After spending a lot of time in NYC in the early 2000s drinking at great cocktail bars like Milk & Honey, Eric Farrell learned drinks could be more than intoxicating; they could be delicious, too. And after 12 years of working at Zingerman’s as an importer of fine foods, all the while mixing drinks at home from old cocktail books, Eric Farrell switched gears and opened The Bar 327 at Braun Court. Next month the bar celebrates its third year of delivering tasty drinkables to thirsty bargoers. Farrell took some time to let us into his world.
What’s your favorite Ann Arbor bar (other than 327) and why?
Probably Casey’s Tavern. They have the best burger in town, and it has been my neighborhood bar for most of my time in Ann Arbor. People know me there. Runner-up is The Alley Bar. I go there when I want to disappear.
What’s the most underrated spirit and why?
I think there are probably far too many overrated, overused, and over-portioned spirits. Underrated is tough. Not technically a spirit, but I’ll go with Angostura Bitters. They’ve been around for almost 200 years and are the workhorse of the cocktail industry. Lately I’ve experienced people poo-pooing them, but they are irreplaceable.
What cocktail trend is completely overrated?
Techniques and whatnot: Smoked cocktails, ridiculous Bloody Mary garnishes, setting fire to everything that doesn’t run away, bacon-infused whatever.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen happen in a bar?
I once stopped a bar fight at Old Town by putting someone in a full-nelson. I was there with some friends and a girl I was trying to impress. Another friend of mine was serving and kind of got caught in the middle of it. I didn’t want to see her get hurt so I jumped up and, through a reflex I didn’t know I had, I put the instigator in a full-nelson. It was so abrupt, both guys stopped immediately. I sat down. The aforementioned girl looked at me and said “um, wow.” We all went back to drinking.
What’s your preferred hangover cure?
A spicy Bloody Mary (or a breakfast cup) with a yellow fizzy beer-back, water, juice (fresh grapefruit or tomato juice) coffee, sometimes a Coca~Cola and a good breakfast sandwich. I like having 4 or 5 glasses at a time on my brunch table.
What is everyone ordering at 327 these days?
A popular one right now is “The Last Letter,” a slight variation on “The Last Word.” which was invented in Detroit in the early 20th century. It’s herbal and complex while still being refreshing for the end of summer.