2644 Harrison St., Detroit; 313-962-4247; nancywhiskeydetroit.com
Don't be dettered by the adjoining neighborhood, trust us. Once you're inside this neighborhood watering hole, you'll feel at ease, enjoined by a chattering contingent of some of the best talkers in town. And, even better, if you haven't visited Nancy Whiskey yet, this'll make your inaugural experience even better. For tradition's sake, all newcomers get a free shot of Tullamore Dew. Those good vibes you may have seen in the Long John Silver commercial that featured Nancy Whiskey? It's legit, and you'll know why when you visit.
3930 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3830
Where else will you find a wall that dons a signed photo of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson next to former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young? You won't. Around forever, Old Miami has become a mainstay for newcomers to Detroit's blossoming Midtown neighborhood, likely due to the dive bar's main sell: Its beautiful backyard. On a summer night, there's arguably not a better spot in town to enjoy a beer with some friends. It's spacious, lively, and always contains a diverse crowd to commingle with.
100 Renaissance Center (72nd floor); 313-567-2622; coachinsigniadetroit.com
If you haven't enjoyed the view at Coach Insignia, and you only have $5 to spare, take a jaunt to the riverfront, and head up when you get the chance. Over near the bar, snazzy-dressed patrons may be hovering over $9-$10 cocktails, but Coach's menu always employs an accessible price of $4 for a bottle of Atwater's Dirty Blonde beer. Live the high life for a chance, or, at the very least, act like you can.
3736 Third St., Detroit; 313-831-8949
The meteoric rise of Midtown has brought about an influx of new patrons for a number of establishments. In doing so, many have absorbed new environments, full of bustling college kids from Wayne State, especially on the weekends. While that may be the case, tucked away south of Selden, on Third, remains Jumbo's, whose original owner was known as the "Mayor of the Cass Corridor." New bars and eateries — e.g., Selden Standard, La Feria — have crept closer to the boundary line of Jumbo's, but for now, this one-of-a-kind dive maintains what it has always been: a friendly neighborhood watering hole for all walks of life.
1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; pjslagerhouse.com
Kudos to Paul "PJ" Ryder for his work reimagining the Lager House. Only a few years after Ryder acquired the rock 'n' roll haunt, Michigan rolled out its smoking ban — which could have been a deathblow to the dive. Ryder realized he'd need to try something different to stay current, and fortunately for the rest of us he decided to invest in a new kitchen. The new Lager House boasts an inventive menu that includes some excellent vegan and vegetarian dishes, such as vegan biscuits and gravy.
4476 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-832-8464
While the Bronx has all the hallmarks of a nocturnal haunt — a pair of decent jukeboxes, cheap booze, and a constant crowd of Wayne State and College for Creative Studies co-eds — there's also plenty of reasons to pop in during the day: namely, a killer bloody mary bar. From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, $5 gets you a glass filled with ice and vodka, and access to a make-your-own bar that features just about anything you could think of to make the perfect bloody mary. We dare you to drink only one.
1175 Lakepointe St., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-344-5104; inthepark1175.com
Housed in the former Grace United Church, this new beer hall offers a breathtaking backdrop for booze and chews, pairing brewmaster Brad Etheridge's suds with a menu created by Epicurean Group chef Kevin Green. You'll find plenty of proper German biergarten fare — schnitzel, knockwurst, kielbasa, and latkes — along with more typical bar options like burgers, pizza, and fish and chips. The stained glass windows and tables made from reclaimed pews add a nice touch you won't get at any other bar. Oh yeah, and about that beer: you'll find 40 on tap, in fact. Sacrilege? We feel rather blessed.
For years, being in a run-down district across the street from the "Murder Mart" meant Comet Bar could do as it pleased. In an era where the smell of smoke makes yuppies shit blood, people still freely lit up at the bar. Punk bands still played real punk rock. The bartender's lazy elbow ensure the best three-shot shots of whiskey in town. But all good things must come to an end, and the bar's location within the Greater North Foxtown Co-Prosperity Sphere was the final clincher.
126 Avery St., Mount Clemens; 586-463-4223; frankseastsidetavern.com
Though there may only be a few basement bars, that doesn't mean Frank's isn't the best. It's a smallish room where perhaps a half-dozen can sit at the bar, with tables beneath a ceiling so low you can reach up and touch it. It's worth a visit just to have a drink and see an old speakeasy, with pictures on the walls of the police smashing the liquor and beer they found there. Bring a friend and you'll have the pleasure of introducing them to something secret, even though the place is open to the public.
4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-5700; thewhitney.com
Every Detroiter has heard tales that the old Whitney mansion, which now serves as a swanky restaurant, is haunted. We've learned from former employees that spooky things happened all the time, things would move on their own, the elevator goes from floor to floor of its own volition, and noises can be heard from unoccupied rooms. The third-story lounge, the Ghost Bar, is no stranger to paranormal activity. While you're sipping on a Witching Hour, we suggest asking the bartender what happens inside the women's restroom.