Day One of Detroit Negroni Week: Sugar House's Yani Thanatos with "The Evening Redness In The West."

When you walk into the Sugar House Bar you might mistake the head bartender, Yani Thanatos, for Dave Navarro, guitarist for Jane’s Addiction. The irony is, not only does Yani show some serious chops behind the bar, but he can probably give Mr. Navarro a run for his money - he’s a total shredder on the guitar!

The Sugar House Bar is located in Corktown, one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods, and has been given accolades ever since opening its doors three years ago. Just this year Esquire Magazine named it one of the best bars in America and Playboy slotted the Sugar House Bar among the top 20 bars in America. 

Thanatos has earned high praises in the world of drink competitions. He won first place for the 2013 USA Angostura National Bartending Competition, and was a finalist in both the 2014 Angostura World Finals in Trinidad and the 2014 Diageo World Class Regional Competition. Like I said, the man has some chops!

Let’s see what Yani has to say about his variation on the Negroni, shall we?

MSP: Yani, what inspired your variation of the Negroni “The Evening Redness In The West?”

YT: The concept comes from the image and color of the book title “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy. The majority of the narrative follows a teenager referred to only as “the kid,” with the bulk of the text devoted to his experiences with the Glanton gang, a historical group of scalp hunters who massacred Native Americans and others in the United States–Mexico borderlands from 1849 to 1850 for bounty, pleasure, and eventually out of sheer compulsion. The role of antagonist is gradually filled by Judge Holden, a huge, intellectual man depicted as bald from head to toe and philosophically emblematic of the eternal and all-encompassing nature of war.

MSP: What was your first Negroni experience?

YT: Initially thinking I hated Campari before ever trying one, a bartender I worked with at a previous bar just gave me this delicious bitter red cocktail. Later I found out it was a Negroni! Go figure, I guess sometimes it’s all in your head.

MSP: Lastly, what are your feelings about Campari?

YT: Campari is the #1 bartenders’ go-to Amaro. All bartenders love Campari! Its bitterness and citrus qualities compare to no other.

Thanks, Yani. 

To find participating bars and restaurants in the Metro Detroit area check out United States Bartenders Guild - Greater Detroit’s Facebook page


“The Evening Redness in the West”

  • 1oz beefeater gin
  • .75 Campari
  • .75 Lillet blanc infused with Lapsang Souchong black tea
  • Stirred up with a grapefruit peel twist.

All Photos by © Marvin Shaouni Photo