Detroit Optimist Society’s bartenders — including The Sugar House, The Peterboro, Honest John’s, and Bad Luck Bar, among others — have long dabbled in the tiki cocktail tradition, owner Dave Kwiatkowski tells Eater. When the opportunity arose to purchase the beer-and-a-shot VL Bar on West Vernor it felt only natural to scale up into a full-time “dive tiki” bar, he says.
The purchase was finalized in October, leaving Kwiatkowski and his team with just a few weeks to transition the space. Customers from the former VL Bar will find the interior has many similarities to its previous occupant. Wood paneling still lines the walls (although it’s now topped off with bamboo), the bar is still a worn-in laminate, and the stucco walls have been given a fresh coat of paint.
Many of the decorations ranging from ceiling nets to glass fishing floats and grass thatch overhanging the bar area are from Kwiatkowski’s personal collection or items that were used in past Detroit Optimist Society tiki parties. A series of old menus from prominent tiki bars of the past including Trader Vic’s and Chin Tiki are framed and hanging along the wall near the entrance.
Leading the bar is longtime general manager at The Sugar House, bartender Chris Vanderginst. The menu features a range of cocktails served in colorful tiki mugs such as the Pain Killer (Brugal anejo rum, Malibu rum, coconut, orange, lime, and pineapple) and the Poseidon’s Fury (Plymouth gin, sloe gin, grenadin, grapefruit, lemon, and saline). Customers can also find large-format shareable cocktails such as the Scorpion Bowl on the menu alongside a small selection of beers and boozy slushies.
Photographers Chris and Michelle Gerard got a peek inside the revamped space on Friday ahead of the public opening. Dive into the Mutiny Bar in the gallery below.
Mutiny Bar is located at 4654 Vernor Hwy; the bar opens from 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.