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Stella's Lounge gets creative with cocktails at monthly Sovereign Cocktail Club

Two bartenders at Stella's Lounge have created a monthly club that explores new modernized recipes to classic cocktails for patrons to try.
The backroom bar kicking off January's club "meet."

The backroom bar kicking off January's club "meet." /Alex Paolella

Sovereign Cocktail Club for February 17

Where: Stella's Lounge
53 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

When: February 17, 7 p.m. - 12 a.m.

RSVP: On Facebook

The drinks:

WhissKiss - Tullamore Dew 10year, grenadine, pineapple juice

The Druid - Fernet Branca, Glenmoraingie 10year Originial, Aperol, Zucca Amaro, lime juice

French Quarter - Remey Cognac, Ry1, plumb bitters, aromatic bitters, star anise simple syrup, benedictine floater, Viewx Carre Absinthe rinse

Hizzinherz - Bulliet bourbon, Gallo dry vermouth, Campari, orange juice

The Courtesan - New Holland Knickerbocker gin, Lillet Rouge, Luxardo, rose water

Tom Riddle - Sloe gin, Plymouth dry gin, lemon juice, lavender simple syrup, basil and blackberry garnish

The Bard - One of the multiple cocktails featured on this month's menu.

The Bard - One of the multiple cocktails featured on this month's menu. /Rachel McLaughlin

Stella's Lounge's monthly event, called the "Sovereign Cocktail Club," is becoming a regular highlight in their backroom, creating an evening centered around trying experimental twists to classic cocktails developed primarily by Harry Williams and Ruben Hernandez, two of Stella's bartenders.

Starting June 2015, Williams and Hernandez began work on developing multiple drinks and creating the Sovereign Cocktail Club before coming to General Manager Brandon Wilcox.

"We took our time with it to get it right," says Wilcox. The Cocktail Club held its kickoff event in October. They set a goal of getting 50 people to attend.

"[We] weren't expecting a whole lot that first month," Wilcox admits. Now, just a few months later, 100 people or more are attending.The event already sees many of the same devoted attendees coming back each month. "People seemed to gravitate toward it. It really blew up."

In preparation for each month's event, Williams and Hernandez bounce drink recipe ideas off each other and put together a new drink menu specifically for the Sovereign Cocktail Club night. Pictures of the speciality drinks are posted to the month's Facebook page so attendees know what to expect this time around.

"We do one [drink] that's easier and others that are more complex to make," says Williams. 

Williams admits that the night can be "pretty intense" on the bartenders as it can be a "strain of creativity." Because of this, the club is only offered once a month as the array of drinks is always changing.

"We wanted to do something more modern [than classic cocktails]," says Williams, "Our take is more experimental than just the classic cocktails."

Last month's drink menu included six drinks from an $8 dessert cocktail called "The Maple Frizz," to the most expensive "The Bard," a play on the classic Frizz but made with Absinthe, for $11. Other drinks included "The Violet Hour," "Trinity," "The Lady's Finger" made with gin, lemon and Michigan-made apple whiskey and "Topiary" created with strawberry Knickerbocker gin.

For next month's "meeting" on February 17, the new lineup for drinks has been released and includes "The Druid," "Whiskiss," "French Quarter," "Hizzinherz," "Tom Riddle" and "The Courtesan."

Wilcox says the room's capacity is kept low to keep a calm, relaxing and enjoyable mood.

"We wanted it to be more relaxed," he says.

Stella's Lounge Sovereign Cocktail Club has featured live music from DJs the last two months and hope to continue the new tradition during their next club "meeting" on February 17, 7 p.m. - 12 a.m. More information about the featured drinks and rsvp can be found on the Facebook event.

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