Man we loved this trip - Motor City was a destination we both wanted to see since we were little. Both of us are gear heads, and so the history of motorsports and cars coming from this region was legendary, and traveling here was like going to Mecca. At the same time, the place has had a pretty rough life. It never recovered from the riots in the 1960's, then the mass exodus by the residents as one car plant after another shut down.

But lately there's been a renaissance, especially downtown, and cool small bars, breweries and restaurants have been popping up all over town. The new stadiums have been built, and the city is starting to come back alive. So we thought we needed to go find the oldest bars in the city and report on them for you. So here they are, the 5 oldest bars in Detroit, all vouched for by us!

Abick's Bar - 1907

3500 Gilbert St., Detroit, MI, 48210, (313) 894-9329


Believed to be one of Detroit’s Oldest Continuously Operating Family-owned bars, Abick’s is steeped in history. The bar was built in 1907 and became Abick’s in 1919 when George Abick purchased it. Later, during prohibition, it’s believed to have been a speakeasy (of course). During World War 2, it was run by Marie Abick, who was known to collect and pool the neighborhood ration stamps and cook up feasts for the locals, which was especially helpful as rations ran lean. Today the bar remains in the Abick family and it proudly retains its history with as little changed as possible. 


Jacoby's German Biergarten - 1904

624 Brush St, Detroit, MI 48226(313) 962-7067

jacobys detroit

Founded by Albert Jacoby, a Luxembourg immigrant, right in the middle of downtown Detroit, Jacoby's German Biergarten has been serving delicious, authentic Bavarian food and beer since 1904. Popular with the huge immigrant population of the city, the old bar was frequented by many of Detroit's powerful (the good and the bad). Its proximity to the courts and businesses has made it a popular stop for after hours drinks and meetings in dark corners. Today, it retains its history and charm, serving up delicious food and strong drinks!


Nancy Whiskey - 1902

2644 Harrison St., Detroit, MI, 48216, (313) 962-4247

nancy whiskey outside

In 1902, an Irish immigrant known as Digby converted his general store into a full-fledged bar known simply as Digby’s Saloon (he realized that the residents of the Irish section of town were a thirsty lot). There it's stood ever since, even during prohibition when it was one of hundreds of speakeasys around town. The place is also just a couple blocks away from Jimmy Hoffa's office. According to legend, Jimmy’s office phone was tapped, So, to get around this he would stroll down to the local bar (now known as Nancy’s), and place calls in the phone booth (which is still there). Nancy Whiskey describes itself today as “Detroit’s oldest party,” and, with a liquor license that spans over 110 years, that claim is probably pretty close to the truth.


Tommy's Detroit Bar & Grill - 1880s

624 3rd Ave., Detroit, MI, 48226, (313) 965-2269


The exact date of construction for the brick building housing Tommy's, is unknown, but it was built sometime in the 1880s. Though it's had multiple owners, businesses, rooms and even floors added and removed over the years, throughout it all, it’s always served alcohol (both legally and illegally) in one form or
another. In 1920, an Italian restaurant occupied the main level of the structure, and, later, when prohibition was the law, the basement was turned into a speakeasy known as Little Harry’s. Today when you walk into Tommy’s, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how modern it feels, but don’t let this fool you, the place celebrates its historic past.


2 Way Inn - 1876

17897 Mount Elliott Street, Detroit, MI, 48212, (313) 891-4925

2 way inn sm

The 2 Way Inn was established by Colonel Philetus Norris in 1873 in the small town of Norris, Michigan. The building was originally utilized as the town’s jail, general store, and the Colonel’s residence until it was turned into a saloon in 1876. During prohibition, it was turned into a combination Dentist office and
speakeasy, which sounds weird at first until you consider the laws of the time—since the Volstead Act allowed doctors to prescribe alcohol to patients, having a dentist office in the building was exceptionally beneficial. Today the bar is best described as a homey neighborhood bar, or, as it’s owners, bartenders and patrons like to describe it, a “fine dive,” meaning dive bar pricing without the smells.


Add a comment

James and Yolie here, back in the USA after a week in the north of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  For this adventure we went via a Globus Travel bus tour along with 44 strangers (now friends), and we had an amazing time!  We had overnight stops in Dublin, Galway, Letterkenny, and Belfast plus loads of other interesting detours along the way.  Our tour guide, Kevin, and driver, Jurgen, took great care of us.  They maximized our tour time while what seemed like herding a bus load of cats, all the while educating and entertaining us along the way.  Our kids when they were younger would have called the tour funducational.


Add a comment

James and Yolie back home after a whirlwind mid-west weekend. We landed at Indianapolis International Airport at eight-thirty Friday morning and by nine we were in our brand new Chevy Malibu rental.  Our first of two primary targets for the weekend was the Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette.  The Knickerbocker is the oldest bar in Indiana...or is it?  The Knickerbocker didn't open until 4:00 PM so we had some time to check out downtown Indianapolis.  We were immediately struck by the tens of thousands of fit looking people filling the streets.  We soon discovered it was The Beach Body Coach Summit convention that was in town, so we knew right away it was going to be a great day for sightseeing.  When we travel to larger cities we always take a city tour as soon as we can.  The tour gives us a chance to get our bearings, learn a little history and some fun facts, and most importantly we get leads on great bucket list bars from the tour guide.

Indiana trip pics3Indiana trip pics3Indiana trip pics3

This time we took an Indy Fun Trolley Tour and our driver/guide was none other than Tim the Trolley Man.  Tim did a great job showing us the sights of Indianapolis.  After a quick stop at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum we got the inside scoop on the first two unique bars of the weekend.  Tim clued us in on Saint Joseph Brewery & Public House (540 N. College Ave.) and The Slippery Noodle Inn (372 South Meridian St.), the oldest bar in Indiana.  Whoa!  How can that be?  We headed immediately to the Slippery Noodle to investigate.  Seems that the Slippery Noodle and the Knickerbocker are well aware of each other's claim of being the oldest in the state.  We visited both, they're both great unique bars, and you'll have to decide for yourself the rightful holder of the oldest crown.  The Slippery Noodle is a blues haven and Blues Brothers memorabilia makes up the bar's decor.  The downtown bar happened to be filled that day with Beach Body conventioneers quaffing brews and eating delicious looking lunches.  After putting down a couple of cold Chilly Water Brewing Company drafts, and collecting details on their oldest bar claim, we headed out to our second lead from Tim the Trolley Man, that being the Saint Joseph Brewery & Public House.

Indiana trip pics9Indiana trip pics9Indiana trip pics9Indiana trip pics9Indiana trip pics9Indiana trip pics9

Saint Joseph Brewery is in a former Catholic Church.  The altar area has been taken over by beer vats, but there are still pews and other remnants of its past.  Bartender Jimmy recommended a nice flight selection plus a bonus taster, that being the Dark Angel Black Lager.  All the beers were very tasty, but we have to confess, the Dark Angel would make this James a Saint Joseph regular.  Jimmy took great care of us and the whole staff made us feel right at home.  Thank heavens for Saint Joseph Brewery & Public House!

Indiana trip pics12Indiana trip pics12Indiana trip pics12Indiana trip pics15Indiana trip pics15Indiana trip pics15

After leaving the brewery we headed 70 miles northwest to Lafayette to find the Knickerbocker Saloon (113 N. 5th St.).  Upon arrival we sadly discovered they did not serve food.  That bag of 12 mini pretzels on the plane was a distant memory, so we needed to fuel up before we could sample the Knickerbocker's liquid wares.  Bartender Kory pointed us to Digbys Pub and Patio's (133 N. 4th St.) back door, which was just across the parking lot and past some dumpsters, to get a bite.  Digbys was a great local joint.  One armed bartender, Richard, mixed up great cocktails, served up good grub, and introduced us to Ol' Tavern Beer from People's Brewing Company.  Richard actually had both limbs but one was in a sling.  One of the regulars at the bar, though, said with a wink that he's been milking the injury for months.  We had a great time with Richard and all the locals.  After making some new friends and with full bellies, we headed back across the lot to the Knickerbocker.

Indiana trip pics18Indiana trip pics18Indiana trip pics18

Bartender Kory greeted us again and served us some local drafts.  The Knickerbocker is a good looking bar with two interesting features.  The walls are covered with pictures of the oldest bar in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  We've been to many of the pictured bars and it was evident that the Knickerbocker was proud to take its place among them as the oldest in Indiana.  We know, there's that Slippery Noodle matter, but you can decide for yourself.  The other interesting feature was a piano at the front door with an advertisement for Ryan Rollins the Piano Man.  Besides loving old and unique bars we're suckers for a good piano bar.  As a matter of fact, we met at Middleton Tavern's upstairs piano bar during Maryland piano man legend, Larry Lay's, opening set.  Oops, took a little stroll down memory lane there, now let's get back to the Knickerbocker.  Unfortunately, we had to leave for Michigan around 6:00 PM so we couldn't hang around to hear Ryan.  But, to our great surprise he was sitting next to us the whole time.  Ryan offered to play for us right then!  What a treat!  Ryan took his place at the piano and put on an impromptu show for the handful of customers on that hot Friday afternoon.  Ryan was awesome, but his Hotel California duet with Yolie was the highlight of the set.  Sadly,  we had to leave Ryan after 45 minutes but he was still rocking the joint as we headed out the door.

Indiana trip pics21Indiana trip pics21Indiana trip pics21

We got back in the Malibu and headed 132 miles north to the Old Tavern Inn (61088 Indian Lake Rd.) in Niles, Michigan.  The Old Tavern Inn is not only the oldest bar in Michigan, it is the oldest business!  The Old Tavern Inn seems far off the beaten path, but it was filled with locals on that Friday night.  The beer was cold, the ham sandwich we ordered was simply enormous, and the small team of bartenders and cooks were crazy busy.  The way they kept surveying the dining room, staying up on their toes, and taking care of the hungry and thirsty crowd was amazing.  Kudos!

Indiana trip pics24Indiana trip pics24Indiana trip pics24

We left Niles and headed 115 miles west to Chicago where we would spend the rest of the weekend.  On Saturday and Sunday we:  experienced the annual G-Fest convention (that's the big Godzilla convention, and yes, there is such a thing); cruised by Wrigley Field; dipped our toes in Lake Michigan; sailed on a Chicago River Architecture Cruise; viewed the city from the top of the Willis Tower; did a Mobster/Ghost Walking Tour; and a whole lot more!  These were all fun activities that naturally worked up a thirst.  During our sightseeing we ran across the Safe House (60 E. Ontario St.).  This just might be the coolest bar we've ever visited.  We found it on Saturday and had to go back again on Sunday.  A double visit, which is a first for us!  We'd love to tell you all about the Safe House, but they'd have to kill us.  My friends, we beg of you, go to Chicago and don't miss taking refuge in the Safe House.

Indiana trip pics27Indiana trip pics27Indiana trip pics27

On Monday, we drove the 187 miles back to Indianapolis to catch our flight home.  We made it just in time only to find out our flight was delayed.  That gave us enough time to settle in at The Fan Zone Sports Bar in Terminal B.  Our bartender, Kourtney, was wonderful.  She provided us a couple local brew samples and we decided on a Crook & Marker Tangerine Spiked Cider for Yolie, and a Big Lug Diat 3.7% Pilsner followed by an Indiana City Roulette 10% Imperial Stout for James.  The stout was particularly tasty.  Kourtney's hospitality and good naturedness made the time fly by and it was boarding time before we knew it.  After three states, 763 road miles, two or was it three oldest-in-state bars, one top secret bar, and lots of good memories, it was time to head home and recharge.  Adios for now, we'll talk again after our next bucket list bar adventure in New England.

Add a comment

new england trip pics

James and Yolie here again after an eventful weekend in New England.  Our weekend's prime objective was hitting the three oldest bars in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.  Of course, in between we'll be venturing into more bars, diners, and dives.  After being shot down...oops, I meant landing in Manchester, NH, we headed into town for our first target.  Let's say it was a bit of a bumpy flight from Baltimore, thank goodness it was too short and too rough to pass out the bags of 12 mini pretzels or things might have gotten messy.  With empty stomachs we went searching for some grub since The Hancock Inn and Fox Tavern, the oldest bar in the state, didn't open until 4 PM.  Add a comment

James and Yolie here, back from our latest bucket list bar adventure.  This time Arizona was our destination.  We arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport early Friday morning where we were picked up by friends, Jamie and Yoly.  Yes, you read that right.  We'll try to keep things straight.  Jamie was our dedicated designated driver for the weekend while Yoly navigated us in their oversized pickup truck, which we nicknamed...the aircraft carrier.  After climbing in we headed for Tombstone, a picturesque 180 miles to the southeast.

Tombstone is a tourist hotspot full of souvenir shops, gunslingers, and saloons.  We asked one of the erstwhile Wyatt Earps for a watering hole recommendation and they pointed us to the Four Deuces Saloon (101 S. Third St.).  There were a few locals at the bar which was a good sign and we got a hearty greeting from Bob Bob, the barkeep.  The Four Deuces had good specials with the most interesting being a Blooming Champagne, which was champagne combined with St-Germain elderflower liqueur.  Bob Bob, though, was the star of the show.  He provided an interesting history of the bar, gave us recommendations for food and drink in Tombstone and most importantly, he gave us the lowdown on Bisbee.  More about Bisbee later. 

We left the Four Deuces and headed down the street to The Crystal Palace (436 E. Allen St.) where we had a good lunch and cold beer while soaking up the Tombstone vibe.  After lunch we had one more stop in town, that being the famous Big Nose Kate's (417 E. Allen St.) just a few steps down the wooden sidewalk.  There you'll find yourself virtually drowning in western bric-a-brac.  At the time there was a triple threat singer/keyboardist/saxophonist serenading the crowd with standards like Waylon and Willies' Luckenbach Texas.  Sometimes he even displayed all three skills at the same time, not an easy feat.  At the bar we asked Scott, a local maintaining his usual spot at the edge of the bar, for his advice on what we should drink.  He quickly suggested the Old Overholt rye whiskey, and the Ultimate Bloody Mary.  He explained that Old Overholt is the oldest whiskey in the country and Doc Holiday's favorite drink.  Bartender Kip poured the righteous rye and then proceeded to hand craft a glorious Bloody Mary, it really was the ultimate.  While enjoying our drinks and the familiar tunes Scott gave us some intriguing leads for Bisbee.  After paying the tab we were back out in the hot sun looking for the next stage out of town.

Arizona Arizona2 Arizona8
Arizona8 Arizona8 Arizona8

Bisbee is another 23 miles further south.  Bisbee is a must visit!  Our first stop was at the St. Elmo Bar (36 Brewery Ave.).  The cool bikers, colorful locals, and spunky bartender, Kristin, made this a great stop.  The margaritas were big, made with fresh lime juice, and most delicious!  We had a great time hanging out at the Elmo.  Next stop in Bisbee was Room 4 in the Silver King Hotel (43 Brewery Ave.).  Room 4 claims to be the smallest bar in Arizona.  I think they are selling themselves short.  It has got to be one of the smallest bars anywhere!  The three bar stools could not even accommodate the four of us.  The pint sized bar is a must go for bucket list bar fans.  For dinner we ate down the street at Santiago's (5 Howell Ave.).  The food there was great, with delicious entrees big enough for two.  After dinner we all boarded the aircraft carrier and headed on back to Phoenix.

Arizona19 Arizona19 Arizona19
Arizona19 Arizona19 Arizona19

We got an early start on Saturday for Prescott, 105 miles miles to the north.  Here's an important tip: it's pronounced "preskit".  We had a pleasant surprise when we discovered it was Bluegrass Festival day.  Great music filled the air while we bar hopped around the town square.  Here we found our primary destination, The Palace Restaurant and Saloon (120 S. Montezuma St.), the oldest bar in Arizona.  Cowboys and marshals greeted us at the door and freely mingled with patrons inside.  We pushed through the swinging doors and soaked in The Palace's beauty.  The drinks, the food, the staff, and the atmosphere were spot on.  You must go to The Palace while in Prescott!  On the way out we stopped and chewed the fat some more with the charming revolver toting gentlemen.  On the walk back to the carrier, we popped in Lyzzards Lounge (120 N. Cortez St.). This was a locals dive.  No food, no music, just a place to drink, play skeeball or shuffleboard, and chill with the locals.  Since they don't serve food it's also a great hangout for furry locals like Charley and Walter.  After the stop in Lyzzards, we headed for the Grand Canyon, 123 miles to the north.  The canyon was very high on Yolie's bucket list, so we just had to go there on this first visit to Arizona.  There is a nice family type tavern at the Grand Canyon, the Yavapai Lodge Tavern, but not really unique enough to make our bucket list of bars.

Arizona13 Arizona13 Arizona13
Arizona13 Arizona13 Arizona13

We spent the night in Williams, 60 miles south of the canyon.  We got to Williams around 9:30 PM but it seems they roll up the sidewalks there at 10:00 PM.  So, we just had time for pizza before hitting the hay.  On Sunday we headed back to Phoenix, but before leaving Willams we had a terrific breakfast at Jessica's Family Restaurant (525 W. Route 66).  Great food, friendly service...says it all.  After getting back to Phoenix we had some time to unwind by the pool, have a couple of Jack Daniel's and a few Tito's.  After lounging by the pool we all Ubered over to another couple's house to partake in the most amazing home cooked Polish dinner.  The perfect way to close out our memorable weekend.

The next morning we headed to airport with fond memories of Arizona, it's beautiful landscape, wonderful people, and those unforgettable bucket list bars.  My friends, we beg of you, go and explore Arizona!  Cheers from James and Yolie!


Add a comment

Subscribe To Bucket List Bars

Learn about events we'll be attending in your area, new books we're publishing and articles we write.

Booze News - The Latest


Order Bucket List Bars Now

blb-cover-siteOrder our New Book Bucket List Bars

Drunken History, The Book!

front cover a 105-smallBuy our Book, Drunken History