Enjoy great drinks, subtle views at these metro Detroit speakeasies

October 12, 2022 | Story by Max White

There is no shortage of bars throughout Detroit and the surrounding area. From huge bars to dive bars and everything in between, there is something for you.

Over the past few years, there has been a spike in speakeasies popping up across the area, transporting people back to the prohibition era with dark lighting, secret entrances, and more.

If you’re looking to go back in time, here are some of the best speakeasies in metro Detroit.

Bad Luck Bar – 1218 Griswold St. in Detroit

If you’ve ever wanted to try an experimental cocktail, Bad Luck Bar is a great spot for you.

While the address shows it on Griswold St., the entrance to the bar is actually in the alley behind Bad Luck Bar off of State St. between Griswold and Woodward.

A subtle gray door with a snake and a hand marks the spot, and the door remains locked. You must call or knock to be let in.

The bar has a list of featured, original cocktails but also has a list of different spirits with some of the rarest in the world, which include the famous Pappy Van Winkle.

bad luck bar light


Shelby Detroit – 607 Shelby St. in Detroit

You’ve likely never experienced a bar like Shelby Detroit before. You head to the basement of a building in Downtown Detroit to Coffee Down Under, and in the back is a blue door that remains closed. Through that door is the Shelby.

The bar is located inside a former bank vault built 100 years ago. The owners spent two years renovating the space before it opened in 2021.

They offer a wide variety of beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as small plates so you can eat while you’re there.

The Nain Rouge is a drink with mezcal, raspberry vanilla syrup, blood orange dust, and more, while their State Fair Old Fashioned comes with apricot-infused bourbon, apple brandy, black walnut, and orange bitters.

Shelby also has a great happy hour that runs for just one hour on Wednesdays and Thursdays with $8 cocktails and shareables for $10.

Cafe D’Mongo’s Speakeasy – 1439 Griswold St. in Detroit

Located near Detroit’s Capitol Park, Café D’Mongos was featured as one of the best bars in America by Esquire in 2014.

It’s owned by Larry Mongo, who is part of the famous Mongo family in Detroit, and he’s a legend in the bar scene in the area.

The bar is filled with fun artifacts and posters, and you’ll be looking around nonstop when you’re inside.

While there are a variety of drinks, you have to try whatever drink they’re mixing with Faygo Rock ‘n’ Rye.

Evening Bar ­– 1400 Woodward Ave. in Detroit

While Evening Bar is inside the Shinola Hotel, right in the heart of Downtown Detroit, you go inside through a black door in Parker’s Alley and there’s one small sign that says “evening bar” with two eyes looking.

With soft light, the bar’s interior has a great vibe with sort of a retro beer.

They offer seasonal cocktails, as well as wine and a long list of spirits from across the country and the world.

Try the “Old Caribbean” with aged rum, champagne cordial, mint, and angostura bitters, or the “State Fair” which is Michigan tart cherry bourbon and creamy lemonade.

evening bar seating

Ghostbar – 4421 Woodward Ave. in Detroit

Kind of the opposite of how speakeasies typically are, Ghostbar is on the third floor of this historic and haunted mansion The Whitney in Midtown.

It’s open on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, with the bar open for dinner guests on Saturdays.

The bar has a wide variety of drinks and is known for its world-famous Witching Hour Martini which includes infused vodka, Limoncello, Chambord, raw sugar, and fresh lemon.

Johnny’s Royal Oak – 215 S. Main St. in Royal Oak

The website for Johnny’s speakeasy in Downtown Royal Oak just has a logo and a doorbell that you have to ring to get inside the website. It’s very similar to the actual bar!

Once you ring the doorbell, you put your name, email, and cell phone and they text you the secret number to get inside.

The entrance is in the back alley, and you go down the stairs and through what looks like an entrance to a walk-in cooler.

Once inside, you get nothing but a secret bar feel, and there are prohibition-style drinks and food available for purchase.

The Oakland – 201 W. 9 Mile in Ferndale

Also known as The Oakland Art Novelty Company, it’s described as a “friendly neighborhood bar serving world-class cocktails, exceptional American whiskey, and artisan Mezcal in a nostalgic and elegant environment.”

They have a wide variety of cocktails, including a unique drink like “Good Soup,” with onion-infused vodka, chicken broth, carrot, lemon, and celery bitters.

The Ebenezer – 305 Fleet St. in Plymouth

The Ebenezer is a cocktail lounge in Plymouth that will take you back to the prohibition era. They offer food and drinks on the menu.

There are more than a dozen classic cocktails and specialty cocktails, like “Smoke & a Pancake,” which includes bacon-washed Buffalo Trace bourbon, maple syrup, and pecan bitters, and the “Tequila Mockingbird,” with includes tequila, cinnamon syrup, Ancho Reyes Verde, grenadine and lime juice.

The Ebenezer

The Ebenezer, photo by @aislinn.timmons

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