Dream bar crawl
Some better bars, for beer, lore and more
Published: October 19, 2011
Fort Street Brewery 1660 Fort St., Lincoln Park; 313-389-9620;
fortstreetbeer.com; $$: Brewpub and restaurant with a friendly atmosphere, games, and a large beer list, including house-brewed suds like “Doug’s Turbo Sarsaparilla,” a root beer flavored beer. Look out for daily specials like $4 pepperoni pizzas during Monday Night Football.
Northern Lights Lounge 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739; $: Though many MT readers may be familiar with New Center's Northern Lights Lounge as a stylish bar and performance venue, for several years the nightspot has kept its kitchen open Monday through Friday in a bid for Detroit’s weekday lunch and dinner crowds. Not only does it sprawl throughout a large building that can seat more than 100 diners, it offers a variety of environments to dine in, including informal chairs up front by the free shuffleboard table, wraparound booths in the moodier main room, simple tables for a tête-à-tête, and even
seating along the bar. Northern Lights has a full bar, and the know-how to mix up classics and offbeat, eye-catching concoctions, including everything from a simple boilermaker to an ice-blue margarita.
The Berkley Front 3087 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-547-3331: The magic number, it turns out, is 42. That's how many beers you'll find on tap at this neighborhood biergarten. And, unlike most bars, the Berkley Front features an uncarbonated pull, which draws cellar-temperature beer into a glass without all the CO2. You could pound these brews, but tend to linger over them, as they stay good even after getting warm on the bar, and there are always several local creations to choose from, matched up against a genuine selection of German and Belgian ones. The beer pulls you in, but the juke, live music ($5 upstairs Thursday-Saturday) and conversation keep you there.
Tom's Tavern 10093 W. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit; 313-862-9768: Meant, as always, in the most loving sense of the word, Tom's is a true dive. Open mostly on weekends, the old "house bar" opened when founder Tom Lucas bought the building in 1928, back when Prohibition was the law of the land, and when Seven Mile was still a dirt road. An astonishing 81 years later, Tom's survives, despite a lot of problems. Over the years, the bar has been built and rebuilt so many times that it's uneven enough to make you feel you're drunker than you are. The roof's ridgepole sags into a bow. Gaps in the old brick-face siding show wood beneath. Owner Ron Gurdjian, who bought the place from Lucas in 2001, has overseen some radical effort to keep the building safe, and says, after almost a decade of work, it's "almost ready for bad weather."
Slingers Bar & Grill 11791 Farmington Rd., Livonia; 734-421-6070: Though Madonna University and Schoolcraft College are both in city limits, Livonia isn't really some wild college town. It'll never be one of those. But that's not stopping Slingers Bar & Grill (formerly PY Stix) from attempting to tap into campus-approved, liquor-fueled folly, such as beer pong. We're talking cheap drinks, like on their Thirsty Thursdays, which feature $2 beers from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Beers are a buck on Ladies Night Wednesdays, which includes an entry to win a Coach purse. You'll also find those white T-shirt graffiti parties; theme nights bring out bleached blondes in sexy costumes, and, for those who threw dignity out the window in their teenage years, you can take a seat in the BJ chair and suck down booze straight from the bottle. Picture this, babe: You're sitting in a dentist chair, there's a hundred people surrounding you, and they can all see your midriff. You like this. The music blares, glasses rattle, your BFF snaps photos with her iPhone to be immediately posted to Facebook, and this dude named Twatch stands over you — a different bottle of booze in each hand. "Open wide," he says, juggling the bottles like they were bowling pins. "Down the hatch." And the crowd goes wild.
Arbor Brewing Company Pub & Eatery 114 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-213-1393; arborbrewing.com/pub: With seasonal beer tasting events ($25 gets you a buffet ticket and a selection of 20-30 samples) and beers made for your taste buds (Sacred Cow IPA pairs nicely with the fried chicken) what's there not to love? More than a beer-geek hangout, Arbor typifies everything you hope to find in a pub: a nice selection of well-prepared food that transcends pub grub, good local music and — oh, yes — beer, most of it brewed on-premises. You can expect around six to 12 house-brewed beers on tap.
Ashley's 338 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-9191; 5150 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti; 734-528-9898; ashleys.com: With an award-winning beer selection from the four corners of the earth, made-to-order food using fresh ingredients, and a genuinely hospitable attitude, Ashley's is an excellent bar for beer-lovers. Think you've run out of new beers to explore? Better stop in soon.
Bert's Marketplace 2727 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030: This granddaddy of the current jam scene is into its second decade. You never know what to expect — luminaries, swingin' grade-schoolers brought by doting parents or a waif of a singer from Central America with limited conversational English, fluently belting "Midnight Train to Georgia" — for the $3 cover. The regulars rave about the barbecue, and Friday and Saturday nights feature blues and jazz jams for a $5 cover.
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