Thursday night is what The Whisky Parlor has dubbed Lazy Thursday: it showcases live jazz performances from 8 to 10 p.m. Having made it my mission to immerse myself in live music more frequently, I recruited friends to visit the downtown-Detroit-based bar one Thursday a few weeks ago, post dinner at Parc.
Located one floor above the Grand Trunk Pub, which holds a special place in my heart for having been Visit #100 for this blog, The Whisky Parlor exudes old-fashioned elegance.
I dug the dim, cozy environs with its rich red walls, cushy leather couches, hanging globes, and shelves of hard-bound books. A sepia-toned map of the world loomed from one wall and had us dreaming of far-away locales as we sipped our whisky drinks.
Those whisky drinks: they were deliciously nuanced in flavor – and strong (you get your money’s worth here!). I loved The Detroit cocktail with its Old Forester Bourbon, Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur, Campari, Dolin Rouge vermouth, bitters, black pepper, and what the menu refers to as “torched lemon” (not sure if that’s literally what it sounds like – a lemon torched by fire being incorporated into the drink – but doesn’t it sound intriguing?). The black pepper was my favorite element of the drink; it wasn’t overpowering, but it was noticeable and provided a nice finish.
The identity of the other signature drink I ordered at The Whisky Parlor has unfortunately faded from my memory. I want to say it was The Great Dane with its Bastille whisky, lemon, Demerara sugar, and Amaro Montenegro, but I can’t be sure at this point. All I can remember is that it was citrusy, served to me sans ice, and quite potent. It was a cocktail that meant business!
While I choose to experience The Whisky Parlor’s offerings via its signature cocktails, the feature of its menu was of course the straight-up stuff: entry after entry of whiskeys, from bourbons to ryes to scotches, from American to Irish to a category labeled “Misc. International.” They ranged in price-point from accessible (Canadian Club, Jack Daniel’s) to upper-echelon ($70 per pour for the Middleton Very Rare 2016 Irish whisky). Beer, wine, hard cider, and other liquors were also on tap, as were a selection of delectable-sounding desserts.
And, of course, there was music on tap on the night of our visit. The songs played were – true to the Lazy Thursday moniker – laid-back and subdued: a man mellowly strummed acoustic guitar while a woman sang lightly. The duo’s style didn’t strike me as jazzy so much as easy-listening-esque – which was fine by me.
It was calming to sit there on a cozy couch in the half-darkness sipping a drink and taking in the soothing tunes. There is no way no one has ever taken a snooze at The Whisky Parlor, and I mean that in the best way; the place is ridiculously relaxing.
My takeaway from my time at The Whisky Parlor is that there is never not a good time of year for a lazy, low-key Thursday night – especially in summer, a season that for me is about slowing down and savoring.
608 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226