- 2130 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI, 48026
- Overall User Rating:
- (3 ratings)
- 5 p.m.-midnight Sun., Wed. & Thurs.; 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri. & Sat.
- Official Web Site:
Status: Abandoned for about 20 years, a craft cocktail bar has breathed life into a storefront on Michigan Avenue in Detroit.
Sugar House, a 1,200 square-foot bar near the popular Slows Bar BQ, officially opened Oct. 7, but if the name sounds familiar, it’s because Sugar House has been buzzed about for a year since General Manager Dave Kwiatkowski announced it would be created.
The concept behind the saloon is simple. “Create a bar that would have been here 100 years ago aesthetically and in terms of the drinks,” Kwiatkowski says. “We’re trying to get people that know craft cocktail and give them really great drinks and show people that there’s more to life than an apple martini.”
Gear: “We welcome everybody,” Kwiatkowski says. “People in Tiger’s outfits waiting to get into Slows, people on dates. We have sort of a sophisticated, upscale atmosphere, but I definitely want to keep it super casual.”
Mood: Exposed brick walls line the shotgun house-style bar, and mahogany-stained red oak wood floors run the length of the long narrow venue. The focus at the 56-person tavern is the bar, which Kwiatkowski says has been around since the early 1900s.
“We just cleaned it up and refurbished it.”
The only seating currently available is at the bar, but there are plans to add 16 tables against one of the wainscoted walls.
Pick me up: “Half the cocktails are made up, and the other half are classic drinks or contemporary classic,” Kwiatkowski says.
Bartender Chuck Gellasch created a Fragola Amara for 25-year-old Justin Fenner of Farmington Hills Friday. The $9 nine-ingredient drink contains Cruzan Aged Light and Demerara (rums), Chartreuse (a French liqueur) and Fernet Branca (an Italian herbal liqueur).
Though trying something different Friday, Fenner says his favorite drink at the bar is the Aviation made with gin, Luxardo (an Italian liqueur), lemon juice and Crème de Violette (a violet liqueur with a floral taste).
Most drinks are between $6 and $9.
“We want everybody to drink better cocktails,” Kwiatkowski says, and that involves educating the people who make the concoctions. Before Sugar House opened, the bartenders received training on the history of different drinks.
“Before you can invent a drink of your own, you have to know the old-school drinks and what makes them good,” Kwiatkowski says. “We definitely pay serious tribute to the classic drinks and the history.”
There are 15 beers at Sugar House including German, Belgian and English, but you won’t find macros like Bud or Miller Lite.
“That sort of annoys some people, but we do have $3 Atwater cans,” Kwiatkowski says.
Drinks are unmistakably the star at Sugar House, but with a small prep kitchen in the basement of the bar there will be a few food options as Chef Tenley Lark works to develop a charcuterie tray with sliced meats and cheeses.
Entertainment: There is no entertainment permit yet, but Kwiatkowski says “it’s in the works.”