The Sugar House is a dim lit craft cocktail bar located in Detroit's historic Corktown neighborhood. With over 101 classic cocktails, the bar also features a sought after seasonal menu of vicious vices. American whiskeys and single barrel bourbons are the headlining act of the bars spirit list that is perhaps one of the best in the city
OUR ARTICLEBY: Travis Platt Contributing writer
If you’re an avid James Bond enthusiast, one who has flipped through the pages of Ian Fleming’s novel Goldfinger, you might recall coming across a reference to The Purple Gang mentioned briefly within the story. This was Ian Fleming’s nod to the notorious Detroit gang that controlled Detroit’s underworld in the 1920s.
Also widely known as the Sugar House Gang, this violent crew controlled gambling — especially on horse races and other sporting events — liquor sales, and many illegal trades. These operations kept the gang rich, netting millions of dollars. The Sugar House Gang had a business partnership with Al Capone. Name ring a bell?
For several years, they supplied the Capone organization with Canadian whisky and all booze into Michigan from Canada. With Prohibition in full effect, Detroit winters became even colder with no liquor to warm the workers’ souls, so it was bootlegged deep within back alleys when shipments arrived.
The Sugar House in Corktown makes up for those thirteen years of Prohibition while paying tribute to eras past. Their gang of barmen and women put The Sugar House upfront as the Motor City’s elite bar for eclectic spirits and craft cocktails.
The drinks here remind us that quality is never an accident. It’s the result of intelligence paired with persistence — something very reflective of this city.
This is Detroit’s original craft cocktail haven. Inside feels like an gentlemen’s lodge, laced with wood and surrounded by stacked bricks that date back to 1888; you can’t help but imagine what these walls have seen. The dimly lit and subdued ambiance is well balanced for the weathered man who seeks a worn vintage setting.
Take your pick of 101 classic concoctions and then sit and relax under the hung taxidermy creations. This is the joint for a Sloe Gin Fizz, a classic Daiquiri, a Zombie, or a Sazerac. If you’re in the mood to break away from the benchmarks, peruse the rotating seasonal menu of custom vicious vices.
The drinks here remind us that quality is never an accident. It’s the result of intelligence paired with persistence — something very reflective of this city. So when trying something new in The Sugar House, live by Ian Fleming’s words of wisdom: “ Never say no to adventure, always say yes.”
It wasn’t Bond and his expensive Aston Martin that took down the Sugar House Gang. By 1935, their reign over Detroit’s underworld was over due to the persistence of brave police officers and a community that bonded together through harsh times. History isn’t always pretty, and sometimes there are eras that are as purple as a black eye.
Detroit doesn’t hide from this or anything. The community is a band of survivors and fighters who proudly speak aloud of the hurdles faced in the past and present — people who love their city. The Sugar House is where the neighborhood collects to share stories of the past, plan for the future, and knock back refined drinks to sugarcoat the soul on a cold winter night.
The rumor on the street is The Sugar House was the first modern craft cocktail bar in Detroit, paving the way for the industry
Check up on the special events page via the web for intimate tastings and unique classes
So many choices, dive into their carefully and curated list of classics here
Small bites range from a Pastrami Panini, Cheese platters, and Pork Cracklings