When Lady of the House opens later this year in Corktown, customers can be sure that gin will be on the menu. The long-anticipated restaurant helmed by chef Kate Williams is collaborating with Eastern Market’s Detroit City Distillery on a new gin recipe that will be served exclusively at the eatery. It’s the first time the distillery has collaborated directly with a restaurant.
Williams will tell you her preferred alcoholic drinks of choice are gin and wine, but her history with the juniper-flavored spirit goes back to her childhood. “My dad drank gin, so growing up that's what I would steal from his liquor cabinet,” she says. Now that she’s older, it’s something she and her father share in common.
Gin also felt like an appropriate spirit that would help enhance the flavors in Williams food, says general manager and beverage director Christian Stachel. Stachel worked extensively with Detroit City Distillery’s master distiller J.P. Jerome to develop the right flavor profile for Lady of the House’s gin. “We wanted it to be a balanced gin that would play very nicely in standbys like the martini and the gin and tonic but would also be applicable within modern and older style gin-driven cocktails,” he says.
Detroit City Distillery develops small batch spirits by blending together different ratios of distillates into a neutral corn alcohol. The distillery has a wide range of botanicals in its library and develops new flavors depending on the ideas of the collaborator. Stachel tested a number of botanicals including basil, orange, coriander, and toasted hazelnut before eventually settling on the right balance of flavors.
The final product is a blend of juniper, rosemary, cardamom, white peppercorns, thyme, Kalamata olives, and a small amount of one ingredient Stachel prefers to keep a secret. The result is a smooth and slightly savory gin with some unexpected salty notes. The olives particularly lend themselves to gin martinis, he says. “That was actually my favorite application so far.” The olive flavors and the “velvety” spirit make the martini almost taste like a dirty martini without adding juice.
Gin, of course, won’t be the only thing to look forward to from Lady of the House’s bar. In fact, Stachel emphasizes that the cocktail list won’t be the center of the menu. “I think we're looking at what people are doing and sort of peering around the corner to a little and see how you can help in however a small way to give a little momentum as the marketplace keeps maturing, evolving, and changing,” he says. “Maybe it becomes common enough where you can go into a lot of places and get a great cocktail but I think that we should be at a point now where we can make a great cocktail and not make too big of a deal about it.”
The restaurant will offer a selection of wines suited to the food, as well as a short list beers and between four and five seasonal cocktails, Stachel tells Eater. The bar will also offer small batch Irish, Scottish, and American whiskeys.
Lady of the House is currently under renovations in the former St. CeCe’s space in Corktown and is slated to open within the next few months. The restaurant recently wrapped up three days of previews at Frame in Hazel Park. Stay tuned for more updates.