Raise the bar
A shortlist of better bars, for drinking, music and more
Published: October 20, 2010
Kuhnhenn 5919 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586- 979-8361: When it comes to really intense flavor, no place has zoned in on extreme beer geeks like Kuhnhenn, having created such flavorful brews as wild blueberry pancake ales and raspberry eisbocks. If that weren't geeky enough, there's a home brew shop right across the parking lot! So, head inside, enjoy the kick-in-the-face flavors of such brews as Solar Eclipse, then, inspired, head over and buy your own homebrew rig. Sometimes, even on a cool day, you'll see some enthusiasts outside, boiling wort.
The Loving Touch 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-546-3644: Opened in late-'08, Ferndale's new pool hall-lounge was once a massage parlor of the same name. Neat! Whatever the former's business practices, the new version is one of the best bars for last call in the metro Detroit. The Loving Touch is cozy with beautiful woodwork, welcoming atrium and it sports a badass juke, with many local rock stars in rotation. It's lounge-casual, to be sure. What better way to cap a night than with sloppy billiards or in a booth with your pals, glowing from locally brewed beer?
Motor City Brewing Works 470 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-832-2700: Right across the street from Traffic Jam, this brewpub has a quirky tiled interior, with its concrete bar molded in PVC, its Wednesday-night art shows, and its sturdy menu of pizzas and small plates. For less than $10, you can get a pizza made with ingredients from as local as possible, or a cheese, baguette and salametti plate with your choice of mustard. The beers are excellent. Watch out for the high alcohol content of that Summer Brew, if there's any left. Meads like Blue Sunshine have a sharp, almost astringent crispness to them. And those Wednesday night art shows are a tightwad's dream, offering work from experimental, established and ex nihil artists, often hanging work that goes for as little as $15. Have a pizza, drain a craft brew or two, and invest in a work of art for a little more.
Old Miami 3930 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3830: This charming dive began as the New Miami back in the hazy Cass Corridor daze. Then, to screw with the heads of Midtown gentrifiers, it changed to its current name. And, like a trusted old friend, the Old Miami comes through in the pinch. It has become home to Detroit's day-rave scene, hosting all-day parties featuring local and international insomniac DJs and dancers, promoted by the Ferndale-based Auxetic group. And then there's the urban oasis they've created out back, with an outdoor stage, rustic seating and, in good weather, a little patch of lawn.
Park Bar 2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2933: OK, you know and we know this one was a keeper from day one. Firstly for its location on the increasingly dense Park Avenue bar and club scene, secondly for its round bar and enormous picture windows, thirdly for having the only late-night, cool-as-shit Romanian food source (the Bucharest Grill) in town. But perhaps best of all is the house mix of music. How do they do it? Any employee may nix a song off the playlist. So you only get what people don't object to. What's more, usually a nice selection of pours on tap, including Franziskaner.
Rosie O'Grady's Irish Pub 279 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-591-9163; see rosieogradysirishpub.com for more locations: When you go to the bar to catch the big game with your best bros, there's a good chance there are a few other games, matches, meets, etc., you'd also like to follow, however casually or seriously. Ferndale's recently relocated Rosie O'Grady's Irish Pub, in just one year since being revived, is your favorite bar to do just that. With more than 100 TVs throughout the joint, including a small flat-screen in each booth all broadcasting the game, it's a sensory overload of sports, but that's why some people dig it. Game on!
Seven Brothers 11831 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-365-6576: In a churning sea of jaded hipster joints and seedy old-man dens, it takes something special to get noticed, but the regular patrons of this glorious Hamtramck hovel have no trouble grabbing spotlight. "The Brothers" caters to Detroit's smallish but incredibly vibrant theater community, with every square inch of space coated in head shots, cast posters and press clippings, and with every square foot packed with actors, writers, directors and various backstage types battling for elbow room at the bar. These off-off-off-off-off-Broadway stars-in-the-making lend the place a uniquely spirited and entertaining atmosphere, with spontaneous sing-alongs and dance-offs a distinct possibility at a moment's notice. What's more, the whole bar has gotten a serious makeover, exposing its original tin ceilings.
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 beers for a buck from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. 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.
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