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Ann Arbor Bar Tour 2009 – Inception

February 22, 2009

Hello! Welcome to the Ann Arbor Bar Tour Blog.  

So since is the first post, I suppose I can spare some space for an introduction and a little background; though I’m sure some of it will also end up on the “About” page.

So I’m Elmer and I guess I am the mastermind behind the whole event/activity. Nothing really that creative or original, but it was senior year and there’s a lot of bars in Ann Arbor and I wanted to go to them all before I left for greener pastures. Kasey, who will hopefully also be posting, was the one with the bright idea to document our progress in a blog, thus sharing our insight about the various bars here with anyone who cares to venture out for more variety in the bar scene here in Ann Arbor. Everyone just ends up going to Good Time Charley’s, Ashley’s, or Little Brown Jug mostly because of their proximity to campus. There are so many great bars in Ann Arbor if your willing to make the slightly longer trek with some companions. And so in January 2009 I started a facebook group to gather some friends to go out together, but that hasn’t gone too well. People don’t seem to like the cold, or walking but luckily there’s a couple of us that have been going every week and also visiting one new bar every week. I hope this blog is helpful to those who are looking for something more novel than the usual fare you find on South University and State street, and I encourage you to share it all with your friends. 

Now on to the good stuff, the bars!

February 21st, 2009 – Conor O’Neills, Alley Bar, Old Town, and Fleetwood Diner

Kasey, Elmer, and Elson participated in this particular trip and we had a great time.

The night started out at Conor O’Neills. We stayed there about an hour, it’s “specialty” was being an Irish pub.

The first thing that I noticed as I walked in was the live band playing. Not a lot of bars in the areas have a live band that plays, and Conor O’Neills has one booked pretty much every Saturday. This week was a group called Michael May & the Messarounds, a very blues/jazz band; they were terrific. Their music filled the entire pub, and managed to subdue the usual bar noise that you can hear from the riffraff. While saturdays are live music night, O’Neills has an event for every night of the week, for example: Mondays are trivia night and Sundays are Karaoke. You can see thier list on their website.

The beer selection there wasn’t anything special, most of the selection hailed from Europe though, particularly the UK and the surrounding countires (ie: Netherlands) but nothing exotic or special that you couldn’t find at another bar or even at the store. I felt the need to order a beer from Ireland given the setting of our locale and the other two followed suit. I had a Harp’s Lager, Kasey had a Murphy Amber [Ale], and Elson had a Guinness [Stout]. Each beer was $5.50. Albeit a little expensive, the beer was good and the atmosphere was great. A very bar-like bar, if that makes any sense.
Three BeersI would say that this bar would be better for going in large groups, it’s a very lively area and in front of the band was even a mini-dance floor. There weren’t a great number of people dancing but usually one or two people would go up. There was as much standing room as there was sitting room, and overall the place just had a very genuine feel to it.

After this excursion we decided to head towards Old Town but stopped by Alley Bar.

I think that Alley Bar was classified as a “dive bar.” It was pretty empty when we arrived at 11, but it might have just been because it’s Spring Break. It was a fairly cozy, somewhere to take a medium or small group of friends to just sit and talk. The music was just off a CD player, I believe they started with the Pablo Honey Album by Radiohead but switched it to Nirvana during our stay there. On the TVs was probably the oddest thing, it was the Sci-Fi channel with a horrible C-list movie on. It was a pretty interesting conversation starter though. There was also a pool table and a pinball machine in the back of the bar.
The drinks were reasonably priced; my gin & tonic being $4.00 (about average for most bars) and the bottled beers that Kasey (Shiner) and Elson (Leinenkugel) got were about $3.25 and $3.75 respectively i believe.
It was an interesting little place, but at the time not for me. I think if we had a couple more people in our group we might have enjoyed it more, but after the energy of the last bar this one seemed a little lackluster in comparison. Still, a charming little place and I would recommend it if you need a place with a more mellow atmosphere to hang out and catch up with old pals.

Afterwards we were on to Old Town Tavern!

This is one of our three anchor bars. Kasey and I always visit one of our three anchor bars (you can see which they are in the About page) for the night.
Our draw to Old Town is the atmosphere, the friendly service, but more important than all of those…THE FREE PEANUTS WITH BEER PURCHASE! Not many bars really do that anymore, it is most excellent.
Another great thing about Old Town is price, especially at the time we usually end up visiting it. Happy Hour (I’m unsure the exact hours but I will be sure to update it when I find out next time we go) on Friday and Saturday start at 11 PM till close which means Bell’s pints are $3.50 and Well drinks are $3.00. This is just pretty damn awesome. To finish the night, Kasey and I had a Jager Bomb, which cost $4.50. The cheapest I’ve seen yet. They had a generic red bull type drink (it tasted more like monster) on tap which they used to fill the cup. It was pretty epic. Old Town is very affordable and the drinks are great. Overall Kasey had a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale & a Jager Bomb, I had a Vodka Cranberry [well drink] & a Jager Bomb, Elson had a water since he was DD (sad for him 😦 i know).
Jager Bombs at Old Town
The environment of Old Town is wonderful. The staff is nice, and the people around are usually smiling just having a great time with their friends. We’ve sat at the bar both times we’ve gone but the bartender is really nice, and helpful as well.

Going to Old Town is always a very delightful experience. It’s bustling with people meeting friends, just heading in for a drink, or enjoying a night out. It’s both a tavern and a bar so they serve a pretty interesting array of food, you can see the full list on their website. The history of the bar is pretty interesting but I won’t bore you with it, you can look it up yourself here if your interested. Overall one of my favorite bars we’ve been to, I highly encourage anyone who reads this to try and visit it when they are in town.

We finished our night at the Fleetwood Diner. (Multiple pages made by satisfied customers: page1 page2

The Fleetwood Diner is the only place in Ann Arbor that’s open 24/7. While it’s a little far, if you are really really hungry between the hours of 4-6 AM there’s no better place to go. It serves most of your traditional diner food, and also breakfast all day. The diner itself is indeed from the 50s and the food they serve doesn’t disappoint. Affordably priced, the three of us essentially had a full meal and none of us paid more than $5.00 for the meal.
Kasey ordered the same Breakfast special as I did. The Breakfast special is $4.79, with tax $5.08 for essentially a full meal. This comes with 2 eggs prepared however you want; your choice of: sausage, bacon, or ham; a heap of hash browns; and 2 slices of toast sliced diagonally served with jelly cartons. It was extremely filling after 3 hours at the bar. Kasey ordered a refillable fountain drink for $2.00. Elson got a short stack which was 3 pretty large pancakes. The Short Stack was $4.29, again reasonably priced for the amount of food given. The lady behind the counter was extremely nice as well, and we made some small talk with her.
When we went to eat there, we had arrived before the rush. I’m sure the diner’s peak hours are around 3-5 AM when drunk people are getting hungry, and when all the other places around have closed for the night. But even at 1:00 the diner was already packed and people had to wait for seats. It was bustling with people eating, talking, going to and fro. A great experience, it’s a shame that the diner itself isn’t larger to seat more people. There is outdoor seating, but in the current weather I don’t think anyone will be using it anytime soon.
We decided to try to end our bar tour nights at the Fleetwood Diner from here on out.

Overall an amazing night, and we had a great time exploring the bars around Ann Arbor. Until next week, enjoy some pictures from Conor O’Neills, Old Town, and the Fleetwood below!

Conor O’Neills:

Band at O'Neills

Old Town:
Elson&Kasey at Old Town

Me and the menu
Elson and Kasey at Fleetwood

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