North Star Bartenders Guild book release party

Why hello there, you Handsome Devil
Why hello there, you Handsome Devil
Joy Summers

The Mill City Museum was filled with the sounds of cocktail shakers vigorously agitating booze and ice cubes Thursday night as fans of fine liquors converged to celebrate the release of Johnny Michaels's North Star Bartenders Guild book, Northstar Cocktails. Representatives from Barrio, Bradstreet, Bittercube Bitters, Meritage, Cafe Maude, Marvel Bar, and Michaels's home base La Belle Vie offered samples of their wares.

The team from La Belle Vie was pouring Michaels's Handsome Devil creation (named for a Smith's song): smoky bourbon with a  nutty, spicy mix of bitters, Frangelico, and more, served on the rocks with an orange and brandied cherry garnish. It's a cocktail as smooth and timeless as Bogart and Becall.

Nick Kosevich, onetime Town Talk mixer and now part owner of Bittercube Bitters, manned the busiest table, selling his usual line of bitters as well as some limited-edition varieties.

In another corner, Adam Harness was rocking out his Cholula hot sauce spiked and loquaciously named Finger Piquin a Six String on Abrol Day in between joking with attendees and air drumming.

Curiously, there was no sign of the promised Pip Hanson ice-chipping demonstration, but further entertainment was hardly needed. Bartenders from the guild circled the room, sporting their black and white T-shirts and chatting up friends and fans. The Mill City Museum's gift store quickly sold out all its copies of the book.

Also contributing to the buzz in the room was the light food, mostly cheese and crudites, not a great thing for a party celebrating strong cocktails.  Only a few people seemed worse for wear, and only one guy fell, but he fell with flourish, apologized, and promptly jumped into a cab. It isn't a real party until someone overdoes it.

Meanwhile, Michaels stood in the center of the room, greeting each guest and signing every book, smiling long after the lights went up and the room thinned out. It was his night, and like one of his cocktails, the evening was a beautifully crafted affair.

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