7 Unique Bars in Detroit Where You Need to Grab a Drink
Photos by Bad Luck Bar by Bill Bowen; The Whitney by Marvin Shaouni; Elwood Bar & Grill; Sugar House by Michelle & Chris Gerard; Cadieux Cafe
There are plenty of sports bars and much-loved dive bars in Detroit.
But what if you’re looking to go out for a drink, and want to do it somewhere special? Special and… dare we say… kind of weird?
Thanks to the city’s entrepreneurial and artistic spirit, Detroit is also home to some pretty unique bars, including speakeasies, arcade bars, and even an entirely pink bar. Here are eight of the most unique bars in Detroit that you won’t find anywhere else.
Unique Bars in Detroit
1. Candy Bar
The Siren Hotel is a relatively new boutique hotel in Detroit – although the building itself was actually built in 1926. The hotel totally embraces its Art Deco origins, and this expands to its iconic hotel bar: Candy Bar.
Candy Bar is one of the hippest bars in Detroit right now. Head through the velvet pink curtain, and you feel like you’re in a whimsical other world: the bar itself is instantly recognizable for its 100% candy-pink décor and the 1500-piece Murano glass chandelier. The drinks bear mentioning, too. Try a “Cocoa Chanel” chocolate cocktail, a classic espresso martini, a “Bubble Rum,” or any number of their seasonally changing candy-themed cocktails.
2. Elwood Bar & Grill
The Elwood Bar & Grill is another Art Deco masterpiece. It was built in the 1930s as a diner, and carries those classic Americana vibes forward into today. Thanks to its location next to Comerica Park and Ford Field, this is probably the most unique bar in Detroit for sports lovers – whether you visit during a game, after a game, or on a non-game day.
3. Ghost Bar
Ghost Bar is located in The Whitney – a famous Detroit mansion built in the 1890s. The opulent mansion has had an interesting history through the years, and somewhere along the way it picked up some ghost stories. The Ghost Bar capitalizes on these haunted tales – not just through its name, but through some of its specialty cocktails (like the “Witching Hour”). They even proclaim to have the best “spirits” in Detroit… If you’re looking to mingle with some ghosts (and punny drinks), this is certainly the bar for you.
4. Bad Luck Bar
Detroit’s Bad Luck Bar describes itself as both an experiential and an experimental craft cocktail bar. Even pre-COVID, the bar was by reservation only. This ensures the intimate, but also somewhat spooky atmosphere. There are illuminati signs, watchful eyes, and hexagon-shaped tables throughout… all maintaining the somewhat mystical and superstitious feel of the bar. The menu itself features a (lucky?) 13 cocktails, including the famous “Admiral” cocktail (which is priced at $80).
5. Jolly Old Timers
Jolly Old Timers might be the best kept secret in Detroit, and it wants to stay that way. The bar is located in the basement of a Victorian residential house close to Wayne State, and is somewhat difficult to find – unless its neon “open” sign is turned on. Even after you find the sign, though, you have to ring the doorbell and be allowed in by a member of the social club. Because that’s what Jolly Old Timers is: one of the last remaining Black social clubs that’s been in existence since before the Civil Rights movement. But despite its secretive nature, this isn’t a pretentious bar at all. The drinks are cheap, the jukebox is usually playing, and there’s even fried chicken on the menu.
6. Sugar House
In 2011, Sugar House opened as Detroit’s first craft cocktail bar. Over the last decade, as many other cocktail bars have popped up across the city (including Bad Luck Bar, which was founded by the same group that produced Sugar House), it’s still retained the title as one of Detroit’s premiere cocktail bars. Located in the heart of Corktown, this is the spot to visit for really, really good cocktails and small plates. Don’t want to sit inside? You can even order a cocktail to go!
afé is a former speakeasy, and now a family-run Belgian café and bar. What makes it unique? Well, aside from the wide selection of authentic Belgian beers, this place is also home to a variety of games: feather bowling, darts, and more. You can also enjoy live music on occasion. For those looking to enjoy a Belgian beer and a game of feather bowling, lanes must be reserved in advance.