Honest John's Bar & Grill 488 Selden St., 313-824-1243. This is the story of Honest John and his bar: Honest John's mother was a prostitute who died of an overdose when he was a boy. Later, Honest John bought a bar from man who was in jail. And though it has moved locations over the years, that bar—Honest John's Bar—is still a Detroit stalwart. Drinks are cheap, John still has to kick people out on occasion, and the signature drink is still the H.A.A., an acronym for one of John's former customers, "He's an Asshole." The bar sponsors several offbeat fundraisers, including the Moon Drop (a charitable collective mooning) and the Dipps for Tots, an annual toy-drive fundraiser that involves dressing up in costume and wading into the Detroit River.
Bronx Bar 4476 Second Ave., 313-832-8464. With only candlelight and muted Tiffany lamps to illuminate Bronx Bar, it's earned its unofficial title as the "darkest bar in Detroit." The good news? There's not much to see. Bronx Bar is a triumph of simplicity. The walls are not adorned with campy flair or neon beer signs. There is no live music, no tap beer, and very little to distract the regulars other than a pool table. For more than 70 years, this has been a neighborhood, shot-and-a-beer bar, and the shot of choice is overwhelmingly Jameson. "We can't keep it on the shelf," says one bartender. If it's the whiskey that gets the crowds in the door, however, it's the music that keeps them coming back. The dual jukebox spins everything from classic hip-hop to indie rock to soul, from G.G. Allin to Paul Anka. The food isn't bad either—the signature Arabic ciabatta bread helps give each of Bronx's sandwiches inimitable flavor.
The Old Miami 3930 Cass Ave., 313-831-3830. Though its name may indicate pastels and jai alai, that couldn't be further from the truth. Owner Danny Overstreet opened The Old Miami as a place for returning Vietnam Veterans, and Miami is an acronym for Missing in Action Michigan. Inside, the comfortable couches, pool table, and fireplace create a family atmosphere, but it's the stage that's famous here. The Miami has had nearly every Detroit band of note grace its stage since 1975 (and quite a few national acts as well). The good times don't end inside though—the huge outdoor area has a deck, a grill where customers can cook their own food, and even a koi pond. Though it may sound like a relative's home, it still has earmarks of a true dive bar: Old Milwaukee in a can, cheap shots—even bathroom graffiti. "My favorite is, ‘You're all whores,'" says one bartender of the scrawls on the walls.
Double Down Saloon : http://www.doubledownsaloon.com/
Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce : http://www.fortydeuce.com/
Saint's & Sinners : http://www.saintsandsinnerslounge.net/
Clermont Lounge : http://www.clermontlounge.net/
Northside Tavern : http://www.northsidetavern.com/
Star Community Bar : http://www.starbaratlanta.com/
Hemlock Tavern : http://www.hemlocktavern.com/
Creekside Lounge : http://www.thecreeksidelounge.com/
Basement Pub : http://www.basementpub.com/
Velvet Lounge : http://www.velvetloungedc.com/
Wonderland Ballroom : http://www.wonderlandballroom.com/
Madam's Organ : http://www.madamsorgan.com/
CC Club : http://www.ccclubmpls.com/
Memory Lanes : http://www.memorylanesmpls.com/
Half Time Rec : http://www.halftimerec.com/
Pawn Shop Lounge : http://www.thepawnshoplounge.com/
Duff's Brooklyn : http://www.duffsbrooklyn.com/
Magnetic Field 97 : http://www.magneticbrooklyn.com/