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5 Ways to Celebrate Repeal Day in Metro Detroit

Cocktail specials, costumes, and Prohibition talks.

Virtual Motor City/Wayne State

It's a tradition among bars across the city to mark the anniversary of the day when Prohibition laws rolled back. Michigan had one of the longest stretches as a dry state in the country, with local teetotalers passing bans alcohol in 1916 — a full three years before the passage of the 18th Amendment. Of course, many citizens weren't willing to give up their drink and the demand inspired more than 15,000 speakeasies to flourish in the Detroit area. Meanwhile, smugglers devised ways to traffic enormous amounts of booze from Canada. By some estimates, Michigan supplied around 75 percent of the alcohol consumed in the United States during Prohibition.

Fortunately, Congress wised up and passed the 21st Amendment repealing the dry law in 1933. Michigan was the first state to ratify the amendment, rolling back Prohibition on December 5, 1933. Without that momentous occasion, thirsty Michiganders might still be sipping bootlegged booze in blind pigs, rather than celebrating the current cocktail revivalHere, now, are 5 ways to celebrate this weekend:


The Sugar House

The Sugar House Bill Murray is throwing aside all tables and chairs on Saturday to make way for live music, Prohibition era cocktails, and a Fernet-Branca bike raffle between 5 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. Buy a shot of Fernet and enter to win the shiny new branded cruiser.

Image credit: Stock Detroit/Michelle and Chris Gerard


The Keep

Downtown cocktail lounge The Keep is marking its first December 5 celebration with live music and $5 Old Forester bourbon cocktails. The doors open at 8 p.m. and the first 70 people inside receive a special gift.

Image credit: Michelle and Chris Gerard


Detroit City Distillery
Detroit City Distillery Michelle and Chris Gerard

Detroit bar historian Mickey Lyons is making a special appearance at DCD on Repeal Day to provide a little expert background on Prohibition. The talk will be followed by a toast, food, more booze, music and a photo booth (so make sure to don your best duds). Tickets are $10.

Image credit: Stock Detroit/Michelle and Chris Gerard


The Stonehouse Bar

One of Detroit's bonafide blind pigs is hosting a Repeal Week. Drop by on Felon Friday for specials on Detroit City Distillery Booze and Bathtub Gin and music by Bill Schultz. On Speakeasy Saturday find specials on Templeton Rye and Bathtub Gin and performances by James Wallin and Bobby East of the Reefermen.

Image credit: Stonehouse Bar


Public House

Imbibers can head to Ferndale's Public House for a Jazz Age shindig. The event launches at 6 p.m. with specials on cocktails made with Two James spirits, jazz music, and retro film screenings on the patio. Partygoers are encouraged to come in costume.

Image credit: Facebook

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