You know how to EAT THIS CITY. With top chefs as tour guides, you’ve learned how to scout out hot spots for breakfast and brunch, where to go for a delicious date night, and how to feast like a local liege in the cities you love. But where do you wash it all down? Do you know how to find the best brewpub? Who makes the meanest of bloody marys and the most sparkling of mimosas? What bars transport you?
You’re about to find out. Welcome to DRINK THIS CITY!
Join us this week in Detroit, where we’re meeting our guide to the city’s cocktail culture, bartender Jonathan Shock! Shock comes to us from Prime + Proper, a luxurious steakhouse that marries contemporary culinary excellence and innovation with respect for history, tradition, and true hospitality.
“I moved from New Orleans to Detroit to experience a new place that I felt was exploding with opportunity and development.,” says Shock. “Prime + Proper embodies all of those things about Detroit. It is a modern take on a classic steakhouse featuring steaks dry aged in-house and an incredible raw bar and wine program. Every cocktail on our menu is driven by our food and is designed to pair elegantly with it.”
Who’s thirsty? Let’s check out Jonathan’s ten favorite drinking hot spots in Chicago!
BRUNCH COCKTAIL OR HAIR OF THE DOG
Brunch doesn’t truly begin for me until I get a Bloody Mary in my hand. I’m always chasing the perfect one. It’s my white whale. The Bloody Mary bar at Parc offers some incredibly delicious house made mixes and a wide array of sauces and garnishes to truly micromanage your Bloody Mary in the eternal pursuit of perfection.
So many bartenders in this city have such a deep knowledge of classics, I certainly have a wide array of places to choose from. However when I’m in the mood to sit down with a Manhattan or a daiquiri and maybe a book, Lady of the House calls to me. It’s elegant but homey; the feel is warm and comfortable. I can chat with the bartender about the perfect rum for a daiquiri, run into service industry friends on a Sunday night, or enjoy comfortable silence in a place that feels like home.
The cocktail scene in Detroit is self-made and modern. This is no better exemplified by my two favorite cocktail bars in the city, Standby and Grey Ghost. Cocktails flow from taps. Liquid nitrogen “smoke” rises from cocktail shakers like bubbling cauldrons. Hip hop and EDM music pump through the speakers. The bartenders flow with grace and are always gracious. These bars are alive and their energy and passion are palpable. I can’t choose between them because they are everything I love about craft cocktails in Detroit.
I might be cheating a bit here but the frozen drinks (especially the Frozen Irish coffee) from the Skip are so incredibly delicious, I would be remiss not to include them. On a hot day simply nothing else will do. They are staying open all winter this year as well and will be offering some delicious hot punches later this season.
I love a good dive bar and Detroit has some incredible and historic offerings to choose from. Abick’s, the Old Miami, and the Painted Lady are favorites of mine but there’s something about Temple Bar, located across the street from the Masonic Temple, that reminds me of New Orleans. Weird Christmas lights, a dance floor with music almost as varied as the people who fill it. It’s quirky charm can’t quite be defined but it can be felt. The people watching is almost as good as the ice cold High Lifes.
PUB, TAVERN, OR BREWERY
I found myself at Green Dot Stables on one of my first days in Detroit. It was a great introduction to a unique city. Great beers, an impressive whiskey selection at incredibly reasonable prices, and just about any kind of slider that you can think of, instantly assured me that I had found a new home.
Detroit’s luxury and boutique hotel scene is still just beginning to explode, with many new projects currently under construction. However one of the first new names on the block may be the best. The Apparatus Room at the Foundation Hotel is a beautifully appointed space that still reflects its history as a fire station. The restaurant is run by a Michelin Star awarded chef, Tom Lents, and the large island style bar is dripping with light and luxury. The cocktails and wine list are thoughtful and well curated. Whether you are sitting down for dinner or just grabbing a drink at the bar, it will be hard not to come away impressed.
Coming from New Orleans, my favorite holiday memories involved Tom & Jerry cocktails made by Chris Hannah at French 75 served in vintage Tim & Jerry mugs. When it snows, The Oakland serves incredible Tom & Jerry’s in similar glassware. I’m a southern boy at heart so I’m not a fan of snow, but with drinks as good as that, I’m secretly hoping.
THEMED BAR OR IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
Detroit isn’t big on themed bars (unless you love the Red Wings. Go to Hockey Town. It’s great.) But sports feelings aside, I love Cadieux Cafe. A bit of a dive bar featuring Belgian beer, Belgian food, and Feather Bowling? This immersive experience is completely immersive and completely Detroit.
COCKTAIL MADE BY A FRIEND
I love Detroit’s bar community and am fortunate enough to have several friends I’d happily “share” (they pour I drink) a pint or two with while I vent and they listen. A “captive audience” you could say. Liz Cosby, our USBG President, however, is the perfect person to get advice from, vent to, or match you story for story if you want to compare notes about life. She also makes a great cocktail to match the great conversation.
Thank you Jonathan for taking us on tour of the best of Detroit’s bars!
Join us next week for more DRINK THIS CITY! Meanwhile, hit us in the comments — where should we travel next?