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yourself buying rounds of whisky and PBR for strangers. At the West Side Inn, everyone is your friend, or else they will be soon. By Lydia Clowney


S Roc’s Cakes at Bartertown Diner HOT FOOD:


ince grain was first milled, hardly a day has gone by that couldn’t have been made better with cake. It was unavoidable then that culinary evolution would lead us to the cupcake, a perfect mix of soft, luscious cake, crust

and frosting in a paper wrapper. It’s ergonomically sound, palate pleasing, portable and the hottest baked good since white bread. West Michigan is home to several shops that deal specifically with cupcakes.

Little Pearl Cupcake (5260 Northland Dr. NE, Grand Rapids), specializes in gour- met cupcakes, which, according to co-owner Emily Martens, means high-quality ingredients. “A lot of our cupcakes have filling and extra toppings,” she said. “To me,

a gourmet cupcake is made from scratch and uses real butter or deep, dark chocolate—no imitation products.” Just check out Little Pearl’s Facebook page for a sample of the shop’s offerings

and try not to drool over the extravagant cakes: the Briley, a vanilla cake filled with banana coconut buttercream and topped with whipped cream and fresh berries; or the Mudslide, a mocha cake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate/Irish cream buttercream and chocolate drizzle. Little Pearl also offers a gluten-free cupcake Thursday through Saturday and

has plans to offer a vegan flavor, too. For those looking for vegan-only items, Roc’s Cakes at Bartertown Diner (6 Jefferson, Grand Rapids) has eight to 10 flavors of vegan cakes every day, ranging from fruit flavors like raspberry and blueberry to layered creations like turtle, rosewater and mint chocolate chip. Of course, many of the area’s longstanding bakeries offer cupcakes, too. Arnies

Bakery, Nantucket Baking Co., Wealthy Street Bakery and Bliss Bakery have been offering Grand Rapids cakes every day for years. In and around Holland, deBoer Bakery and Zeeland Bakery offer up cakes. In Kalamazoo, Sarkozy Bakery, Mac Kenzie’s Bakery, Food Dance and Confection boast made-from-scratch cupcakes, too. By Matt Russell

GreenLion Gallery’s opening exhibit, “D-bags and Dimwits” PHOTOS: AMANDA VANVELS


ome good ideas occur by accident, and that’s exactly how GreenLion Gallery (150 E. Fulton, Grand

Rapids) began. Owner BJ “SOBAONE” Johnson searched venues to host his ini- tiative for an ArtPrize exhibition when he decided to lease his own space instead. “As I got going, it became too much for

me by myself,” Johnson said. “Because of ArtPrize, I couldn’t find a place to hold the show, so finding a space to host a gallery became a one-year project. I didn’t seek out to open a gallery.” But this accident has worked to his

advantage, as Johnson, a self-taught tattoo artist, graffiti enthusiast and titan in the tat- too machine industry (he owns Workhorse Irons), has numerous talented friends in the art world and admits he doesn’t look for artists to exhibit at GreenLion. “We decided to work with ideas and

people that we know,” he said. “I don’t want to be about art sales, I want to be about cool art.” Although it’s been a success, Johnson

says he isn’t certain of GreenLion’s future. “I think we did a great job of creating

this identity,” he said. “We’ll see how it will go. We might shoot for another year; maybe change spaces every year. I want to get a group of people together: a board, investors, and have people donate funds — basing it not on sales but artistic merit.” By Kelli Kolakowski

HOT LIQUOR: New Holland

mative years. Enter Dennis Downing at New Holland Artisan Spirits, a former chemist who has taken New Holland Brewing Company’s distillery to new heights. Not content with slavishly recreating mass-market products, the spirits that come from NHAS are by turns subtle, quirky, rich and vivacious. Production wi l l soon increase substantially with the in- stallation of a Prohibition-era still, which has a capacity 1,000 times larger than that of the homemade one visible in New Holland’s tap room. From citrus-forward Knickerbocker gin,


to the uniquely floral Hopquila, to dark and luscious Superior rum, NHAS’s standbys are consistent and extremely quaffable. They are joined by an increasing number of small-batch and limited run offerings. Downing has a number of potions in the works. Numbers two and three in the Brewers’ Whisky series were released in July.

“Malthouse is fantastic, it took a silver

medal in the malt whiskey category last month at the American Distilling Institute whiskey competition,” Downing said, add- ing there will be a fourth in the series, slated for fall. “It’s called Ichabod’s Flask and it’ll be

a fall spiced whiskey.” Dennis, keep ‘em coming; we can’t

wait! By Lydia Clowney

ichigan beer is experiencing an undeniable renaissance, but Michigan spirits are still in their for-


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