With many restrictions on indoor dining lifted in 2020, restaurants and bars started to see business come back around from pandemic limitations in 2021.
One measure is how much alcohol establishments with liquor licenses bought from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
While beer and wine are sold through a few distributors, spirits — whiskey, gin, vodka and so on — are all sold only through the Liquor Control Commission. Each year, the commission publishes reports showing how much bars, restaurants, stores and others authorized to sell alcoholic beverages ordered from the state. The report gives a dollar amount for each business and not a breakdown of what was ordered. It also does not include beer or wine orders because the state is not a wholesaler of those drinks. Further, the amounts are not how much the businesses collected from customers in sales and could include inventory ordered in 2021 but was not sold until 2022.
Stores are far and away the main source for those who enjoy a 21-or-older drink — Super Liquor III in Adrian led all stores in Lenawee County with $1,057,681.80 in orders placed with the state in 2021. But sometimes people want a bartender to serve them a cocktail and in 2021 these were the top 10 places where people bellied up to the bar in Lenawee County:
2021 orders: $95,455.62
2020 orders: $57,082.04
2019 orders: $100,689.13
Fancy cigars, old-fashioned candy and fresh bags of popcorn have been a part of Chaloner’s Cigar House and Store’s business model for more than 100 years. High-quality and hand-crafted cocktails you simply can’t enjoy anywhere else are also a part of that successful business model, which continues to make Chaloner’s a destination place in downtown Adrian and throughout Lenawee County.
“We strive to have the best variety of liquor, spirits, wine and beer and we strive to be the best,” said Chaloner’s bar manager Joelyn Roberts. “We serve the best bourbon, rum, scotch and tequila. It’s that product that you can’t get everywhere. Here, people are looking to spend money on certain bottles they cannot find anywhere else.”
The customer base at Chaloner’s is quite loyal, Roberts said, and due to their patronage, the historic Adrian business was able to bounce back last year from COVID-19 mandates and limitations on restaurants and gathering places.
“Since COVID, we picked up, maybe doubling our customer counts. Our volume has just been awesome,” Robert said. “We have been getting customers (in here) from all over the state. Our regular customers keep us afloat. We really appreciate the support from the city.”
2021 orders: $48,052.83
2020 orders: $24,795.04
2019 orders: $30,849.64
Home to a 24-lane bowling alley and to ZZ’s Sports Bar and Grill, Lenawee Recreation Center also houses Second Arrow Pro Shop, a full-service pro shop where customers can have all of their bowling and equipment needs tended to.
The center is also the home bowling lanes to local Lenawee County high school bowling teams including Adrian, Madison and Sand Creek, along with the Adrian College and Siena Heights University bowling teams.
There’s a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy at Lenawee Recreation Center, and for the adults, that also includes its selection of spirits.
ZZ’s Sports Bar and Grill offers a full bar including various kinds of liquor featuring “premium cocktails made by our talented bartenders,” according to information posted on www.lenaweerecreation517.com.
“Eat, drink and watch sports at the premier sports bar in Adrian, ZZ’s Sports Bar and Grill,” the website raves. “We offer large flat-screen TVs throughout our bar, Keno, ample space for small or large parties and our food and drink menu is top notch.”
2021 orders: $44,574.50
2020 orders: $25,731.49
2019 orders: $51,636.08
If you want to treat yourself to a tasty, locally made margarita check no further than Fiesta Ranchera Mexican Restaurant.
Margaritas and Mexican cuisine are a near perfect food and drink marriage and it appears the system currently in operation at Fiesta Ranchera is pleasing to its customers.
“COVID was a pretty good hit to our sales,” said manager Luis Vega. “The community came out to support us however they could, and we couldn’t do liquor to go (during the pandemic shutdowns). We could do virgin drinks, if customers asked about it. It took a good hit. Our sales dropped.”
Luckily for Fiesta Ranchera, its’ customer base supported the business the best it could, and support continues today as COVID-19 mandates begin to fizzle out. The restaurant is nearly back to normal serving customers and celebrating with big birthday celebrations.
The margaritas can be pretty big, too.
Margarita sizes come in 12, 16 or 27 ounce glasses, or customers can order half or whole pitchers of margaritas from a variety of flavors including traditional lime, strawberry, peach, mango and coconut. Any variety of the flavors can be mixed together, too, Vega said.
“Luckily we have a good community here in Adrian. They are good to us and we are good back to them,” Vega said. “Everybody comes out now, if they can.”
2021 orders: $44,383.32
2020 orders: $23,021.11
2019 orders: $22,575.25
Two Lakes Tavern in Manitou Beach wasn’t even open for an entire year of business before sweeping state-mandated regulations to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, impacted bars and restaurants all across the country.
Owner Misty Robertson referred to the pandemic shutdown with one word: “Stressful.”
“We tried to stay open as much as we could during COVID for our neighbors,” Robertson said. “The people who come in here are our family and friends. We are here for the long run.”
About any variety of liquor you could think of is available at Two Lakes Tavern. Robertson, who has been involved with the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, said she owes the success of the tavern’s bar to bar manager Rachel Beach, who is in charge of crafting daily drink specials. Beach, Robertson said, has a feel on the pulse of what customers enjoy to drink.
Live music, entertainment and karaoke all make for a fun atmosphere at the Tavern. During the summer lake season, lake goers and tourists are near regulars.
“I have a great crew of employees who want to work hard and want to succeed,” Robertson said.
Two Lakes Tavern has rebranded itself under Robertson’s ownership. The rebranding phase included the addition of an expanded drink menu and such well-known items as its smoked pork and freshly-made burgers.
2021 orders: $41,502.63
2020 orders: $27,856.28
2019 orders: $39,948.59
Sitting between Evans and Sand lakes on U.S. 12 is the Brooklyn Moose Lodge, a private fraternal organization. Ranking as high as it did on this list was a surprise to past governor Phil Gilliam.
“I can’t believe we competed with the county, being a private club,” he said.
Membership costs $70 for the first year, then $50 a year to renew, Gilliam said. The lodge supports charitable causes like Moose International’s Mooseheart, a residential child care facility near Chicago for children whose families are unable to care for them, and Moosehaven, a senior living community in Florida.
Maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere and being near the lakes in the Irish Hills helps the lodge’s bar and restaurant stay busy, Gilliam said. In the summer, they have live music and cornhole on the patio. They’ve been able to add back seating this year and people have been returning to the lodge.
“We’re thankful for our members,” Gilliam said.
6. Artesian Wells Sports Tavern, Cement City
2021 orders: $39,615.02
2020 orders: $26,935.32
2019 orders: $40,716.14
2021 orders: $38,836.73
2020 orders: $20,891.52
2019 orders: $41,725.73
2021 orders: $36,458.07
2020 orders: $27,160.29
2019 orders: $39,924.98
2021 orders: $30,959.99
2020 orders: $18,682.12
2019 orders: $31,235.36
2021 orders: $24.599.72
2020 orders: $20,668.40
2019 orders: $32.193.80
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