.

Explore all drinks starting with D here

And of course - twists🍹

Blackberry Detroiter

Add 0.5 oz of blackberry puree to the cocktail shaker before shaking. The fruitiness of the blackberries will complement the apple brandy and Cynar, while the color will make for a visually stunning sip.

Ginger Spiced Detroiter

Substitute 0.75 oz of honey syrup with ginger syrup and add a small slice of fresh ginger to the shaker. It’ll add a warming, spicy note that’s perfect for cooler weather.

Hazy Detroiter

Replace IPA with a hazy New England style IPA and the apple brandy with pear brandy for a sweeter, more tropical take. The haziness of the beer will create a silkier mouthfeel.

In case you forgot basics how to make Detroiter

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Detroiter

What does 'Cynar' refer to in the context of cocktails?

Cynar is an Italian bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants, featuring artichoke as its predominant flavor, often used in mixing cocktails for its unique herbal bitterness.

Can the Detroiter cocktail be made in large batches for parties?

Yes, the Detroiter cocktail can be prepared in large batches. Measure the ingredients based on the number of expected servings and mix in a large pitcher or punch bowl, then finish with the IPA and grapefruit peel garnish in individual glasses.

What is the history of apple brandy?

Apple brandy has a rich history dating back hundreds of years, with roots in colonial America where apples were abundant and it was used both as a beverage and a bartering tool. Distilleries like Laird's in New Jersey have been producing apple brandy since the 1700s.

Is there a specific technique to expressing the oils from a grapefruit peel?

To express the oils from a grapefruit peel, hold a piece of peel by its edges over the cocktail and give it a firm twist to release the citrus oils onto the surface of the drink, then rub the peel around the rim of the glass for added aroma and flavor.

Why is fresh lemon juice preferred over bottled juice in cocktails?

Fresh lemon juice is preferred in cocktails because it offers a brighter, more natural citrus flavor and acidity compared to bottled juice, which can contain preservatives and additives that alter its taste.

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