Faygo, Vernors and the ‘Nuge’: 5 Michigan-themed cocktails for summertime

the 'nuge'
Ted never drank these things together.

Recently I was at a backyard garden party, the first of the year, with some colleagues from Daily Detroit, when blood-alcohol levels reached a certain threshold and the talk turned from blogging strategy to cocktails with a Michigan theme.

It reminded me of the “Nuge,” a trashy little concoction my old friend Marc McFinn served me last summer in a plastic cup in a mutual friend’s backyard. I asked Marc, the former singer for Ann Arbor punk band Mazinga, to share the story of its inspiration for a collaborative post we were planning. He replied that he had a “plethora” of Michigan-themed drinks, and I indulged him. What he wrote was too good not to share.

So this is Marc McFinn, edited slightly because there are children in the room. Also, recipes are conveniently compiled at the bottom, and I included two old TV commercials that make me wonder whether I should pen a think piece headlined POP’d: Iconic Detroit soft drink makers’ troubling histories with far-right politics.

Sometime in the mid zeros I got tired of straight bourbon. I was never crazy about beer so I started inventing my own custom alcoholic concoctions. These fall under two categories. Bar drinks and traveling drinks. I’ll only address the traveling drinks here.

I was unemployed around the same time weird ass flavored vodkas started hitting the market. A new world of possibilities opened up before me. Cheap cocktails that didn’t taste like rubbing alcohol. My first creation was The Red Menace. Made with Smirnoff strawberry vodka, and delicious Faygo Red Pop. Next came the Vanilla Motherfucker. Smirnoff Vanilla mixed with Faygo Cream Soda. SubThe Vernors Storystitute Rock & Rye and you have the Rock & Rule. A tribute to the Canadian cult classic. Add delicious Vernors Ginger Ale and you have The Boston Ruler. Named after the Motor City classic consisting of Vernors and vanilla ice cream. No it wasn’t invented in Boston. Google that shit.

When Pinnacle introduced its whipped cream flavor the rubber really hit the road. It was begging to be combined with Vernors. While this seemed on paper to be not much different from the Boston Ruler, the difference in flavor intensity is noticed immediately. The only moniker befitting this explosion of flavor was “The Nuge.” In tribute to the era when Uncle Ted was famous for being a bitchin’ guitarist and the spokesman for Vernors. Sadly even people old enough to remember the 80’s forgot about the Nuge/Vernor’s partnership.

Since these are all traveling drinks you should gauge the volume of vodka to pop by the size of the container you are traveling with and how much ice you have added. A quarter of the container is a good start if you understand your body’s relationship to vodka. A shot or two works in a pint glass. I do a little more because I can drink almost as much as an Eastern European 7th grader taking a joyride with the dash cam on. Almost all of these drinks are even better if you freeze the pop and make it in a blender. Except the Nuge which loses the fizz so part of its appeal. But add a few scoops of ice cream to it and hit the lake and it’ll be hard to fuck up your summer.

Yes I realize naming an alcoholic beverage after a notoriously strict teetotaler seems a tad disrespectful to his legacy. But so is publicly supporting homophobic shit bags. All but obscuring the good this man and his Gibson Byrdland once did for the world.

These are all legit Michigan dranks. Designed in the Ace Deuce.

The Red Menace

(All recipes for pint glasses)

1.5-3 oz. Smirnoff strawberry vodka

Faygo Red Pop

Aziz Ansari Faygo

Vanilla Motherfucker

1.5-3 oz. Smirnoff vanilla vodka

Faygo Cream Soda

Rock & Rule

1.5-3 oz. Smirnoff vanilla vodka

Faygo Rock & Rye

The Boston Ruler

1.5-3 oz. Smirnoff vanilla vodka


The Nuge

1.5-3 oz. whipped cream vodka


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: