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Hard Luck on the East Side

Michigan is known for its Faygo, Vernors and many, many amazing locally produced beers (personal favorite: Bells.)

Now, we've got some harder stuff. In the spirit of the weekend…and in the spirit of spirits…I present you with a Friday-inspired Q&A with Chris George, Vice President of Hard Luck Candy. This Michigan-based company produces 70-proof, candy-flavored vodka. Hello, nurse.

Besides that, George and his co-founders are supporting Michigan vendors with this new enterprise. They are supporting the bottlers. And they are keeping their fingers crossed for all of the Metro Detroit to find similarly enterprising ideas.

Soak it up, Dear Readers.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of putting candy in vodka?

A: Hard Luck Candy Flavored Vodka was born at the Hard Luck Lounge in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. It originated as a special candy-flavored infused vodka and was so successful at the bar, founders Mike Mouyianis, Rob Nicholl and I thought it should be available everywhere. After two years in development, Hard Luck Candy Flavored Vodka has now launched its Red Fish and Root Beer Barrel flavors with plans for other flavors which are currently in development.

Q: How did a bar in Grosse Pointe get so hard core? Don't you all drink white wine over on the East side?

A: The East side is more diverse than most people know. There is the snobby preppy reputation that many associate with the Grosse Pointes, and although you can certainly find those people, there is a lot more here. Our wives have created an atmosphere at the Hard Luck Lounge that has no pretention or stuffiness. If you want a white wine, you can drink one in comfort, and if you want a shot of well whiskey and a Pabst you won't feel out of place either. They like to call it a high-class dive. It's clean and comfortable with a nice dark atmosphere and no pretention.

Q: Why did you base your business in Michigan and why use Michigan suppliers?

A: We are Michiganders; we have lived here all of our lives. So as part of our growth strategy, we felt it was important to use vendors close to home and give back to the people that have helped us along the way. Our products are bottled in Temperance, Mich., and we are currently sold in over 150 plus stores across Michigan and another 80 plus Michigan bars as well. Our Web site has a Hard Luck Candy locator which allows you to put in an address and see the locations in that area carrying our products.

Q: What other flavors will you add? Could you get some Faygo in there?

A: We do not currently have any Faygo-related flavors in the works but when you mix the Red Fish with club soda it tastes very similar to Red Pop. We also have a shot recipe that tastes like Rock & Rye ... You mix equal parts Hard Luck Candy Red Fish, ginger ale, cola and a splash of Vanilla vodka.

Q: Enough with the drinking. Onto a more sober note. What makes you hopeful about Detroit/Michigan?

A: Detroit is a city that has seen numerous highs and lows throughout its history and despite the current tough times there are a large number of people that see the possibility for a turn around. There are people with hope for this city. People planting gardens in vacant lots, opening businesses in areas that others see no potential. As long as there is a community with belief in the greatness of this city and people taking action to make it a better place, then we are striving in the right direction.

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