32 Places to Grab Cocktails in Metro Detroit

We’ll drink to that!
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Cocktails in Metro Detroit
Absinthe-Minded: Served in an absinthe fountain, Destination 1905’s Skymiles is meant to be shared. The Negroni, bottom, is an Italian classic, while the Gateway, top, inventively blends brandy, Chambord liqueur, coconut milk, activated charcoal, and marshmallow.

It was tough work, but someone had to do it. We scoured the region to find the tastiest, classiest, most creative concoctions. Here’s our guide to where to sip the best cocktails in metro Detroit. Let us know what your favorites are by voting in our Cocktail Bracket 2019 every week in December!

Ann Arbor Distilling Co.

Ann Arbor Distilling Co. has been crafting spirits from scratch since 2014, using ingredients sourced right here in Michigan. Its tasting room offers a low-key and cozy neighborhood atmosphere for enjoying its fine selection of drinks. Go classic with a Michigan Old Fashioned, featuring Fox River Michigan Whiskey, or opt for the Apollo, a concoction using the same whiskey with lemon, blueberries, and sage. 220 Felch St., Ann Arbor; 734-882-2169; annarbordistilling.com 

Bad Luck Bar

This Capitol Park bar offers many drinks named to fit its superstitious theme, such as the Seer and the Alchemist. The main focus of the intimate setting is a wall lined with spirits and illuminated by a white glow, creating the perfect ambiance against the geometrically shaped tables and overhead lighting. Parties smaller than six are encouraged, as it’s a tight space. 1218 Griswold St., Detroit; 313-657-9177; badluckbar.com

Bagley Central

Punk-rock vibes extend from the outside of this downtown Detroit cocktail bar to the inside. The exterior boasts a black brick façade and golden windows, while the interior’s exposed brick walls and black leather booths offer a tattoo-shop chic. The drinks at this bar are affordably priced, with cocktails like the orange liqueur-tinged Transmetropolitan and Tope Atomico running as little as $7. 2545 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-262-6763; bagley-central.business.site

Candy Bar

Living up to its status as Michigan’s most beautifully designed bar — one bestowed by Architectural Digest Candy Bar is covered floor to ceiling in shades of pink and decked with old Hollywood décor that recalls Detroit’s jazz era. The frequently updated cocktail menu includes outside-the-box drinks, such as the banana and peanut butter-flavored Elvis’ Nightcap. The 28-seat space fills quickly, but the swanky lobby of the Siren Hotel, which houses Candy Bar, makes for a comfy place to wait for a table. 1509 Broadway St., Detroit; 313-277-4736; candybardetroit.com

Castalia

The lower level of a Midtown Detroit Victorian mansion — an intimate space occupied by fragrance retailer Sfumato by day — turns into an unconventional cocktail bar by the same owners with an elevated-cellar feel by night, where mixologists use the relationship between scent and taste to their advantage. Created using liqueurs, spirits, and in-house tinctures, each cocktail is inspired by a Sfumato scent and is served with a napkin spritzed with the fragrance to create an unforgettable sensory experience. 3980 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-305-1442; castaliacocktails.com

Destination 1905

Located on the first level of a historic West Village home, the recently opened bar brings drinks imbued with flavors from around the world to Detroit. The interior has a sophisticated, studious vibe decorated with maps, vintage-inspired light fixtures, and cushy tufted chairs. Each month the menu features drinks and cuisine from a different country. Staples of the cocktail menu include the Layover (Beefeater gin, Campari, tonic water, tangerines, and coconut) and the Tourist, a bourbon and pine syrup concoction. 8130 Kercheval Ave., Detroit; 313-499-1205; destination1905.com

Detroit City Distillery

Detroit City Distillery is a small-batch distillery started by a group of eight friends who wanted to make spirits “the old-fashioned way.” In 2014, they opened their speakeasy-esque distillery in Eastern Market, specializing in artisanal vodka, gin, and whiskey created with locally sourced ingredients. The menu ranges from the classics to such original creations as the Franklin, made with Lady of the House Gin and Germack coffee simple syrup. We suggest heating up your night with the Rye on Fire, a delightful blend of sweet and spicy flavor profiles with whiskey, mango, habanero, honey, ginger, and lemon. 2462 Riopelle St., Detroit; 313-338-3760;
detroitcitydistillery.com

Evening Bar

With its soft-lit, intimate, and beautifully designed interior, Evening Bar at the Shinola Hotel is a sensual take on the classic hotel haunt. Complementing the tucked-away space is the wonderful seasonal menu of cocktails and small plates from owner and award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini. Collaborating with local mixologists, Carmellini elevates classic recipes and creates new ones emphasizing organic extracts and artisanal alcohols. Sit back with a classic like an Old Pal or Chartreuse Swizzle, or switch it up with the original cocktail Perfect Timing, which features bourbon, ginger, pandan, orange zest, and candied ginger. 1400 Woodward Ave., Detroit; eveningbar.com

cocktails in metro detroit - Johnny's
Pucker Up: Johnny’s New York Sour mixes Jefferson’s bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, angostura bitters, and merlot wine.

Johnny’s

This Royal Oak speakeasy goes to great lengths to provide guests with a Prohibition-era experience. It requires a reservation and can only be accessed through a secret door, which leads guests into a dimly lit basement. The restaurant offers classy house cocktails, such as the Yelevator (citadelle gin, yellow chartreuse, dill, cucumber, lemon, house-made tonic, and cream) and the Kaleidescope Ryes (Lot 40 rye whiskey, lavender-infused Two James rye dog, maraschino liqueur, and dry vermouth). 215 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-794-1261; johnnysroyaloak.com

Kiesling

Brick walls, brown leather, and Art Deco accents, as well as the neighborhood bar’s residence in a historic building (built by the Kiesling family in 1890) conjure a classic, masculine elegance. Kiesling’s menu, which changes each season, features its takes on the classics, as well as varying craft cocktails. Current options include the Tamarind Toddy, which blends rum, apple brandy, tamarind honey, lime, and bitters, and is served hot. 449 E. Milwaukee St., Detroit; 313-638-2169; kieslingdetroit.com

Lost River

This rum-centric tiki bar offers tropical cocktails served in eccentric mugs — think skulls, parrots, and bathtubs — and an atmosphere elevated beyond the kitsch of a typical Cheeseburger-in-Paradise joint. Classic tiki options include the Mai Tai and Painkiller. Patrons desiring Lost River’s original creations, however, should try the Medici, a blend of vodka, lemon, apricot nectar, blueberry grenadine, and Squirt. 15421 Mack Ave., Detroit; 313-720-0673; lostrivertiki.com

Motor City Gas

The distillery has a cocktail room that offers a seasonal menu with weekly featured drinks and up to 18 different styles of whiskey, all made in-house. The Motor City Manhattan cocktail puts a Detroit spin on a classic, while the Apple Sauce’d, which comprises cider, apple pie moonshine, and bourbon, is all its own. The farmhouse feel of the distillery is complete with a large chalkboard menu listing the different types of whiskey available. 325 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-599-1427; facebook.com/motorcitygas

Mutiny Tiki Bar

Bringing a piece of paradise to the Corktown area, this tiki bar serves up killer tropical cocktails. With its own spins on the classics and fruity drinks like the Privateer and the Chopped Monkey, Mutiny Bar will help you find your aloha and have you living on island time. The colorful overhead lights elevate the interior’s fun mood. Every Thursday night is karaoke night with hostess Shantasy Island. 4654 Vernor Highway, Detroit; mutinybar.com

Peso Bar

With more than 20 different margaritas, such as the Frida Kahlo (Cabresto Blanco, triple sec, a blend of citrus agave, coconut bandera, and coconut water — in reference to the artist’s famous Coconuts painting), this quaint joint aims to serve a taste of Mexico. The colorful, fruity drinks pay homage to the culture. Peso specializes in cantaritos, traditional tequila-based cocktails served in clay cups. 2547 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-974-6197;
pesobardetroit.com

Pinky’s Rooftop

A mural of pink flowers adorns one of the walls in this vintage cocktail bar. The interior is bright, youthful and, well, very pink, as are many of its concoctions. The menu of drinks is vast, made up of cocktails such as the Dancing Raspberries (Prosecco, St. Germaine, raspberries, and dry ice) and Thank U, Next (Absolut vanilla, blood orange, lemon, and fava water). 100 S. Main St., second level, Royal Oak; 248-291-6506; pinkysroyaloak.com

Port

This beer garden and tiki bar feels more like a skatepark hangout spot. It offers traditional boat drinks like pina coladas and daiquiris, as well as classics like the Hemingway and a whiskey mule. Port’s long drinks include the Zombie (mango rum, Cruzan black strap rum, white rum, pineapple, and lime). You’ll have to wait for warmer weather to enjoy cocktails at this outdoor spot, though — it’s closed for the season. 116 E. Troy St., Ferndale; 248-546-3696; portferndale.com

cocktails in metro detroit - nightcap
Pick Your Poison: A collection of concoctions from Ann Arbor’s Nightcap — the Clover Club (gin, raspberry, egg white, lemon juice), far left, the Daiquiri, right, and a shot of Braulio amaro.

Nightcap

This sleek and contemporary spot situated in downtown Ann Arbor has a wide variety of beverages. The bar uses innovated techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to bring guests a modern cocktail experience. The menu changes seasonally, but previously featured drinks that include the Blueberry Gimlet (blueberry-infused Titos, lime, and cinnamon syrup) and the Grapefruit-Rosemary Collins (rosemary-infused Bombay dry gin, grapefruit, honey, and soda). 220 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-369 6070; nightcapbara2.com

Sid Gold’s Request Room

The New York City karaoke piano bar opened its second location near Detroit’s Siren Hotel over the summer. Guests can sip cocktails while enjoying music from an array of genres performed by a live pianist. Traditional drinks include the Hemingway Daiquiri, made up of rum, maraschino liqueur, lime, and grapefruit. 1515 Broadway St., Detroit; 313-444-4653; sidgolds.com

Standby

The inventive cocktails on the menu are concocted with help of a centrifuge and liquid nitrogen — technology that pairs nicely with the bar’s industrial feel. The extensive menu includes various drinks made with a range of spirits. Brandy lovers can experience the refreshing taste of the Elvis Parsley, while those who favor whiskey might enjoy an In My Teelings (Teeling Irish whiskey, Montenegro, cappelletti, cherry heering, clementine, angostura, and orange bitters). 225 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-241-5719; standbydetroit.com

Sugar House

The Corktown craft cocktail bar features a rotating seasonal menu in addition to 101 perfected cocktail classics, a potentially overwhelming selection that’s full of favorites. Among those classics are the Bee’s Knees (gin, honey syrup, and lemon) and the Kangaroo cocktail (vodka, French vermouth, and orange bitters). Esquire recognized the bar as one of the best in America in 2018. 2130 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-0123; sugarhousedetroit.com

The Ghostbar at the Whitney

Located on the third story of the Whitney, the Ghostbar once served as the Whitney family’s art gallery. Art still adorns the walls of the cocktail lounge, where spirits (other than the supposed ghosts that roam the mansion) can be enjoyed. A favorite is the Witching Hour — Valentine white blossom vodka, limoncello, lime juice, and St. George raspberry liqueur. 4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-5700; thewhitney.com/ghostbar

The High Dive

A giant fiberglass shark greets guests walking into this cocktail parlor, which often hosts local bands. The drink menu includes signature cocktails inspired by the area, like the Hamtramck Mule, a traditional mule with a twist — strawberry preserve lends a fruity surprise. Another creative drink is the 75 N’ 8 Mile, blending Cruzan dark rum, ginger beer, angostura bitters, and a cured lime peel. 11474 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck;
313-334-5517; thehighdivedetroit.com

The Last Word

Named after a drink created at the Detroit Athletic Club in the 1920s, The Last Word serves up a serious cocktail experience. It conjures a Prohibition-era speakeasy feel with its nondescript, unmarked entrance door leading into a room that exudes Gilded-Age elegance. The drink selection is almost encyclopedic, with the menu split into six different chapters, each its own category of drink, as well as a glossary describing each term. The bestseller is the Osborn, a punchy mix of gin, pineapple, jalapeno, lime, and ginger beer. 301 W. Huron St., Ann Arbor; thelastwordbar.com

The Library at the Detroit Club

Drinks inspired by such notable figures as Ernest Hemingway are the main focus in this space, which is open to the public, unlike much of the Detroit Club. Try the Winner Take Nothing, a mix of applejack, Monkey Shoulder, date cordial, and lemon, for a taste of Hemingway’s world. The interior is grand, complete with a 20-foot crystal chandelier. 712 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-338-3222; thedetroitclub.com/thelibrary

cocktails in metro detroit - Valentine Distilling
Get Pickled: The Detroit Dirty Martini blends McClure’s spicy pickle brine and Valentine vodka.

Valentine Distilling Co.

Complementing the distillery where it makes its internationally acclaimed spirits, Valentine Distilling brings the same artisanal penchant for quality and detail to its cocktail lounge. Plush couches, red silk curtains, and crystal chandeliers meld with aged barrels and exposed brick walls to give the space an elegant yet rustic feel. The cocktail selection is full of Valentine twists on classic flavors, using its signature vodka, gin, and whiskey. A favorite is the Pink Petal, a refreshing mix of White Blossom vodka, cranberry, and grapefruit. 161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951; valentinedistilling.com

The Meeting House

The interior of the Meeting House is simple and modern, with a wall of slanted mirrors opposite a row of wooden tables and bright red chairs. The drink menu includes classics like the Grapefruit Fizz as well as modern mixes like Stay Woke (Ambre cognac, Cynar, salted butter coffee, demerara, and chocolate mole bitters) and Brown Eyed Women (rum, Amaro Montenegro, Italian vermouth, allspice, and black walnut bitters). 301 S. Main St., Rochester; 248-759-4825;
themeetinghouserochester.com

The Oakland Art Novelty Co.

With shimmering chandeliers and golden décor throughout the space, this speakeasy-style bar has a sophisticated, club-like atmosphere. A blend of blues, jazz, and psychedelic rock gives it a timeless feel. The Strychnine cocktail, blending Smith & Cross rum, lime juice, simple syrup, Fernet-Branca, and green chartreuse, is a favorite. 201 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-291-5295; theoaklandferndale.com

The Outpost

Traverse City Whiskey Co., a small-batch distillery, has brought its award-winning whiskey to Ferndale, opening the Outpost in the same building as Como’s Restaurant. The small and rustic tasting room serves delicious cocktails with a distinct Northern Michigan influence using its signature Traverse City Whiskey Co. spirits. Popular creations include the Michigan Mule, which fuses bourbon, ginger beer, and lime for a twist on the classic. 22812 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; tcwhiskey.com

The Skip

This whimsical hangout has everything from frozen Irish coffee to self-proclaimed “Fancy Drinks.” The No $$$ for Bail is made with Laphroaig scotch, falernum, manzanilla sherry, spiced fennel syrup, fresh cucumber and lime, and peach bitters. The interior is decked with the pinks and greens of plants and flowers, like those of a tropical jungle. 1234 Library St., Detroit; theskipdetroit.com

The Whisky Parlor

Nestled above the Grand Trunk Pub, this whisky parlor offers an abundance of whiskey, wine, and various other spirits. For those who are light drinkers, try the Detroit cocktail (Old Forester bourbon, Barrow Intense, Dolin Rougue, angostura bitters, black pepper, and torched lemon). With a Baseball Bat is the Parlor’s take on a PB&J Old Fashioned, made with peanut butter brandy, strawberry or grape jelly syrup, orange bitters, and peanuts. 608 Woodward Ave., Floor 2; 313-961-3043; whiskyparlor.com

Two James Spirits

The tasting room at Two James Spirits offers a selection of all the spirits made in house. The distillery works with ingredients that are locally sourced in Michigan to create gin, rum, bourbon, and other spirits, including the 98.8 proof Catcher’s Rye Whiskey. Four cocktail menus are rotated throughout the year in accordance with the changing seasons, using the freshest elements available. 2445 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-4800; twojames.com/tasting-room

Willis Show Bar

The legendary Cass Corridor bar honors its early years, continuing to host live entertainment and performances from local talent. The inside of the bar feels like a Gatsby-era speakeasy. House cocktails include the El Camino (rye, mezcal, Benedictine, and aromatic bitters) and the Willis (aged rum Agricole, almond, aromatic bitters,
and cherry bark vanilla bitters). 4156 Third St., Detroit; 313-788-7469;
willisshowbar.com

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