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Bad Luck Once you step inside, your fortunes shift

Bad Luck

1218 Griswold St., Detroit, MI 48226
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • Price Level:   
  • Cards Accepted

Tags: cocktails, Speakeasy, Sugar House, Capitol Park, bad-luck, wright-co

Bad Luck is a tricky spot to find. Although it has a Griswold St. address, the only entrance is actually in the alley in between Griswold and Woodward. Even when you find the alley, distinguishing Bad Luck’s entrance from the other industrial, unlabeled doors requires a keen eye. Look for the street number – 1218 – and a sort of black snake character scrawled across the door. We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that at least a few would-be guests have wandered up and down Capitol Park looking for an entrance that never materialized.

Once you’re inside, it seems as though your fortunes have shifted. Lady Luck now smiles upon you. Soft, indirect lighting gives the hexagon-shaped room the feel of a private club, a hidden speakeasy. A geometric pattern in the wooden walls and hexagon-shaped tables and lamps add unique touches.

But you don’t need a special invitation or membership card to sip the night away at Bad Luck. This party is open to all.

When we first heard about Bad Luck and its pricey cocktail menu (they notably serve an $80 rum cocktail – more on that later), we kinda thought, “oh boy, Capitol Park has officially jumped the gentrified hipster shark.” But we are fans of its sister bars and restaurants like Sugar House and Wright & Co. To really give the spot a fair shake, you have to try it for yourself. So we did.

It’s true that the drinks are expensive, with the most economical option priced at $18. This isn’t a bar where you’ll find us slamming drinks every Thursday night. It’s a special occasion spot, a place to celebrate, to treat yo’self in the most lavishly refined way.

Honestly, it’s not the cocktails themselves that make the price tags at Bad Luck worth it. The feeling like you’re the only customer at the bar – that you’re not a customer at all but an honored guest – makes this place extra special. It’s not done in a pretentious or over-the-top way. Everyone – from the hostess to the bartenders and waiters – conveys a genuine love of hospitality. You are cared for from the moment you step inside.

Bad Luck is a snug, intimate space with just five seats at the bar and room for about 30 guests altogether. We adore the quietness of this place. Even when it is at full capacity, the room feels relaxed. It’s the perfect spot to whisper with your lover in a sultry velvet booth or discuss secret business plans in a wide leather chair at the bar.

But, of course, you want to know about the cocktails. This is where Bad Luck reveals its greater secrets. The meticulously curated menu offers 13 hand-crafted elixirs named after cards in a Tarot deck. Each cocktail on the menu is described with its own icon and the qualities its Tarot card is believed to foretell.

The Admiral – said to bring leadership, foresight and honor – is made with rum from the UK’s last rationing to the British Royal Navy in 1970. Containing a blend of 5-14-year-old rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica, it can be served neat, on the rocks or as a daiquiri. The exceptionally rare spirits give this tonic the lofty $80 price tag. But where else could you sip rum from literally the same barrels that sustained the British fleet more than 40 years ago?

There are more affordable – and equally delicious – options as well. We are fans of the Fool, made with a prosciutto-infused Plymouth Navy-strength gin that is as tasty as it sounds. The cocktail contains pistachio syrup, lemon, lime, egg white and soda. It’s finished with a sprig of torched rosemary which makes the whole thing smell intoxicatingly wonderful every time you take a sip, and a dusting of salted, crushed pistachios on the rim. This one will set you back a more reasonable $22.

The Empress is a cocktail to celebrate with (and one of the more affordable options at $19). Served in a tall champagne flute, this pink elixir combines Chopin vodka, a pineapple-honey shrub, homemade honeybush tea soda and a housemade lavender popping sugar. That’s right, they made their own Pop Rocks.

Every cocktail – from the recipe to the presentation – is impressive.


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