For many, Turkey Day means a feast with all the trimmings, maybe a game (or five) of football — and plenty of time with family. Maybe you’re thrilled to reunite with your loved ones for a bacchanal of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, or maybe you’re utterly dreading Uncle Bob’s dining-table rants.
Either way, you’ll need some liquid encouragement to get you through the festivities. That’s why the night before Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for American bars.
On “Drinksgiving,” as it’s known to some in the business, there are plenty of reasons to head out on the town: Young adults have returned home, the national holiday means most folks don’t have to wake up early the next day, and no one has the desire or the kitchen space to cook dinner on Wednesday night.
The day before the big feast has been big business for bars. Thanksgiving Eve of 2019 saw shots sales jump 173 percent compared with the Wednesday prior, according to restaurant management software company Upserve.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the number of people packing watering holes, but it hasn’t stopped everyone from celebrating.
Faustine Pierce has tended bar at Ye Olde Tap Room in Grosse Pointe Park for seven or eight years — it’s been long enough that she can’t quite remember.
Before the pandemic, she says, the scene at the bar on Thanksgiving Eve “was shoulder to shoulder … insane!” In the past two years, she says, “the crowds have thinned, but the bar is still filled with large groups, folks catching up, and freshly 21-year-olds home from college and getting their legal drink on.”
Whether you’re looking for a chill lounge in which to sip an espresso martini or a more turned- up shoutfest, these five metro Detroit bars have Drinksgiving down to a T.
Just call it Renshaw’s — everyone does. A Clawson staple, Renshaw Lounge boasts plenty of seating for large parties, a full menu of pub grub, and a massive wall of televisions for cheering on your college and pro teams.
Plus, with darts, pinball, pool, and shot specials, that unscheduled high school reunion will be far less stuffy than the one planned for a hotel ballroom.
Renshaw’s underwent an extensive renovation a few years back but managed to retain the bar’s core feeling: low-key and friendly into the early evening hours, then bold and raucous as the night wears on. 210 14 Mile Road, Clawson; renshawlounge.com.
Southwest Detroit’s Abick’s has been a family-owned bar since 1907. Stepping in through the corner door feels like entering a time warp — the tin ceilings, terrazzo tile floor, and stained-glass lamps haven’t changed a bit since the days before World War I. Kit Lindamood has been serving cold beers, cocktails, and whiskey at this cash-only staple since 2008.
“We welcome all comers,” Lindamood says. “The night before Thanksgiving is one of the happiest hump days of the year because everyone is relaxed and enjoying the time off before they have to be on their best behavior with family the next day.” 3500 Gilbert St., Detroit; facebook.com/abicks.
Dunleavy’s Food & Spirits
Brothers Tom and Brian Dunleavy have been welcoming friends, family, and newcomers to their Allen Park pub since the 1960s, and their warm hospitality is shared by the staff. The bar’s celebrated pub grub, which includes burgers and fish and chips, and its old-country cheer can turn any Wednesday into a celebration of community. 6004 Allen Road, Allen Park; dunleavypub.com.
Ye Olde Tap Room
It’s nearly impossible if you grew up in one of the Grosse Pointes not to bump into about five of your high school classmates each time you enter Ye Olde Tap Room.
Bordering the east side of Detroit, Ye Olde has dozens of beers from around the world, an open format that’s often standing room only, and peanuts in the shell to nosh on while you make awkward small talk with your high school fling. 14915 Charlevoix St., Grosse Pointe Park.
Tucked into a quiet corner of Milwaukee Junction, Kiesling’s effortless chic is the balm for the soon- to-be frenetic activity of Thanksgiving.
Kiesling’s freshly shaken, stirred, or on-draft drinks present sophisticated options, but don’t be afraid to go with the $5 beer and shot specials; after all, there’s plenty of time on Thanksgiving to impress family and friends with your worldly wit. 449 E. Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; kieslingdetroit.com.
This story is from the November 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.