The Ballroom at McKay Blog

On-Hand Cocktails: Cowboy’s Comet

May 8th, 2014


The Cowboy’s Comet will bring the southern bell out of any guest! When mixed, this drink tastes like a sweet, smooth and crisp way to charge your summer afternoon.

1.5 oz Canadian Club Whisky
2 oz Southern Comfort Peach Liqueur
Fill with Coca-Cola
Splash with Lime Juice

Pour Canadian Club over ice into a cocktail glass.
Add Southern Comfort.
Fill almost full with Coca Cola.
Top with lime juice.


Feature: Lola Grace Calligraphy

May 6th, 2014


We recently asked the very talented Grace of Lola Grace Calligraphy to ask her all about the beautiful nature of Calligraphy. From Wedding invitations to Menu Cards, Grace talks about how she got started, how she creates a style and the processes of each.

1. How did you become a Calligrapher?

My Grandma was always a bit of an etiquette fan, so early on, I attended many etiquette classes including penmanship classes. As I became older, I started to address holiday cards for friends, work, etc. I then started to address wedding envelopes and escort cards for friends. How I decided to start Lola Grace Calligraphy is because one of my friends, Jenn Ederer of Modern Day Floral, kept pushing me and convinced me to give it a try. So I did my research, started practicing and well, the rest is history. Lola Grace Calligraphy celebrated its first year this past April. 🙂

2. Do you find that Calligraphy is primarily needed for Weddings?

Yes, most of my work is wedding related. I have done anniversary vows, addressed envelopes for client appreciation cards and holiday cards. I have also hand lettered place cards for formal dinner parties, pieces for styled tables that were part of the McKay Ballroom’s grand opening event and the Amway Grand Plaza’s the Grand Affair (which is their annual bridal event).

3. How do you determine your styles? Is it by frequency or request or by creation through the process?

When I was doing my research, I wanted to have styles that are all elegant and beautiful. I wanted to be able to offer styles that appeal to brides whether they like a more simple style, fun/contemporary style or a more elaborate style.

4. Do you have a favorite style? Is so, why is it your favorite? 

I love my new dreamy font. IT has the most flourishes out of all of my styles, but I wanted to make sure that even with the flourishes, it is still readable. It is every bit a reflection of its name and perfect for the most formal of weddings.

5. Can you explain the process of Calligraphy on Envelopes? How do you know how largely to write/space every line? 

My process starts with gathering of all my materials, doing a little warm up test out with the nib, ink and the style I planed on using. I tend to base that on the size of the envelopes. I use guides with different line heights which then dictate how big the letters will be and the space between.

6. What kind of Calligraphy have you done for The Ballroom?

I was very fortunate to have been asked to hand letter menu cards and place cards in a beautiful metallic champagne gold ink for The Ballroom’s Grand Opening last spring. I have also worked with one of The Ballroom’s brides last fall with her invitation envelopes.

7. What is the average length of time that a couple should expect for their envelope Invitations to be Calligraphed?

Depending on the quantity and the involvement, I would recommend on planning about two weeks from the time I receive the envelopes, guest list and payment to proofing and the delivery of the finished product.

A huge thanks to Grace of Lola Grace Calligraphy for her expert advice on this incredible field of talent! Be sure to check out her site!

On-Hand Libations: A Spring Cocktail Series

May 1st, 2014


Michigan and Michiganders alike have endured severely long winter and it’s about time that we celebrate the green grass and spring in the air. With a season of weddings and special events in full spring swing, the month of May will play host to a series on Spring Cocktails to inspire in your bar menu planning.

The series of cocktail recipes are also able to be made either at home, or as your signature cocktail during your event, because they’re all made from standard, on-hand ingredients! The series will span over 5 weeks and include simply-made cocktails that can be created with on-hand ingredients. Stay tuned this upcoming, sunny May for our series on On-Hand Libations!


Events Gone Local & Green

April 10th, 2014


The ideas and practices of “going green” have been dominating businesses in the new millennium; furthermore, we have found that the events industry is no different. More and more planners, couples and vendors are looking for ways to be more ‘green’. We have a few ideas that one can simply implement into your event to better provide these environmental and recycling practices!

Community Involvement and Décor Details

First and foremost, suggestions include wedding and meeting planners contacting local farmers markets and gardens to utilize their products on many levels. Stationery Stores, Florists, Bakeries, etc. are great options to keep business at a local level. Grand Rapids is a city teaming with local talent, ready to provide details for your wedding or special event. An additional popular option that can be given as gifts, or placed as centerpieces for your event, is providing and planting seeds, for all to enjoy as a memorable accompaniment of any particular event. Another option is to provide removable containers for your guests to take floral centerpieces with them at the end of the evening. Floral is so utterly stunning and can last at least a few more days for guests to have sweet little reminders of your special day.

Recyclable Practices

Anytime that you can avoid using paper is a very beneficial way to promote green practices. A prevalent request of many brides and hosts of venues desire invitations to be printed on recycled paper. Some invitations may even incorporate seeds, which can be planted for future use and remembrance of that particular event! Sharing photos by creating hash tags on social media sites, and albums on Facebook also reduces paper and the need to print, but promotes an everlasting sustainable element of shared experiences, accessible at all times.

The Ballroom’s Green Thinking

The Ballroom at McKay has taken steps to reduce our carbon footprint, as well! By using our own glassware, renting linens to be repurposed and reused, and installing LED light fixtures are among a few items to be included in our green belt. Options for green catering choice would be wooden or Bamboo cocktail picks, plates, flat ware, etc. This is a very simple way for passed or stationed appetizers to be presented.

Every little component makes an impact, from wearing a reusable gown or previously worn gown, to hosting a business event that selects a venue within walking distance to hotels and transportation. The Ballroom At McKay is a prime location to host your trendy green occasion! This eco-friendly occasion may comprise of natural, sustainable essentials that can promote environmental practices for you and your attendees yet be fashionable simultaneously.

Drink Menus Done Right!

April 9th, 2014


The Ballroom’s impeccable bar staff took some time to answer questions and provide advice, experience and thoughts on past, current and future drink menus! Continue reading for information on how to best plan for your bar menu.

1. What are some of the most frequently requested craft cocktails?

Aside from the normal “rum and coke” and “vodka cranberry’s” I am seeing a lot of the craft cocktails coming back like Old Fashions and Manhattans. Wine spritzers are big for the summer time also. You are welcome to create your own specialty cocktails too and we’ll bring in some a la carte liquor so we can create just about anything.  A recent wedding they had a specialty cocktail called The Panther that was a huge hit! It had Kinky liquor, sour apple schnapps, triple sec, and Sprite.

2. What are your favorite International Wines that the Ballroom’s Wine List offers?

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz is one of my favorites. I feel like you can’t go wrong with fruit, fruit and more fruit with a hint of spice!

3. What does your drink menu at McKay look like—perhaps elaborate on your top items and great sellers?

We have a wide variety of liquors, beer and wine. There is an option for just about every price range and taste bud. Being located in Beer City our local beers from Founders and Brewery Vivant are very popular items!

4. What local beers and microbrews are popular at your events?

Definitely Bells Oberon is the most asked for beer. We know that we have it in for the summer! This beer is very big in the area so we had to make it available for our events! Founders Brewery is within walking distance from us so their Pale Ale and Centennial IPA are very popular as well.

5. Are there any trends in the beverage industry that you have been noticing lately, or anticipate for this coming spring/summer?

I have noticed a request for organic liquor and cocktails. I see this trend getting even bigger as more people get on board with more organic choices for food and beverage.

6. Any suggestions that you may have when deciding what types of beverages would be best for an event at the Ballroom? For example, if you have a couple discussing their options, what type of advice would you give them to plan their bar around their guests?

Choose what you like! Our list fits the space well and so anything you’d like on it would accompany the atmosphere well. Create a specialty cocktail that fits the two of you. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box a little bit and get creative.

7. What are some simple ways to ‘jazz up’ a cocktail with on-hand ingredients? For example add a component to a vodka tonic and it becomes…?

I have a list of 10 cocktails that can be made with on hand ingredients. If you chose one of those options to be served at the bar or passed as guests arrive it wouldn’t be any additional cost! Also, if you wanted a different cocktail not on the list we can bring in just the necessary bottles to make the beverage so we have a lot of flexibility of what we can serve for fun cocktails.

8. What would you say last year’s biggest trend in cocktails were? Best selling wine?

Our best-selling wine has been the Terranoble Sauvignon Blanc and the L de Lyeth Fleur de Lyeth Red Blend. The biggest trend in cocktails I have seen is the old craft cocktails coming back like the Old Fashions and Manhattans.

We thank the bar staff at the Ballroom for their guidance and suggestions for the best preparation in your drink menu design!