Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan Wolverines, is much more than your typical college town; it’s a city with a lively and diverse nightlife that attracts people from across the state. In the following piece we will highlight some of the pubs, lounges and gin joints that make up this great nighttime scene with our list of the some of the best bars in the town—bars that offer students and the hardworking population of Ann Arbor some much needed fun, relaxation and the mindless entertainment we all often crave.
The Bar at 327 Braun Court
If you’re looking for a unique environment for your afterhour’s fun, the Bar at 327 Braun Court, which is located on the top floor of a former two-story house, may just be the perfect destination. In a setting that resembles the basement in “That 70s Show,” this laidback bar offers a great selection of local and out-of-state microbrews, as well as the usual collection of domestic beers. The Bar at 327 Braun Court features all the popular cocktails of yesterday and today, including their very own creation—Two Counts of Defrauding an Innkeeper—a refreshing combination of aged Dominican Rum, light Jamaican Rum, Fernet, Vanilla, Pineapple and lime, ingredients that come together to form a delicious tropical refreshment. The bar itself is open, airy and very friendly, and sponsors many “theme nights,” including “Movie Night” Tuesdays.
The Last Word
Those looking for a trip back in time to the 1930s speakeasy environment will love The Last Word, whose underground locale is a genuine embodiment of that genre, characterized by hidden and dimly lit halls and a vintage décor.
Live jazz music and DJs complement the well-dressed bartenders here, serving up your favorite cocktail concoctions from a book-themed menu. Partygoers can order up old favorites such as “High Balls,” “Manhattans,” and “Old Fashioneds” or drift instead towards some of the newer mixtures found only here. Best of all, the Last Word’s late night menu makes the locale a one-stop party palace from 8 until closing.
Located on West Liberty Street in the downtown section of Ann Arbor, the Alley Bar is the latest in a long line of popular drinking establishments at this address dating back to the 1880s. The direct and no-nonsense atmosphere at this bar makes it a favorite among those seeking to relax and escape for a while, while also enjoying a classic or experimental cocktail, a craft beer, or just a cold Budweiser. Here, barrel-aged cocktails are readily available, which includes the Alley Bar’s renowned creation called the “Pickleback”—a shot of Paddy’s Irish Whiskey served with the bar’s Brinery Optimus brine pickle juice.
Although the original location of Knights Bar—on Dexter Avenue—remains a local favorite in Ann Arbor for its old-school charm and décor, those seeking a livelier atmosphere should make their way to the chic downtown outpost of Knights Bar, where wraparound windows consistently draw in the energy of Michigan locals and visitors from the nearby sidewalks. While the tenor of this bar is distinctly varied in comparison to the original location, the drinks are still the classics people have come to know and love, poured generously by the friendly and well-dressed bartenders who are always willing to serve as the spark that keeps the party raging inside.
Located at 812 Monroe Street just down from the university, Dominick’s Bar is a great place to grab a cocktail, beer or bite to eat on the cool patio during one of the city’s hot summer nights. Guests who crave sangria will truly enjoy this Italian-themed hotspot. Whether you prefer to sip on Dominick’s signature sangria from a Mason jar, or opt instead for their aptly-named, secret-recipe Constant Buzz sangria, this seasonal favorite is always flowing and never disappoints—reminding students and others that the warmth and relaxation of summer has arrived. Although cool drinks are obviously more popular than the fare at Dominick’s, the restaurant/bar does serve up a variety of delectable snacks, ranging from gooey and delicious mozzarella sticks to its ultra popular brick oven crispy crust pizza. Seating can often be hard to come by at this popular spot, so be sure to show up early on the weekend nights to secure your spot.
No list of Ann Arbor bars would be complete without the mention of Ashley’s, located conveniently at 338 South State Street, very near to the university. The most popular order at Ashley’s is definitely beer…and lots of it. The college hangout features dozens of tap beers daily, ranging from domestic and imported favorites to a wide selection of great craft beers from across the country and around the world. Whether you’re a fan of IPAs, stouts or even ciders, you’re sure to find something cold and enjoyable to sip at Ashley’s Bar, and the many televisions positioned around this great hotspot mean you’ll never miss a second of the big game. Ashley’s has a full menu of tasty snacks that go great with a ice-cold beer, including hot wings, ribs and dozens of kinds of cheese curds. Outdoor seating is limited here, but if you’re lucky enough to secure a patio seat along State Street you’re guaranteed an epic people-watching experience.
image credit: Pixabay