You can sit for a spell at The Black Salt, Hamtramck’s latest bar set to open next month.
The menu is divided into two parts: classic cocktails and “spell” cocktails, which use seasonal ingredients and include a ritual, with both bartenders and guests participating.
Owner Zoey Ashwood says her west Michigan roots mixed with her interest in nature to create the bar, which celebrates intention, connection, and the literal fruits of the earth.
“I’m given the opportunity to open a bar and have a business,” she says, “I want to open a place that I’ve always wanted to go to.” She calls the Black Salt “a very open and inclusive space, a very spiritually diverse space, and then a creative space as well.”
Ashwood says her fascination with Druidism, Wicca, and Paganism has been part of her life since she was young. Though she was raised Irish Catholic on the west side of the state and attended Catholic school, Ashwood says she felt a deep connection to spirituality through Michigan’s nature.
“I just played in nature in ways that are very spiritual that I didn’t learn until later in life, [and] I was like, ‘Oh,’” she says. “I was practicing divination from a very young age by taking sticks and dropping them and seeing, you know, if they dropped in this kind of pattern meant that the trees were telling me this, and then I’d go do that.”
Ashwood brought that passion for nature to her bar, creating infusions that hold properties designed for metaphysical and medicinal purposes. “We’re very much looking at all the different types of ingredients and how they’re being used and then putting those into different cocktails,” she says.
Ashwood explains that the ritual aspect of the spell menu could be as simple as stirring the drink in a specific direction or placing the garnish on it.
“It’s literally, like, in your mind and in your intention directing that,” she says. “But there’ll be a simple completion of the spell that’s done while you’re consuming the cocktail, or, you know, as you write after you receive the cocktail, and then that’s the drink. That’s the spell.”
Ashwood says the cocktails are created with what’s known as “kitchen magic,” or in simple terms, “cooking with love.” The goal is to eventually turn The Black Salt into an apothecary of sorts, where guests can come in and have tailored spells made for them, but initially, The Black Salt is focusing on spells for basic human needs and a zodiac-themed drink for each sign’s corresponding month.
“We’re gonna start with, like, a grounding and cleansing cocktail, a money or prosperity cocktail, an attraction, love cocktail,” she says.
For the skeptics out there or those who might be a bit wary of witchcraft and paganism, you can also order a standard cocktail with no magical properties. Ashwood says the bar will have double-sided coasters, one with an eight-pointed star, signaling they want ritual, or the other with the bar’s name emblazoned on it to signal the customer wants a standard drink.
Ashwood says one of the main priorities of The Black Salt is for the guest to interact with magic on their own terms. If you’re ready to dive into divination, The Black Salt will also have tarot and oracle decks for rent at the bar (similar to renting pool balls) that guests can use to look for guidance or see what the week has in store for them. The Black Salt will also have a devoted staff ready to help patrons navigate their metaphysical needs.
While living in New York City, Ashwood says she would take her car up the Hudson River and go into nature and embrace her interest in Druidism and Wicca-related practices, believing that the rituals and time in nature helped her stay grounded. After some life changes, Ashwood returned to Michigan, began working as a tarot card reader, and earned a life coach certification.
During the pandemic, Ashwood was looking for a space and came across the former Mephisto’s on Florian Street. Ashwood says she knew that was the building for her, and The Black Salt was born.
The bar is expected to open at 4 p.m. on March 3, with a raffle from until 6 p.m. with a prize of a “Prosperity and Protection” mystery bag featuring items from Downtown Tarot Company.
Ashwood says the space will host private Sabbath events for those who want to embrace the white light magic, and there will be free full-moon rituals to charge crystals and divination decks.
Ashwood says she wants The Black Salt to be not just a kitschy bar but a gathering place for people to embrace spirituality through nature and commune with each other.
“We’re here to just put really good energy into the world and provide something that is kind of lacking,” she says. “Fill a hole.”
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