Prohibition has long been dead, but the speakeasy-style bars of the Prohibition Era are making a comeback. Recently, metro Detroit has seen the revival and opening of several speakeasies — complete with hidden doors and passwords required for entry.
These are the ones Hour Detroit has gotten wind of including where to find them — and how to get in.
Mai Tiki in Ferndale
Hidden behind an unmarked door at TigerLily is this tropical escape. As its name implies, Mai Tiki is a tiki bar adorned with island relics and views. Cozy on up to the thatched-canopy bar and order a The Zombie, Three Dots, or a Pain Killer cocktail, all of which are inspired by historic recipes that were once lost to prohibition and served in colorful tiki glasses. Small plates such as four-piece shrimp and Hamachi tacos are also available. Mai Tiki inside of TigerLily, 231 W. Nine Mile Road, Suite A, Ferndale; maitikibar.com.
Shelby in Detroit
With no phone number to call for reservations, patrons of Shelby must find the restaurant on their own — and with an entrance that’s underground behind a vaulted blue door beneath Coffee Down Under, it can be tricky to spot. Once you’re there though, you’ll be treated to a menu of sharables such as shrimp cocktail, beef tartare, and a charcuterie plate, along with weekly specials. The drink menu is filled with a variety of cocktails including the scotch-based Ace High and the vodka-based Dr. Greenthumb. Shelby, 607 Shelby St., Detroit; shelbydetroit.com.
Knock Twice Speakeasy in West Bloomfield
Happy Hour is every Wednesday-Friday evening at this modern speakeasy. Pair signature cocktails including The Big Play old fashioned, Three’s A Crowd margarita, The Scandal Moscow mule, and others with stunning small and shareable plates. Visit by reservation on Open Table or walk in with the password, which you can get by messaging them on social media. Live music on select nights, too. Knock Twice, 6430 Farmington Road, West Bloomfield; knocktwicespeakeasy.com.
The Upright in Detroit
Tucked away in the basement of Oak & Reel, the 2022 Restaurant of the Year, this cocktail bar offers a carefully curated drink menu filled with both classic and hand-crafted original drinks you can only find here. Come in through Oak & Reel’s main entrance and ask the host where to go. Guests are seated on a first come, first served, basis or by reservations for parties of six or more. You must be at least 21 years old and present proper I.D. to enter. The Upright inside of Oak & Reel, 2921 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit; oakandreel.com.
Bad Luck Bar in Detroit
Find the red neon sign and snake door in the alley between Griswold and Woodward, and you’ve arrived at Bad Luck Bar. The door is always locked, so you’ll need to either call or knock to be admitted. Once inside, you’ll find a menu filled with high-end signature cocktails named after different characters in folklore including the bourbon-based Hecate and Horus, which is made with gin and mezcal. Bad Luck Bar, 1218 Griswold St., Detroit; badluckbar.com.
Johnny’s in Royal Oak
To enter this Royal Oak spot, you’ll need to make a reservation online and wait for a text with the secret number. Once inside, order small or large plates, such as crab and shrimp cakes and rosemary garlic lamb chops, handmade pastas, snacks, salads and more. Try cocktails like their old fashioned or a glass of wine, too. Johnny’s, 215 S. Main St., Royal Oak; johnnysroyaloak.com.
The Ebenezer in Plymouth
Plymouth’s first and only speakeasy is hidden in the basement of the former First National Bank of Plymouth and is named after the bank’s first president, Ebenezer J. Penniman. There’s a private tasting room in the old vault, and the ambiance in the space resembles that of the speakeasies in the 1920s. Their menu has a wide variety of options from vegetarian flatbread and parmesan truffle fries to brisket sliders, and filet mignon. The drink menu offers specialty cocktails as well as classic cocktails. The Ebenezer, 305 Fleet St., Plymouth; theebenezerplymouth.com.
Frank’s Eastside Tavern in Mount Clemens
Named one of the oldest bars in Detroit by Metro Times, this Macomb County tavern, which is also known as The Basement Bar, is nestled in the basement of a 100-year-old farmhouse that was once a blind pig — a legit prohibition bar — that served libations illegally and in secret for 13 years. Grab a drink and alongside pub grub including a burger that was voted best burger in Detroit by Eat It Detroit. Stop in on Saturdays for live music. Frank’s Eastside Tavern, 126 Avery St., Mount Clemens; frankseastsidetavern.com.
Willow in Detroit
Look for the gold door in the alley behind SavannahBlue. That’s how you know you’ve found the first Black-owned cocktail bar in Detroit. Behind the door, you’ll find a cozy and dimly lit space with early speak easy vibes. Their drink menu includes spirits, wines, craft cocktails with a southern flair, and non-alcoholic options. Pair your drink with a charcuterie board with or without meat. Willow, 1431 Times Square, Detroit; willowdetroit.com.
Babs’ Underground in Ann Arbor
You can find one of Ann Arbor’s best kept secrets below the Schwaben Building on Ashley Street. In addition to craft cocktails, they serve single malts, rare bourbons, mocktails, shots, and craft beer. The intimate bar was recently remodeled and offers high-back chairs and leather couches to lounge on as well as two pool tables, arcade games, and televisions for game days. Ask about snacks to go along with your drinks. Babs Underground, 213 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor; babsannarbor.com.
Did we miss your favorite local speakeasy? Tell us in the comments so that we can add them to our list.