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Where to Find Hidden Bars and Speakeasies in Detroit

Back alley bars, Prohibition-era watering holes, and classic cocktails

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Bad Luck.
| Photo by Michelle and Chris Gerard

Hiding booze is a homegrown tradition in Detroit. Prohibition started here two years before the rest of the country, and, thanks to its proximity to Canada, Detroit was a hotbed for smuggling illicit hooch to a parched nation. It’s thought that thousands of blind pigs and speakeasies sprinkled the city during those dry years. These days, customers can still find a handful of pre-Prohibition bars serving stiff drinks around town and a new guard has cropped up serving classic recipes in unexpected locations.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Abick's Bar

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3500 Gilbert St
Detroit, MI 48210
(313) 894-9329
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A bar doesn’t hang around for more than a century without doing something right and there’s a lot to love about Abick’s. Located inside a house on a residential street, this pre-Prohibition waterhole is decked out in eclectic and historic memorabilia with Tiffany-lampshade style lighting and pool tables. Just remember to bring cash for drinks.

2. The Sugar House

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2130 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 962-0123
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Considered to be one of the first new wave cocktail bars in Detroit, the Sugar House is known for its extensive menu of well-made classic cocktails and seasonal, themed-bar menus. In addition to the drinks, patrons can snack charcuterie and cheese platters and other bar bites.

3. The Whisky Parlor

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608 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 544-1380
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This cozy hideaway is tucked somewhat surreptitiously above Grand Trunk Pub in downtown Detroit. In addition to a deep list of whiskey from around the world and whiskey-based cocktails, the bar keeps customer’s appetites sated with bison burgers and bread pudding. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Whisky Parlor hosts live music and DJs.

4. The Keep

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140 Cadillac Square
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 223-2626

This intimate, brick basement speakeasy offers a wide selection of classic and contemporary cocktails alongside an extensive beer menu. Swing by on a Monday for the rotating punch of the week. Sipping a drink amid the dark wood and leather chairs of a bygone era, it’s easy to forget booze isn’t actually banned.

5. Bad Luck Bar

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1218 Griswold St
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 657-9177
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Head down the back alley behind the Albert to find the snake-adorned entrance to Bad Luck. Inside, the Illuminati-influenced space bar serves high-end, experimental cocktails like the Hunter, a vodka and rhum-based cocktail with maple-vanilla syrup.

6. Cafe D'Mongos Speakeasy

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1439 Griswold St
Detroit, MI 48226

Cafe D’Mongo may be one of the least-secret speakeasies of all time — and for good reason. Packed with characters and character, drinks are served Thursday through Saturday amid old newspaper clippings, musical instruments, street signs, and ornately framed photographs. Owner Larry Mongo claims his family has worked in the booze since Prohibition, and the menu honors the city with Detroit-themed drinks.

7. Evening Bar

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1400 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

Located along Parker’s Alley in the Shinola Hotel, this upscale, secluded lounge serves a mix of classic cocktails Death in the Afternoon alongside original drinks. Patrons can also order high-end bar snacks like a fondue pot or mini lobster rolls.

8. Sid Gold’s Request Room

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1511 Broadway St
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 444-4653
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A piano karaoke bar, Sid’s is hidden in the alley between the Siren Hotel and the Element Hotel. Alongside nailing their personal rendition of “Piano Man,” customers can come for the monthly burlesque nights and music-themed cocktails like the Velvet Underground.

9. Cliff Bell's

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2030 Park Ave
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-2543
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Named for serial speakeasy impresario John Clifford Bell, this revived version of a classic Detroit jazz club serves plenty of dirty martinis around a large wooden bar. The live music, stylized 1930s murals, and wooden ceilings in the restored bar takes customers back to the time where was gin cold and the piano hot.

10. Castalia at Sfumato

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3980 2nd Ave e
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 305-1442
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Dive down to the basement level of an old Victorian mansion in Cass Corridor to find this small, but inviting bar. By day, the space operates as fragrance brand Sfumato and by night the space converts into a sleek lounge called Castilia that pairs cocktails with perfumes for a multi-sensory drinking experience.

11. The Ghostbar at the Whitney

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4421 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-5700
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Tucked away on the third floor in a mansion formerly owned by a Detroit lumber baron, the Ghostbar is one of several restaurants at the Whitney. Alongside drinks, they serve upscale plates like shrimp cocktails and ribeye.

12. Cadieux Cafe

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4300 Cadieux Rd
Detroit, MI 48224
(313) 882-8560
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Flemish bar Cadieux Cafe once operated as a prohibition-era speakeasy, and remains a go-to destination for Belgian ales and feather bowling. Book a lane ahead of a visit and bring a group to roll some wheels while sipping beers and eating bowls of steamed mussels.

13. Two Way Inn

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17897 Mt Elliott St
Detroit, MI 48212
(313) 891-4925
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Two Way Inn is the real deal. The saloon opened their doors in 1876, and has served spirits ever since. Ring the doorbell to enter and enjoy the atmosphere in one of Detroit’s historic watering holes known for its Sunday bloody marys and an ever-present pool table.

14. The Oakland Art Novelty Company

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201 W Nine Mile Rd
Ferndale, MI 48075
(248) 291-5295
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Part of an early wave of speakeasy influenced bars metro Detroit bars, Oakland Art Novelty Company serves superb cocktails amid luxurious oversized velvet chairs, gold chandeliers, and dim lighting. Seating is first-come, first-served and one can expect a bit of a wait on prime bar nights, but the drinks don’t disappoint. A creative, rotating menu includes classics like the Tom and Jerry alongside cocktails with quirky names like Silence of the Yams and Rhubarbra Walters.

15. Johnny's

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215 S Main St
Royal Oak, MI 48067
(248) 794-1261
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Getting into Johnny’s requires a little extra effort. Reservations are required for this basement bar, so call or text ahead to get the secret code. To get to the speakeasy, go through a door that looks like the entrance to a walk-in cooler in the back of Mr. B’s Gastropub. Live jazz shows accompany its prohibition-era cocktails on Sundays.

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1. Abick's Bar

3500 Gilbert St, Detroit, MI 48210

A bar doesn’t hang around for more than a century without doing something right and there’s a lot to love about Abick’s. Located inside a house on a residential street, this pre-Prohibition waterhole is decked out in eclectic and historic memorabilia with Tiffany-lampshade style lighting and pool tables. Just remember to bring cash for drinks.

3500 Gilbert St
Detroit, MI 48210

2. The Sugar House

2130 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

Considered to be one of the first new wave cocktail bars in Detroit, the Sugar House is known for its extensive menu of well-made classic cocktails and seasonal, themed-bar menus. In addition to the drinks, patrons can snack charcuterie and cheese platters and other bar bites.

2130 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216

3. The Whisky Parlor

608 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

This cozy hideaway is tucked somewhat surreptitiously above Grand Trunk Pub in downtown Detroit. In addition to a deep list of whiskey from around the world and whiskey-based cocktails, the bar keeps customer’s appetites sated with bison burgers and bread pudding. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Whisky Parlor hosts live music and DJs.

608 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

4. The Keep

140 Cadillac Square, Detroit, MI 48226

This intimate, brick basement speakeasy offers a wide selection of classic and contemporary cocktails alongside an extensive beer menu. Swing by on a Monday for the rotating punch of the week. Sipping a drink amid the dark wood and leather chairs of a bygone era, it’s easy to forget booze isn’t actually banned.

140 Cadillac Square
Detroit, MI 48226

5. Bad Luck Bar

1218 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226

Head down the back alley behind the Albert to find the snake-adorned entrance to Bad Luck. Inside, the Illuminati-influenced space bar serves high-end, experimental cocktails like the Hunter, a vodka and rhum-based cocktail with maple-vanilla syrup.

1218 Griswold St
Detroit, MI 48226

6. Cafe D'Mongos Speakeasy

1439 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226

Cafe D’Mongo may be one of the least-secret speakeasies of all time — and for good reason. Packed with characters and character, drinks are served Thursday through Saturday amid old newspaper clippings, musical instruments, street signs, and ornately framed photographs. Owner Larry Mongo claims his family has worked in the booze since Prohibition, and the menu honors the city with Detroit-themed drinks.

1439 Griswold St
Detroit, MI 48226

7. Evening Bar

1400 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Located along Parker’s Alley in the Shinola Hotel, this upscale, secluded lounge serves a mix of classic cocktails Death in the Afternoon alongside original drinks. Patrons can also order high-end bar snacks like a fondue pot or mini lobster rolls.

1400 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

8. Sid Gold’s Request Room

1511 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226

A piano karaoke bar, Sid’s is hidden in the alley between the Siren Hotel and the Element Hotel. Alongside nailing their personal rendition of “Piano Man,” customers can come for the monthly burlesque nights and music-themed cocktails like the Velvet Underground.

1511 Broadway St
Detroit, MI 48226

9. Cliff Bell's

2030 Park Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Named for serial speakeasy impresario John Clifford Bell, this revived version of a classic Detroit jazz club serves plenty of dirty martinis around a large wooden bar. The live music, stylized 1930s murals, and wooden ceilings in the restored bar takes customers back to the time where was gin cold and the piano hot.

2030 Park Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

10. Castalia at Sfumato

3980 2nd Ave e, Detroit, MI 48201

Dive down to the basement level of an old Victorian mansion in Cass Corridor to find this small, but inviting bar. By day, the space operates as fragrance brand Sfumato and by night the space converts into a sleek lounge called Castilia that pairs cocktails with perfumes for a multi-sensory drinking experience.

3980 2nd Ave e
Detroit, MI 48201

11. The Ghostbar at the Whitney

4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Tucked away on the third floor in a mansion formerly owned by a Detroit lumber baron, the Ghostbar is one of several restaurants at the Whitney. Alongside drinks, they serve upscale plates like shrimp cocktails and ribeye.

4421 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

12. Cadieux Cafe

4300 Cadieux Rd, Detroit, MI 48224

Flemish bar Cadieux Cafe once operated as a prohibition-era speakeasy, and remains a go-to destination for Belgian ales and feather bowling. Book a lane ahead of a visit and bring a group to roll some wheels while sipping beers and eating bowls of steamed mussels.

4300 Cadieux Rd
Detroit, MI 48224

13. Two Way Inn

17897 Mt Elliott St, Detroit, MI 48212

Two Way Inn is the real deal. The saloon opened their doors in 1876, and has served spirits ever since. Ring the doorbell to enter and enjoy the atmosphere in one of Detroit’s historic watering holes known for its Sunday bloody marys and an ever-present pool table.

17897 Mt Elliott St
Detroit, MI 48212

14. The Oakland Art Novelty Company

201 W Nine Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48075

Part of an early wave of speakeasy influenced bars metro Detroit bars, Oakland Art Novelty Company serves superb cocktails amid luxurious oversized velvet chairs, gold chandeliers, and dim lighting. Seating is first-come, first-served and one can expect a bit of a wait on prime bar nights, but the drinks don’t disappoint. A creative, rotating menu includes classics like the Tom and Jerry alongside cocktails with quirky names like Silence of the Yams and Rhubarbra Walters.

201 W Nine Mile Rd
Ferndale, MI 48075

15. Johnny's

215 S Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067

Getting into Johnny’s requires a little extra effort. Reservations are required for this basement bar, so call or text ahead to get the secret code. To get to the speakeasy, go through a door that looks like the entrance to a walk-in cooler in the back of Mr. B’s Gastropub. Live jazz shows accompany its prohibition-era cocktails on Sundays.

215 S Main St
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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