Five Michigan Speakeasies You Have to Visit
I can't fathom how Americans made it through 13 years in the early 20th Century without legal alcohol. Seriously, ALL of the 1920's, up until 1933, it was hard to find a drink.
BUT, in the eternal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm...
Enter, the speakeasy. Most of them were hidden away in secret rooms, or even behind false doors made to look like everyday spaces. There was something kind of cool about the hidden and underground aspect of a Speakeasy that made it even more exciting than a standard pub or bar.
Fast forward 100 years, and again, it's the Roaring '20s... sort of... and speakeasies are back on the map as popular spots. Michigan is no stranger to the speakeasy, and some of them are pretty unique.
So let's explore some of the speakeasies you should visit (responsibly) within the Mitten.
SpeakEZ Lounge - Grand Rapids
"Classic, yet current. Old School without Pretense"
That's literally how the SpeakEZ owners describe this pub in Grand Rapids, and it seems to fit. You won't need a 3-piece suit to show up here, but when you see the food, and the drinks, you'll feel like you're in a high-class 1920's establishment. And what's a speakeasy without drinks? SpeakEZ has a long list of win, signature cocktails, and beers on tap. On the flip side, though, it's a good spot for the sports crowd, with regular watch parties for the NBA finals, currently, and big soccer matches. This is a place you still be "blue collar" with a bit of extra class.
18th Amendment Spirits Co. - Muskegon
One of the things speakeasies used to do in the early 20th century, was make their own spirits... they weren't always the best, but they got the job done. THANKFULLY, in the 21st century, alcohol isn't banned, and current speakeasies are allowed to distill their own. Enter 18th Amendment in Muskegon. They're a distillery by definition, making their own brands of rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, rye, and "Agave" spirit, and specialize in drinks featuring their own brand. As a fan of a good Old Fashion, my eye's on "The Chesterfield" when I visit - Bourbon, cinnamon simple syrup, orange bitters, a smoked-Rocks glass, and orange peel. Once you get through the drink menu, though, 18th Amendment also offers a real Speakeasy aesthetic. Right in the heart of downtown Muskegon, it's an older building, completed with a lot of the same kind of furniture you might find in an old speakeasy - All really comfortable, but rarely matching... something you'd expect someone close to the speakeasy would donate so they had a comfortable place to sit when they visit. Throw in the woodfire oven for pizza and pretzels, this is a must-visit spot off Lake Michigan.
2Fog's Pub - Howell
Howell has a population under 10,000, and in the 1920s, it was probably even smaller. BUT, even smaller towns needed a place to let off some steam, so smalltown speakeasies weren't uncommon. 2Fog's Pub opened in 2015, then again in 2020. As it seems to be with most modern speakeasies, the food is ON POINT, with a full brunch menu sure to cure any hangover from the night before. And with the long, classic bar, stone walls, and low-light atmosphere, you'll think you stepped back 100 years into a classic speakeasy. Complete with classic and custom cocktails, full list of beers and wine, 2Fog's Pub is a worth stopping point in Howell if you're travelling through... just make sure your driver sticks to the mocktails.
Bab's Underground - Ann Arbor
It's a college town, to one of the most traditional schools in the country, so it only seems natural that a classic speakeasy would exist here. Even college kids (21 and older) gotta drink, right? If you happen to be visiting UofM for a game next year, be sure to stop in for a drink at Bab's. Step down into the low-light lounge that has pretty much everything you'd think to find in a speakeasy. Specializing in whiskeys, Bab's has a long list of favorite cocktails, plus some that are signature to the place. Once you've got a drink in hand, step over to the pool tables and play a little... just keep an eye out for those pesky pool sharks.
La Casa Cigar Lounge - Ann Arbor
Staying in Ann Arbor for this one, something that hasn't been on the list so far is a good cigar spot, because what 1920's gangster movie have you EVER seen where the bosses are hanging out in a lounge or speakeasy without a cigar in hand? None... that's the answer. La Casa in Ann Arbor caters to the cigar crowd. Step downstairs to the lounge and pick from cigars literally rolled around the world. La Casa caters to all kinds of aficionados, too. Veteran cigar smokers can visit VIP lounges with private humidor lockers, while the novice smoker will be greeted by a knowledgeable staff that will find exactly what you're looking for in your experience. Top-side of the cigar lounge, you'll still find that classic speakeasy drink stop with cocktails and beer.