Esquire Magazine Declares Detroit 'Bar City of the Year'

May 28, 2014, 8:05 AM


Heck, we'll take this title any day: "Bar City of the Year."

Yes, Esquire magazine, in its June/July issue gives the 2014 honor to Detroit.

The subhead on David Wondrich's article says: "Resurrection or not, this is our new favorite drinking town."

Woodrich writes about the city during a visit in March. Let's face it, the winter was so cold it's no wonder that he walked the streets at lunchtime and didn't find a lot of people hanging out, even at Campus Martius downtown.

He mentions these Detroit classics: Grand Trunk Pub, Greenwich Time, Old Miami, PJ's Lager House, Cliff' Bell's, Pump Tavern, the Bronx Bar, Mercury Burger & Bar,  the Sugar House, Casey's, the Gaelic League and  Nemos.

He also tips a glass to suburban joints: Vinsetta Garage, Redcoat Tavern and the Oakland Art Novelty Company.

In any event, here's a sampling of what he wrote:

Detroit doesn't wait to get unsettling: Even from the airport expressway I can see, scattered among the trim suburban-style brick-and-clapboard houses of the city's west side, carcasses of the burnt and abandoned. A half-hour's stroll around the heart of downtown doesn't help.

Grand Circus Park, five minute's walk from the best hotel in town -- there's hardly anyone on the sidewalk -- is ringed by elegant, 1920s-vintage limestone office towers, half of which have their windows out. Plywooded shop fronts, parking lots everywhere, sidewalks left unshoveled and compacted with ice (It's March, and spring is nowhere in sight) not so jolly. There's a bus station where the Lindell AC stood. The Caucus Club is gone, the space empty. Even at Campus Martius, the square at the very center of the city's business district, there are only three or four souls waiting to cross the street with me. That's at lunchtime on a brisk, sunny Thursday.

This is what happens when a city built for 1.8 million loses more than half its population. 

But then, half a block away, I dodge to the Grand Trunk Pub and find everyone who is left. The glorious, vaulted 1911 hall is packed and lively, the people drinking local microbrews (24 of them on tap), eating burgers and fish and chips and such. the host who finds me one of the few remaining seats cheerfully informs me that it's a 45-minute wait for food."

He concludes: "While Detroit exteriors may be forbidding, its interiors are anything but. "

-- Allan Lengel

Read more:  Esquire

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